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How to Save Money on Auto Insurance – Even With a Less Than Perfect Driving Record

    4 minute read

    Take it easy. It’s all right. Just breathe. It’s not the end of the world.

    It may help to keep repeating these words when you are pulled over by a police officer and given a traffic ticket. Or if you’re involved in a fender bender. Yes, your day may have taken a turn for the worse, but your life isn’t over. You will get through this.

    Auto insurance - woman screaming comically
    No, screaming won’t help.

    Of course, one of the downsides of tickets or accidents is that you might get an unwelcome surprise in the mail when your auto insurance bill comes: the premium may be higher than it was before because of your earlier mishap.

    Again, take it easy. It’s all right. Just breathe. It’s not the end of the world.

    While this may make you tighten your budget in the short term, you’re not doomed to a life of skyrocketing car insurance rates. There are plenty of ways to lower the costs of your auto insurance – even if you have a less-than-perfect driving record.

    Why Does My Insurer Have to Raise My Rate?

    The reason that auto insurance premiums go up after accidents, thefts, or traffic violations is because those occurrences send a signal to the insurer that you are A) an unsafer-than-average driver, and/or B) more likely to file a car insurance claim. And like any other business, insurance companies try to limit expenses, such as paying out money to repair vehicles, pay medical bills, and address other related costs.

    Insurers operate under the assumption that past behavior is indicative of future behavior – that is, drivers who have gotten ticketed or caused crashes in previous years are likely to continue that pattern going forward. Therefore, insurers try to offset some of those predicted costs by increasing the insurance rates of those drivers who have blemishes on their record.

    auto insurance - damaged car
    If insurers have to keep paying for this, they’re gonna make you pay more for car insurance.

    How Big of a Road Risk Am I?

    Here’s an interesting fact: according to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, the average American driver will file an insurance claim due to an auto collision every 17.9 years. In other words, auto insurance companies don’t expect you to be an “absolutely perfect” driver throughout your lifetime.

    That’s why insurers tend to classify drivers into categories like preferred, standard, and high risk drivers. In order to put your “less-than-perfect” driving record into perspective, here are some general characteristics of so-called “standard risk” drivers as compared to what insurance companies consider “high-risk” drivers.

    auto insurance - claims chart
    *- some states prohibit insurance companies from using drivers’ credit scores to determine auto insurance premiums

    Go Back to (Driving) School

    One of the most straightforward ways to reduce your auto insurance costs – no matter what your driving record may be – is to complete a driver’s education course. Some of these classes are held in a traditional classroom setting, but other courses can be taken online on your home computer.

    Once you finish the course and show your certificate of completion to your insurance company, they could shave anywhere from five to ten percent off of your annual premium. Just be sure to learn the rules in your state about how often you can enroll in these courses and what fees and costs must be paid.

    Look For More Ways to Save

    But if you still think you are paying too much for your auto insurance coverage, there are some additional strategies that you can embrace to push your premiums lower.

    • Eliminate or reduce optional coverage types. If you see your rates go up, often you can pull your out-of-pocket costs back down to their original levels by dropping (or lowering the limits of) your “nice-to-have” policies like roadside assistance, mechanical breakdown insurance, and even comprehensive or collision coverage if necessary.
    • Raise your deductible. Upping your deductible from $250 or $500 to $1,000 or $2,000 may prompt your insurer to lower your premium, since your carrier knows that you won’t be filing any claims for very minor collisions.
    • Pay six or twelve months’ worth of premiums up front. Like any business, insurance companies prefer to have cash in hand instead of promises of future monthly payments; so they’ll likely give you a break on your policy if you pay for it in advance. At the minimum, you’ll save on the installment fees that most carriers apply to each payment.
    • Bundle your auto coverage with other types of insurance. Companies love to have current customers buy more products from them, which is why firms who write your life, homeowners, or health insurance policies might be happy to discount your car insurance if you switch it over to them.
    • Change insurance companies before renewal time. Speaking of switching insurance companies, many of them will offer you an “early bird” discount if you purchase a new auto policy from them before your current coverage comes up for renewal.
    • Ditch the paper statements. Since sending out online statements is cheaper for companies than via U.S. mail, insurers sometimes offer a small discount if you agree to go “paperless.”
    • Look into group savings. If you’re a member of a trade association, labor union, or other state or nationwide organization, you may be able to get a better rate on auto coverage if you purchase your insurance through that group.
    • Think about usage-based insurance. If you are a safer driver now than you were in past years, see if your insurance company offers this type of policy which involves installing a device in your car that tracks your mileage, speed, and other driving habits. Then the carrier will base its premium on that data more so (or instead of) your previous driving record.
    • Protect your car from thieves. You can reduce your comprehensive car insurance premium if you install an anti-theft device or a vehicle recovery system in your car.

    Compare Auto Insurance Quotes from Around the Internet

    Most importantly, be sure to shop around and compare auto insurance quotes from multiple companies, since they tend to price their policies differently in order to target specific types of drivers. The brokers at AIS Insurance have the know-how and the resources to help you in your search for an affordable policy while still finding the type of auto coverage that’s right for you.

    Auto insurance - teens driving
    See? We told you it would be okay, right?

    So if you want to improve your driving record, start making safety a priority while out on the roads. And if you want to save money on your auto insurance, contact AIS today for a free quote.

    The information in this article was obtained from various sources. This content is offered for educational purposes only and does not represent contractual agreements, nor is it intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. The definitions, terms and coverage in a given policy may be different than those suggested here and such policy will be governed by the language contained therein. No warranty or appropriateness for a specific purpose is expressed or implied.