With hundreds of auto insurance companies writing policies offering a variety of coverage options, shopping for a policy has become such a confusing ordeal that many people don't bother to comparison shop, ending up paying more than they need for premiums. Driving expensive high-performance cars, getting stopped for moving violations, putting a lot of miles on your car each year, and having a young driver at home can run up your insurance costs sharply. But how big a premium you pay also depends on the levels of coverage you buy, so consider your choices carefully.
There are discounts available to auto owners that could help shave dollars off your premium. In most instances, you'll have to inquire about the rate reductions for which you may qualify; agents don't always volunteer this information. To help you save money on your premium, the Better Business Bureau suggests you consider the following:
- Combine policies with one carrier. Most owners with two or more cars will know that it makes sense to insure all their vehicles under one policy. But you can also get a multi-vehicle discount if you insure a trailer or recreational vehicle on the same policy as your car. Also, many auto insurers will reduce your car premium if you buy other coverage from them, such as, homeowners' and life insurance. But don't switch carriers unless the rates for the other policies are competitive.
- Buy a car that costs less to insure. Expensive high-performance cars are fun to drive, but they're costly to repair and the premiums can run two to three times higher than less expensive cars.
- Equip your new car with safety gear. An approved alarm system or other devices that deter thefts can get you a savings of five to ten percent. Air bags for both driver and passenger can reduce injury, and costly medical bills in an accident, and may qualify you for a discount.
- Maintain a good driving record. No claims or traffic tickets for 36 months may qualify you for a reduced premium. Drivers over the age of 50 with a clean driving record may also claim a rate reduction.
- Use public transit or a carpool to get to work. Drivers who hold their driving below 7,500 miles a year generally qualify for a discount, and lessening or eliminating your use of a car to commute can trim your premium.
- Having a teenage driver in your home with a good academic record, can qualify you for a discount. Also if your child attends a college that is more than 100 miles from home and doesn't take a car along, that may qualify you for a discount. If you own more than one vehicle ( and your insurance company allows it), add the teenager to your policy as the occasional driver of your least expensive car - and make sure he or she drives that car only.