Car insurance is supposed to save you money in the case of an accident or theft, but that hardly feels true while you’re paying your monthly insurance 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 auto insurance every six months. While this might seem excessive, there are many reasons why you might need to reevaluate your coverage 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 auto insurance rates. Many other factors affect your score as well, so even if none of those above points apply to you, there’s probably still reason for you to shop 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.
If we still haven’t sold you, read on to learn why you should shop for car insurance on at least a biannual basis.
1. Tickets and moving violations may have fallen off your driving record.
Auto insurance companies will take your driving history into account when generating your risk profile and assessing your rates. Even one traffic violation will raise your car insurance costs (like a speeding ticket or a failure to stop). 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 may change their rates at least every month, so by shopping at least once every year, you’re 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 track them continually. Insurance providers use data about various risk factors from previous years to inform rate hikes or deductions, so knowing the more “dangerous” times of the year in your state can eliminate a few months from your buying window. For example, if you live in the Northeast, the average cost of your car insurance will most likely be higher in the winter due to the increased risks of car accidents due to ice and snow. (Where you live will also probably have a significant effect on how high a deductible you’d like to set on optional car insurance coverages, like comprehensive coverage or collision coverage.)
The two times you should definitely shop around, though, are A) as soon as you get hit with a rate increase and B) as soon as you know that there are rate changes in your state.
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 insurers, eager to compete and get their foot in the door, often offer reasonable rates to lure customers away from the more established providers. If you only have a month or two before your current auto insurance policy expires, it’s an excellent 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 six-month car insurance policy. This way, if there are any problems, you only have to wait six 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 lead to premium increases.
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 how much car insurance you need and how much you’ll be paying for it. 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.
Married people tend to have fewer vehicle-related incidents; as such, car insurance providers often give them cheaper rates. The addition of a teen to your policy, however, often leads to higher rates due to teens’ less advanced driving skills. Once you’re out of your teens and early twenties, though, those higher car insurance 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 soon, such as a change in your marital status, moving, or having kids, it might be in your best interest to buy a six-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 parts 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 good credit score or a marked credit score improvement will help your rate, but in general, a better credit score leads to a cheaper rate.
If you happen to live in California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts, though, you can forget about your credit history as it pertains to your insurance. In these states, it’s illegal for companies to take your credit score into account when calculating auto insurance premiums.
6. States change insurance laws and requirements.
Every state’s insurance department sets legal requirements for liability, personal injury protection, and other insurance 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 liability coverage to comply 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 minimum coverage limits 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 the use of your vehicle, so most people will want to get car insurance anyway.
7. You’ve maintained coverage for the past six 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 insurance 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 a lower risk and can become eligible for continuous coverage and loyalty discounts.
8. “New” customers get better car insurance 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 six-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 vehicle, 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 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 six 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 cheap car insurance 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 six-month car insurance policies. That way, you are free to switch insurance providers more frequently than if you purchased 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. Don’t settle for average rates—demand the best and cheapest car insurance possible! You deserve it.
Insurify is the perfect platform to compare car insurance quotes in a matter of minutes, whether you’re looking for a full coverage auto policy or state minimum coverage. Just enter your driver information, and you’ll have a list of real, accurate, free quotes tailor-made for you in minutes. Think of it as your personal, online, 100-percent free insurance agent.