Do an Annual Rate Check
If you’ve been with the same insurer a long time, it might be tough to beat its rates, especially if you haven’t had any claims lately. In fact, a 2014 survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center found that only 10 percent of 19,000 ConsumerReports.org subscribers who compared premiums found that they would save money by switching insurers.
It’s easy to compare multiple insurers online, at sites such as Answer Financial, Insure.com, Insweb.com, and NetQuote. You usually won’t get an immediate quote online, but you will get email messages from agents looking for your business. Consider forming a relationship with an independent agent, who will check rates for you at a range of carriers.
Pick a Top-Rated Insurer
Saving money isn’t simply a matter of finding the lowest premium. Some insurers have lower premiums, but end up costing you more in the end by lowballing loss estimates, hassling the repair shop to cut corners, and forcing you to pay extra for original-equipment replacement parts. They might even unfairly jack up your premiums after an accident.
We surveyed 64,872 ConsumerReports.org subscribers who filed a claim between 2011 and 2014. Eighty-eight percent of them were highly satisfied with the handling of their claims. Among the highest-rated groups were USAA, Amica, and NJM, with overall satisfaction scores of 90 or higher.
Specific Factors that Affect Your Rate
- Your driving record – drivers with previous violations or accidents are considered to be higher risk
- Your geographic territory – urban areas have more claims than rural areas
- Your gender and age – males have more accidents; certain age groups have more claims
- Your marital status – married people show lower rates of claims
- Prior insurance coverage – if you have been cancelled for non-payment of premiums
- Vehicle use – higher annual mileage results in higher exposure to risk
- Make and model of your vehicle – luxury and sports cars average a higher number of claims
Avoid letting your insurance coverage lapse
Even after being insured for just one year, rates drop 7.7%. The discount for maintaining continuous insurance offered by most companies is also affected by the amount of liability coverage on your policy. The higher your limit of liability, the better your prior insurance discount will be.
Do some research
Take a few minutes to learn about which companies, minimum coverage requirements and other factors apply to your state.
Get ahead of the game
Purchase your policy at least 10 days before you need it activated for a better rate. This is especially helpful if you know your policy is coming up for renewal and you want to switch to a new company.