15 Tips to Lower Your Existing Car Insurance

You can’t live with them and you can’t live without them. Cars fall into that particular category. Without a doubt they are an essential part of family life, how else would you manage to ferry the kids to school or pick them up from their friends’ house? But, it costs money, every single aspect of owning a car costs money; gasoline, maintenance and the insurance.

So how do we go about reducing our costs? Unfortunately, every car needs fuel to run, so that is a necessity, the same goes with the general upkeep and care of the car. However, where you go for your car insurance is one area where you can cut costs and save money. So when it is time to sit down and review your car insurance policy, take a moment to remember this guide, and put it into action.

1. Multiple Quotes

Copy down the exact terms from your current premium statement, either fax or email the same request to at three insurance agents.
Make sure you provide the same information to all three companies; this ensures your comparison will be an “apples to apples” comparison.
Your friends may give you conflicting information
People report the following insurance companies are worth checking (INSURERS NOTED FOR LOW PRICES)

Ameriprise/AMEX (note several reports of premiums increasing after 1st year)
Erie (east coast only)
Liberty Mutual
USAA (Military affiliation required)
WAWANESA (CA and OR only)
21st Century
Foremost Insurance (specialty)
American Express

Homeowner’s mentionables:
Western Mutual (CA, CO, NV, NM, UT – SFRs)
Mutual Assurance Society of VA (VA ONLY)

Before you decide on the final one, check the financial health of insurance companies with rating companies such as A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s.

2. Repeat every year
Easiest is to check before you renew your insurance. However if you switch your insurance at any time, your current insurance company will refund you the remaining money.
Some people do it at their birthday, some as a New Year’s resolution, some at their anniversary +. Do it every year.
Many people haven’t switched car insurance companies in years because they are too lazy to get quotes.
Save the quotes you received above so that you may repeat the same thing next year.
Since you save everything, rather than spending 3 hours, next year you will spend only 30 minutes.
Don’t be lazy, and don’t consider checking 1or 2 other companies sufficient. Check every 1-2 years , and check at least 3-4 companies.
Even though you find that competing quotes are not as good as your current plan and you do stay with your current insurance, you still can brag about you are getting the lowest price.

3. Don’t Over-Insure

There’s a word for paying for something you’ll never use: frustrating. Unfortunately, many people over-insure with auto insurance.

For example, collision and/or comprehensive coverage, which protect your car in the event it’s damaged, may not be necessary on an older car. If your car is worth less than 10 times the premium, buying the coverage may not be cost-effective.

Information from NAIC’s website also suggests that if a car is worth less than $1,000, you should consider only carrying liability coverage, which protects from damage you do to others or to property. This is because you’ll likely pay more in premiums than the insurance will pay you if and when you file a claim.

4. Pay a Higher Deductible

Ironically, raising your deductible, the amount you’ll pay out-of-pocket in the case of a claim, could be a great savings opportunity.
Increasing your deductible from $200 to $500 could reduce your collision and comprehensive coverage cost by 15 to 30 percent. If you raise your deductible to $1,000, your savings could climb to 40 percent or more.

If you decide to pursue this potential money-saving route, make sure you have the funds to cover the deductible in the case of an accident. You always think as soon as you switched to a higher deductible, you will hit an accident. However paying higher premiums year after year is a sure way to lose money. You need to balance the “sure way to save” money and the “chance” of an accident to both minimize the risks as well as saving money.

5. Cash in on That Wedding

If you got married since you last renewed your policy, be sure to let your insurer know. Generally speaking, you can save money when you get married since married people file fewer claims than singles. Therefore, married people are considered less of a risk than single people and can often qualify for lower premiums.

On the other hand, if this year is a year of divorce instead of marriage, you still might be able to save if your ex had a bad driving record.

6. Remove Children from Your Policy

Is your son or daughter going off to college this year? If so, you could save by labeling him or her as only an occasional driver on your policy. This means your child will only drive your car while home for vacation or holidays. And the savings could be significant. Parents typically see a 50 percent increase in their insurance premiums if a child under 25 years old is listed on their policy.

However, to qualify for a potentially lower premium, most insurers will require that the college your son or daughter attends is at least 100 miles from home, according to “Auto Insurance FAQ’s” from NAIC’s website.

7. Keep an old car if you have a driving age child.
Sometimes an older car that requires less insurance premium may save you money if you designate that car to the young (but driving age) kid. If you have more drivers than cars, the oldest person that requires the smallest premium will not provide any benefit to lower your premium. For example, if you have three drivers (oldest, middle, youngest) and two cars (car1 and car2), Farmers insurance for example, would match the youngest person first:
Oldest= does not list as the primary driver on any car.
Thus in this case, you need to make sure car1 is a cheap car that requires less premium.

8. Child Driver
You can love your kids with all your heart but you might not want to have them on your insurance plan. You can choose to restrict drivers of a certain age, most often the under 25 age bracket, which will help you get a cheaper premium.

