The first and most important thing to realize about dealing with auto insurance companies is that they do not set rates based on any sort of rational basis. Since, as I’ve noted before, it is next to impossible for insurers to get accurate information about driving habits, they use a lot of information that makes little or no sense when they set rates.
That means a lot of the rates are arbitrarily set and you may have little or no control over what’s going on. Fortunately, there are some tricks that you can take advantage of to cut your car insurance rates.
Some of the best means of cutting your auto insurance premium include:
- Change insurers. There are a lot of insurers out there and they want your business. Most insurance companies give some sort of break to new customers.
- Call your insurance company. Before you change, call your insurance company or agent and tell them that you plan to switch. Just the threat of switching can sometimes get them to cut you a deal.
- Tell the insurance company about your age, your career, and your marital status. Okay, age, marital status and career may have no effect on driving, but many insurers set rates on them. Rates for persons between 50 and 74 can be up to 15% below those for persons between 30 and 50. Drivers under 25 can pay twice what a senior citizen pays. Some companies also give discounts to married people and those in certain careers, such as teachers.
- Take a defensive driving class. Some insurers offer an automatic 5% discount for taking one of these, regardless of age.
- Tell insurers about major life changing events. If you retire or start working from home, tell the insurer because that will mean that you will drive less. Women that become stay-at-home moms should do the same. Do the same if you start commuting by public transit or get a job closer to your home with a shorter drive. Many insurers offer a low mileage discount.
- Add a telemetric device to your car. This is a wireless gadget that tells your insurer how much you are driving and lets them monitor your driving habits. That way, the insurer can see how you actually drive; for example, if you’re a young guy who’s a really careful driver or you drive low mileage. Even though it sounds creepy, it might be a good idea to ask your insurer for one of these devices.
- Buy your car insurance during the holidays. Studies have shown that car insurance premiums are 30% to 50% lower in December. The reason for this isn’t clear, but agents and insurers might want to increase their sales volume as the year comes to an end.
- Go online and shop around for insurance. The only way you’ll find low insurance prices is to locate them. Running a simple online search can show you what you really should be paying for insurance.
- Fire your insurance agent and deal directly with insurance companies. Most people can get just as good or a better deal on insurance by going directly to insurance companies’ websites as they can with an agent.
- Check and see if you can get by with less coverage. If you’re saving money by driving an old beater, you might be able to get by with just the minimum coverage required in your state or liability only. Most policies contain both collision, which coverage damage to your vehicle, and liability, which covers damage you cause. Check with your state government to see what the minimum is before you do this.
Don’t be afraid to combine these tricks either. Auto insurance premiums are affected by a wide variety of factors, many of which make little or no sense. Smart people know how to work the system to cut their premiums, while dumb people let insurance companies set the rates and end up paying through the nose, so be smart and not dumb.
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