One of the few nice things about getting older is that eventually, your car insurance rates will decrease, provided you are a safe driver. After the age of 25, you are no longer in the highest-risk age group for drivers, and you’ll see your rates for auto insurance go down as a result. But even if you are a cautious driver with a clean driving record, you may notice at some point that your rates have gone up. As it turns out, there are actually a number of factors that can play a role in the cost of automobile insurance aside from age. And if you want to avoid rate increases, it’s probably a good idea to understand the circumstances that could lead to rate hikes. Here are a few ways to keep your rates in an affordable range.
- Drive carefully. This is the obvious first step if you don’t want to pay through the nose for auto insurance. Both tickets and accidents can impact the price you’ll pay for insurance coverage when you get behind the wheel. So follow the rules of the road, avoid high-risk activities like drinking and driving, distracted driving (talking or texting, for example), and so on, and allow for plenty of reaction time when operating a motor vehicle since other drivers may not be as safety-conscious as you. Even if another driver is at fault for an accident, your rates could go up. So accounting for other drivers around you is equally important to follow the rules yourself.
- Don’t buy a brand new. The car you drive can definitely play a role in the cost of your insurance, so you can reasonably expect your rates to increase when you scrap your old clunker in favor of a brand new automobile. Luckily, you can temper this rate hike by purchasing a vehicle that is not brand new. There are all kinds of workable options these days if you don’t want to go for an older used car. For example, you can buy a certified pre-owned vehicle for significantly less than the sticker price of a new model and still enjoy the benefit of a warranty. And considering a new car loses value the moment you drive it off the lot, you may have to purchase gap insurance in addition to your regular policy to cover the gap between the value of the car and what you still owe on an auto loan. The lesson here is: don’t buy new if you want to avoid insurance rate increases.
- Skip luxury and sport vehicles. The cost of your vehicle will partially determine your insurance rate since your provider is planning for the cost to replace parts in the event of an accident, or even total value if the car cannot be salvaged. So you might want to skip the luxury vehicles in favor of something a little less pricy. You should also know that the relative risk associated with your car can result in higher rates. If you drive a minivan or even a sedan, you’ll likely pay less, all things being equal, than you would for a 2-door sports car, which insurers consider to hold a higher risk factor.
- Limit your drive time. Statistically speaking, the more time you spend on the road, the more likely you are to get in an accident. So if you can make your morning commute using public transit or you have the option to join a carpool in order to cut down on mileage, you stand to avoid a rate increase for your auto insurance (and save on fuel and maintenance costs, to boot).
- Don’t let others drive your vehicle. Of all the car insurance tips you might follow, the most important for avoiding rate hikes is this: do not let other drivers get behind the wheel of your car. Of course this doesn’t apply to others on your insurance policy, such as a spouse or teenage children. But even if your brother or your friends insist that they’re covered under their own insurance, there’s no guarantee you won’t be held liable in the event of an accident. And you’re the one who will have to pay for repairs and deal with insurance hassles if you’re wrong. So whether you’re covered by a policy with State Farm or your local Pronto Insurance Franchise, be smart and don’t loan out your car.