Here are 12 ways you may not have thought of to help you cut your premiums by hundreds of dollars every year.
1. Pay Your Bills Differently
One of the quickest and easiest ways to reduce your premiums is to find out if your insurer will give you a break for paying your bill in one lump sum rather than monthly installments. Paying for the full policy term (usually six months) rather than monthly can reduce your rates by up to 10%.
You might also get a discount if you set up automatic payments from your credit card or checking account. The main reason people opt out of this option is that, like a lot of Americans, they live paycheck to paycheck. The thought of your insurance being deducted when your paycheck doesn’t hit your account for another 3 days can be stressful. One thing you probably didn’t know was that you can call ahead and defer the transaction for a few days and in some cases, a week or two. You still get the discount for auto pay, but the convenience of choosing a withdraw date.
Don’t forget about paperless billing. And You could save 3% to 5% on premiums if you sign up to receive bills and other information online rather than through the mail. Easy.
2. Boost Your Deductible
The standard deductible is usually $250 or $500, but what you probably didn’t know is that you can increase your deductible to $1,000, thereby reducing your premiums by up to 20%. It can also prevent you from filing small claims that could potentially lead to a rate increase or jeopardize any claims-free discount you may otherwise qualify for. Just remember to add some money to your emergency fund so you’ll have the cash to pay the deductible if you have an accident.
3. Bundle Up
You probably already know this one, but by purchasing auto insurance from the same company that provides your home or renters insurance can cut your rates by 5% to 20%. You might even get an extra discount if you add an umbrella policy with the same insurer, too.
4. Get Good Grades
This one is REALLY important if you’ve got teenage drivers in the home. Most insurers offer a discount of 15% to 25% for young drivers who maintain at least a B average in school. In order to qualify, the driver usually needs to be a full-time student younger than age 25.
Also, be sure to tell your insurer if your child moves more than 100 miles away from home for college and doesn’t take a car. Your premiums could drop by 20% or more but the child will still be covered when they’re home.
5. Sign Up for Data Tracking
If you don’t drive many miles and have safe driving habits, you could save money by participating in a data-tracking program, such as Progressive’s Snapshot. You can either use an app on your smartphone or plug a device into your car that tracks your driving habits, such as how many miles you drive, how often you drive late at night and whether you exhibit potentially dangerous driving habits, like braking hard and accelerating rapidly.
The average savings is 10% to 15%, and sometimes discounts can even be as high as 50%. Though you should be aware that some insurers will raise your rates if you show risky behavior.
6. Shop Around
Auto insurance premiums can vary quite a bit from company to company. It’s a good idea to shop around for car insurance every few years, or if you’ve had any big life changes, like if you got married or moved.
Here lies the beauty of an independent insurance agent. They work with several companies and can compare rates from several insurers at once to get you the best rate possible.
7. Drop Certain Types of Coverage on Older Cars
Collision coverage typically pays to fix damages to your car caused by a collision. Comprehensive coverage pays for damages caused by other covered events, like theft, weather-related damage, and collision with an animal.
Even if your car is totaled, the most you’ll probably get is the estimated replacement cost for a car of the same age. If your car is only worth a few thousand dollars, you could be paying more in premiums than you’ll get back from the insurer after paying your deductible.
8. Take a Driver-Safety Program
A safe driving course requires drivers to read safe driving tips, watch videos, and take quizzes. These courses can be completed from home in just a few hours. In the end, you’ll be given a certificate of completion to send to your insurance company. They’re good for a year and can save drivers up to %15 on their premiums.
9. Watch the Clock After an Accident or Ticket
In most states, tickets and at-fault accidents will remain on your driving record anywhere from 3 to 5 years, however longtime customers with a good driving record might not see a rate hike at all. When an accident or ticket drops off your record, make sure to ask your insurer to remove the surcharge and then re-shop your policy.
10. Buy a Safe Car
Before you purchase a vehicle, find out how much it costs to insure. You can find out an exact amount by calling your auto insurance company before you buy. They can give you a quote that fairly accurate and most don’t require you to provide a VIN. It probably goes without saying that the safer the car, the less likely you are to have an accident. Nowadays, it’s the norm for safety features such as lane departure alerts and auto braking systems to come standard, even in base model cars. Buying a newer car with these enhanced safety features can save you big time on your premiums.
11. Improve Your Credit Score
In most states, insurers will use your credit score when setting your insurance rates. According to the industry, there is a direct correlation between a lower your score and the higher probability of missed payments. Check your credit report free at CreditKarma.com and make sure there aren’t any errors that could be hurting your score. You can even dispute any errors you find, right from the app.
12. Finally, Ask Your Insurer for a Rate Cut
If you’re shopping around and you get quoted a better rate, let your current insurer know before switching. They may offer to match the rate to keep you as a customer. Can’t hurt to ask, right?