Don’t let your auto insurance bill break your monthly budget. Instead, take some time, research, and advocate for yourself.
Auto insurance discounts are one way to cut your costs. Auto insurance discounts can shave 25 percent off your bill. Imagine what you can do with that extra money.
Here are the average savings for auto insurance discounts:
- Airbags — 1.1 percent
- Anti-lock brakes — 1.4 percent
- Bundle auto and home — 11.4 percent
- Defensive driver course — 3.8 percent
- Driver education — 1.3 percent
- Electronic funds transfer — 1.7 percent
- Good student — 7 percent
- Homeowner — 2.1 percent
- Low-mileage — 2.2 percent
- Loyalty — 2.8 percent to 4 percent depending on the number of years
- Paid in full — 4.9 percent
- Student away at school — 14.4 percent
Now, that you know how much you can save on average, let’s look at ways to maximize your auto insurance discounts:
Take your time to find discounts
You’re a busy person and your time is valuable. It would be tempting to try and sign up for auto insurance as quickly and conveniently as possible. And that’s fine, if you can afford to leave money on the table.
Taking 30 to 45 minutes one evening to research available auto insurance discounts can save you hundreds of dollars in premiums every year.
It’s important to know that not every insurance company offers every discount. You will want to learn about the discounts available in the industry and then find out which companies provide which discounts.
Ask your current insurer about discounts
A good place to start is checking with your present auto insurance company. Ask them to provide all of the discounts they offer. See which ones match your situation.
Doing the research and gathering information is terrific, but it doesn’t mean anything unless you actually get the discounts you deserve.
Some companies and some agents are better than others when it comes to offering discounts. The key is to advocate for yourself and ask for the discounts for which you qualify.
For example, nurses and teachers are eligible for discounts, as are many other professions. However, most companies won’t ask you what you do for a living. You need to volunteer that information. The same is true of membership in AARP, AAA, and other organizations.
For younger drivers, excellent grades in high school or college could qualify for a discount. Keep the grades up, and the discounts will continue.
Another category that you need to ask about is “telematics.” This is technology like Progressive’s “Snapshot” program that monitors a person’s driving habits. Safe habits, such as obeying the speed limits, not slamming your brakes, etc., qualifies drivers for a discount.
The average discount for telematics is 3.1 percent. However, insurers may offer additional rate cuts for taking part in a program.
Let your payments help with discounts
Paying your monthly premium up front can lead to a “paid in full” discount. The average paid in full discount is 4.6 percent.
If you can’t pay in full upfront, most companies will offer discounts for automated electronic payments, which pull the premium from your bank account on the same day each month. The average discount for an electronic funds transfer is 1.7 percent.
Speaking of prepayments, several companies will offer discounts for signing up for a policy, or even just getting a quote on a policy, at least one week before you need the policy to go into effect. Insurance companies like consumers who don’t wait until the last minute to take care of their insurance needs. It not only displays fiscal responsibility; it shows that you consider your auto insurance a top priority. Those kinds of discounts are usually about 2 percent.
Think about insurance costs when buying a car
Often, consumers don’t start to think about their auto insurance until after they have already chosen a vehicle to purchase. This is a mistake.
The type of car you purchase, its age, mileage, and safety features all contribute to auto insurance costs.
Specific makes and models are considered to be safer, or less likely to be stolen, than others and will carry a lower insurance premium. It’s worth a few minutes of your time to check out the website for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for comprehensive, independent vehicle safety ratings.
A car with low-mileage will get you a better premium than one with more than 100,000 miles. Anti-theft devices, airbags, automatic emergency braking, rear cameras, and other such safety features all help drive down your premium. Those discounts are often only 1 percent, but they can add up.
Don’t confuse a great deal with cheap
The most important tool for making the most of your auto insurance discounts is to have your policy with a company and/or independent agent you can trust, and that will deliver the services promised when you need them.
Discounts are terrific. However, the savings created by discounts can disappear in a hurry if you find out, too late, that your policy doesn’t provide the coverage you need following an accident or theft. If you’re on the hook for hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses, you’ll be left with the realization that the company you thought was offering a “great deal” because of discounts, is, in fact, just plain cheap.
Auto insurance can be pricey. So, make sure you maximize your auto insurance discounts.
— Bill Gilman contributed to this story.