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How to get affordable car insurance

From discounts to car choice, the best ways to get cheap car insurance.

There are many factors that influence your car insurance premium. Many of the factors that determine whether you have affordable car insurance or not, including your age, sex, and location, aren’t in your control. But there are some that are. Find out how to get discounts or lower rates on your car insurance bill:

Shop for a new insurance policy

If you haven’t shopped around for auto insurance lately and you’re hoping for more affordable car insurance, you should probably make this task a priority. Most auto insurance companies will quietly raise your rates over time, which is why shopping around for new car insurance quotes can yield great savings and be a great way to find the cheapest car insurance. Policygenius is the easy way to buy and compare auto insurance. It’s also a good chance to check in on your coverage amounts. Many people have too much or too little insurance, and Policygenius can help you decide how much coverage is right for you.

Read more about how much car insurance you need.

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Bundle your policies

Many car insurance companies also sell other insurance products — like homeowners and renters insurance — and many of those companies offer discounts for having two or more policies with them. If you have policies with different insurance companies, consider moving them all to one carrier to take advantage of bundling savings, also called “multiple policy savings.” The cheapest car insurance company may be the one you already have another policy with.

Take a driving course

Teenagers aren't the only ones who can earn insurance discounts by taking driver's education courses. Many states offer lower rates to those who take defensive driving courses. In New York, for example, if you complete a defensive driving course after you start driving an insured vehicle, you're eligible for a 10% base rate reduction on your liability and collision insurance for up to three years. Not all states, however, offer these courses, and discounts vary state to state. Check with your insurance company or state department of motor vehicles to see if these courses are available to you.

Student discounts

If you’re a student or you have a child who is a student and you are paying for their car insurance, you could save by taking advantage of one of several student discounts. Ask your insurance company about a good student discount. Additionally, if your child is a full-time college student attending a school 100 miles away or more, you could get a distant college student discount so they’re covered when they’re home, but you’re not paying for them when they’re not.

Organization memberships

Some insurance companies offer discounted rates if you belong to a particular organization or if you work for a certain company. If you have a membership in an organization or work for a large company, ask about discounts.

Pay in full

Not everyone can afford to pay several months of insurance bills at the same time. But if you can swing one payment for the entire premium for a six-month period, you may be able to save money with a pay-in-full discount. The savings vary depending on the insurance company and where you live. Ask your insurance company if they offer a discount if you pre-pay your premiums, and make note for when you renew your policy.

Keep a clean driving record

While you can’t erase any past tickets or collisions on your record, driving safely today can help lead to lower insurance costs. The longer you avoid a wreck or a speeding ticket, the lower the rates can go.

Get rewarded for your overseas good driving record

Although most drivers with good driving records are already receiving good driver discounts, if you spent significant time abroad in the past several years or you’re a new immigrant, you could be paying a needlessly high rate. If you’ve just moved to the U.S., you may appear as a new driver in this country, even though you've been driving for years in your home country. Many insurance companies will quote you higher new driver rates based solely on your short driving record in the U.S. But, you can get around this by providing your insurance carrier with a copy of your good driving record from your country. Ask your insurance company what kind of proof they need to give you a good-driving discount.

Improve your credit score

Insurers often look to your credit score to determine how risky you are as a driver. You can take steps to improve your scores including paying down your debts, maintaining a good payment history and keeping the number of inquiries on your credit to a minimum. Read more about how to improve your credit score.

Increase your deductible

Keeping a low deductible on your auto insurance typically requires you to pay a higher monthly rate. On the flip side, you can save money on auto insurance if you boost your deductible. But it only makes sense to do that if you can actually afford to pay the deductible in case of an accident.

Choose the right car

Cars with high safety ratings generally have fewer accidents, and cars with fewer accidents are cheaper to insure. If you’re a good driver with a safe car — such as a Nissan Maxima, Volkswagen Passat or Toyota Avalon — you could be paying some of the lowest rates possible. So if you’re shopping for a new car and hoping to keep your car insurance affordable, it makes sense to choose the right car.

Important factors that influence your car insurance rates include:

The cost of your car

Generally speaking, the more your car is worth, the more expensive it is to insure — regardless of its safety rating. Why? For starters, your premium will likely be high due to the replacement value that your insurance company will need to pay out in the event that your car is stolen or totalled in an accident.

The type of car you drive

SUVs and minivans, often associated with soccer moms and families, tend to be less costly to insure. On the flipside, not all SUVs will garner lower insurance rates. If the one you have your eye on is also a commonly stolen vehicle, your insurance premium could be higher. Even if you drive one of the safest cars out there, if your car costs megabucks to fix, your insurance may be higher than if you drive a car with inexpensive replacement parts.

Your car’s safety features

Because auto insurance rates take the likelihood of a collision into account, safety features that can prevent a crash or reduce damage from a crash can lower your insurance rates. Standard safety features include front airbags, electronic stability control, safety belts and the LATCH child safety seat system, and these won’t generally affect your car insurance rates. But there are additional safety features that could earn you a discount:

  • Forward collision warning – This safety feature warns you if you’re coming too close to a vehicle in front of you. In some vehicles, it may even automatically slow your car down.
  • Adaptive headlights – These headlights improve visibility around curves by pivoting the lighting in the direction you’re heading in as you turn.
  • Blind spot detection – This feature alerts drivers of objects that may be in their blind spots, helping them avoid a collision with other cars or anything else they can’t see.
  • Anti-theft system – If your car is a model that is frequently stolen, you may be able to save on insurance costs if you have an anti-theft system in place. In some states, anti-theft systems like the LoJack, OnStar or Teletrac make you eligible for a safety discount. In other states, a basic car alarm may be all you need to qualify for lower insurance rates.

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Disclaimer: Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.

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