Living in a rough part of town? How to lower your auto and home insurance premiums

Farmers Insurance recently released its 2010 list of "Most Secure U.S. Places to Live." The insurer ranked large metro areas more than 500,000 people), midsize cities 150,000 to 500,000 people) and small cities fewer than 150,000 people) and took into account factors like crime rates, environmental hazards and housing depreciation.

The winners were:

  • Madison, Wis. large metro area)
  • Olympia, Wash. midsize city)
  • Lewiston, Idaho/Clarkston, Wash. small town)

Your home and auto insurance premiums can be radically affected by the security of the city or town where you live. In dangerous areas linked to high rates of crime, fires, natural disasters and environmental hazards, your rates can be higher than average. If you live in a safer area, your rates can be lower than average.

It may not be possible to control the weather and natural disasters. But there are some things you can do to increase the security of your home and car -- and lower your insurance premiums if your city didn't make Farmers' list.

Anti-theft devices for your car

Some auto insurance companies offer discounts if you make your car harder to steal. State Farm, for example, will give you an anti-theft device discount on your comprehensive coverage if you equip your car with devices like:

  • A car alarm activated by a door, hood or trunk sensor.
  • An electronic immobilizer that prevents the ignition from starting or cuts off power to the starter system.
  • A steel collar that covers the steering column, blocking access to the ignition system.

Home security measures

If you live in an area where theft and vandalism are rampant, you can take steps to get your home insurance premiums under control. In fact, making your home safer can have a positive effect on your whole neighborhood. Installing a burglar alarm system in your home makes it less likely that a burglar will try to rob your neighbors' homes, a 2009 Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice study found. According to the five-year study, a decrease in the number burglaries in Newark, N.J., corresponded with an increase in the number of homes that had burglar alarms.

There are other ways to bulk up the security of your home. The American National Standards Institute ASNI) ranks door locks based on their ability to prevent break-ins. State Farm recommends using ASNI Grade 1 locks. The insurer also recommends upgrading the security at your home's entry points in the following ways:

  • Install locks with deadbolts. The "throw" length) of the deadbolt, should be at least 1 inch.
  • Get a high-security strike plate, the piece of metal that the deadbolt fits into. Many strike plates are simply decorative and do nothing to prevent your door from getting kicked in.
  • Consider bolts with internal spinning pins. This helps prevent burglars from sawing through your deadbolt.

See how much you could save today on your home insurance. Get your free home insurance quotes today!