What steps can I take to reduce my rates?

Insurers often discount their rates in order to encourage good driving practices and the use of safety and security precautions. Depending on the insurance company, you can often lower your rates from 5 to 35 percent.

Sometimes the investment you make in your vehicle is worth the discount, and sometimes it's simply worth some peace of mind. For example, the purchase of anti-lock brakes merits a discount from nearly every insurer, but the discount probably will not pay for the brakes (which cost several hundred dollars) during the normal life of your vehicle. Anti-lock brakes are touted, nonetheless, as a life-saving feature a serious consideration when safety is a top priority.

Insurers generally offer discounts for:
  • Safety Features--Anti-lock brakes, air bags and passive restraint systems (i.e., automatic seat belts).
  • Defensive Driving--Clean violation record, driver's-ed courses for teenagers and defensive driving or accident prevention courses for adults (insurance discounts for the latter are required in some states).
  • Security Systems--Alarms, electronic locks and disabling devices.
  • Changing Driving Habits--Commuting by public transit, using a company vehicle for work-related travel and car-pooling.
  • Formal Agreements Not to Drink and Drive--The availability of a discount for signing such an agreement varies among insurers and states.
  • Buying Home Owners and Auto Policies from the Same Company--If you own a home and an automobile and you are insured by two different companies, check into the cost of carrying both policies by one insurer. Your agent can give you guidance as to which insurers offer discounts.
You can also lower your auto insurance rates by requesting higher deductibles, or the amount of money you pay before you make a claim. Increasing your deductibles on collision and comprehensive coverage from $100 to $250, or even $500, will bring your rates down. Moreover, you may not need collision and comprehensive coverage if you drive an older car. Ask your agent which discounts are available to you.