Car insurance premiums skyrocketed about 19% in 2023, leading to the biggest yearly increase in almost five decades. And while many of the reasons behind this inflation are outside your control — like extreme weather disasters, distracted driving, and the rising costs of repairing cars — there are some ways to proactively keep your insurance costs down. If you’ve been stunned with a higher car insurance premium lately, here are three habits that could help you save.
1. Don’t auto renew your policy
Setting your car insurance to auto renewal seems harmless. But while it may save you time, auto renewing hardly saves you money.
The problem with auto renewal is that it could lead you to lock into a rate that’s higher than other car insurance companies. Even if your rate doesn’t change from year to year, you may be forfeiting cheaper rates elsewhere, simply because you didn’t check beforehand or shop around. What’s worse is when your car insurance rate creeps up for no apparent reason, leading you to pay more for car insurance even when you didn’t file a claim.
Instead of auto renewing, a good habit is to compare car insurance companies at least once a year. Premiums can differ significantly from company to company, sometimes by hundreds of dollars, and you may find cheaper insurance for the same coverage just by switching. You can request quotes directly from insurance companies, then compare them side by side, or you can enlist the free services of an independent insurance agent, who will do the research for you.
2. Use telematics — and practice good driving
Telematics, in car insurance jargon, is a type of technology that monitors how you drive and reports your driving habits to insurance companies for policy pricing. For safe drivers, subscribing to a telematics program could save you up to 40% on your annual premium — a significant savings that could amount to $1,150 if your policy, like the average driver, costs around $2,875 per year.
To be sure, telematics doesn’t automatically save you money. You have to prove you’re a good driver first. In general, telematics devices and apps observe the following driving behaviors:
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- How fast you brake
- Cellphone usage
- Miles you drive
- Time of day you drive
Even if you’re not a great driver to begin with, telematics can teach you how to drive safely by penalizing reckless or careless driving. For instance, you may not realize just how frequently you speed or how much you use your cellphone while you drive. While these devices can sometimes be annoying — for example, penalizing safe driving such as braking quickly to avoid an accident — driving within their guidelines could result in a hefty discount.
3. Get only the coverage you need
Picking the right amount of car insurance coverage involves a lot of “what ifs.” What if you cause a multi-car pile-up with injuries amounting to more than $300,000? What if a branch falls on your car while it’s parked or someone sideswipes the mirror? What if you don’t have enough insurance and are stuck paying the difference out of pocket?
True, it’s important to be prepared. After all, you don’t want to be stuck paying out of pocket for costs that your car insurance could have covered. On the other hand, there is such a thing as being overinsured. For example, if you drive an old car, you might not need collision and comprehensive coverage. Likewise, if you’re a careful driver who has a clean driving record — perhaps one or two incidents but no pattern of recklessness — you don’t need to overdo it with property damage or liability.
All in all, if you’re a safe driver who compares car insurance quotes and buys only the coverage that you need, you could keep your car insurance costs down. Practice these habits consistently — but keep in mind you may not see the savings immediately or all at once — and combine them with other discounts to help you save on car insurance in 2024.
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Based in New York, Stephen Freeman is a Senior Editor at Trending Insurance News. Previously he has worked for Forbes and The Huffington Post. Steven is a graduate of Risk Management at the University of New York.