Aside from the cost of the vehicle itself, car insurance is likely to be one of your most significant automotive expenses each year. It’s frustrating, but necessary — insurers help to make certain that each of us are able to use the roads with the knowledge that we have some level of financial protection if something goes wrong. Unfortunately there are elements which can make our premiums higher than we’d like.
Providers assess various elements in deciding the prices consumers pay for a policy. Perhaps the most significant variable in this is our personal history. From our driving habits, to our financial health — our actions can make a huge difference. If aspects of your history in these areas is in any way negative, you could see your premiums rise.
It’s always important to choose the right insurance policy for you. A product that suits your usage and potential risks, as well as your budget. That said, we’ve pulled together a few ideas that can help reduce your car insurance premiums, even if your history is less than stellar.
Track Your Behavior
In the current climate, we’re all understandably wary about the information we provide to businesses. That said, if you’re willing to provide your vehicle insurer with some data about your behavior on the road, you can help reduce your premiums. Even if you have a poor history, signing up to a usage tracking program can make a difference.
There are a couple of different program styles on the market. Most, like Nationwide’s Smart Ride device package, will require you plug tracking technology into your vehicle’s diagnostic port. Coupled with an app, this provides your insurer with data on a range of your driving habits. Your insurer will assess everything from how hard you brake to your tendency to be distracted while driving, and make ongoing decisions regarding your premiums accordingly. There are also programs on the market which simply assess your driving distances, providing premium reductions for those who take shorter trips.
The good news is, the majority of these programs provide you with the same range of cover as flat-fee programs. You can usually opt for minimum liability, collision, or fully comprehensive covers. Many of these programs will still provide you with access to an auto accident attorney in the event that you’ll require representation following a crash. It’s always worth remembering, though, that continued poor or negligent driving habits can drive your premiums further upward.
Improve Your Credit Score
One of the aspects that many drivers overlook when searching for car insurance is the effect their financial history can have upon their premiums. Let’s face it, we live in a world in which many of us have accumulated a certain amount of debt, and insurers understand this. However, if your history is poor it is in your best interest to take steps to rectify any issues. At the time of writing, the only states that don’t take into account your credit score are California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts.
Insurers tend not to look favorably upon potential customers who have a lot of credit cards. It may be worth your time to look into consolidating some of your collection. At the very least, it’s important to make sure that any cards you have are not maxed out. Outstanding debt is one of the factors taken into account, so by keeping your usage low, you can improve your rating.
Basic steps, such as making sure your bills are paid on time, are important factors in improving your car insurance premiums. Studies show that those with a poor credit rating represent a higher risk to insurers. Any additional risk can drive your premiums up, so making concerted efforts to raise your credit-based insurance score can see you make significant savings. This isn’t something that can usually be done overnight, but sometimes the long-term steps yield the biggest results.
While you can’t change the risks you’ve taken in the past, you can certainly make it clear to a potential insurer that you’re taking responsible steps moving forward. Insurance is often considered to be a balance of risks between you and the insurer. Your risk-averse behavior makes you a more attractive prospect. One way to improve your standing is in your equipment choices.
Firstly, your choice of vehicle can be extremely important. You might have a deep love for older cars, or muscle vehicles, but this can be a drain on your resources — particularly if you have a poor history. Older cars are statistically more likely to break down, and those with bigger engines are more likely to be involved in collisions. As a result, insurers consider these to be higher risk. Making a more conservative choice of vehicle can result in your premiums being kept at a minimum.
If your budget allows, you should also consider adding equipment that insurers consider to significantly reduce the chances of a claim occurring. Each insurer will have their own requirements when it comes to security systems, but those with GPS recovery systems are usually preferred. Safety features such as daytime running lights, and anti-lock brakes are also considered a plus. Be sure to contact your insurer, and discuss the extra efforts you’ve made to make your vehicle better protected against risks, and you should see this reflected in your premium.
Each of us has a past, and have made decisions that with hindsight probably weren’t our most sensible. While our history will be taken into account by our auto insurance providers, this doesn’t mean we are entirely powerless. By taking a variety of steps — a blend of immediate changes in behavior, and long term financial strategies — you can show yourself to be a responsible driver, and valuable customer. By lowering your potential for future risk, you can see changes to your premiums.