10+ Tips to Help You Save on Car Insurance

Most people complain about the cost of their auto insurance--hardly surprising, given that a typical policy costs at least several hundred dollars a year. Depending on your age, driving record, and other factors, your annual premium can be significantly more than that. So how can you lower your premium and save yourself money?

If you own a car and drive it, going without insurance is generally not an option. In most states, you are required by law to purchase a minimum amount of liability coverage. And you should probably have more than just the bare minimum if you want to provide yourself with adequate protection. There are steps you can take, however, to reduce your auto insurance costs without having to cancel your policy. Some or all of these steps may be appropriate for you, depending on your circumstances.

Specific ways to save money on auto insurance:

1. Shop around.
One of your first steps should be to shop around. A particularly good time to investigate your alternatives is when your current policy is about to be up for renewal, especially if you find that your premium has gone up. You may be surprised to learn that auto insurance premiums for the exact same coverage on the same car can vary widely (by hundreds of dollars) between different insurers, even in states that regulate auto insurance rates.

2. Increase your deductible.
For many people, raising the deductible on their auto insurance is a good way to cut the cost of the policy. Sometimes you can reduce your annual premium by 10 percent or more if you increase your deductible from, say, $250 to $500. If you do this, however, make sure you have the financial resources to handle the larger deductible when the time comes.

3. Keep an eye on your credit report.
Your credit history is an important factor for most auto insurance companies. Many studies have shown a correlation between your credit history and the risk to an insurance company. Paying your bills on time and maintaining a good credit history will allow you to enjoy lower auto insurance rates.

4. Drive less.
If you drive less than a certain number of miles in a year (e.g., 7,500), you may qualify for a low-mileage discount. If your insurer offers this discount, try to limit your driving as much as possible. If you commute to work, use public transportation instead of driving. When you go away on vacation, fly or take the train.

5. Don't use your car for business purposes.
Since work-related driving generally subjects you to higher premiums than pleasure driving, it may be in your best interest to stop using your car for business purposes.

6. Drive more safely.
You may be eligible for a price break on your policy if you maintain a clean driving record for a specified period (usually three years). A clean driving record generally means no accidents, moving violations, drunk driving convictions, etc., during that period. The best way to qualify for the applicable discount is to drive carefully and defensively at all times.

7. Buy a low-profile car.
Cars are rated on a risk scale for auto insurance purposes. In general, sports cars and other high-performance, flashy vehicles are classified as higher risks because they are common targets for thieves and vandals, and because statistically, the people who own them tend to drive more recklessly. If you own such a vehicle, you will likely pay a higher premium than if you owned a station wagon, sedan, or other low-risk vehicle.

8. Move.
If you live in a rural community with little crime and traffic congestion, your premium will generally be lower than if you live in an urban area where your car is more likely to be stolen, vandalized, or involved in an accident. Granted, you shouldn't move just to cut your auto insurance costs. However, this may be one of many factors in your decision if you're thinking about relocating from the country to the city.

9. Keep your car in a garage.
Cars parked in garages are less likely to be stolen, vandalized, or struck by other vehicles. Using a garage to store your car may entitle you to a slight premium reduction.

10. Have safety/anti-theft devices installed.
You may receive discounts on your insurance if your car is equipped with one or more of the following options: anti-lock brakes, automatic seat belts, and airbags. Similarly, anti-theft devices such as car alarms and tracking systems (e.g., Lojack) may also get you a discount because they reduce the chances of your car being stolen or vandalized.

11. Inquire about multifamily/multipolicy discounts.
You may receive a discount from your insurance company if you buy more than one type of insurance through that same company (e.g., auto and homeowner's). A discount may also apply to your auto insurance if you insure multiple cars under the same policy or with the same company.

12. Other discounts
Other discounts may be available if you meet certain criteria. Examples may include discounts for taking a defensive driving course, being a AAA member or staying with the same auto insurance company for a number of years. These discounts vary by company.

Your Auto Insurer Knows Plenty about You

Your auto insurance company probably has a lot of your personal information, and that`s not necessarily a bad thing. For instance, auto insurers get a hold of your driving record, credit history, and other info to use in making decisions such as whether to cover your vehicles and how much to charge you for coverage.

Many insurers use credit information to determine your insurance risk score. You`ll likely pay less for car insurance if you have a good credit score, a history of paying bills on time and no bad debt. Insurers see a direct relationship between your insurance risk score and the chances of you filing a claim. Conversely, an insurance applicant who has a history of being late on bill payments and who often opens and closes savings or credit accounts wouldn`t be as good an insurance risk.

You won`t be able to obtain your insurance risk score, but you can assume that it`s comparable to your credit score.

Providing insights on credit scoring/rating are insurance industry experts Carolyn Gorman, Dick Luedke, Nichole Mahrt and Dave Snyder. Your credit rating may affect what you pay for auto insurance, so keep tabs on it, recommends Gorman, vice president of the New York-based Insurance Information Institute. Gorman believes that credit makes auto insurance rates more accurate, fair and objective. The use of insurance scoring varies from state to state and company to company, says Gorman, but the insurance industry believes that drivers with long, stable credit records have fewer accidents than drivers who don't.

Gorman says that there are various Internet services that permit consumers to check their credit rating and offer suggestions on how to improve their scores.

"Motor vehicle records are invaluable to a company in the assessment of auto insurance risk, and to the extent they are not accurate, we are unable to assess that risk as well as we might otherwise be able to," says State Farm spokesperson Dick Luedke.

Credit scoring is another tool that enables insurers to estimate risk, according to Nicole Mahrt, western regional public affairs director for the American Insurance Association. "It helps them accurately price the product for you so that you pay a premium that reflects your individual risk characteristics."

Mahrt`s AIA colleague, Dave Snyder traveled a different road on the topic. "Because driving experience is so important as a predictor of insurance risk, insurers try to gather as much pertinent information as they can about the drivers, and that would include state motor vehicle records and related data from other sources."

Word of warning from insurance trade group executive Daniel Kummer. "You could end up with legal difficulties or get in trouble with your auto insurer by leaving citations or convictions off an insurance application. Doing that could make you vulnerable to fraud charges. And misrepresenting your driving record on your insurance application by leaving out reference to citations for DUI or other moving violations could give the insurance company grounds to cancel your policy," warns Kummer, director of auto insurance for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America in Des Plaines, Ill. "And if you make such an omission in your application, you might get caught by the insurer, and it`s likely your rates will go up as a result."


blogger templates | Make Money Online