Auto insurance renewal time is rarely fun for the policyholder. It’s understandable why an envelope from your insurer would cause stress. Auto insurance can be expensive.
However, if you take advantage of auto insurance discounts, you can lessen that stress and enjoy better rates.
With some luck -- or a great referral -- you'll find a knowledgeable agent, and you can save money with discounts, but it's always good to go into the process having done your own research.
First, there are no hard and fast rules for determining and doling out discounts. Typically, your auto insurance company will start with assigning you a base rate. After assessing your risk levels, such as your driving record, they will consider factors that might afford you a discount.
Some of the biggest discounts are for bundling policies, good driver, and having multiple auto policies with the same company.
However, there are many lesser-known discounts to consider. Keep in mind you won't qualify for all of them. Plus, every company doesn’t offer all discounts. But if you don't know they exist, you won't know if you qualify.
"There are a lot of discounts out there. Drivers need to reach out to their agent to find out which ones are a match for them," said Megan MacBey, CIC, account executive at Eagle Insurance Group, LLC, in Massachusetts.
Here are five discounts that you might not know about:
Paid in full
Average discount: 4.6 percent
Often when we discuss risk assessment, it's in the context of your physical actions: Do you drive too fast? Have you been involved in crashes?
But the insurance companies also care about your moral actions: Will you pay your bills? And will they be paid on time?
Insurers offer lower rates for policyholders who pay their costs in full rather than over multiple months.
If you can’t pay in full, you can still get a discount for setting up an automatic withdrawal to pay your bill. It saves you time and planning, and it saves the insurer worry that they will not get their money.
Average discount: 2.1 percent
It may seem like an odd pairing, but owning your own home could earn you a discount on your car insurance. As with everything else in the insurance world, this speaks to risk assessment. The thinking is that if you are responsible enough to own your own home, you will be a responsible driver and less likely to file a claim. To qualify for this discount, you'll need to prove homeownership, but that's not difficult. Usually, a mortgage coupon or statement will do the trick.
And, of course, you can save even more if you bundle your home and auto policy. The average discount for bundling home and auto is 11.4 percent.
Average discount: 1.8 percent
Policyholders are looking to save money, and so are insurance companies.
One way they do that is to offer a discount to those customers who opt out of paper mailings. Paperless customers save supply and postage costs for insurers and frustration for themselves because they'll have less clutter with which to deal around their house.
Average discount: 7 percent
When parents realize the cost of adding their children to auto insurance policies, they will no doubt want to find any way possible to qualify for discounts.
One easy way is to make sure the students are studious. Young drivers who maintain a 3.0 grade point average are eligible at most insurance companies to receive a discount of up to 25. The average discount is between 5 percent and 10 percent.
This discount is renewable until the child turns 25, and is available for full-time high school and college students. Some companies even allow homeschooled students to qualify based on standardized test results.
Find out more about student auto insurance discounts.
Average discount: 2 percent
Research has shown that people in certain professions are less likely to file claims than others.
Sitting at the top of this list are educators, scientists, and engineers. People in these professions tend to get a discounted rate. Some insurance companies expand this list to include other professions, such as medical professionals and first responders.
Meanwhile, affiliation discounts are offered through car insurance companies that maintain relationships with professional organizations. If you have an active membership in one of these affiliated groups, you could be eligible for group savings discounts.
At Farmers Insurance, employees, retirees, and members of organizations, and professional groups qualify for additional discounts.
You might see the above discounts and think a 2 percent discount isn’t worth asking about. However, you can save hundreds if you’re eligible for multiple discounts.
Make sure you do your research. Involve your agent or the insurance company if you're dealing directly with them.
"And remember, all companies are different as far as credits are available, so check with your agent," said MacBey.