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How to get cheap car insurance quotes – six secrets revealed

How you can use car insurance firms’ own tricks against them to lower your car insurance premium and get a cheaper quote – 6 secrets revealed

  • 16:14, 26 JUL 2018

Some car insurance premiums make sense. For example, if you live somewhere with more car crime or have a more expensive cars, you pay more.

But then there are things that companies use to set your car insurance premium that are a lot weirder.

For example, insurers have worked out surgeons have more accidents where they were to blame than any other profession and building society clerks the fewest. They know Virgos were worst for accidents last year, but Pisceans had more convictions.

That means they will up your premium based on age, sex, job, post code and where you park park as well as what you drive.

But insurance providers don’t have to have to have it all their own way. Here are six ways to get cheaper car insurance.

1. Use the right job title

If you describe yourself as a “chef” when filling in your car insurance application your average quote is £98 higher than if you write “kitchen staff” comparison site GoCompare.com found – and it’s not just cooks that have this problem.

“Music teachers” pay £86 more than “teachers”, “office managers” pay more than “office administrators”, and “construction workers” pay more than “builders” who – in turn – pay more than “bricklayers”.

Basically, if your job fits in more than one category, check car insurance quotes are for all of them before applying.

But be careful, while you can often legitimately choose more than one job, if you knowingly misrepresent yourself that could invalidate your cover.

For more on how your job affects your car insurance, check out GoCompare’s guide .

And if you’re a full time parent or retired make absolutely sure you check that box and not “unemployed” – it could save you almost £300.

2. Add another more experienced driver to the policy

It’s a crime to say someone who isn’t the main driver of a car is, but adding a secondary driver is perfectly legal – and more than that, it can save you money.

Get their permission first, then add an experienced driver with a clean driving license and decent no-claims history to your insurance.

3. Never leave it till the last minute

Searching around and switching car insurance three weeks before your renewal date, rather than on the day, saves you an average of £280, comparison site Comparethemarket found – with even bigger savings available for younger drivers.

Oh, and make absolutely sure you do compare and switch – figures from Moneysupermarket.com show almost 6 million drivers just accept their auto-renewal quote – costing them £113 a year.

4. Get some cash back

Comparison sites make money because when you switch products with them they get a referral fee from the insurer. But if you’re clever, you can get that money yourself.

Topcashback is offering up to £70 cashback when you switch through them. Once you’ve compared prices and found which deal is cheapest, head over to one of them and see if you can get an even better deal by switching through the cashback site.

5. Pay up front

Did you know that many insurers charge interest on your payments if you spread the cost over the year? Well, they do. an average of £62 more Moneysupermarket worked out.

So if at all possible, pay up front.

Car insurance: What you need to know

6. Cut your extras and boost your excess

What’s included in your car insurance quote? Breakdown cover? Windscreen cover? Theft from the car? Driving abroad? Personal accident cover? A courtesy car? Every extra adds to the premium.

More than that, a lot of them might already be covered by things like your travel insurance, AA membership, home insurance or even your bank account.

Double check you’re not double paying and then look to see if you really need these extras. Oh, and you need to check how much excess there is on your policy.

This is how much you have to pay yourself when making a claim. The lower the excess the higher the car insurance, so work out how what you can afford to pay in the case of an accident and set your excess to that – even £50 can make a difference.

And of course.

These will all lower your quote, but to pay less make sure you’ve compared car insurance providers too.

Find the Best Cheap Car Insurance

Whether you’re looking for a full coverage car insurance policy or liability coverage only, nobody wants to overpay. And the best way to get the cheapest car insurance possible is by comparing car insurance quotes — and the companies offering them.

To get you started, NerdWallet looked at car insurance prices across the country for different driver profiles and coverage levels. We’ve sliced the data in several ways to give you an idea of average costs and what factors might nudge your car insurance rate up — or even better, down.

Cheapest overall: Liability-only car insurance

The cheapest car insurance will often be the minimum coverage required in your state, which in most states is liability insurance. Liability insurance covers property damage and medical bills for others due to accidents you cause. Some states require additional or alternative coverage, such as personal injury protection.

Full coverage car insurance is more expensive and often comes with a deductible, a set amount you are responsible for if you file a claim. But it also provides more expansive coverage for your car, like if it’s stolen or damaged, whether by you, a hit-and-run driver or a fallen tree.

To get an idea of the cheapest car insurance rates, period, we looked at quotes from available carriers for the minimum required insurance in each state. Then, we compared it to the average cost of full coverage car insurance to show the difference in cost.

Average rates can give you an idea of pricing in your state for minimum or full coverage car insurance policies, but that says little about the companies available to you.

