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Some factors that can cause your car insurance rates to increase are beyond your control, such as your age or if you live in an area that recently caused your insurer a substantial claims loss. But some factors that can hike up car insurance rates are simply bad habits that you can work to change.
GOBankingRates spoke to the experts to find out how these six bad habits can cause you to pay more for car insurance premiums — plus, find out what you can do to turn things around and start saving money.
Bad Habit #1: Vehicle Choice
“The higher the value of the vehicle, the higher your insurance premiums will be for full coverage auto insurance,” said Melanie Musson, auto insurance expert with AutoInsurance.org. “If you wreck your car, your insurer will have to pay for it to be replaced or repaired, so part of your rates are based on the value of your car.”
Musson added, “Insurance companies also look at crash statistics to determine which vehicles are more likely to be involved in a crash. You might not think the type of vehicle you drive would make a difference, but consider how you might drive a sports car differently from a minivan … There are statistics to back up differences in the likelihood certain vehicles will file a claim, so you’ll pay higher premiums if your vehicle is at a higher risk.”
“A dependable car with good visibility goes a long way in keeping drivers safe on the road, so does the size and weight of the car,” said Holly Kilgore, insurance agent with COUNTRY Financial in Portland, Oregon. “Consider a heavier car with high safety ratings or an older sedan versus a new sporty coupe, if saving on insurance is your priority. Larger, heaving cars typically offer more protection and older cars that are paid in full give you the option to drop collision and comprehensive insurance and carry only liability protection, keeping your insurance bill down.”
Bad Habit #2: Paying the Lowest Premiums
“Paying the lowest premiums usually means you pay for the minimum coverage required by your state,” said Musson. “These policies are inadequate for financial protection, and you could be held liable for the difference between the cost of damages in an accident and your coverage limits.”
“If you need ways to save, you should compare quotes from several providers,” said Musson. “Some companies are better suited for different situations. You should also consider bundling home or renters insurance with your car insurance because you will likely be able to get a discount on each line of coverage.”
Bad Habit #3: Careless Driving Record
“Poor driving habits can lead to accidents,” said Kilgore. And accidents can raise your car insurance rates.
“One way to save money on your insurance costs is to track your good driving habits,” Kilgore said. “For example, many insurance companies offer smartphone apps to help customers understand their driving behavior and drive more safely. You can often get a discount just for participating and earn discounts based on your driving score. The apps help you understand your driving behavior better and make changes to become a safer driver and save money.”
Bad Habit #4: Skipping Safety Features
“A vehicle with [safety] features is statistically less likely to be involved in an accident or stolen than one without such features,” said Ian Lang, senior car advice editor at Bumper.
“Automobiles with high-quality safety equipment may qualify for premium discounts,” Lang said. “Multiple safety features, such as airbags and antilock brakes, and security measures, such as anti-theft and engine cut-off systems, may qualify you for lower insurance rates.”
Bad Habits #5: Driving Habits
“It is likely that you will pay more if you have had accidents or traffic violations than if you have a clean driving record,” said Lang. “Furthermore, you may pay more if you are a new driver with no previous insurance history.”
“After three years of driving with a clean record, most insurance companies will no longer factor a careless driving citation into your premiums,” said Musson. “So the best way to overcome higher premiums is to drive carefully. You may also experience lower premiums if you take a defensive or safe driving course.”
Bad Habit #6: Credit History
“It may seem like a stretch to include credit history as a factor in calculating car insurance premiums, but it’s common practice,” said Musson. “Insurance companies claim that people with lower credit ratings are statistically more likely to file a claim and cost the insurance company money. A few states have banned using credit history as a factor in insurance premiums, but where it’s not banned, it’s almost always used.”
“It’s crucial to pay attention to your credit score and take measures to improve it …” said money-saving expert Andrea Woroch. “Begin by setting up auto pay for all your bills so you can rebuild a steady bill pay history and work on paying down debts as this will improve your overall credit utilization rate. For a more immediate fix though, consider switching your auto insurance policy in your spouse’s name (if married) as long as he or she has a higher score to lower your annual premium.”
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