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How families could save €900 a year on big bills

HARD-pressed families can save almost €900 a year if they shop around for cheaper home insurance and mortgage protection.

Families could save up to ¤400 a year on insurance alone, the National Consumer Agency (NCA) said.

In a study, the agency reviewed the prices quoted by nine insurance companies for a selection of homes.

The NCA discovered the average potential savings was €382.

It said that the research demonstrated that consumers could be paying more than they need to simply by not shopping around.

The Home Insurance Cost Comparison also reviewed the level of "excess" attached to policies, finding that a lower quote did not mean higher thresholds.

The study found that the difference in the excess that applied on policies ranged from €125 to €500.

Seven different types of homes were surveyed across Dublin, Cork, Galway, Monaghan and Longford.

The NCA included nine insurance companies in the research -- Zurich, Liberty, Aviva, Axa, Allianz, Chartis, FBD, Getcover and Royal Sun Alliance.

The biggest difference in quotes was for a three-bedroom terraced house in Cork, where Chartisdirect provided the highest quote of €1,147, while FBD gave a price of €283.

The smallest difference was for a two-bed bungalow in Longford where the most expensive quote was €78, 39pc higher than the cheapest.

Chief executive of the NCA, Ann Fitzgerald, said consumers should take advantage of competition by seeking several quotes.

"Ensure that the value provided for contents is enough to replace contents with new items of the same quality and type.

"In addition, consumers need to examine the amount of cover given for specific items or categories of contents under the contents cover," she said.

Homeowners have also been told they can save up to €500 a year on mortgage protection.

A price war between providers has led to reductions.

A survey by Amarach Research for SmartQuotes.ie shows 45pc of mortgage holders are unaware of how much they are paying for their monthly mortgage protection policy.

SmartQuotes.ie's average customer saved €492 by switching provider last year.

comurphy@herald.ie