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There is a very good chance that you are — this very moment — paying too much for your car insurance. There is an even better chance that you could get a better rate, from another insurance company, than you could from your existing insurer.
So why not take an hour or so and review your policy for potential savings? Or, if you’re fed up with the high insurance rates from your current insurer, shop around for a new company.
The Internet has created increasing competition between car insurance companies. It is easier than ever for consumers to shop for low insurance rates, to analyze coverage and compare premiums. Still, studies have shown that people don’t shop around for insurance in the same way they might shop for a new car. Also, people tend to stay with the same car insurance company for years. Why not prove these studies wrong? Put the power of the Net to work for you and save money in the process.
You can save on auto insurance in five ways:
- Make sure you get all discounts you qualify for
- Keep your driver’s record clean and up-to-date
- Adjust your coverage to assume more risk
- Drive a “low profile” car equipped with certain money-saving safety features
- Shop around for a good, low cost insurance provider
First, let’s look at the discounts you might qualify for. Discounts fall into a number of categories:
- Low-risk occupations
- Professional organizations
- Combined coverage
- Discounts for safety features
- More risk assumed by driver
- Discounts for senior citizens
Insurance is a numbers game. Adjustors collect information about what types of people get into accidents. Over the years they see a trend. Drivers that work as engineers tend to get into fewer accidents. Why? It would be fun to speculate about the reasons (pocket protectors — need we say more?) but the insurance companies don’t really care about that. All they know is that, in fact, engineers are a low risk. Since there is less chance that they will wrap their cars around the trunk of a horse chestnut tree, they charge engineers less for insurance. Simple.
But you say you are a teacher instead of an engineer? You might still be in luck. There may be discounts for teachers. You never know unless you ask — and unless you shop around. Not all insurance companies are the same.
Professional Organizations and Auto Clubs
Have you ever been about to pay $100 for a hotel room, only to discover that a AAA discount saves you 15 percent? Now you’re paying $85 and feeling proud of yourself. It’s similar in the insurance business. Affiliation with AAA — and certain other professional organizations — will lower your rates. You should check with your employer to see if there are any group insurance rates. At the same time try checking directly with the insurance company representative when you inquire about the cost of policies.
Combined and Renewal Discounts
A big source of savings is to insure your cars with the same company that insures your house. Make sure you ask if combined coverage is available. This will lower your payments on your car insurance and make your homeowner’s policy cheaper too.
It’s also important to make sure you are getting a “renewal” discount that many car insurance companies offer. This is a discount given to people who have been with the same insurance company for an extended period of time. If you have carried insurance with a company for several years, and not had an accident, your insurance company likes you. Think about it. You paid them a lot of money and they didn’t have to do anything except send you bills and cash your checks. True, they were ready to do something if you got in an accident. But you didn’t get into an accident so they’re happy and want to continue their relationship with you. A renewal discount is a good incentive to urge you to return. And it’s a good reason for you to stay with them.
Discounts for Auto Safety Features
Auto safety features will also lower your payments. Heading the list of money saving safety features is antilock brakes. Certain states — such as Florida, New Jersey and New York — encourage drivers to buy cars with antilock brakes by requiring insurers to give discounts. Check to see if you live in such a state, or if the insurance company you are considering gives a discount for this feature. Automatic seatbelts and airbags are also frequently rewarded with insurance discounts.
Assume More Risk
Two powerful ways to bring your coverage down is to assume a higher risk. This is done in two ways. The most dramatic reduction can be realized by dropping your collision insurance on an older car. If the car is worth less than $2,000, you’ll probably spend more insuring it than it is worth. The whole idea of driving an older car is to save money, so why not get what is coming to you?
Another way to redesign your policy — and save money in the process — is to ask for a higher deductible. The deductible is the amount of money you have to pay before your insurance company begins paying the rest. In other words, you pay for the little dings and bumps and let your insurance company pay for the heavy hits.
For example, a common deductible amount is $500. This means if an accident you’re in causes $1,500 worth of damage, you pay $500 and the insurance company pays $1,000. You could, however, set your deductible to $1,000. This still covers you against heavy losses, but it may decrease your monthly premium by as much as 30 percent.
As a final note, if you are being strangled by high insurance costs, keep this in mind when you go car shopping next time. The more expensive and higher-performance the car is, the higher the premium will be. This is particularly true of cars that are frequently stolen, or are expensive to repair. The insurance company keeps this in mind when setting its insurance rates for this vehicle. Shop for a low-profile car and get your kicks in other ways. You’ll love the savings you’ll see on your auto insurance.