9. Drive Less

Driving less is trending. At least that’s what the 2011 NAIC survey on economy-driven trends found. It states that almost 40 percent of consumers are diving less, instead choosing to carpool, walk, or take public transportation more often. If you’re a part of that 40 percent, you could qualify for a low-mileage discount.

10. Buy a Different Car

Are you thinking about buying a new car this year? Don’t forget to check the insurance prices for the various makes and models you’re considering. It could make a big difference.
What you Drive Matters.

Car insurance premiums are based in part on the car’s price, the cost to repair it, its overall safety record, and the likelihood of theft. And if you thought only pimped-out luxury rides got targeted by thieves, think again. The three most stolen cars in the U.S. for 2010 were the Honda Accord, Honda Civic, and Toyota Camry, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s “Hot Wheels” report. Annual reports show that there are certain brands and models of cars that are more likely to be stolen or be given speeding tickets. Keeping aware of this list could help you save money when the time comes to exchange or upgrade your car. In the US in 2011, the 1995 Honda Civic and 1995 Accord were both within the top 5 of cars which were likely to be stolen or vandalized. Others were the 2009 Toyota Corolla and 2004 Dodge Ram Pickup.

So, before you pick out your new ride for this year, make sure to research the car’s stats and determine whether or not the insurance premium is in your budget.

11. Move Out of the City

A few miles of dirt can be the difference between saving $500 and not. If you live in a location which happens to have a high rate of crime including car theft and vandalism then you will generally pay more for your insurance. A lot of people live on the borders of towns or cities so be sure that you make your insurance provider aware of which side of the suburb you park your car.

You likely won’t be moving out of the city based on auto insurance rates. But if you have moved out of the city, or if changes in your work allow you to drive and park in less urban areas, make sure your insurer gets the good news. Insurers consider cities so much more of a risk because of traffic (increased accidents), theft, and vandalism. Here are the three costliest places in the U.S. to insure a car:*

Detroit, Mich.- Average annual premium: $5,941
Philadelphia, Pa.- Average annual premium: $4,076
New Orleans, La. – Average annual premium: $3,599

12. Use an Anti-Theft Device

Having a good knowledge of your car’s specifications and safety features can help you qualify for a discount when getting a car insurance quote. Any safety features that help reduce the risk of injuries or theft will help reduce the cost of your motor insurance, so do some research before you call your provider or take matters into your own hands and fit an alarm.

Since stolen cars mean insurance payouts, there are some anti-theft devices that will garner you substantial savings. Signing up for LoJack – which uses a hidden transmitter to let police track your car if and when it gets stolen – could give you a discount. Make sure that whatever savings you get pays for the anti-theft device, if that’s your primary purpose for using it. Of course, getting your stolen car back is kind of a nice thing, too.

13. Take Advantage of Any and All Discounts

From being a good student to simply aging, there are a number of auto insurance discounts that you could potentially qualify for. But, don’t expect your insurance carrier to automatically sign you up for discounts for which you qualify. To get you started, here are a few common discounts:**

Mature Driver – Many insurers lower rates.
Good Credit Score – Better credit usually equals a better rate, but not all states allow for credit-based insurance scores.
Good Student Discount – Usually requires a B average for a full-time student.
Teacher’s discount – If you are a teacher
Engineer’s discount – If you are an engineer
Passive Restraints – This is for seat belts that automatically buckle when you start the car.
Driver Education Course – Completing a defensive driving course could qualify you for savings.
Bundled Insurance – Get your auto and home or renter’s insurance with the same company.
Pay in Full – Applies when you pay your entire premium in one payment rather than installments.

14. After and At Fault Accident

If you have an at fault accident that occurred just over 3 years ago. You are re-pricing auto insurance and found that many (in fact most) auto insurance quote forms you have come across ask for incidents in the past 5 years. These companies may quote you out higher than those only looking at 3 years. The following may only look at the 3 previous years of a driver’s record. Keep in mind this may be state specific so your mileage may vary:

AAA -OR (3 Years for an at fault accident; 3 years for not at fault accidents, claims, or violations)
Farmers -OR (3 Years for an at fault accident; 3 years for not at fault accidents, claims, or violations)
GMAC -OR (3 Years for an at fault accident; 3 years for not at fault accidents, claims, or violations)
Kemper (Unitrin) -OR (3 Years for an at fault accident; 3 years for not at fault accidents, claims, or violations)
Amica -OR (3 years for all accidents or violations; 5 years for a claim)
Statefarm -OR (3 years for minor accidents, claims, or violations; 5 years for a major violation)
Progressive -OR (5 Years for an at fault accident; 3 years for not at fault accidents, claims, or violations)
Allstate -OR (5 Years for an at fault accident; 5 years for not at fault accidents, claims, or violations)
MetLife -OR (5 Years for an at fault accident; 5 years for not at fault accidents, claims, or violations)
Nationwide -OR (5 Years for an at fault accident; 5 years for not at fault accidents, claims, or violations)
Geico -OR (5 Years for an at fault accident; 5 years for not at fault accidents, claims, or violations)
Travelers -OR (5 Years for an at fault accident; 5 years for not at fault accidents, claims, or violations)
Ameriprise (Costco)-OR (3 Years for accidents or claims; 5 years for traffic violations)

14. Keep Good Credit Score
A recent study conducted found that people with credit scores above 750 can save around $783 annually on car insurance. Unfortunately, those with a score lower than 750 are considered a high risk and are treated accordingly, with a higher premium. So, in order for you to save money in your home, research who has the better credit score between yourself and your partner and then apply for your insurance under that name.

