Auto accidents can be killer for your insurance rates, but cheap insurance may remain in your grasp. You can still cheaply buy car insurance with a poor driving record by shopping around for the best deal and paying attention to measures that can reduce your rates.
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Comparing at least three different companies is a good way to start your search for cheap auto insurance for high-risk drivers. Companies typically offer a free estimate or even an instant quote so you can easily compare and contrast what they’re offering. You can also focus on ways to reduce your rates.
Ways to Reduce Rates
You have several ways to tweak your insurance plan with the overall aim of reducing your rates, according to the Washington State Department of Insurance. While these reduction methods may apply to any driver with any type of record, they can be especially helpful for those who are already paying more due to a bad driving record.
Raising your deductibles can lower your premiums, often immediately, by making that simple change. Increasing your deductible for your collision and comprehensive coverage are ideal places to start, since you have more say over the type and level of your repairs to your own vehicle than you do for repairing the vehicles of others under your liability coverage.
Washington’s Insurance Department also notes you can pay for smaller claims out of your own pocket, instead of running them through the insurance company, and save your insurance for larger claims, you could not as easily afford. By not filing claims unless absolutely necessary, your claims history will remain low and may help reduce your overall cost of insurance.
How you pay your premium may also be a way to reduce your rates, according to the Oregon Department of Insurance. Paying for an entire year’s worth of coverage in one lump sum may come out cheaper than paying in monthly installments. Car insurance companies may offer a discount for paying the entire premium at once and it may also be a way to avoid monthly fees and services charges tacked on to your bill every time you make a payment.
Making sure you are not duplicating insurance coverage can also help you trim some fat of your car insurance bill.
For instance, if your health insurance already covers medical bills if you are in an accident, you can scale back on medical coverage under your car insurance plan.
Types of Coverage
You may be able to scale back on other types of coverage in a bid to save money on your auto insurance. If your car would cost more to insure than it would to replace, you may be able to forget about comprehensive or collision coverage altogether.
Of course, you do want to comply with state law and obtain the minimum amount of car insurance required for the state, but additional coverage is your choice. Review state minimums and then decide how much additional coverage you would feasibly need. Also, make sure an insurance company is not automatically including coverage you neither want nor need when they are offering a quote or drawing up a policy.
Make Other Factors Count
Your driving record and number of accidents may play a big part in your insurance rates, but they are not the only factors involved, the Illinois Department of Insurance says. You can try to offset the high cost of insurance due to your accident record by making sure other factors on the list get you the lowest rates possible. While some of the factors are beyond your control, others may be adjusted to keep your rates down.
Factors beyond Your Control
Your age and gender are two factors that go into calculating your rates. Both are pretty much out of your control. The highest premiums go to the highest risk group of drivers, which are those under age 25. Males under age 25 boost the premium even further as they statistically have more accidents than female drivers under age 25 do.
Other factors are within your control but may be ridiculous to adjust just to receive lower auto insurance premiums. These include your marital status, licensed drivers in your household, your job, and your location.
Married couples typically have lower rates than singles, although you may not want to propose just to get an insurance break. All members of your household are another factor that goes into calculating your premium, but, again, you may not want to kick people out or move people in based on their age, gender, marital status and driving record.
If you have a job that requires you to use your own vehicle, your rates may be higher than a job that only requires you to drive to and from work.
Living in an area that is known for high crime and car thefts can increase your rates over lower-crime zones.
Congested urban areas typically merit higher rates than sparsely populated rural locations.
Factors You Can Adjust
Even if your driving record is currently trashed, you can keep it as squeaky clean as possible going forward. That means driving safely, obeying all traffic laws, and paying acute attention to the road should be top priorities.
Other factors you can adjust include your annual mileage, the type of car you have, and your credit record. Lower rates generally come from lower mileage. You can explore taking public transportation, car pooling or even walking or riding a bicycle to reduce the mileage on your vehicle.
The make, model, and age of your vehicle are other factors within your control. Cars that are frequently stolen are on the high end of the insurance cost scale, as are vehicles that cost a lot to repair. You can ask insurance companies for estimates for insuring a specific type of vehicle before you actually buy that vehicle. They may be able to help guide you toward vehicles that are low-cost on their insurance list.
Your credit record may play a part in your insurance rates. Like your driving record, you may not be able to fix your credit record in an instant, but you can employ measures to improve it going forward.
Measures include paying your bills on time, paying off as much debt as possible, and not applying for many new accounts at once. You may also want to review your credit record to ensure there are no mistakes on the record that could be bringing you down.
Make Discounts Count
A number of discounts offered by insurance companies may help shave money off your overall insurance premium. A number of them are also within your control. Companies may give you a reduced rate for insuring more than one vehicle with the company or having more than one policy type with it. You may be able to choose a single company for your house and auto insurance, for example, which could merit a break.
Your vehicle’s safety and security features can net you a discount, with the more the merrier. Safety features include items such as anti-lock brakes and airbags. Security measures include car alarms, tracking devices, wheel locks, and brake locks.
If a driving record is particularly awful, some insurance companies may refuse to offer insurance at all. However, just because one insurance company denies coverage don’t assume they all will. The Texas Department of Insurance points out that each company sets its own rules and one works for one may not be the same for another.
The Texas DUI also notes that the highest costs of insurance may come from some of the more serious traffic violations. These include involuntary manslaughter, criminally negligent driving, driving with a suspended license, and driving under the influence.
All is still not lost. Even companies that refuse to insure high-risk drivers may be associated with other member companies that do. It never hurts to ask. It also never hurts to look into insurance companies that specialize in insuring high-risk drivers when comparing your options.
One more area to research if you are having trouble finding high-risk insurance would be programs that may be available in your state.
Texas has a state-run insurance program that may insure drivers that cannot obtain it elsewhere.
California also has a plan, known as the California Automobile Assigned Risk Plan, or CAARP. Each insurance company in the state is required to take on CAARP applications, so you know you’ll end up insured, according to the California Department of Insurance.
While the rates may be different than you’d find through a traditional program, all CAARP rates are the same regardless of what company offers the insurance.
If you successfully maintain a good driving record for three years under the CAARP plan, you will be eligible to move from CAARP to a standard insurance policy. Your state’s department of insurance may be able to guide you in the right direction and let you know if such a program exists for you.
State-run car insurance programs usually have very strict requirements and are one of the last places to look for insurance. You may be wiser to start your search with private car insurance companies that offer competitive rates, have a solid financial base, and a good reputation for customer service and satisfaction.
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