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10 Ways to Bring Your Auto Insurance Cost Down

Man driving a car with a woman in the passenger seat, both are wearing sunglasses

For most of us, owning a car is essential. But between insurance, gas and monthly payments, the cost can quickly add up. The good news is that you don't have to break the bank to get affordable insurance.

Even if it isn't time to buy a new policy, you should make a habit of reviewing your situations every year to see if anything has changed. Are you driving less or has the value of your car gone down, for example? Read on to learn more tips and tricks—you might be able to save more than you think.

1. Keep your driving record spotless

The better your driving record, the lower your premium, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). Getting into an accident or getting a ticket for speeding is only going to drive up your premium. Always report accidents to your insurer. If you don't and you are sued, it will be harder for your insurance company to gather evidence to represent you. Your insurer might even have the grounds to refuse to cover the loss or renew your policy if you don't.

2. Tell your insurance agent if you don't drive a lot

The more you drive, the more of a chance you have of getting into an accident and upping the cost of your insurance. But what if you only drive occasionally? If you do, good news: You might end up paying less. This is known as “pleasure use" to some insurance companies, according to the III.

3. Check out rates for where you live versus elsewhere

If you live in an urban area, you might end up paying more, if there is an increased risk of vandalism or theft. Also, if you live in a city, you're going to see a lot more traffic, which likely means an increased risk of getting into a car accident (and therefore higher rates). A state-by-state comparison of rates is available here.

4. Drive a less expensive car

The cost of your car is another factor that can play into how much it will cost to insure it. Newer vehicles can be more expensive to insure because some insurance companies base the amount of auto insurance you pay partly on the value of the car.

5. Reduce coverage on older vehicles

Here's a rule of thumb you should know if you want affordable insurance: If your older car is worth less than 10 times the insurance premium, having collision and/or comprehensive coverage may not be a cost-effective strategy, according to the III. To find out if this rule might benefit you, you can check the value of your car for free on websites such as the National Association of Auto Dealers.

6. Bundle together all your insurance policies

Some insurance companies will cut you a better deal if you buy two or more types of insurance from them or if you have more than one vehicle insured. You should also mention to your insurance company how long you've been a customer because sometimes companies will offer a price break. This is where doing your research pays off—by comparing the cost of a multi-policy discount from a single insurer versus buying insurance separately from different companies, you'll be able to see how the prices may differ.

7. Beef up your credit score

Not all of us can have an 850 credit score, but you can lower your cost of auto insurance by having good credit. The III says that many insurers use a customer's credit information as a factor in pricing auto insurance policies. (and research shows that people who have a good handle on their credit have fewer claims). So, before you commit to a policy, check your credit record. Maybe you can improve it before signing on the dotted line.

8. Look for discounts

When you actively scout out discounts, you're putting yourself in the driver's seat. Not everyone is aware that some insurance companies offer deals to policyholders. For example, if you haven't had any accidents during a specified period or if you (or a child) has taken a defensive driving course, you just might end up saving some money.

9. Pay your premiums up front

Some insurers charge fees for monthly billing, but you can bypass this if you pay your premiums up front. If you aren't able to pay off a large premium at once, consider starting a separate savings account dedicated to this expense.

10. Increase your deductible

It may sound counterintuitive, but did you know that by raising your deductible, you can save money on collision and comprehensive coverage? The III says that increasing the dollar deductible to $500 from $200 on your auto insurance can lower your collision and comprehensive coverage premium costs. Want even more affordable insurance? Consider going even higher to a $1,000 deductible. Above all, do your research and be sure to look at different insurers before making your decision.