Car insurance just ain’t getting cheaper. And that’s not an opinion. According to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) report from November 2023, the price of motor vehicle insurance increased 1.0% from October to November. That might seem like a modest increase, until you take into account the fact that car insurance has also jumped 19.2% since last November.
So when it comes to finding cheap car insurance, we’re all pretty much in the same boat. And while some factors influencing insurance premiums are outside your control — like the increased frequency of natural disasters — some avenues could still lead you to a more affordable rate. Here are my top three.
1. Get car insurance through Costco
Costco sells just about everything a person needs to survive in the modern world, including car insurance. While Costco doesn’t underwrite policies itself, it does give members big discounts through its insurance partner, CONNECT (backed by American Family Auto).
Just how much can you save? Well, according to Costco, members save on average about $600 in the first year they switch to CONNECT. And that might be an underestimate, depending on your insurer. In fact, the insurance site, The Zebra, found that Costco’s car insurance was not only cheaper than seven major car insurance companies, but also about $1,700 cheaper than the most expensive of the bunch: Farmers at $2,790. Meanwhile, Costco’s insurance was priced at $1,068.
One big reason for the difference in price is that Costco members get an exclusive discount. This can be combined with other discounts, like safe driving and bundling policies, to bring your premium down to a rock-bottom rate. So, even if you’re not a Costco member, it might be worth becoming one, just for the savings on car insurance.
2. Switch to a pay-per-mile policy
For those who don’t drive often, a pay-per-mile policy might just be the most affordable way to get car insurance.
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Numerous companies offer pay-per-mile policies, and this is how they work: You pay a fixed base rate, then a second rate based on how many miles you drive. The first rate is based on your driving history, vehicle, age, location, among other factors. The second rate is a per-mile cost, usually a few cents per mile.
I used to have a pay-per-mile policy, and it saved me a lot of money in my first year. My base rate was about $45 and my per-mile rate was $0.047. Since I don’t drive frequently, I was saving about $40 a month for car insurance (or $480 per year). The policy did come back to haunt me, however, after I drove roundtrip from Portland, Oregon to Breckenridge, Colorado, which cost me a lot more than I expected. Even so, the savings were greater than anything I could have gotten with regular car insurance.
3. Work with an independent insurance agent
Finally, if you can’t find cheap car insurance on your own, consider hiring an expert who will do the hard work for you.
Independent insurance agents are go-betweens for car insurance companies and drivers. They don’t work for one car insurance company (hence “independent”) but rather sell policies from numerous companies. They likely earn a commission when they enroll you into a company’s car insurance, but you won’t pay a dime to work with an independent agent.
The advantage of an independent agent is that they can take your information and find you a policy. Often, they’ll compare different car insurance quotes for you, helping you find a company with the cheapest rate. The downside of agents, however, is that they don’t work with every car insurance company, so you’re getting the best rates available from a smaller pool of insurers. That said, most work with big insurance companies, so you can at least see which of the most well-known insurers would offer you the cheapest premium for your desired coverage.
All in all, there is cheaper car insurance out there for you. Whether you find it through an agent or on your own, what matters is that you get a low price without sacrificing coverage. Take a look at your options, compare quotes, and don’t settle for the first discount you see — you might be surprised at how much you could save just by shopping around.
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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.