Cheapest of the big car insurance companies

Just five car insurance companies make up more than 55% of the U.S. market. They include Allstate, Geico, Progressive and State Farm, which are available to anyone, as well as USAA, the insurer for active military members, veterans and their families.

Since most people choose one of these large insurers, NerdWallet compared quotes from the five largest auto companies in ZIP codes across the country. Rates are for policies that include minimum coverage required in each state, plus collision and comprehensive coverage. Our “good driver” profile is a 30-year-old with no moving violations and credit in the “good” tier. Use the tabs to see rates for drivers with credit in the “poor” tier and those with one at-fault accident as reported to the insurer.

Keep in mind these are averages from across the country, so rates in your area will differ.

NerdWallet’s rating: 4.0 / 5

National average rates:

  • Good driver: $1,177/year
  • Good driver, poor credit: $1,901/year
  • One at-fault accident: $2,225/year

Among the biggest four car insurers, our data indicates Geico is often the cheapest. Not only was Geico the cheapest for drivers with good credit and no moving violations, it was also cheapest for drivers with poor credit. However, drivers with a recent at-fault accident might see significantly higher quotes from Geico compared to other insurers.

2. State Farm

NerdWallet’s rating: 4.0 / 5

National average rates:

  • Good driver: $1,366/year
  • Good driver, poor credit: $2,867/year
  • One at-fault accident: $1,637/year

State Farm was the second-cheapest for good drivers, but it also came in cheapest for drivers with one at-fault accident — nearly $600 per year cheaper than Geico in that category. State Farm also beats Geico, Progressive and Allstate in NerdWallet’s ranking of best car insurance companies.

3. Progressive

NerdWallet’s rating: 3.5 / 5

National average rates:

  • Good driver: $1,726/year
  • Good driver, poor credit: $3,056/year
  • One at-fault accident: $3,024/year

Progressive isn’t the cheapest in this large national analysis, but that only illustrates the importance of shopping around. In many states, Progressive had some of the lowest rates for all of our 2018 driver profiles.

4. Allstate

NerdWallet’s rating: 4.0 / 5

National average rates:

  • Good driver: $1,812/year
  • Good driver, poor credit: $3,054/year
  • One at-fault accident: $2,719/year

Allstate averaged more than others in this list for good drivers, but it was cheaper than Progressive for drivers with an at-fault accident or poor credit.

Cheapest for military-affiliated families: USAA

NerdWallet’s rating: 4.5 / 5

National average rates:

  • Good driver: $870/year
  • Good driver, poor credit: $1,654/year
  • One at-fault accident: $1,162/year

USAA is only available to veterans, active military members and their families, so we didn’t rank it against the others. Even so, we found it to be the cheapest, by far, among large companies for all categories.

Check out smaller insurers, too

Finding cheap car insurance doesn’t mean you have to stick with large insurance companies. Regional and small insurers may beat the lowest offers from the big guys. For example:

      • Grange Insurance, which is available in 13 states through independent agents, came in cheaper than USAA in all three of the above categories. The average rate for good drivers was only $566 per year.
      • Erie Insurance, available in 12 states and the District of Columbia, had an average rate of $759 per year for good drivers. Bonus points: Erie locks in your initial rate for four years and ranks fourth among our best companies. Read our Erie Insurance review for more information.
      • Country Financial is available in 19 states and returned an average rate of $940 per year for good drivers. It was also cheaper than the big four (but not USAA) for drivers with at-fault accidents and poor credit.

Cheapest car insurance in your state

How to get the cheapest possible insurance

No matter who your auto insurance company is, here are tips for saving on your policy:

        1. Look for discounts — even ask for them. There could be discounts you’re not taking advantage of. For instance, maybe you retired and are driving less than when you bought your policy. Mention it and you might get a low-mileage discount.
        2. Rethink insurance limits and deductibles. A higher collision and comprehensive deductible might make sense if you rarely drive or are financially comfortable with the risk. Raising deductibles means you’d owe more out of pocket if you had to file a comprehensive or collision claim, but it’s a surefire way to get cheaper car insurance.
        3. Know when to cut coverage. Don’t strip away coverage just for the sake of a lower price. You’ll need full coverage car insurance to satisfy the terms of an auto loan, and you’ll want it as long as your car would be a financial burden to replace. But for older cars, you can drop comprehensive and collision coverage, which only pay out up to your car’s current value, minus the deductible.
        4. Cash in on major life changes. Certain life events could translate to cheaper car insurance. For instance, many companies offer a lower rate for married couples or domestic partners. Or perhaps you moved to a suburb with lower accident and crime rates. If your risk for accidents goes down, your rates just might, too.

NerdWallet’s car insurance comparison tool makes it easy to see side-by-side rates from top companies.

