Let’s face it. We all like to save money, especially when it comes to auto insurance. But does lowering your insurance premiums mean less-than-adequate coverage or working with a provider whose customer service leaves a lot to be desired? Not at all. We’ve put together a variety of suggestions to help you save money on auto insurance without sacrificing quality in the process.
Consider car insurance costs before you buy
When it comes to buying a new or used car, many people overlook insurance expense as part of the total cost of owning a vehicle. It’s better to consider the cost of insurance before you buy since auto insurance premiums vary widely depending on a vehicle’s specific characteristics, including its price, average repair costs, safety record and whether or not it’s a target among thieves.
Combine insurance policies with one carrier
Many insurance companies offer multi-policy discounts, such as buying a homeowner’s policy and auto coverage from the same carrier. You might also be able to save money if you insure all of the vehicles in your household on one policy or if you insure all of your driving-age family members on the same plan. Be sure to do your homework though, since there’s a chance you could save more money buying policies from multiple carriers.
Compare auto insurance carriers
Because auto insurance companies and rates vary widely, it helps to shop around when selecting an insurer. As a general rule, it’s wise to obtain auto insurance quotes and information from at least three separate companies. Calling insurance carriers directly, asking family and friends about their insurance providers and getting an auto insurance quote online are just some of the steps you can take in helping to ensure you choose the right auto insurance company.
Another helpful resource is your state’s department of insurance, which typically offers information such as rate comparisons, customer ratings and complaint ratios, as well as contact information for a variety of major carriers.
Don’t forget you’ll be dealing with your auto insurer in the event of an accident or emergency, so be sure to select a company that’s committed to customer service. Do your homework ahead of time by comparing ratings and researching complaints to ensure a company handles claims — and answers questions — honestly and promptly.
Drive less, save more
The more you drive, the higher the likelihood of an accident or emergency. That’s why many auto insurance companies offer low mileage discounts for people who drive less than the average number of miles per year, or for people who carpool on a regular basis. Be sure to ask your carrier if you qualify.
Drive safer, save more
The better you are as a driver, the more money you stand to save in coverage costs. People with clean driving records who haven’t had any accidents or moving violations for a certain number of years can qualify for safe driver discounts. What’s more, you may be able to take advantage of additional savings if you’ve recently taken a defensive driving course.
Increase your deductible
Sure, you’ll have to pay more out of pocket if you have an accident, but if you increase your deductible by just several hundred dollars, for example, you could save anywhere from 15 to 40 percent or more in collision and comprehensive coverage costs. It’s always good practice to set aside a portion of your monthly car insurance premium savings to ensure you can actually afford a higher deductible in the event of a claim. Learn more about how much, and what kind, of auto insurance you need.
Inquire about other car insurance discounts
There are a variety of additional car insurance savings you might be able to take advantage of, including discounts for teens who have good grades or who have taken an approved drivers’ education course, for college-age drivers who go to school more than 100 miles away, for people who are over the age of 50/55 or those who are retired, or for people who belong to business groups, alumni groups or other professional associations. You can also save money on auto insurance if a group plan is offered at your place of employment. When it comes to discounts, be careful. An insurance company that offers huge discounts might charge the highest rates to begin with, so be sure to do your homework thoroughly before signing on the dotted line.
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Maintain good credit
In the eyes of auto insurance carriers, drivers with established and stable credit records have fewer accidents. That’s why an increasing number of auto insurance companies consider credit scores when calculating rates. Since your credit score can impact the amount of money you pay in auto insurance, be sure to maintain a good credit rating and check your credit report periodically to ensure the items in your history actually belong to you. There are a variety of online services that allow you to check your credit as well as those that offer advice about how to improve it.
Opt for safety features
You can qualify for a car insurance discount from many carriers if your vehicle is equipped with safety equipment designed to reduce the risk of injury or theft, such as anti-lock brakes, automatic seat belts, running lights or an alarm system.
Reduce insurance coverage on older cars
If you own an older vehicle, check its Kelley Blue Book value. If your annual comprehensive/collision insurance premiums are more than 10% of the current value of your car, consider dropping the coverage. Claims only occur an average of every 11 years, so there’s a good chance any claim payment you might receive down the road could be less than the comprehensive/collision premiums you’d paid.
While not exhaustive, this list gives you a good start in saving money on auto insurance. Keep in mind that the key to saving on auto insurance is about finding the best final price, not the biggest discounts. You may find that a company offering the least amount of discounts still offers the lowest auto insurance rates.
This story originally ran on KBB.com.