People across the nation are getting a shock when they open up their annual auto insurance renewal letters. Rates are going up: Some are modest increases, while others are seeing a jump from 8% to 10%. Premiums are going up even if you haven’t had an accident or moving violation.
So, what’s up (besides rates)?
Experts say lower gas prices and a better economy mean more of us are driving a lot more miles, resulting in more crashes. The insurance industry is losing money as the number and severity of crashes have increased. Some of the major insurance carriers (that you see advertised on TV) have suffered billions of dollars in repair and liability payouts in the past couple of years.
New technology also has escalated the cost of repairs, even in minor accidents. It used to take only a few hundred dollars to fix a bumper or a back hatch after a rear-end collision. Now, thanks to all the technology in our cars, such as cameras and driving sensors, the same repair can cost thousands of dollars. Add to that the increase of materials, legal and medical costs, and many insurers have been forced to raise their rates to make up for the losses.
Here are seven things you can do that may lower your auto insurance premiums:
1. Clean up your credit. Many insurance companies look at your credit score and how well you do in paying your bills (except in California, Hawaii and Massachusetts). The better your credit score, the better rate you’re likely to receive. Clean credit also helps when you want to buy a new car, rent or buy a home, etc.
2. Increase your deductibles. Sure, the amount you’ll pay will be a little more if something happens to your vehicle, but the amount you’ll save each month could add up to much more, especially if you’re incident free for a number of years. Just make sure you have an emergency fund to cover that higher deductible.
3. Check for good driver/good student discounts. If you’ve been accident free, most insurance companies will give you a good-driver discount, but make sure you tell them. The same goes for students with good grades.
4. Check insurance costs when buying a new vehicle. If you’re planning to purchase a new car or truck, research how it could affect your insurance. Depending on numerous criteria including the power of the engine, the model’s safety rating and its loss history (insurance claims filed on a used car), your rates could change. Two good resources to check for safety information are the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Loss Data Institute’s vehicle safety ratings. It’s also a good idea to contact your insurance company and ask them what buying that dream car will cost you in future insurance premiums.
5. Cut your driving. The number of miles you drive each year can affect your auto insurance rates. The less you drive, the greater the possible discount. Consider riding a bike, taking mass transit or moving closer to where you work.
6. Get a policy review. Has your commute changed? Did you install a security device? Did you get married? Did a traffic ticket come off your record? All of these can lower the rate you pay for insurance. Talk with your insurance adviser at least once a year to make sure you get the discounts you’re entitled to.
7. Compare your current insurance to the NEA Auto & Home Insurance Program.
To find out more about how the NEA Auto & Home Insurance Program can save you money and meet your needs, visit our program page.
Sources for this article: http://www.iii.org/article/nine-ways-to-lower-your-auto-insurance-costs