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Six-month insurance policies are the norm for insurance companies. This policy length is the shortest most companies offer — unless, for some reason, your policy is canceled mid-term. Most insurance companies sell six-month policies because the brief term allows them to recalculate rates frequently to ensure your policy is priced fairly. In some cases, companies offer 12-month policies. If a year-long term is available, consider whether you would personally benefit from locking in your rate for a long period of time. This may depend on whether your insurance policy rated for a driving infraction or your area is known for insurance rate volatility.
The six-month policy duration imposed by most auto insurance companies keeps things simple. The risk you pose to your insurance company — calculated via your driving record and demographic profile — is calculated over a six-month period (a policy period). During this six-month time frame, infractions such as an accident or ticket will not affect your premium until the next policy is priced. Insurance companies use six-month policy periods to recalculate your rate to account for recent accidents or citations.
A shorter policy cycle allows for insurers to more accurately calculate your rate.
Car insurance costs depend on a driver's overall profile and the pricing tiers of the insurance company. It's difficult to provide a personalized insurance quote without knowing a driver's history, credit score, age, and other details. Using the methodology outlined here, The Zebra's insurance experts calculated the amount a typical driver would pay for a six-month policy from some popular insurance companies.
|Insurance Company||Average 6-Month Premium|
The cheapest six-month policy premiums come from USAA. A six-month USAA policy will set you back $483, or around $80 per month. If you do not qualify for USAA, GEICO is another affordable option. GEICO charges an average of $545 per six-month policy period — approximately $90 per month.
Depending on your driving record, having your auto insurance rates recalculated more frequently could save you money. While pricing varies by state and circumstance, most insurance companies charge you for up to three years following a driving infraction or car accident. If a violation is timed to expire halfway through your policy, most insurance companies won’t readjust your rate until the policy period has passed unless you specifically ask. In this scenario, a shorter six-month policy will remove infractions from your record more quickly.
Aside from a ticket or collision, there are other factors for which insurers may not automatically adjust. A birthday or an improved credit score can lower your premium significantly — but these adjustments typically don't happen until your policy is renewed.
A shorter policy term allows for more flexibility with your insurer. If you’re unhappy with your company but don’t want to cancel mid-policy, you can "non-renew" at the end of your term and look elsewhere. If you were previously uninsured, most insurance companies offer significant discounts for drivers who maintain a policy for just six months. Once your first six-month period is over, finding more affordable car insurance rates should be easier as a result of your recent insurance history.
While 12-month policies are less common than six-month policies, your current insurer might provide them. If a 12-month policy is available, consider a few details before agreeing to a lengthy policy.
The main benefit of a 12-month car insurance policy is less frequent rate recalculation. Car insurance companies reevaluate rates at the end of each year through the process of rate revision. Insurers weigh their claim payouts against their annual revenue, using this data to price insurance premiums for the next year. Rate revisions often result in car insurance premiums increasing across the board. Even if you drive safely, your rate could increase because of the number of claims in your area. Between 2011 and 2020, the average annual cost of car insurance increased from $1,446 to $1,548 — about 7%. So locking in a rate for 12 months might be beneficial.
Keep in mind, rate revisions can save you money. For instance, in Massachusetts, 2016 rates were 20% lower than they were in 2011. If you’re locked into a yearlong premium, it might take you longer to see these savings. This kind of rate revision is rare and difficult to predict. More often than not, rate revisions result in higher prices.
Aside from this, six and 12-month insurance policies don't differ. The coverage options, price, and discount availability should remain the same, meaning that you won't have to pay more than necessary to keep your vehicle insured.
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