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No one likes shopping for home or auto insurance. Here are tips to make saving less onerous

Nicole Norfleet, Star Tribune on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Jay Schleicher has seen his fair share of insurance claims during his career as an agent.

Like when a renter fluffed a blanket and tore down a ceiling sprinkler, flooding their townhome unit with $40,000 in water damage. Or when a homeowner came back from vacation to a wet, stinky basement thanks to a backed-up sewer drain. Earlier this month, someone drove through a yard and hit a client's house.

People buy insurance for their home, car, RV or motorcycle because the law requires it. Then they forget about it until something bad happens, Schleicher said.

"'I bought this online awhile ago,' and then they don't know what they have for coverage," said Schleicher, owner of BlueJay Insurance Agency in Minneapolis. "People don't want to talk about (insurance) or think about it, but this is something that you are paying for for many, many years."

Shopping around for insurance has always been essential to make sure you find the best deal and have the right coverage for unexpected emergencies. But as the costs to repair and replace possessions continue to rise — and the prevalence of extreme weather also increases — choosing an insurance carrier and coverage has become an even more important decision.

"The last time you want to find out what your coverage is is when you are submitting a claim," said Grace Arnold, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce. "It's not always pleasant to think about all the bad things that might happen to you or your property, but it's really important to be prepared and insurance is a way to help you to be prepared."

 

Here's your guide to shopping for the best insurance for your budget and needs.

You likely have started to notice your insurance premiums rising in the past year. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the price of car insurance increased in March by more than 22% compared to one year ago, the largest annual jump since 1976.

Home insurance has also shot up as insurance companies try to recoup their losses from higher repair costs and extreme weather claims. Minnesota's average annual premium for home insurance is $2,476 a year for a home with a dwelling coverage amount of $300,000, according to a report Bankrate released this month. That's $323 more than the national average.

Minnesota has the second-most extreme weather of any state in the nation, trailing only California, according to the Insurance Federation of Minnesota. Since 1980, Minnesota has experienced about 60 weather disasters — from hail to floods to tornadoes — that have caused an estimated $20 to $50 billion in damages.

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