Having enough car insurance to cover potential losses is important for any car owner, but no one likes to spend more money than necessary. Consumers can take advantage of the fact that insurance companies are highly competitive. The Insurance Information Institute notes that annual policy costs can vary by hundreds of dollars, depending on the make and model of the car you drive and the insurance company you choose.1
Here are five tips for reducing your car insurance costs:
1. Seek Multiple Insurance Quotes
Before you buy car insurance, get at least three insurance quotes. The more comparisons you make, the better chance you'll have of saving money.
Each insurance company has its own formula for calculating car insurance rates. They place different levels of importance on such factors as the type of car you drive, annual mileage, your age, your gender, and where you garage your vehicle(s).
Be sure to compare apples to apples when shopping for car insurance, advises Edmunds.com.2 Some less expensive policies may lack the coverage you need. For example, comprehensive protection pays to repair car damage from mishaps other than collisions, such as vandalism or fire. If you want this type of protection, you must buy a policy that includes this coverage.
2. Ask About Discounts
You'll miss an opportunity to cut car insurance costs if you don't ask about discounts. They're available for a variety of reasons, such as meeting low-mileage thresholds, having a good driving record, using anti-theft devices, and completing driver education courses. There also are loyalty benefits for staying with the same company for a certain number of years. Teen drivers often receive discounts for getting good grades.
You can't take advantage of discounts if you aren't aware of them. To make sure you're saving as much as possible, CBS News suggests that you ask your insurance agent or carrier to tell you about all available discounts.3
3. Pay Your Bills on Time
Car insurance companies often consider credit histories when setting their rates. If you have a low credit score with the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — you may be penalized. Many insurers rely on credit bureau information when creating their own credit-based insurance scores for consumers.
A good way to improve your credit history is to pay your bills on time. Under federal law, you can obtain one free credit report each year from each of the major credit bureaus. Review your credit reports carefully to make sure they don't contain errors.
Be aware that not all states allow insurers to use credit information to calculate car insurance rates. According to the Insurance Information Institute, states that restrict the use of credit histories in auto insurance rates include California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts.4
4. Consider Using the Same Insurer for Multiple Policies
Many insurance companies will reduce your rates if you purchase two or more types of insurance from them, such as car and homeowner policies. This is known as “bundling." It offers the convenience of having just one insurance company to contact if you have questions about policies.
Bundling can save you money, but it isn't always the best alternative. Before you agree to bundling, Equifax suggests that you shop around to see if you can get a better deal by purchasing your policies from separate carriers.5
5. Choose Your Car Carefully
Before you buy a car, it's important to make sure you choose one that you can afford to insure. Insuring inexpensive vehicles costs less because they're less costly to repair or replace following accidents.
According to Forbes, the cheapest types of cars to insure are family-oriented minivans and sports utility vehicles.6 New vehicles are more costly to insure than used ones.
Your insurance rep can help you determine the insurance costs for various makes and models that interest you.