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How to Save on Auto Insurance

Reduce your monthly bill with these four tips

What’s the recipe for your auto insurance rate? Add one age, two shakes of marital status, a dash of gender, a sprinkling of your credit score and car model, then let it marinate.
And what comes out of this stew? A new InsuranceQuotes.com study suggests it might be Casserole á la Surprise. Male drivers tend to pay an average of $60 more per year than their female counterparts, and a 20-year-old’s rate averages more than twice that of a 60-year-old. Single drivers pay more than married ones, and even driving a hybrid car — yup — can up your monthly cost. So what can you do if you want to trim your annual bill?

Bundle up.
Before shopping around for your auto insurance, take a few minutes to think about the other insurance policies you pay for, like renter’s, homeowner’s or life insurance — even motorcycle or boat insurance. Then, consider bundling (in other words, purchasing them from the same insurance company). “It’s about 15 to 16 percent savings on average when you bundle your home and auto insurance with the same carrier,” says Laura Adams, senior insurance analyst at InsuranceQuotes.com. Bundling with renter’s insurance, on the other hand, could typically save you 8 to 10 percent. “In most situations, bundling is the cheaper option,” she says.

Use your spouse’s credit in your favor.
If you and your spouse are shopping for auto insurance, the order in which you submit your information could impact your quote. That’s because the insurance company will likely check the credit of the first person listed, so it’s a good idea to put the person with better credit first. Allie Feakins, head of analytics at Compare.com, says that on their rate comparison website, couples seeking quotes put a man’s name first more than 60 percent of the time. As for how much switching up the order of names could save you? It could be up to 10 percent, says Feakins.

Ask for a “full discount review.”
Block off 15 to 30 minutes on your calendar to call your auto insurance company and request a “full discount review,” says Amy Danise, senior editor at EverQuote. Ask them to go over any available price rollbacks you may not know about. You could get a lower rate for things like your occupation (like teachers, medical field or military in some cases). Some insurance companies also offer affiliation discounts, or partnerships with colleges, companies or trade groups. If you’re 55 or older, certain states offer driver safety training courses that could save you 5 to 10 percent on your monthly rate. Another thing to ask about? Discounts for your kids’ auto insurance policies. If your child has a B average or higher, they could qualify for the “good student discount” — and save 20 to 25 percent, says Adams. And if your kid is away at college, you could snag an additional discount since they’re not driving as much. Finally, consider asking the insurance representative if it’s possible to save on your policy by pre-paying six months or a year upfront. If you have the flexibility, this could save you up to 11 percent or more, says Danise.

Keep your driving record clean (and make it work for you).
Every year you avoid an accident, ticket or claim, you’re saving money on your car insurance. After three to five years with an accident-free record, you should qualify for a “good driver discount,” says Amy Danise, senior editor at EverQuote. The reduction should be applied automatically, but if you don’t have it yet and think you should, it doesn’t hurt to call and ask. On another note: If you think of yourself as a good driver and don’t put a lot of miles on your car each year, ask your insurance company if they offer “telematics.” It’s a program that measures your driving by way of an app or in-car device, then awards you discounts the better you drive. It’ll monitor factors like your average speed, how fast you take turns, how hard you hit the brakes and more. These programs can translate to savings of over 10 percent in the long term. Just note that before you sign up, it’s a good idea to ask if the program results could up your monthly cost if you make mistakes while driving. The answer usually depends on the program.

With Hayden Field

Jean Chatzky

Jean Chatzky