If you’re a driver with a perfect record whose car insurance rates have increased recently, you probably feel frustrated. Isn’t a spotless record enough to keep your insurance rates down? Unfortunately, no. There are a variety of factors that affect your insurance rates and whether they increase or decrease at any given time.
Some of these factors are within your control, such as your driving record. Other factors, however, are based on things outside of your control. As a valued car insurance holder, it’s important you understand which factors can influence your insurance costs and how to avoid them if possible.
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Factors you can control
There is a bright side to understanding the controllable factors that influence your rates. If you know what these factors are, you can do your best to avoid them.
When evaluating new clients, insurance providers look at the risk factors for accidents and claims. This means that if you have a history of accidents or claims, your insurance rates could be higher than someone who’s never been in an accident.
Many drivers are surprised when they see a rate increase after an accident that wasn’t their fault. This could be due to a history of accidents, reflecting poorly on your record, even if the accidents haven’t been your fault. No matter who is held liable, any form of accident is another addition to your risk factor.
Not filing a claim, however, could lead to worse problems down the road than a higher insurance rate. Not filing a claim as soon as an accident happens could lead to lawsuits or worse. Even if the accident seems insignificant or wasn’t your fault, the other driver could sue and, because you neglected to file, your insurance provider may drop your policy altogether and refuse to honor it.
Don’t hesitate to ask your insurance provider about any accident forgiveness plans. Often these come with safe driving bonuses and other discounts as well as a grace period for accidents.
Depending on the level of infraction, tickets can cause your insurance rates to spike substantially. Speeding tickets are considered part of your driving record and are looked at by your insurance provider while they evaluate your coverage costs. Your driving record and ticket history help your provider understand your risk level, which they use to determine your cost.
Your insurance increases after a speeding ticket depending on a couple of things:
- How many miles per hour you exceeded the speeding limit is a factor. If you were pulled over for reckless driving, your insurance rates would increase more than if you were pulled over for going 50 in a 45.
- Your ticket history can also affect your rates. If you just received your first ticket, you have little to worry about. However, if you’re getting your third traffic violation for the month, don’t be surprised if your costs increase.
If you have received a citation recently, you could be facing anywhere from a 23% increase to a 78.3% increase in your car insurance rates per year. Spikes in insurance rates due to a violation could remain in your policy until years after as well.
Speeding tickets, failure to stop at a stop sign, passing a school bus, and even tailgating can result in up to a 30% spike in your insurance costs.
While speeding tickets and other minor traffic violations are not as hefty of an increase, DUIs come with a much heftier consequence. Being a much more serious offense, DUIs have been shown to increase insurance rates by as much as 71%.
Hit and runs rank as the highest increase in insurance rates at a whopping 78.3%.
As tempting as it may be, stay within the speed limit and always be aware of your surroundings. Stop at the stop signs and obey the traffic laws and road signs in your area. This could end up saving you hundreds.
Missing a payment on your car insurance reflects very poorly on you as a driver. Even if you think you can just pay it late, what you may not realize is that a late payment can actually increase your insurance rates.
To avoid this altogether and save yourself the hassle, set your payments on autopay. This way, you can relax without worrying if insurance is due. Your insurance provider may offer discounts for paying your entire six-month or annual fee upfront, so don’t be afraid to ask.
Your credit score is also a factor that could cause your insurance rates to increase.
A whopping 35% of your FICO credit score is based on your payment consistency. If you have a poor credit score, this reflects negatively on you and your reliability as a customer, so you will likely get a higher rate than someone with a perfect credit score.
If your credit score suddenly drops, this could also cause your provider to increase your rates. So, how can you avoid decreases in your credit score? You can begin by getting a credit card! This is an effective way to boost your credit score, as long as you make consistent payments on it! Purchasing a home can also boost your credit substantially and help you qualify for lower premiums.
Making changes that change discounts
There are a variety of auto insurance discounts that depend on specific auto policies. For instance, a multiple driver discount is a reduced rate for bundling multiple cars with the same provider. Home and auto bundling is also a common discount offered by insurance providers.
Making a change to any of these factors could result in an increase in your insurance rates. Let’s say you’ve had four cars bundled with the same provider, but you want to sell one of them. When you sell the car and take it off your insurance, you may lose the discount you received from bundling that car.
Any discounts you received for teenage drivers, mature drivers, your occupation, or your specific plan could change if any of these factors change. If you’re unsure which aspect of your insurance rates increased and why, talk to your insurance provider!
Factors you can’t control
It may seem unfair that factors outside your control can cause your insurance to increase even if you have a perfect driving record. However, being aware of these factors can help you understand your insurance policy’s priorities and even negotiate your costs if you notice an increase.
Never hesitate to ask your provider why your rates changed and what specific part of your plan increased. There’s also a chance that your increase may just be a mistake, so it’s always best to ask!
Changes in your area
Your insurance provider calculates your comprehensive and collision rates based on the factors of your location. For instance, if you live in a city with a lot of traffic and a high population, your coverage will be higher than if you live in a rural area with no traffic and a lower population.
Risk factors can also change over time. For one year, the crime rate in your area may be fairly low, while the next year, there may be an increase in vandalism, theft, and property damage. There may also be weather changes in your area depending on the year that might increase your rates. Weather risks could include the winter forecast for the year or the hurricane risk level, depending on where you live.
Crime rates and weather risks are factors outside of your control. They’re also difficult to predict for you and your provider. When you see an increase in your rates, don’t hesitate to ask what increased and why!
Medical conditions and your risk
When determining your risk factors, insurance providers look at everything. That’s right, even your medical history. If you have impaired vision, especially poor night vision, insurance companies will take this into account when calculating your risks and cost.
Discrimination against drivers with disabilities is prohibited via the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), so you will never be given a higher insurance rate solely based on a disability. However, there are factors that accompany disabilities that could increase your rates.
For instance, wheelchair accessibility adds to the items your insurance covers, so this can also add to your rate. Modifications to your driving equipment, such as foot pedal extensions, steering wheel modifications, and other hardware necessary for operating your vehicle, needs to be insured as well. This extra insurance will add to your insurance rates.
Insurance rates fluctuating can be frustrating and discouraging. Being aware of why your insurance rates go up and what factors are within your control can make a big difference.
It’s also important to remember that you can switch insurance anytime. Shopping for auto insurance is one of the best ways to save money, find the lowest rates, and get the best discounts!