Everyone has to have car insurance, but it doesn't always have to be expensive. You know about the most obvious ways to save, like keeping a good driving record and paying attention to your claims history. But The Zebra has combed through the thousands of potential risk factors to uncover a few that you might not know about. With these in mind, you might just find a little extra money in your monthly budget.
A lot of people don't like insurance companies using credit score as one of the factors in determining what you pay for car insurance. Three states (California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts) don't take credit score into account when figuring premiums, but for the rest of us, we have to play by the rules we're given.
The good news is that each time you move up a tier (from Average to Good, for example), you can save hundreds of dollars a year. If you started from the bottom (Poor) and now you're here (Exceptional), you'd save $1,420 each year.
Buying insurance for your car and your home can lead to big savings, and you don't have to own a house to see the benefits. On average, bundling these two coverages together saves you 8% on your car insurance, whether you rent, own, or have a condo. Homeowners see the biggest benefit (about 10% off their car insurance), but condo owners (8%) and renters (5%) get in on the action, too.
The math on this one is easy: The longer you are insured, the lower your rates will be. It only takes 6 months of coverage to begin seeing savings, which can be around $100 a year. Pro tip: After six months, and then again after your 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year marks of being insured, shop around for insurance. Your good track record can lead you to lower rates. And also, don't drop your coverage along the way, even for a day! Insurance companies hate it when you have a gap in coverage.
If you can pay for your entire term of coverage up front, it will pay off down the line. Payment in full, rather than installments, can save you $69 per year. Think of it as having each monthly payment be $7 less. Doing business digitally is a bonus, too. An electronic signature yields a $10 per year savings, while electronic funds transfers save you about $22 per year.
If you're OK with using an app or a small device that plugs in under your dashboard to track your driving habits, it could pay off with savings. It's called telematics, where your speed, mileage, and total driving time are tracked and used as part of the formula that determines your insurance premium.
Nearly every state (except for Hawaii and Wyoming) shows some benefit for using telematics, and in some states, like California, choosing this type of usage-based insurance and then being a safe driver can save you 10% or more.
Beyond those 5 ways that nearly everyone can take advantage of, here are a few more savings opportunities that are more specific:
- If you have a teen driver, you know how expensive it can be to have them on your policy. But check with your insurance company regularly, because the premium drops by more than $200 annually each year they get older.
- You should probably get married for other reasons, but if you're looking for one to sway your decision, married people pay the least in car insurance, while single people pay the most. When you get married, you can expect your annual car insurance premiums to drop about 6%, or nearly $90/year.
- Like your car? Then hold on to it and don't be so quick to switch to the new hotness. Nationally, auto insurance drops about 2.5% on average with each year your car ages. A 7-year-old vehicle is about 16% cheaper to insure than a new one.
- It may seem counterintuitive, but people with a job pay less for car insurance than the unemployed. It's only about 1%, but there is a difference. Looking to squeeze out even more savings? Join the armed forces. Being in the military offers the cheapest auto insurance, with a savings of nearly 2% over non-military employed workers.
- Finally, don't buy a car without checking what your new insurance rates will be. In general, trucks are cheaper to insure than cars.
These stats were taken from The Zebra's 2019 State of Insurance report, which analyzes more than 61 million car insurance rates to examine how risk factors affect pricing. Insurance is regulated differently in each state, so car insurance prices also vary substantially by location. And with more than 650 insurance companies using a mix of some 43,500 rating factors, any given person could conceivably choose from millions upon millions of car insurance quotes. The Zebra’s annual report explores rates across all 34,000 U.S. zip codes and over the past 8 years to identify trends and critical factors impacting rate changes, and what that means for the 250 million U.S. drivers in 2019.