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Jan 19 2016

As a VIN decoding and vehicle data provider, we interact with many different segments of the auto industry, including auto insurance. So, we thought it’d be a great idea to have our friends over at The Zebra contribute on our blog. Without further ado...

5 Ways to Lower Your Car Insurance

by: Julia Eddington

You might already know that shopping around for car insurance is a great way to make sure you get a good rate on your premium. But you can get your rate even lower by following these tips:

1: Improve Your Credit Score

Car insurance companies know that a driver’s credit score is a good predictor of how likely they are to make a claim. And though it’s controversial (and in some states, illegal), auto insurance companies often use customers’ credit scores when determining premiums. Improving your score is therefore a great way to lower your policy rate (and improve your financial health in general). You can’t change your score overnight, but no matter your financial situation, you can start working toward a higher score today.

For better scores:

  • Pay every bill on time each month
  • Don’t apply for a lot of credit cards
  • Keep your credit card balances low
  • Avoid collections and judgments (and sort them out quickly if they happen)

2: Perform Your Own Minor Repairs

Even if you have comprehensive and collision on your auto insurance policy, you still must carefully weigh each claim you make. Make too many claims—especially for minor repairs—and your car insurance company is likely to increase your rates, or possibly decline to renew your policy. Instead, pay for minor repairs out of pocket, or put your DIY skills into practice and perform them yourself.

Some ideas:

  • Apply touch-up paint both to prevent rust and keep up appearances (you can get it from your car’s manufacturer or an auto body shop).
  • Remove large dents with a suction cup dent puller.
  • Buff minor scrapes yourself with buffing compound and a chamois. For more intense scratches, try these (more intense) tips.

No-fault damage (like theft or vandalism) usually won’t raise your rates, but it’s still good to use caution and consult with your agent, before filing a claim.

3: Know Your Car

...and share the info with your insurance carrier. Special rates may be available for certain types of cars; for example, older cars can often be insured for less. Additionally, many auto insurance companies offer special rates (with savings of up to 45%) for classic and antique cars—but you have to ask.

Certain installed safety features that your insurance provider may not be aware of can also help lower your insurance rate. And it doesn’t hurt to provide your vehicle’s VIN number to eliminate any guessing of vehicle features you're unsure about. Check out this article for a better understanding of the value an accurate VIN decoder offers auto insurance providers.

4: Add Your Roommate to Your Policy

If your roommate is a good driver, adding him or her to your car insurance policy could lower your rate. Why your roommate? Any members of your “household” who might end up driving your car can factor into your policy (and yes, even if your roommate is a recluse you met on Craigslist, he counts as part of your household). Insurance follows the car, not the person, but if your roommate borrows your car and gets in a wreck, and they aren’t listed on your policy, many insurance companies will reduce their payout to you (costing you money). However, if your roommate has a terrible driving record (and would never drive your car), you can exclude him or her from your policy and avoid higher rates, but call your carrier and make it official first.

5: Take a Defensive Driving Course

Only time can erase the impact of moving violations on your premium, but in the meantime, you can soften the blow by completing a Defensive Driving course (either online or in person). Even if you haven’t racked up tickets and fines, a Defensive Driving course will likely save between 5% and 15% on your premium.

About Julia Eddington

Julia Eddington has written extensively about car insurance for Quoted, the content and news hub of The Zebra, a car insurance comparison company based in Austin, Texas.

Photo Credit: Bryant Surety Bonds

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