Why Your New Car's Fancy Safety Features May Not Lead to Cheaper Car Insurance

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KEY POINTS

  • Many drivers are eager to save money on car insurance.
  • Buying a vehicle loaded with safety features may not get you to that goal.


Don't assume you're in line for a discount.

Owning a vehicle is a big expense for many people. In addition to your car payments, you'll have to cover the cost of fuel, maintenance, and, of course, auto insurance.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to lower your auto insurance costs. Having a clean driving record, for example, could result in lower premium costs. But if you're thinking of buying a new car that's loaded with safety features in an effort to keep your auto insurance costs low, you may need a new game plan.

Don't bank on safety features to land a discount

Many new cars today are equipped with features designed to promote safer driving. Some vehicles, for example, come with backup cameras that make it easier to park and maneuver in crowded spaces. Others have collision warning systems in place, as well as lane departure warnings, which sound an alert when you're at risk of hitting the car in front of you or veering out of your lane and into an adjacent one.

These features make cars safer in theory, though not always in practice. Some drivers, for example, might rely too heavily on their cars' features and pay less attention while out on the road. And some of the warnings that go off could serve as distractions and actually cause an accident.

But that's not why these features won't land you a discount on auto insurance. Rather, the reason boils down to the fact that these features can be very expensive to replace. As such, you could end up paying more for car insurance, not less, if your vehicle is loaded with fancy safety features.

Imagine, for instance, that your passenger-side mirror has a camera built in whose purpose is to help you switch lanes with greater ease by helping to reduce or eliminate blind spots. That may be a nice feature to have in your car. But a mirror like that could easily cost $800 to replace if damaged, whereas a standard passenger-side mirror might cost only $200 or $300 (or less, depending on the vehicle you have).

That's why if your goal is to save money on car insurance, you shouldn't rush to buy a vehicle that's filled with safety features. You might end up spending more on your car itself plus more expensive insurance premiums.

Better ways to save money on insurance

As mentioned earlier, being a safer driver could lead to an auto insurance discount. And if you're in the market for a new vehicle, buying a less expensive one could lead to insurance premiums that are less costly.

It's also a good idea to shop around for auto insurance rather than settle for the first company you talk to. And if you own a home, look into bundling your policies. Using the same company for auto and homeowners insurance could result in a nice amount of savings. And that way, you won't have to stretch your budget for a top-of-the line car whose features you may not even find helpful.

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