Insurance

7 Ways To Save Money on Car Insurance As Inflation Soars

As gas prices and insurance premiums go up, here are some steps you can take to lower your car insurance bill.

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There are ways to save on your car insurance premiums.
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Insurance premiums are getting more expensive for consumers in 2022. Major car insurers started receiving approval for substantial rate increases at the close of last year, raising premiums anywhere from 3% to 12%, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. Along with the continuous rise in prices for goods and services throughout the US, increased insurance costs are squeezing consumers, and wages aren't tending to keep up. 

Skyrocketing inflation is the primary reason for these rate hikes, driving up prices for goods and services across the US. Along with higher auto insurance rates, gas prices have also hit record highs, making driving more expensive.

Despite these rising costs, there are plenty of ways to keep more money in your pocket. Here's an overview of ways to mitigate increasing insurance costs. 

1. Increase your deductible 

Increasing your deductible -- your out-of-pocket cost before your insurance will pick up the bill on a claim -- can lower your premium. This move might make sense if you aren't driving much right now, do not have a history of accidents on the road or if you need to reduce your monthly costs to stay insured. Doing this could cost you later if you're in an accident, though, as you'll have to dish out more money before your carrier covers damages. You should make sure you have enough money to pay the higher deductible if you do end up in an accident.

2. If you have an older vehicle, consider lower coverage

Older cars may not deserve the same insurance attention as your shiny new Tesla or all of the bells and whistles of a Mercedes-type policy. If your car is on its last go-round, you may want to cut out collision coverage or comprehensive coverage for that vehicle, both of which cover damages to your car.

Whether you should drop either coverage depends on the value of your car and the relative cost to insure it. Experts suggest that if your car is worth less than 10 times the annual premium, buying coverage for that vehicle may not be a cost-effective option. One of the quickest ways to check the value is by scrolling through Kelley Blue Book online. For example, say your annual premium is $1,600; 10 times that would be $16,000. If your car is worth less than $16,000, then it might make sense to lower insurance coverage for that car.

3. Use mass transit or carpooling to lower your mileage 

Carriers may offer discounts if you have a low mileage count, meaning you drive less than the average number of miles per year compared to other Americans. Typically, you'd be considered a low-mileage driver if you drive less than 7,500 miles per year, but this isn't a bright-line rule. What actually determines if you're a low-mileage driver depends on what state you live in, your age and gender.

How much could you save? The national average annual premium for Americans who drive 5,000 miles or less is about $1,612, according to Bankrate. State Farm also offers one of the cheapest monthly premiums at $128 for low-mileage drivers, according to one analysis

If there is mass transit in your area, taking a bus a few days per week (or carpooling with others), could make you eligible for low-mileage discounts. If you don't live in an area with mass transit, you might also consider carpooling to work or school to bring your mileage down.

And if you transitioned to working or studying from home since the start of the pandemic and still haven't shifted back to an in-person workplace, contact your carrier to let them know -- and take advantage of any savings.

4. Bundle your insurance policies

One of the most straightforward ways to save money on insurance is by bundling your home and auto insurance, meaning you buy multiple insurance policies from the same company.  

AllstateLiberty Mutual and GEICO each offer premium discounts for bundling -- depending on which policies and coverages you buy together. You can get discounts on your premium anywhere from 5% to 25%, depending on the provider. 

5. Shop around for rates

Maybe you're working from home permanently and need less coverage. Or perhaps you're returning to the office and need more coverage now. Whatever your situation may be, it's always a good idea to shop around to ensure you're getting the best rates, as other carriers might offer bigger discounts or lower premiums in general. 

If you aren't sure where to start, check out CNET's car insurance roundups, where you can see our picks for best overall car insurancethe cheapest car insurance, the best policies for teens and young drivers and the best options for military and veterans.

In addition to getting quotes online, you can reach out directly to some of the top insurance companies to ask about potential discounts.

6. Explore safe driving discounts

If you pride yourself on being a safe traveler, you're in luck. Carriers offer discounts for safe driving and modest claims history, and there are a number of discounts to take advantage of here. Call your carrier to ask how you can enroll in these types of programs. Once successfully enrolled, you should see your premium go down on your next bill.

State Farm, for example, offers both accident-free discounts, where you'll get a discount if you've gone at least three continuous years without an accident, and good driving discounts, which lowers your premium when you go three or more years without moving violations or at-fault accidents. 

Telematics insurance programs are also a great way to obtain safe drivers discounts, and it'll factor in low-mileage discounts, too. These programs monitor your mileage and driving behavior through a phone app or a car plug-in device. Call your carrier to enroll in the plan, and while discounts vary by carrier and state, you could be looking at savings as large as 30% off your premium. You'll start at a base rate that will be adjusted depending on the telematics report, which will include factors like your average speed and braking habits. For example, State Farm will review your telematics data every six months to determine how safe your driving has been, and based on those measurements, it'll apply a discount to your policy ranging anywhere from 5% to 50%, according to Bankrate.

7. Buy a cheaper car

If you're looking to buy a new or used car, consider comparing the insurance costs among different vehicles. Auto insurance premiums are calculated through a variety of factors, and some of those factors are based on the car itself, including the car's price, repair costs and general safety record.

"This is the thing that people forget about: You can buy a Honda or a Kia, and it's less expensive, or you could buy a Mercedes or a Tesla -- it's going to be more expensive," said Janet Ruiz, a chartered property casualty underwriter and director of strategic communications at the Insurance Information Institute

And the difference in the cost of insurance for a Mercedes compared to a Honda is stark: The average cost to insure a 2019 Mercedes-Benz is about $4,201 annually, compared to an average of $2,151 annually for a Honda. That means you'll pay an average of $179 on a monthly basis for the Honda compared to $350 for the Mercedes. 

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