15. Check Links
The auto insurance industry is heavily regulated and under these regulations, competing car insurance companies are required to offer nearly identical products to comply with state minimum insurance requirements. Depending on individual state laws, companies may offer some coverage in certain states and not in others.

Regardless of your state and car insurance needs, consumers need to be well-informed about the different types of car insurance, terms, and coverage in order to compare car insurance rates in their state.

Some links

updated CA link

Arizona (Updated: 9.11)
AZ kant spell
Data requires more time to masssage then any net savings, not at all usable
http://www.inscomm.state.ga.us/ConsumerService/RateComparisons-Auto.aspx information is worthless the dates range by several years and are not current
Kentucky – PDF
Massachusetts – PDF – All insurance companies in Mass.
Mississippi – PDF
Montana – PDF
New Jersey
Oregon – PDF
South Carolina Car South Carolina House – xls
South Dakota – How to save cash on your homeowner’s policy -DOC
Utah – PDF
West Virginia – Interactive Inventory Chart –PDF

16. Common Terms
Liability Insurance
Liability insurance is mandatory in most states and is the most basic type of coverage. The purpose of liability insurance is to cover damages to others caused by an insured driver’s negligence. In addition to providing coverage for damages to others, liability insurance also provides the policyholder with legal counsel to defend him or her in court against actions arising from an auto accident. If the insured driver was not at fault for an accident, the insurer will not make payments under liability coverage. Liability insurance is typically the cheapest form of car insurance.

Bodily Injury Liability Insurance
Bodily injury liability insurance pays for medicals bills, pain and suffering and other claims arising from injuries in auto accidents caused by the negligence of the insured. The policy may have a single limit or a limit that is shown as $25,000/$50,000. This means that the maximum limit for each person injured in an accident is $25,000 and the maximum limit of total injury coverage for each accident is $50,000.

Property Damage Liability Insurance
Property damage liability insurance covers damage to property caused by the negligence of an insured driver. The property may be a car, house, building, light pole or any other property which is damaged in an auto accident. State mandatory limits for property damage liability insurance are usually quite low, but if the amount of the damages exceeds the policy limits, the policyholder may have to pay the difference out of pocket.

No-Fault Insurance
No fault or personal injury protection (PIP) insurance covers the insured for injuries received in an auto accident regardless of who was at fault for the accident. No fault coverage is usually mandatory in the states where it is offered and the provisions of this coverage vary widely between states, since each state has its own no fault law. In some states it only covers medical bills, while in other states it may provide coverage for lost wages and even a death benefit.

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
This coverage behaves like liability insurance for a driver with no insurance or insufficient insurance who is involved in an auto accident with an insured person. It provides bodily injury coverage, including claims for pain and suffering, for the insured. It also provides property damage coverage for the insured vehicle, although a deductible applies in most cases. The insurer reserves the right to collect the damages they paid to the insured from the uninsured driver.

Collision Coverage
Collision insurance provides coverage for damages to the insured vehicle caused by a motor vehicle accident. This is one of the highest priced kinds of coverage. There is a deductible which the insured must pay if the car is damaged. It is not mandatory in any state, but may be required as a condition of an auto loan by the lender. The higher the value of the car, the higher the premium on the coverage will be.

Comprehensive Insurance
Comprehensive coverage pays for damages to the insured driver’s car that was not caused by an auto accident. This coverage includes damage from theft, vandalism, acts of nature and collisions with wildlife or livestock. Like collision coverage it has a deductible and it is not mandatory in any state, but may be required as a condition of an auto loan. It is usually not worthwhile to carry comprehensive or collision coverage on older model cars with very low values.

Other Optional Types of Coverage
Medical payments insurance covers medical bills incurred by the insured as the result of an injury received in an accident up to the policy limit. Towing and roadside assistance insurance pays a limited amount for towing or repairs if the insured car breaks down on the road. Rental insurance pays a limited amount for a rental vehicle for up to 30 days if the insured car is disabled due to an accident, theft, vandalism or an act of nature. None of these coverage are mandatory.

Car Insurance Quotes
Each driver must decide what coverage and insurance limits best meet his or her needs. The mandatory minimum insurance is not right for every driver. Once drivers have decided on the right coverage, they can compare prices with free online car insurance quotes to get the best deal on the insurance they need.



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