NerdWallet averaged rates for 30-year-old men and women with no incidents on record for 10 ZIP codes in each state and Washington, D.C. from the largest insurers, up to 12 in each state. Rates in the first column are for minimum insurance coverage required by law in each state.

For the full coverage category, we averaged rates from the largest insurers for 30-year-old men and women in 10 ZIP codes and with the following coverage limits:

  • $100,000 bodily injury liability coverage per person
  • $300,000 bodily injury liability coverage per crash
  • $50,000 property damage liability coverage per crash
  • $100,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage per person
  • $300,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage per crash
  • Collision coverage with $1,000 deductible
  • Comprehensive coverage with $1,000 deductible

In states where required, minimum additional coverages were added. We used a 2014 Toyota Camry in all cases. These are sample rates generated through Quadrant Information Services. Your own rates will be different.

To compare the 5 largest insurers:

NerdWallet averaged rates for 30-year-old men and women for 10 ZIP codes in each state and Washington, D.C., from the largest insurers in each state. “Good drivers” had no moving violations on record and credit in the “good” tier as reported to each insurer. For the other two driver profiles, we changed the credit tier to “poor” or added one at-fault accident, keeping everything else the same. Sample drivers had the following coverage limits:

  • $100,000 bodily injury liability coverage per person
  • $300,000 bodily injury liability coverage per crash
  • $50,000 property damage liability coverage per crash
  • $100,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage per person
  • $300,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage per crash
  • Collision coverage with $1,000 deductible
  • Comprehensive coverage with $1,000 deductible

In states where required, minimum additional coverages were added. We used a 2014 Toyota Camry in all cases. These are sample rates generated through Quadrant Information Services. Your own rates will be different.

Get the best car insurance rate

When you compare the price of car insurance, it’s important to explore every option so that you’ll get the coverage you need at a price you can afford.

Here are nine tips for getting the best car insurance deals.

1. Shop around

Get a quote from at least three reputable insurance companies so you can compare prices and coverage. Rates will vary from one company to another, and the lowest priced insurance may not give you all the coverage you need. Look at price, amount of coverage, benefits and claims services before you make your decision.

2. Adjust your insurance policy

If a company quotes their best car insurance price and it’s slightly outside your range, you may lower it by making small changes. A higher deductible on your vehicle, for example, may lower your rate. Keep in mind though, that if you were to file a claim, your out-of-pocket expenses could increase.

While you’re tweaking your policy, also consider your coverage limits. You may be paying for more coverage than your state requires. Make sure you have the coverage you want, based on your needs.

3. Discount your way to the best auto insurance price

Car insurance discounts lower prices significantly. Remaining accident-free, having an anti-theft device on your vehicle or your teen driver’s good grades could also cut costs.

You may also be eligible for an affinity discount if you’re a member of a fraternity, sorority, alumni association, credit union, sports group, or professional organization that has partnered with Nationwide.

4. Combine insurance policies

You may save on your auto insurance policy when you insure more than one vehicle. Or by combining your auto insurance policy with other insurance policies, such as homeowners insurance or life insurance you could save by bundling rather than having individual policies.

5. Maintain a good credit rating

Most insurers will figure in the strength of your credit rating when determining the price of your policy. A higher credit score could mean lower rates, so take care to maintain a good rating.

6. Drive carefully

It’s really that simple. If you have at least five years of driving experience and no accidents over the past five years, you may qualify for a safe-driver discount. And with Accident Forgiveness, we won’t raise your auto insurance rates following the first at-fault car accident.

7. Consider car safety features and defensive driving class

You could save money on your car insurance rate if your vehicle is equipped with an anti-theft device, full front-seat airbags or restraint devices that work automatically when your door closes. You may get a defensive driver discount, too, when you successfully complete a motor vehicle accident prevention course approved by your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

8. Go paperless

Did you know that Nationwide has several easy ways to automatically pay your insurance bill on a recurring basis? That means you’ll save on postage stamps, help eliminate piles of paperwork, be kind to the environment and avoid late fees. Some policyholders can even get discounts just for signing up for paperless documents.

9. Ask for a regular review of your auto insurance policy

Make sure your policy keeps pace with your life. And you get the discounts you deserve. We recommend you take advantage of a free On Your Side ® Review every year, or whenever you’ve had a change in your life.

Ready to get an insurance quote?

Start your search for the best auto insurance rates by getting an online car insurance quote from Nationwide.

Insurance terms, definitions and explanations are intended for informational purposes only and do not in any way replace or modify the definitions and information contained in individual insurance contracts, policies or declaration pages, which control coverage determinations. Such terms may vary by state, and exclusions may apply. Discounts may not be applied to all policy coverages.

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