Auto insurance is one bill that everyone has to deal with - but nobody wants to. Honestly, I used to barely even look at my car insurance bill. But then I noticed my premium amount wasn’t always the same. I’m not alone in this.
Premiums have been increasing steadily since 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Insurers are dealing with industry regulation and legislation changes, as well as an increase in the cost of losses. Losses for insurers are a result of us driving more, higher car repair costs and more distracted drivers on the road.
Today, auto insurance is a significant expense for many drivers. But there are ways to lower your car insurance bill and save money.
1. Shop your insurance
Each auto insurance company has a unique formula they use to determine their rates. They also typically re-set their rates regularly, so rates can vary by hundreds of dollars among insurers for the same level of coverage. While one insurer may have the best auto insurance for students, another may be able to offer lower rates for older drivers.
Shopping your insurance could end up saving you hundreds of dollars a year. Using an insurance comparison site like Squeeze makes getting quotes easy.
2. Adjust your deductibles
Everyone has heard this tip before, but there’s a reason why - it works. The deductible is the amount of money you pay out of pocket if you make a claim. If you carry collision or comprehensive coverage, you can save money by increasing your deductible.
If you are thinking of choosing a higher deductible, be sure your savings could cover any expenses if you were in a car accident. For instance, I checked my GEICO policy and my current deductible is $500 for collision and comprehensive coverage. If I were to increase both deductibles to $1,000, I could shave $32 a year from my car insurance premium. Be sure the increased deductible is worth the cost savings to you.
3. Review your coverage options
Do you have roadside assistance? What about gap insurance or rental car reimbursement? If you drive a lot or have an older car that needs repair, these optional coverages could save you money. Recently, I removed rental reimbursement coverage from my policy. It was costing me about $40 a year, and I can’t tell you the last time I needed a car rental due to a repair or for some other reason that my car insurance would cover.
If you’re paying for these options now but want to keep them, check your credit card benefits to see if some level of roadside assistance is already included. If you bought a new car from the dealer, you could be covered as well.
>>READ MORE: How much coverage do you need?
4. Improve your credit
Many insurance companies take into account your credit history as an important indication of whether you’re more likely to make a claim while insured. With better credit, your insurer may offer you discounted rates. A good credit history can also have a positive impact on your auto insurance score.
If you just paid off a huge loan or your credit score jumped for any other reason, it’s a good time to compare insurance quotes to see if you can get a lower rate.
5. Don’t text and drive
Texting. Eating in the car. Playing with the radio. All of these are examples of distracted driving that can take your eyes off the road - and potentially lead to an accident. In particular, laws are in place making texting while driving a primary offense in 48 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
One ticket for a minor violation can send your car insurance premium up 20% to 40%. The longer you go without receiving a major citation or having an accident, the lower your premium will be. Many insurance companies offer discounts for drivers after a certain number of years of being accident-free.
6. Complete a driving course
Driving courses aren’t just for would-be stunt car drivers. Check online for defensive driving or safe driving courses in your area. Drivers who are at least 55 years old can complete a mature driver course and be eligible for a discount.
Every state has different rules regarding how insurers can apply defensive driving discounts. Eligibility requirements also vary. Check with your current or potential insurance company for specifics.
7. Drive less
Americans are on average spending 51 minutes behind the wheel each day, according to research from AAA. The average number of miles that drivers travel each day is 31.5. If you can work from home or carpool, consider making the change to save more money on your car insurance.
Driving fewer miles could also make a usage-based or pay-per-mile driving program right for you.
8. Take advantage of discounts
Your insurer won’t automatically apply every discount to your policy. That’s why you need to check and see which ones they offer. Some insurance companies offer discounts if you’re a member of particular organizations or businesses. Many insurers partner with banks, fraternities and sororities, and various professional organizations and will offer member discounts. My insurer applies a $23 discount to my policy because I bank with Bank of America.
What’s more, your insurer won’t know if you just got married or changed jobs. If you have experienced any major life change, be sure to let them know.