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5 ways to save on car insurance

As COVID-19 and financial woes keep people off the roads, insurers are adjusting.

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Auto Insurance Savings

Now is a good time to take a fresh look at your auto insurance. 

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One of the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a dramatic reduction in transportation of all kinds. Between lockdowns, quarantines and social distancing protocols, far fewer people are flying and driving. It's been a major boon to the environment -- and it turns out that it could save you money, too. 

Auto insurance was already one of the few services with a negotiable price. But in the coronavirus era, many insurers are taking a proactive stance and reducing premiums and offering discounts. That noted, spending a few minutes to update your insurance profile or chatting with a customer service rep could save you even more. 

Important: Do not cancel or suspend your insurance if you're still driving -- even if it's only occasionally. Driving without insurance is illegal. And trying to reinstate a policy after canceling one can result in even higher premiums.

OK, with that out of the way, here are five good steps to take toward saving money on your auto insurance. 

1. Start comparing

This is a great time to shop around. Though your insurer may have its own deals going, other insurance carriers may be offering even bigger discounts, more relief options or lower premiums. Check out CNET's roundup of the 10 best car insurance companies in the US

2. Call up and ask

The insurance companies understand that we're in the midst of a pandemic and that people are driving less. They also understand that many of their customers are struggling financially and may be willing to provide some help. 

"Insurance carriers recognize that this is a difficult time, and in response, many have offered a credit, refund, premium adjustment or premium reduction, for a current and specified time period," said P.J. Miller, independent insurance agent with Wallace & Turner Insurance. 

Here are some of the measures already undertaken by some of the car insurance companies:

  • State Farm (1-800-782-8332) discounted rates by 11% on average 
  • Progressive (1-800-776-4737) allowed deferred payments and waived late fees through May 15 
  • GEICO (1-800-207-7847) gave customers a 15% policy credit 
  • USAA (1-800-531-8722) returned a total of $270 million to its customers through dividends and policy credits 
  • Allstate (1-877-810-2920) gave a 15% monthly rebate through June 
  • Liberty Mutual (1-800-290-7933) refunded 15% of premiums for April and May 
  • Farmers (1-888-327-6335) reduced premiums by 25% in April and 15% in May

Some of these discounts and offers were delivered automatically to policyholders. But if you buy car insurance from one of these companies, it's worth double-checking to make sure you received all available help. 

3. Update your driving information 

Many of the factors that affect the price of auto insurance are relatively fixed, including your driving record, where you live and your credit score. But a few are variable -- such as how many miles you drive a day. If you're driving less frequently than before, that's an opportunity to reduce your premium. 

From your insurance company's perspective, the more you drive, the more opportunities you have to get into an accident. If you've shifted from commuting daily to working from home during the pandemic, your lower weekly mileage may translate to a lower premium. 

Note: Whenever you make changes to your stated mileage (or other components of your insurance profile), it's important to update your policy. Inaccurate or outdated details on a policy could have a negative impact on claims. 

4. Increase your deductible

Changing your deductible can lower you premium, but it can also end up costing you more in the long run if you have an automotive mishap. The average policy carries a $500 deductible -- which means that you'll have to pay $500 out of pocket before insurance kicks in. If you increase your deductible to $1,000, you may reduce your monthly premium by $10 to $15. Especially if you're not driving much right now, it might be worth it.

5. Combine insurances 

Many insurers offer more than just one type of coverage, and may give discounts to customers who buy multiple policies. If you bundle together policies for a home or boat, you may get a lower rate for each. Allstate, Liberty Mutual, and GEICO each offer premium discounts -- depending on which policies and coverages you buy together.

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