Does it seem like the cost of your car insurance is going up…and up…and up recently? If you’ve noticed this, you’re not imagining things, and you’re not alone.
Car insurance rates did indeed increase significantly in 2017 due to a number of factors, including an increase in accidents and an increase in the cost to repair damage from those accidents. (Think about how advanced the technology is on today’s cars. Fixing these vehicles doesn’t come cheap.)
What’s more, military families may be hit especially hard by this trend due to the potential need to change insurers after a PCS.
The good news is that although it seems unlikely that this trend will reverse, there are still ways to save. Read on for 9 ways to save on car insurance.
- Shop around: Experts advise shopping around for your policy at least every 2-3 years. Don’t be lulled into assuming that you’re getting a fat “loyalty discount” for sticking with the same company, as it may or may not be significant. Also, different companies calculate rates differently, so you shouldn’t assume you’re getting “the best possible rate,” whether you have a great situation (safe drivers, great credit) or a not-so-great one situation (teen drivers, some crashes).
- Reassess coverage if you’ve moved: Service members’ insurance needs may change significantly after a PCS. Maybe the car is now going to be parked inside or you’ve moved from a city neighborhood to the middle of nowhere.
- Consolidate policies: This is one piece of advice many of us are likely to have heard—to get your home, car, life insurance, etc. with the same company. While you may get a discount this way, it also may not be that significant, so the advice to shop around definitely still applies.
- Consider whether you need collision and comprehensive insurance: Many experts advise cancelling collision and comprehensive insurance when their annual costs exceeds 10% of the Blue Book value of your car. This is a personal decision, but continuing to pay these considerable costs could mean paying out more over time than it would costs to actually replace your vehicle.
- Reconsider filing a claim for minor accidents: Though you should always inform your insurance company about an accident involving another car, there may be other times when it’s smarter not to file a claim: for instance, when you damage your own car in a single-car incident with no injuries, or when random damage is done to your car (like a branch falling on it). In these cases, filing a claim might raise your rates to the tune of more money than your reimbursement. Get an estimate on the repair and compare it to the amount you’d have to pay after the deductible. Some might even consider not repairing minor cosmetic damage at all.
- If you do carry collision and comprehensive, increase the deductible: Increasing the deductible on this coverage (say, to $1000 from $500) can save a significant amount. Though it will be a more painful hit should an accident occur, consider how often you’ve filed a claim and how much you’d save when making this decision. However, it’s best NOT to reduce your liability coverage, which pays for any injury or property damage (to others) you cause in an accident. You might even want to increase it if you’ve been carrying the minimum here. Experts often suggest 100/300/100 coverage.
- Consider annual insurance cost when purchasing a vehicle: Insurance costs and repair costs vary fairly dramatically depending on the car you own, so the next time you’re in the market, look at coverage costs and factor that into your purchase decisions. Call your insurance agent to find out these numbers. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety offers some useful information.
- Ask for the military discount when buying: Remember to ask for that military discount! NerdWallet has a chart of some of the common discounts offered. USAA, which particularly caters to military families, may be a good place to look due to some discounts designed especially for military needs (discounts for stored vehicles, discounts for garaging vehicles on base).
- Bring up your credit score: It can be hard to hear, but this last one is a biggie. Even if you drive like an angel and haven’t had a ticket since 1981, your credit score can make your car insurance rates skyrocket (unless you live in one of the three states that prohibit this– Hawaii, Massachusetts, and California). Believe it or not, having poor credit can increase rates as much as having a DUI or two on your record. The best advice is to work hard on improving that score.
Nordman, D. Your auto insurance premiums are rising, but it’s not just you. https://the-military-guide.com/auto-insurance-premiums-rising-not-just/
Consumer Reports. (2017). Car insurance buying guide. Retrieved from https://www.consumerreports.org/cro/car-insurance/buying-guide.htm
Castillo, J. (2017). Best car insurance for veterans and military personnel. Retrieved from https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/insurance/cheap-car-insurance-veterans/
Stanger, T. (2017). 5 tips for getting the best value on car insurance. Retrieved from https://www.consumerreports.org/car-insurance/tips-to-get-best-value-on-car-insurance/