You can’t a price on peace of mind, but there are ways to be smart about auto insurance rates

The cost of a policy shouldn’t be the only or even necessarily prime concern when shopping for auto insurance. Nonetheless, it’s the first thing most drivers think of. Most Americans are spending just over $900 a year on average, according to statistics gathered by DMV.org. New York auto insurance rates are higher, with an average around $1,200 a year. When you consider the many expenses and hardships auto insurance protects us from, an average of $100 a month seems pretty reasonable.

Of course, that figure depends on several factors and can vary (sometimes dramatically) from state to state, so not every driver will have such agreeable rates. Regardless of how affordable your state makes auto insurance, we’ve compiled a list of tips to help keep your premiums as low as possible.

Factor in your lifestyle

  • Reduced mileage – Are you traveling less? The number of miles you drive annually is a major factor in calculating premiums. If a change in your personal or professional circumstances means you’re covering significantly less distance on the road, let your insurer know. Fewer miles means lower auto insurance rates. Your insurer will likely seek proof of the reduction, so considering an app like this one could help.
  • You’re married – It’s common for providers to offer reduced auto insurance rates for married couples who benefit from multiple vehicle discounts. These reductions could be even more significant if you and your spouse insure your home with the same provider who covers your vehicles. Good driving histories also reflect well on partners.
  • You’re a homeowner (married or not) – Shop around and see if bundling your home insurance with your auto insurance will save you money. In many instances, this will make things cheaper and easier to handle. In others, you may save more by keeping them separate. And simply being a homeowner vs. a renter may reduce rates on its own.
  • You’ve changed jobs – Your new employer may offer group auto insurance coverage (you may even qualify as an alumnus of your college or university). Group insurance may come with provisos based on your employment, so be sure to find out what they are.

Monitor your credit score

A Consumer Reports special study revealed an average $214 difference in auto insurance between drivers based on having a “good” vs. a “bad” credit score. The data shows that insurers are free to make their own decisions on what rates to set if your credit score isn’t up to par, even if you’ve never had an accident.

A first step to save money on auto insurance is knowing your credit score. You can request a copy of it once a year from any of the three major credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion. Visit this site or call toll-free at 1-877- 322-8228. You may also be able to see it conveniently and for free through one of your credit card providers.

If your credit rating seems poor, you can follow these tips to improve it and lower your auto insurance rates as a result.

Maintain your vehicle

Unexpected repair expenses sneak up on 64 million drivers every year, according to The American Automobile Association. Poor auto maintenance is a major factor here, so keeping a close eye on your vehicle’s condition is necessary. Your rates will reflect how well you’re paying attention to the condition of your tires, emissions, and headlights.

Checking your brake pads and related components with a professional mechanic once a year is a recommended minimum, but drivers should consult the owner’s manual for manufacturer’s recommendations. For tires, the bi-weekly use of a tire pressure gauge and a visual appraisal of the outer surface will keep them in good shape.

Vehicle type is a factor

Some models can reduce the cost of auto insurance. These models are typically family cars. This is due to positive driver profiles created by parents, with ease of repair and fuel economy also be contributing factors. Manufacturers tend to make these vehicles more robust, with safety features to protect the passengers. Staying safe offers plenty of non-family options too.

The vehicle type is doubly important if you’re driving a classic. Factors like storage play a big part in setting your premiums here. It’s also important to only take a classic vehicle to service staff who are qualified to work on it. And insuring a classic for the agreed value rather than the stated/actual cash value depends on how you feel like the owner.

Agreed value reflects the care and expense you’ve put in to restore/maintain the vehicle. This means that in the event of an accident, the payouts will be closer to what you’ve spent. Insuring for the stated value can mean lower monthly premiums, but less of a payout after damage.

Know what’s covered and what to skip

It is possible that the minimum insurance requirement may work for you and thus save you money. Check out your state’s minimum requirement to find out. The adage “you get what you pay for” is never truer than with insurance, so remember the golden rule: peace of mind is priceless.

A basic auto insurance package means cheaper monthly payments but may mean serious expenses in the long run. You’re only receiving the minimum coverage if you’re making minimum payments.

Vehicle owners must ask themselves if paying something extra monthly is so bad compared to mitigating the risks of bigger expenses down the line. Also, the higher the deductible you can afford, the lower your premium will be.

Knowing what to pass on can also be a big money saver. Personal Injury Protection might be an expense you can skip if your health insurance is fantastic. Also, older vehicles may suffer from low payouts under collision and comprehensive coverage. What you’ll receive in the event of an accident is limited by the value of the car, so paying for these policies on an older model may be money better spent elsewhere.

NICRIS is here to help with personalized auto insurance advice

The needs of you and your family are unique and deserve the careful attention of professionals. If you’d like to learn more or simply drop us a line, call (516) 544-0006 or visit our contact page.