Auto insurance is a necessary expense, but one that we often spend too much for.
Many people seem to be much more likely to look for ways to save on groceries by clipping coupons or to save on gas by driving around town trying to find the lowest per gallon price rather than looking at their auto insurance. Often people choose their auto insurer, pay their premium every six months, and don’t think about it further.
Yet why pay more than you have to?
There are plenty of ways to trim your costs and save money on car insurance.
Consider the following easy ways to save on auto insurance:
Bundle your policies
Chances are auto insurance isn’t your only insurance expense. You likely have homeowner’s insurance and life insurance, to name a few. Call your insurer and see if you will get a discount on your policies if you bundle them all together. We get a discount for bundling our renter’s insurance and auto insurance together.
Make sure to crunch numbers to see that you are getting the best deal. You may find one insurer offers a good price on auto insurance but a much higher price than you are currently paying on life insurance. In that case, bundling may not make sense.
Take a defensive driving course
If you take a defensive driving course, most insurers reward you with an insurance discount. Call your insurance agency and see what program they recommend. In my state, I can take a defensive driving course with the secretary of state and get a discount. Because our premium is already quite low, I haven’t done this, but I would be much more motivated if I had a high premium.
Maintain an excellent credit score
You may wonder why your credit score has anything to do with how much money you pay for insurance.
Whether you realize it or not, many insurers are using your credit score to determine how much you pay for insurance. As reported in Fox News, “’Most auto, homeowner and other property insurers use a credit-based insurance score to determine how likely it is you’ll file a claim,’ according to David Snyder, vice president and associate general counsel of the American Insurance Association.”
Your credit score is one piece of your insurance score, which also includes the state you live in and your driving record.
The better your credit score, the less you are likely to pay for insurance. If you know you have a great credit score, make sure you bring it up to the insurer.
Look for group discounts
Often, if you can buy insurance as part of a group, you will pay a lower price.
You can see if your university alumni association offers a group insurance discount as well as a union you may belong to for work, your bank, or your credit union. In some cases these groups actually offer the insurance; in other places, they offer a discount if you purchase the insurance by using your affiliation.
Drop coverage you don’t need
As your car ages and loses value, you may want to consider dropping full coverage. Some people opt to carry coverage that only covers third parties such as damage to someone else’s car or injury to another person. If your car was damaged, insurance would not cover the damages. Obviously, you only want to consider carrying this type of insurance if your vehicle has very little monetary value.
Raise your deductible
Deductibles range from 0 to $1,000. The higher you set your deductible, the less you have to pay in insurance.
However, before raising your deductible, make sure you have a healthy emergency fund. If you have a $1,000 deductible and have an accident, you will need to pay the first $1,000 in repairs.
Don’t report small accidents
If you accidentally hit your bumper on the corner of the garage and find out it will cost $1,200 to fix, consider if you want to report this to your insurer. If you have a $1,000 deductible, it may be better to pay the extra $200 out of pocket rather than report it.
As you make claims, your car insurance inevitably goes up. Also, if you make too many claims within a certain time frame, you risk losing your insurance completely.
On the flip side, the longer you go without a claim, the lower your insurance will go. Often paying for small accidents out of pocket is a smart insurance move.
Shop around regularly
Every year or two, take the time to shop around with other insurance carriers. The insurance you have now might have been the best deal five years ago, but is it still the best deal?
Only shopping around will tell you that. Simply take your current auto insurance policy and call other agencies asking for the exact same coverage. This can take as little as an hour of your time, but the savings can be impressive.
See if the insurer offers a discount for good grades
Adding a teen driver to your insurance can raise the premiums significantly. One way to help reduce this is to see if your insurer offers a good grade discount. Many offer discounts for teen who are earnings As and Bs.
While auto insurance can be expensive, you can lower it significantly by taking advantage of available discounts. Each of these strategies can help you reduce your insurance bill a bit. Even if you only save $100 a year, over 30 years of driving, that can add up to $3,000. More likely, you will save more than that, giving you a savings well into the tens of thousands over your lifetime of driving.
So You Think You Can Save says
We were paying monthly on our insurance bill and found that we could save $10 more a month by paying it up front, so if you have the available cash, you should consider doing that.
Thanks for the tip. I thought about adding that to the post, but when I called my insurance company, they offer the same rate whether you pay once a year or twice a year. Still, it is worth asking because other insurance companies may offer this.
That’s a great recommendation by ‘So You Think You Can Save.’
Almost all insurance products (life, auto, etc) will give you a “discounted” rate if you pay annually. It’s not really a discount…the yearly price is the actual premium, but in reality you get charged more if you pay on a monthly, quarterly, or semi-annual basis.
From experience I’ve noticed that USAA has by far the best rates on auto and home insurance. They’re a non-profit company which is why their rates are typically unbeatable (of course your circumstance may prove different – if you have a bad driving record, etc.).
The downside to USAA is that they’re only available to people that have a family member that has been in the military (spouse, child, parent, or grandparent).
Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager says
Get good grades in college. Then you get a discount even after you graduate.
Brent Pittman says
I think the best way we’ve saved $ on insurance is only having one car between my wife and I. Sure its been hard, but I’m sure we’ve literally saved thousands of dollars on insurance, gas, and maintenance. I walked to work for 3 years to help make that possible. Not having the car in the first place is the cheapest always.
Excellent point! We only have one car too, and it saves us so many ways from gas to insurance to maintenance.
How To Create a Budget says
Thank you for this ! Seriously useful info.
I have bookmarked this and i also am looking forward to reading new articles.
Keep up the great job!
Save Money Hound says
Thanks. Some great tips. I would also add to consider including a “One not at fault” claim per year to your policy. Helpful for covering those hit and run accidents.
Accident Insurance Rates says
Great tips overall! I have seen many people see huge rate hikes due to the smallest of incidents, where they regret reporting it. I would caution against raising your deductible to much as that can wreak havoc on finances if a accident occurs.
Cheap Dude says
Great list… one thing to add is don’t go for a long period of time without insurance. I sold my car because I no longer needed one and went 1.5 years without being insured on a vehicle. By the time I went to buy a new car I had to start insurance all over again as if I was a brand new driver! This cost me thousands of dollars.
I will print out this article for reading offline, Nice share, Thanks
Depending on where you’re located, you guys should check out CURE Auto Insurance (available in New Jersey and Pennsylvania). CURE is a not-for-profit insurer and doesn’t care about your credit score or education level and other things that most insurance companies use to raise rates. They mostly care about driving record, so responsible NJ and PA drivers should definitely get a free quote and see how much they could be saving. http://www.cure.com
Elam Landry says
Thanks for the post! I couldn’t agree more with your list. This list can save you on average $5-10 per discount but after getting each one it could add up to a couple hundred. Would you recommend using the same list for drivers who are young looking for low-cost car insurance? I told my car insurance company I drive less than I used to (which I really do) that dropped my rate by 15% if that helps to put on the list. They did ask for proof though but I heard some other companies don’t.