Car insurance is supposed to save you money in the case of an accident or theft, but that hardly feels true when you pay your monthly premiums.
Knowing you have the best rate possible, though, can ease the pain of payment. One way to ensure you get the best monthly rate is to shop for car insurance every six months. While this might seem excessive, there are many reasons why you might need to reevaluate your insurance on a more frequent basis. Insurance rates aren’t stagnant…and neither is your life!
If you’ve recently moved, improved your credit score, or gotten married, you may qualify for cheaper car insurance. Many other factors affect your score as well, so even if none of the aforementioned points apply to you, there’s probably still reason for you to shop around.
If your car insurance is going up every year, but your driving record has remained clean, you might need to take a more proactive approach to finding a good car insurance rate by doing your research and actively shopping around.
Insurify and similar quote comparison sites can make the shopping process significantly easier. No one has ever been excited to shop around for insurance, but it doesn’t have to be as bad as you think. Even if you don’t find a cheaper rate this time around, going through the process should help you snag a better deal when you qualify for one down the line.
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If you’re not yet sold, read on to learn why you should shop for car insurance on at least a biannual basis.
1. Tickets/moving violations may have fallen off your record.
Even one moving violation will raise your rates, so take the initiative to make sure you know how long it stays on your record—and when it finally comes off. As soon as your ticket expires from your record, you should shop around for new rates.
2. Car insurance companies frequently change their rates.
Car insurance companies change their rates monthly, so by shopping at least once every year you are much more likely to get the cheapest rate possible. Watching the market and buying insurance when rates are low could save you hundreds of dollars a year.
Though rate changes happen all the time, you don’t have to constantly track them. Insurance providers use data about various risk factors from previous years to inform rate hikes or deductions, so knowing the more “dangerous” times of year in your state can eliminate a few months from your buying window. For example, if you live in the Northeast, costs will most likely be higher in the winter due to the increased risks of driving accidents due to ice and snow.
The two times when you should definitely shop around, though, are as soon as you get hit with a rate increase and as soon as you know that there are rate changes in your state (carriers change rates monthly).
3. New insurance companies crop up frequently.
If you haven’t shopped for car insurance in over six months, new insurance companies may have cropped up. These companies, eager to compete and get their foot in the door, often offer good rates in order to lure customers away from the more established providers. If you only have a month or two before your current policy expires, it’s a good time to shop around and check out new providers.
A good way to test out one of these new insurance companies is to get a 6 month car insurance policy. This way, if there are any problems, you only have to wait 6 months for your policy to expire before you can get a new one. But, if you’re happy with the insurance provider, you can renew for a 12 month policy at a likely even cheaper rate.
4. A significant life event may affect your rate.
Getting married, adding a teen to your policy, getting a new job, or moving (even if just to another nearby zip code) can all affect your rate. Insurance companies dig through troves of data to find patterns, such as which zip codes tend to have the highest or lowest vehicle related incidents, and adjust their rates accordingly. So, even if you stay in the same city, but move to a “safer” zip code, your rate could decrease.
Data shows that married people tend to have fewer vehicle-related incidents, and as such, car insurance providers often give them cheaper rates. The addition of a teen to a policy, however, often increases rates due to their novice driving skills. Once out of your teens, though, premiums generally decrease every year until you turn 60.
If you got a new job and no longer commute for work or drive significantly fewer miles, your rate could go down.
Graduating from college can also help you unlock cheaper rates. In Oregon, for example, you can get up to a 23 percent discount for having a college degree.
Additionally, if you expect many life changes in the near future, such as marriage, moving, or having kids, it might be in your best interest to buy a 6 month car insurance policy. That way, you force yourself to shop around, and ideally secure lower rates, when your policy expires.
5. Your credit score may have improved.
If you’ve ever applied for a lease or a loan, you know that various institutions look to that score to gauge your financial trustworthiness. Insurance companies are no different.
However, insurers don’t just look at your score as a whole. Your credit score is comprised of 130 elements, but car insurers cherry-pick the elements they deem most important and create a proprietary score with which to determine your rate. Because of this, it is hard to predict how a credit score improvement will help your rate, but in general, a better credit score leads to a cheaper rate. Consumer Reports found that drivers with a “good” credit score paid $214 more on average than those with the best credit score.
If you happen to live in California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts, though, you can forget about your credit score with respect to insurance. In these states it’s illegal for car insurance companies to take credit score into account.
6. States change insurance laws and requirements.
Every state’s insurance department sets legal requirements for liability, personal injury protection, and other coverage options. Regardless of what state you call home, though, these requirements can change with new legislation. With these changes, you can end up needing more or less coverage in order to be in compliance with the law.
For example, in California, minimum liability car insurance must include $15,000 bodily injury liability per person, $30,000 bodily injury liability per accident, and $5,000 property damage liability per accident. In Alabama, these minimums are much higher. They must include $25,000 bodily injury liability per person, $50,000 bodily injury liability per accident, and $25,000 property damage liability per accident. And, in stark contrast to most of the country, you have New Hampshire—a state in which car insurance is not mandatory. However, state law requires you to pay for any injury or property damage arising from use of your vehicle, so most people will want to get car insurance anyway.
7. You’ve maintained coverage for the past 6 months (or year).
Car insurance is often most expensive for first-time buyers or those with a long lapse in their coverage history. Providers consider drivers without any coverage history to be “high risk” because they know very little about you. Without a history, they have no information about whether you make timely payments or how many claims you make, so they prepare for the worst, and charge you for it.
Once you have been insured for six months or more, you are considered lower risk and can become eligible for continuous coverage and loyalty discounts.
8. “New” customers get better rates.
“New” in this case does not mean you’ve never had car insurance before—it means you are new to a specific car insurance company. As a way to get customers in the door, many providers use cheaper rates to attract drivers shopping for new policies. Doing this kind of comparative research every six months could end up saving you hundreds of dollars per year.
If you’re unsure about a company, but still want to try it out, you can opt for a 6 month policy instead of the standard 12 month. This will allow you to get a feel for the company before committing to it long-term.
9. Your vehicle loses value over time because of depreciation.
Depreciation is the loss in value of a car as it ages. The older the car, the less it’s worth. However, this relationship isn’t linear. The moment a car leaves the dealership lot, its value depreciates significantly. And after its first year off the lot, the value of brand new cars drops 40 percent, on average.
That being said, you should not pay the same insurance rate every year for a car that has less value than when you agreed to your original rate. Assessing your insurance policy every 6 to 12 months will refresh potential discounts and coverage options, like collision and comprehensive, which will match the decreasing value of your car.
Shopping for the best rates can take mere minutes
If you find a cheaper policy and want to switch before your current one expires, check to see if you will get a refund from your current provider. If not, you might want to hold off making the change immediately—but you’ll still be glad you found a better rate.
One way to give yourself more freedom to shop around is to buy 6 month car insurance policies. That way, you are free to switch insurance providers more frequently than if you bought year-long policies.
While shopping for car insurance might not always be fun, setting aside a few minutes every six months to compare rates could end up saving you a few hundred dollars a year.
Insurify is the perfect platform to compare car insurance quotes in a matter of minutes. Just enter your driver information and you’ll have a list of real-time, accurate quotes tailor-made for you in minutes.