You may not know this about me, but I actually spent a decade working in the insurance industry as a mathematician. And during the last four years of that run, my main job was to analyze data and create predictive models to build auto insurance rates.
That’s right, my team and I figured out how much our insurance company should charge people for car insurance.
So I know firsthand that there are a lot of factors that go into the calculation of your insurance premium.
And there are plenty that you can’t change — at least not easily. Got a ticket or an accident on your record? It’ll take years for that mistake to stop impacting your rate.
But there are some things you can do almost instantaneously that can have a huge impact on your car insurance rates right now.
In fact, here are six of my favorite insurance hacks for lowering your rate right away:
1. Amp up your deductibles.
If you can afford to raise your insurance deductible, do it. You might think it’s a small thing, but — in actuality — the savings are potentially huge.
Want proof? Check out this chart in a recent report from CarInsurance.com. You can see, on average, how much people in your state save by increasing their deductibles to $500 or $1000.
Spoiler alert: In some cases, you’ll save more than 20% on your car insurance premium!
2. Review your coverages.
Your doctor gives you an annual check-up, so do yourself the favor of giving your coverage choices the once-over at least that often. In particular, check these areas:
- Are you over-insured? Choosing the highest limits for each coverage type isn’t always your best bet. If your assets are limited, you likely don’t need to shell out for the highest level of protection.
- Should you drop your collision & comprehensive coverages? Follow the 10% rule for each old or low-valued vehicle you own. First, subtract your deductible from your car’s value. Then, compute 10% of that number. If the annual premiums for your collision and comprehensive coverage exceed that amount, consider eliminating those coverages entirely for that car.
- Are you paying for unnecessary coverage? Got a second car? Maybe you shouldn’t be paying for the option of renting a car if your primary vehicle is in the shop. And, if you have great health insurance, check that you’re not duplicating that coverage with your auto insurance policy.
3. Examine your driving habits.
The way you use your cars changes naturally over time.
For instance, if you’ve changed jobs or become an at-home worker or parent, your commute may have shortened — or vanished altogether. Additionally, your cars’ primary drivers may have changed recently.
Let your insurance company know. Commuting distance and driver assignment play a significant role in determining what premium is charged.
4. Update your insurance company on your life.
Who you are and how you live your life matters to your insurance company. While legislation exists to prevent insurers from charging more for some demographic information — like race and religion — other factors are routinely used for pricing.
Married people typically receive lower rates than their unmarried peers. Drivers who earn advanced degrees may see a pleasant dip in their rates. And insured students may receive a nice bonus for earning good grades. Plus, if your kid is away at college, your cars at home might run you less in insurance costs.
5. Check for discounts.
The good news is that your insurance company probably has more discounts available than you realize! Here are just a few standard benefits that can stack up to big savings:
- Discount for paying your insurance bill in full instead of in installments
- Discount for choosing paperless/electronic delivery over snail mail
- Discount for successfully completing a driver’s education course (in person or online)
- Vehicle discounts for anti-lock brakes, approved alarm systems, and more
- Membership discounts for participation in specific clubs, schools, military branches, etc.
Discovering available discounts is usually pretty straightforward. A call to your insurer’s customer service line will usually yield the information. Even better, some insurers — like Allstate — list available discounts directly on their websites.
6. Upgrade your credit.
Most states and auto insurance companies use a specialized form of your credit score to determine insurance rates. And how you stack up plays a huge role in the premiums you’re charged.
If your credit isn’t top-notch, improving it is an excellent way to lower your insurance rates. But, naturally, that process takes time.
In the here and now however, you can — and should! — check your (free!) credit report for errors and fraud. Misinformation is common and can lower your score significantly.
Contact the credit bureau issuing the report to contest any bad data you find. Once it’s been removed, call up your insurer and ask them to rerun your credit score and calculate your new premium.
Have you taken action in at least one of these six areas? How much did you save on your auto insurance premiums?