Why did my car insurance go up?

Here are the reasons why your rates may have increased.

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Your car insurance exists to protect you from financial liability after an accident or other incident. And if you’ve ever been a car owner, you probably already know that you maintain your auto insurance policy by paying a regular premium. You may pay monthly, annually or semiannually.

At the end of each policy period, your policy is up for renewal, which means that your insurer takes a look at your history over the course of the most recent policy period and then chooses to either raise or lower your rates. If your rates recently went up, you may be wondering why they increased and what you can do to lower them again.

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What is a car insurance premium?

Your premium is the amount you pay to keep your auto insurance policy in force. The more coverage you have, the higher your premiums will be.

But the coverage you have isn’t the only thing that determines the price of your premiums. Your age, gender, address, the kind of car you drive, and your driving history and habits will all affect your premiums. A lot of those things are out of your control — but if your insurance premiums recently went up, it may have been because of something you can control, which means you may be able to get your rates back down eventually.

What can increase your premiums?

There are a number of reasons why your insurance provider may have raised your premiums when it renewed your policy.

  • If you filed claims or if claims were filed against you during the most recent policy period, that will likely increase your rates.

  • If you were determined to be liable for an accident, that will almost definitely increase your rates. Any new traffic violations, like speeding and other citations, will also likely lead to a rate increase.

  • Your age might also contribute to an increase in your rates. If you’re an older driver you’ll likely see a rate increase as you approach your late 60s. That’s because insurers now see you as riskier to insure because of your age. And that will only continue — as you enter your 70s or 80s, car insurance may become prohibitively expensive.

  • If you moved to a new ZIP code, even if you just moved a short distance away from your old place, that may contribute to a rise in rates. Your new ZIP code might have higher crime rates, or be more densely populated, both factors that may affect your premiums.

  • Sometimes, even if nothing in your life has changed, your insurance premiums can still go up because of factors totally beyond your control. Your provider may raise rates if the entire insurance industry experienced larger-than-usual losses or because of other changes in the market, like rising accident rates or repair costs.

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What can decrease your premiums?

Just like there are a number of things you can do that will cause your premiums to rise, there are also steps you can take to help lower your premiums.

Look out for discounts

Make sure you know of any potential discounts you may be eligible for. Most auto insurance providers offer lots of different kinds of discounts, including special discounts for active military members, students, safe drivers, and even alumni of certain colleges and universities.

Depending on your provider, you also may be able to qualify for more discounts on your insurance by taking a defensive driving course or installing or adding new security or safety features, including:

  • Adaptive headlights

  • An anti-theft device

  • Blind spot detection

  • Rearview cameras

  • Anti-lock brakes

Switch providers

If your rates have been raised and you’re not sure why, it’s never a bad idea to explore your options if you were to switch providers. Shopping around and comparing different quotes can often help you find coverage that’s more affordable and better suited to your particular needs than your current policy. A Policygenius agent can help you shop for new quotes and compare your options.

And if you’re thinking of switching insurance, you might also want to look into bundling your auto insurance with your home insurance under the same provider, which can help you save money across the board.