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Car insurance is a necessity if you own a vehicle, but it doesn't always come cheap. Several factors influence a driver's rates, including age, driving history, vehicle type, state, and even credit score. To get the best price possible, drivers should compare car insurance rates from several providers. Below, we'll look at why that is, what factors affect auto insurance rates, and tips on how to leverage this knowledge to secure a more affordable rate.
The following factors affect auto insurance rates:
We'll look at how each of these factors affect the rates of drivers below.
Look at the average car insurance rates by age and gender, and it's clear that teen males pay much more than most other drivers, and teen females aren't far behind. That's because teen drivers have less experience on the roads and are statistically more likely to engage in risky behavior like distracted driving. This leads to more claims, so insurance companies tend to charge younger drivers more. See our choices for the best car insurance for teens and young drivers.
As drivers get older, they typically see their rates decrease by, eventually, over 60% as long as they have a clean record. By the time they're seniors, most people qualify for below-average auto insurance rates. This is in part because seniors are often considered safer drivers than teens. But it can also be because some insurers offer discounts to drivers 65 and older.
Here's a closer look at how average rates change with a driver's age. All of the examples below assume the driver has a record with no accidents or other traffic violations.
|Average Annual Premium
|Teen (18 years old)
|Adult (35 years old)
|Senior (65 years old)
Accidents, particularly at-fault accidents, can raise even the best auto insurance rates considerably. On average, a driver with a single at-fault accident can expect to see premiums jump by 40%. Accidents remain on a driver's record for three to five years, depending on the state of residence. Their effect decreases over time, but the driver's auto insurance rate probably won't drop to pre-accident levels until an accident falls off the record. See our choices for the best high-risk car insurance.
Speeding tickets, DUIs, and other traffic infractions can also raise a driver's premiums. But the exact increase depends on where the driver lives, the severity of the traffic violation, and whether the driver has more than one infraction.
More traffic infractions lead to a higher premium, but it only takes one to put a serious strain on your wallet. Here's how the premiums of drivers with a single speeding ticket or accident stack up to those with a clean record.
|Average Annual Premium
|1 Speeding Ticket
|1 At-Fault Accident
While credit may seem unrelated to one's driving ability, some insurers do use credit scores. There is some statistical data to support the fact that drivers with higher credit scores are less likely to cause accidents. That means drivers with high credit scores get the best car insurance rates.
But not all states allow this practice. Massachusetts, for example, prohibits insurers from considering credit scores when evaluating a driver's application. In most states, though, poor credit raises the typical premium by nearly 113%. Here's a table showing the average cost of insurance for drivers with excellent credit vs. poor credit.
|Average Annual Premium
There's huge variation in insurance rates by car. More expensive cars are obviously more expensive to insure, but so are cars that are common targets of theft, and vehicles with larger engines that can go faster. Drivers in the market for new vehicles who are trying to keep costs down could consider looking for cars with the lowest insurance rates to save a little money.
On average, trucks are more expensive to insure than sedans. This is because they are often more expensive to start with. But they can also cause more damage in an accident, which leads to higher liability claims. Insurers hedge against this risk by charging truck owners more.
Car insurance rates by state can vary significantly. The average car insurance cost in each state depends on several factors, including state auto insurance laws, the likelihood of natural disasters or animal-vehicle accidents, the number of uninsured drivers, and more. Even if you compare car insurance rates from adjoining zip codes, you can find wildly different rates based on how many accident, vandalism, and theft claims drivers report in the area.
Here's a closer look at the average car insurance cost by state. For reference, the national average cost of car insurance is $2,646 per year.
|Average Annual Premium
|District of Columbia
If you're in the market for inexpensive auto insurance, follow these steps.
Not all insurance companies operate in all states. To compare car insurance rates, drivers should begin by making a list of insurance providers available in their state, which may include most national insurers, like:
Although all states have certain minimum auto insurance coverage required by law, many drivers purchase more than this. Most insurers offer a variety of additional protection options, though not all are available with all insurers. Think about the type of car insurance coverage options that matter most and narrow down the list of possibilities. Drivers should only compare auto insurance rates from companies that offer what they're looking for.
All insurance companies should offer at least the following:
Choose a handful of insurers to compare car insurance rates from. Set aside some time to get quotes on their websites or by calling the insurance provider. Most companies let people save a car insurance quote for later if they want to return to it.
Look over the auto insurance quotes to decide which is the best. Price is obviously an important factor, but it shouldn't be the only one. Look into customer service, deductible options, and the financial strength of the car insurance company. This can be determined using independent rating agencies like A.M. Best and S&P Global Ratings. Compare car insurance quotes based on all these factors and choose the one that performs the best across all categories.
Score discount car insurance rates by taking the following steps:
As discussed above, comparing the best car insurance rates can help drivers see which companies offer the best coverage options for the most affordable price. All insurers weigh a driver's application a little differently, so it's important to get quotes from a few to see which offer the best price.
Auto insurers offer discounts on car insurance to help qualifying drivers lower their rates. The exact discount list varies by insurance company, but some common ones include the following:
An increasing number of insurers offer car insurance discounts to drivers willing to prove their safe habits by installing a monitoring device in their cars.
Deductibles are out-of-pocket costs in the event of an accident, while premiums are the monthly costs drivers pay to keep their insurance. Choosing a higher car insurance deductible can lower the monthly insurance premium. Drivers who keep the money for their deductibles in an emergency fund can save quite a bit on their car insurance premiums while remaining financially secure in the event of an accident.
Safe drivers pay less for auto insurance. Try to avoid tickets and accidents. Drivers should also think seriously about whether to file a claim for a minor accident that could be covered out of pocket. Doing so may raise insurance rates, and the car insurance company may not cover the damages if the amount is less than the deductible.
Shopping around is the best way to find a great deal on car insurance. Compare car insurance rates from several companies to see which offers the best deal.
Drivers cannot negotiate car insurance rates with an insurer. The next best thing is to compare rates from several companies to see which offers the best price.
There is no set number for how much car insurance rates might increase in a year. It depends on whether you've had any accidents, where you live, and the vehicle you drive, among other factors.
There could be several reasons for this. Sometimes, car insurance is high because a driver lives in an area prone to natural disasters, accidents, or car thefts. Other times, state laws make it expensive for insurers to operate in that area.
It's a good idea to compare auto insurance rates at least once per year to see if there are better options.
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