How well do you understand your current car insurance rate? If you’re like most of us, you probably picked your rate and never looked back. If you want to stop throwing your money away, you must do your homework and take the necessary steps to get your rate down.
1. SHOP AROUND
Insurance companies are, first and foremost, businesses. They will charge you as much as you are willing to pay for a service that you will rarely use. Insurance companies know you don’t want to go through the hassle of shopping around for another provider, so they will slowly increase your premiums over time.
At the same time, there’s nothing insurance companies love more than stealing customers away from their competition, which they achieve by offering unbeatable low rates to good drivers who are willing to switch. To take advantage of all the opportunities available, you must do your research and find out what different car insurance companies offer.
We’ve made it easy for you! Here are the phone numbers of the major insurers:
- StateFarm: 1-800-782-8332
- USAA: 1-800-531-USAA
- Liberty Mutual: 1-888-398-8924
- Nationwide: 1-877-669-6877
2. BEEF UP YOUR CREDIT SCORE
Car insurance companies are not wizards. They rely on statistics to make decisions regarding rates. Often times, they will use your credit score to predict the likelihood that you’ll cause a traffic accident. The correlation between credit scores and traffic accidents isn’t too far-fetched, it actually makes sense:
Careful drivers tend to cause less traffic accidents; similarly, those who have higher credit scores tend to be more careful with their finances.
If you want a lower car insurance rate, take the necessary steps to improve your credit score. Because we love our readers, we have included a few tips to beef up your credit:
- Request a free copy of your credit score. Click here to request your free credit report.
- Pay your bills on time.
- If you have missed payments, get current and stay current.
- Be aware that paying off a collection account will not remove it from your credit report.
- Pay off debt rather than moving it around.
- Don’t open a number of new credit cards that you don’t need, just to increase your available credit.
3. NEGOTIATE LIKE A PRO
No one likes dealing with customer service representatives. If you want more money in your wallet you must learn how to negotiate. Negotiating with car insurance companies is not easy; however, you can take control of the conversation by asking the following questions:
- “How much would I save if I insure my car with you?”
- “What about renewal discounts? How long have I been a member with you? What can you offer me as a discount for long-term membership?”
- “Can I save money by pre-paying my entire year up front?”
- “Let’s check my car. I know other companies offer discounts for features like anti-lock brakes. What about you? What kind of low-mileage discounts do you offer?
- “If I enrolled in a defensive driving course, what kind of discount would you offer?
- “Some insurance companies offer discounts for low-risk occupations. What kind of competitive rates do you offer?”
- “Am I paying for roadside assistance? What other additional ‘benefits’ am I paying for?”
Just because a car insurance company isn’t advertising their discounts doesn’t mean they don’t exist. You may qualify for discounts you aren’t even aware of. Here are several discounts you can ask your agent about:
- Occupational Discount: Are you a policeman, firefighter, doctor, dentist, nurse, or teacher? Many professions qualify for special discounts because they tend to drive less and/or take fewer risks.
- Affiliation Discounts: Are you a member of your state’s bar or any other professional organization? There could be a discount for you. Ask your agent!
- Armed Forces Discount: If you are or ever have been in the military, many car insurance companies will offer you a discount.
- Garage Parking Discount: Do you park your car in a garage instead of a driveway or on the street? If so, it’s at a lower risk of theft/vandalism, and may qualify for a discount
- Good Student Discount: If you’re in school and you have good grades, you’re probably a lower insurance risk. Ask your agent if you qualify.
- Bundling Discount: Do you need to insure more than your car? Many car insurance companies will give you a discount if you have other policies with them. For instance, you may get a break your car insurance rate if you use the same provider for life, home, or renter’s policies.