Homeowners insurance is costing more

File folder with insurance tab

Prices for homeowners insurance in February and March were 2.6% higher than they were a year ago, according to recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

In 2008, homeowners insurance cost $820 on average. The Insurance Information Institute forecasts it will be $841 in 2009.

Insurance is getting more expensive because it's gotten harder -- and more expensive -- for insurance companies to borrow money. That additional cost is being passed on to homeowners.

If you're facing a big increase in the cost of your policy, you can try to save money by:

However, even if your home value has fallen in the past year, don't drop the maximum payout that your policy allows.

You'll still need enough insurance to rebuild your home if damage occurs, and the cost of repairs is increasing, according to Steven Weisbart, senior vice president and chief economist of the Insurance Information Institute.

Premiums would be going up even more if insurers weren't making more subtle changes in policies that limit their costs if you have a claim.