Want to pay less for auto insurance? These car upgrades may help you save.
Many car insurance companies offer discounts for certain features, like anti-theft devices and anti-lock brakes
If your vehicle doesn’t have those safety features, it may be possible to add them
But because discounts for safety equipment can be small, and certain features may actually raise the cost of your insurance, it’s not always the best way to save
Car insurance premiums are determined by a multitude of factors, including your age, zip code, driving history, credit score and the type of car you drive. Some of those things are hard to change, but when it comes to your car itself, there are some features you can add to help save on car insurance. Most major car insurance companies offer discounts for having certain safety features in your car, like anti-theft devices or blind-spot detection.
If you have a newer car, those features may already be installed in your vehicle, but if you have an older car or a model that didn’t include the upgrades, you may be able to retrofit certain upgrades or add-ons. However, some safety features may offer minimal discounts, or no savings at all, so adding in new features isn’t always the most cost-effective way to bring down your insurance rates.
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As we mentioned above, some of these vehicle features can get you discounts on your car insurance. Check with your auto insurance provider, but money-saving features may include:
Anti-lock brakes. Starting in the 1990s, most car manufacturers started making anti-lock brake systems (ABS) standard in their vehicles. Anti-lock brakes help your car stop quickly in an emergency situation, constantly pumping the brakes to keep your wheels from locking up.
Anti-theft device. If your car has an anti-theft device installed, like a passive alarm system or an ignition cut-off switch, you may be able to get a discount. Your savings will vary depending on the type of device and whether or not it was factory installed or added later.
Tracking device. A step further than some anti-theft devices, systems like OnStar, LoJack or another GPS tracker that can locate your stolen vehicle can earn you bigger discounts than other anti-theft devices.
Daytime running lights. Some insurers, like GEICO, offer a small discount for having daytime running lights, which are front lights that are automatically turned on whenever the car is running.
Safety technology. Certain safety technology features, like electronic stability control, which helps keep you from skidding, may also earn you a small discount on your car insurance. But other tech features that have become common in newer cars, like blind-spot monitoring, may not save you money.
Note: It’s important to remember that vehicle safety features and anti-theft devices will only earn you discounts off your comprehensive and collision coverage, so if your auto insurance policy isn’t what’s usually called full coverage, meaning it includes comp and collision in addition to liability, then these discounts may not apply to you.
And the add-ons can lead to different size discounts — GEICO estimates than its customers can save around 25% with an anti-theft system but just 1% for having daytime running lights. Your discounts will also vary depending on the insurance company.
Another interesting side effect of having pricier safety tech in cars is that even if the tech lowers your risk of getting into a car accident, it won’t always lower your car insurance premiums. Advanced driver assistance systems, or ADAS, have been found to actually raise insurance costs, because high-tech headlights, bumpers and mirrors cost more to fix or replace if they’re damaged in a crash.
So loading up on certain new safety features may actually cost you more than it will save you money. For some drivers however, the promise of a safer car is worth it, even if it comes at an added cost.
Retrofitting safety or anti-theft features to your current vehicle or loading up on equipment for your new vehicle may not be the most cost-effective way to save money on your car insurance, but there are lots of other ways to save on your premium. Make sure you’re aware of any available discounts your insurance provider offers. Common car insurance discounts include:
Another way to save that’s becoming more and more accessible is through a program that tracks your driving and awards savings based on your driving habits or general car usage. Progressive’s Snapshot program, Allstate’s Drivewise, Nationwide’s SmartRide and State Farm’s Drive Safe & Save programs all track your driving through a smartphone app or a plug-in device in your car. Usage-based car insurance programs like these and others can be a good way to save if you don’t mind sacrificing a little privacy in the process.
If you’ve looked into every available discount and you still feel that you’re paying too much for car insurance, one reliable way to save is to shop around for quotes and see if you can get a better rate. An expert at Policygenius can help you compare quotes from top car insurance companies and choose the coverage that’s best for you.
Anna Swartz is a Managing Editor at Policygenius in New York City, and an expert in auto insurance. Previously, she was a senior staff writer at Mic, writing about news and culture. Her work has appeared in The Dodo, AOL, HuffPost, Salon and Heeb.
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