The complexities of car insurance pricing, made even more complex by varying state coverage requirements, can make finding the right policy for you an incredibly frustrating ordeal for countless consumers. Oh yeah, and coverage can be pretty expensive.
As a licensed insurance agent, I know a few more tricks than the average consumer to help lower that auto insurance premium. So, in an attempt to help bring transparency to the world of car insurance, here are some data-verified savings tips, culled from The Zebra’s State of Auto Insurance Report.
1. Avoid Letting Your Insurance Coverage Lapse
Even after being insured for just one year, rates drop 7.7%. The discount for maintaining continuous insurance offered by most companies is also affected by the amount of liability coverage on your policy. The higher your limit of liability, the better your prior insurance discount will be.
2. Consider Bundling
Bundle your auto policy with homeowner’s insurance and you could save an average of $110 per year or bundle renter’s with auto to possibly save $72 per year.
3. Do Some Research
Take a few minutes to learn about which companies, minimum coverage requirements and other factors apply to your state.
4. Get Ahead of the Game
Purchase your policy at least 10 days before you need it activated for a better rate. This is especially helpful if you know your policy is coming up for renewal and you want to switch to a new company.
5. Pay in Full Up Front for Your Policy
Drivers save an average of $62 per year by paying in full rather than an installment plan.
6. Shop When You Move
If moving to a new state — or even a new ZIP code — make sure to shop for a new policy. The most expensive state for insurance (Michigan) is almost three times as expensive as the least (Ohio), so you could be in for huge savings depending on the state you’re leaving (or increases, so make sure you’re informed).
7. Boost Your Credit
Drivers who increase their credit score by one tier save an average of 17% off their annual premium. (You can see two of your credit scores for free, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com to find out where you stand.)
8. Buy an Older Car
A 5-year-old version of a certain model is nearly 13% less expensive to insure than its current model year version.
9. Provide Your VIN When Getting Quotes
Most new vehicles come with factory alarms so giving your VIN might help you qualify for an anti-theft device discount.
10. Drive Safely
While this is a good idea for your own well-being and that of others around you, of course, you’ll also save yourself from a potential rate increase.
11. Remember: Not All Car Insurance Companies Are Created Equal
They have unique business models designed to serve certain types of drivers who pose different levels of risk. Make sure to find the right fit for your needs and behaviors.
12. Don’t Stop Looking
It’s a good idea to shop around every six months to see if a new insurance company or policy fits you better and compare car insurance quotes to make sure you’re considering all rating factors and companies applicable to your unique needs.
13. Go Paperless
Agreeing to go paperless and signing your policy documents electronically can lead to discounts with some providers, so consider opting in and providing your email address when buying a new policy.
14. Tout Your Education
Listing your highest level of education can lead to a lower rate because many companies use it as a rating factor and may even offer discounts for college grads. Check the answer to that question on your policy; you could be leaving money on the table.
15. Consider Usage-Based Insurance
If you live close to work and are a safe, low-mileage driver, you may want to consider adding a telematics device in your vehicle to share your driving behavior with your insurance company. Having this device on your car may be able to save you up to 30% on your coverage, based on your driving habits and other regulations.
16. Study Up On Insurance Lingo
Spend some time researching and reading to help you understand what you’re buying and make sure it actually fits your needs. There is no one-size-fits-all car insurance policy.
17. Make it Automatic
Consider signing up for auto pay or electronic funds transfer (EFT) instead of receiving a bill. Many providers offer a discount for doing this, which can certainly add up over time.
18. Venture Out on Your Own
Have you been listed as a driver on someone else’s policy for at least six months? Most insurance companies will offer a discount on your own separate policy.
19. Share More Than Your Space
Do you share a residence with another driver? Consider combining policies to share the cost of your insurance for more savings.
20. Bump Up Your Deductible
Increasing your deductible from $500 to $1,000 could save you about $150 per year.
21. Budget for Auto Insurance
Always consider auto insurance as a significant portion of the total cost of ownership of your vehicle. In fact, in many cases, insurance can be the largest car-related expense after the car itself, so make sure you factor insurance into your budget and can afford your coverage.
22. Celebrate Your Age
Everyone knows that some birthdays are more monumental than others and it seems like car insurance companies feel the same. We found that drivers can see significantly lower rates after their 19th, 21st, and 25th birthdays, so consider shopping around at those times. It’s also important to note that, on the whole, rates drop each year drivers age until they turn 60 when rates typically level out.
23. Avoid Getting Left Out in the Rain
It’s a good idea to add coverage to your policy at least a week before a large storm hits your area (if you know it’s coming) to help you avoid being stuck paying for the damage yourself. Insurance companies may set binding restrictions that prohibit agents from selling policies for comprehensive and/or collision coverage as a storm nears — though you will still be able to get liability coverage (as it’s required by every state).
24. Be Aware of Local Traffic Laws
Tickets and violations can affect your insurance rate for three years from the date of the ticket. Accidents can affect your rates for up to five years from the date of the accident. In California, DUIs can hurt your rate for up to 10 years from the date of the incident.
25. Factor in More Than Just Price
It isn’t just about how much you’re paying. Getting the right coverage from a reliable insurance company can help keep you from paying big in the event of a collision or other incident.
26. Be Honest & Detailed
Insurance companies will run background checks on your driving record, address and (sometimes) your credit to price your rate, and any guessing could mean your quote and final premium differ substantially.
27. Baby Your Car
Filing an expensive claim not only costs you your deductible, it is one of the most surefire ways to raise your rates for several years to come. If possible, park your car in a garage to help keep it protected from potential damage caused by hail, windblown sand or debris, and other harmful objects. (You can find more ways to save on car insurance here.)