Last week, we told you about rising homeowners' insurance premiums brought on by severe weather, both in New Jersey and across the country. But there are ways to keep a lid on those costs. In Jersey, it's been Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee...even the so-called "Snowtober" that have added to insurance payouts. Floods and tornado clusters in the midwest and elsewhere have been piled on, making the year 2011 one of the most costly ever in terms of insurance industry payouts. And all of this has prompted homeowners' insurance premium hikes.

But Insurance Information Institute President Robert Hartwig says people can do a lot to potentially lower the losses that occur in an event.

For one thing, Hartwig suggests reinforcing your home with stronger construction and windows. He says this is good information for most of New Jersey, particularly along the Jersey shore. Another tip...take a higher deductible if you can afford to, to lower premiums. Hartwig also says installing a burglar alarm may not help with weather damage. But it can lower premiums.