Insurance flies in the face of everything else on your budget. It is the one thing that you pay out of pocket for every month in the hopes that you will never ever have to use it. You (maybe not so) happily pay for car insurance, home insurance, renter’s insurance maybe even medical insurance if your employer won’t (or can’t) cover you.

The money you spend on your monthly insurance premiums makes up a huge chunk of your budget. This is true no matter where you live or what kind of insurance you buy.

Here is how you reduce the size of that chunk:

1. Combine Your Policies

Almost every insurance company, whether you’re working with a local agent in, say, Austin or with a national company, will give you a great discount for combining all of your insurance policies into one account. You can combine auto insurance, home or renter’s insurance, business insurance—pretty much any kind of insurance–and get an across the board discount on everything. Some companies will give you as much as a 20% discount off of each individual payment when you combine your policies.

2. Don’t Assume that National Is Better

It’s easy to assume that you have to work with a national company because those are the commercials that you see on TV each night when you settle in to watch your favorite program. However, don’t forget to look local and see what an insurance agent Austin, TX can offer you as far as coverage goes. You shouldn’t rule anything out like tiny towns you’ve never heard of who may have their own boutique agencies and independent contractors.

Local contractors are able to give discounts that national chains can’t offer. There’s also the added bonus of helping your local economy by working with someone in town.

3. Shop Around

Don’t just go with the first insurance agent you find online. It’s worth taking time to meet with representatives of several different companies both local and national. This helps you get a feel for each company and what they have to offer you. It also helps you ensure that you work with the best agent at the best rates. Ask for initial quotes in writing. Ask about price matching.

Ask about terms—for instance, if your car breaks down are you allowed to go to any mechanic you want or do you have to use one contracted with the company? If someone breaks in to your home, can you install your own home security system or do you have to use one mandated by your insurance agent?

Choose the best terms at the best rates and then ask the agent you like the best (if she is not the one offering these things) to match rates and terms to get your business. It’s time consuming but it helps you save lots of money!

These are just three of the ways that you can reduce your insurance costs. What are some of the things you’ve done to help reduce your own costs in this area?