Although most states legally require all drivers to purchase car insurance before taking the wheel, no one wants to overpay for this commodity. Luckily, there are steps you can take to help ensure you get what you pay for—without overpaying.
Start by regularly comparing car insurance quotes across providers to identity competitive coverage options, and consider four main factors that could affect your overall costs—risk, discounts, level of coverage and state-specific perks.
Risk. Car insurance underwriters assess a driver’s risk in order to determine how much the driver should pay for car insurance. The driver’s individual record, or driving records of family members on his car insurance policy, can help the insurance company to predict the likelihood of paying a future claim. If the driver or an associated person has moving violations, e.g. speeding tickets, or accidents within the past three to five years, the insurance company is likely to assign higher risk.
In addition, the insurance company may use the driver’s credit profile in the underwriting process. Car insurance underwriters believe that high credit scores correlate with safe driving. Understanding how the insurance company assesses the driver’s risk “tier” can ultimately help him save money on car insurance. Chris Newbold, author of 30 Secrets to Saving Money on Your Auto Insurance recommends asking the insurance agent or broker to discuss the risk parameters used by a specific insurer in detail.
Discounts. Car insurance companies compete for business in certain markets. For example, if a national insurance company wants to build its presence in a regional or city market, discounts may tempt new policyholders to switch insurance companies. Matthew David, author of 100 Creative Ways to Save Money recommends strategies such as paying the annual premium in full, taking and passing a safe driver course and acquiring a AAA membership or affiliate status with companies or organizations. When in doubt, ask the car insurance company about ways to save money on premiums.
Coverage. Where the driver lives determines his minimum car insurance coverage levels. Each driver should assess how much liability or collision coverage he needs. Even seemingly insignificant items may mean a lot in the event of a car accident claim. For example, a lower monthly premium may seem attractive, but opting out of benefits like rental car coverage could come back to bite you in the event of an accident that puts your vehicle out of commission.
State-Specific Perks. Not all car insurers are licensed to sell insurance in every state. A local insurance company may offer great deals to local and state residents. Some non-profit organizations pass along car insurance savings to their members. Contact your state department of insurance about state-headquartered car insurance companies. Research the insurer’s credit rating and assets when offered especially tantalizing car insurance deals. Saving money on premiums is irrelevant if the company defaults on its obligations.