In order to score a cheap car insurance policy, you need to become a valuable asset to insurance carriers. A lot of different factors go into becoming the best insurance client imaginable. What would the perfect insurance client look like? How do you become the person who gets the lowest rates? The ultimate guide to cheap car insurance will give you a detailed explanation of how car insurance rates are calculated and how you can get the cheapest insurance rate available in Michigan and beyond.
Insurance Carriers Want Low Risk Clients
A low risk client is a client who has very low potential to file a claim. Claims cost insurance companies money. The more claims you file the less profit they earn overall. How does an insurance company know who is a low risk and who is a high risk? Well, they have determined lots of different factors which can somewhat predict the likelihood of a claim. Know the factors and try your best to get on the low risk end to get the cheapest car insurance possible.
Most Risk Factors Translate into Discounts
Qualifying for every single car insurance discount is impossible. More than likely, a person receiving a senior citizen discount is not also going to receive a good student discount. Discounts are a huge part of calculating car insurance rate. How the discounts stack up can make the difference between a cheap car insurance rate and a hefty price tag.
- Financial Stability Discount: Lots of states allow your credit score to be used as a basis for a big car insurance discount. Michigan is one of them. The better your credit, the better your car insurance rate. The financial stability discount is based on more factors than just your credit score, but insurance carriers keep the exact details under wraps. The best thing you can do to get this discount is work on your credit score. Keep on top of your bills and pay off any outstanding bills.
- Multi-Policy Discount: It is easy to get a multi-policy discount and it is usually a big credit. Insure more than one thing such as an auto and home or auto and motorcycle with the same insurance carrier and qualify for a multi-policy discount. Always verify you are receiving this discount because occasionally it can slip through the cracks.
- Multi-Car Discount: Multi-car discount means you have more than one vehicle insured. This discount is usually automatically applied. Be sure to let your insurance agent know if you use an employer vehicle because sometimes you can get the multi-car discount for it.
- Home Owner Discount: This can surprisingly large discount. Insurance carriers love home owners. One, because you can potentially insure both your auto and home. Two, because home ownership requires a lot of stability and responsibility. You probably will not run out and buy a home just to save money on car insurance. However, it is something to keep in mind as a future possibility.
- Accident Free Discount: No claims equals cheaper insurance rates. It often takes three years for an insurance carrier to stop surcharging you for an at-fault accident. Go five years and more without an at-fault claim and you will probably be eligible for an accident free discount. Often, this discount is applied per driver. Become a defensive driver and reap the cheap car insurance benefits.
- Violation Free Discount: Most people know traffic violations increase your car insurance rates. The length of time a ticket stays on your insurance record varies per insurance carrier. Many will surcharge for two years and offer a violation free discount after five years of no violations. This discount really is a must-have when it comes to getting cheap car insurance.
- Membership Discount: Belong to a credit union or bank? Most insurance carriers offer a membership discount. The list of associations which qualify vary per insurance carrier. Ask your agent to see if you are eligible for a membership discount. Every little bit helps!
- Low Mile Discount: A low mile discount is becoming more rare these days, but some carriers still offer it. Drive you car less than 10,000 miles a year and you could qualify. Some insurance carriers want you to verify your speedometer reading every insurance renewal to qualify. And newer technologies which actually plug into your car can track mileage for the insurance carrier.
- Farm Discount: Farmers often qualify for a special farm discount on auto insurance. In order to receive this discount you need to work on a farm. The farm discount on an auto policy is usually even better than the low mile discount. Check with your insurance carrier to see if this discount is available.
- Good Student Discount: Drivers under the age of 25 and enrolled full time in school can potentially get a good student discount. Grade point average requirements are usually 3.0 or better. Encourage young drivers to keep their grades up in order to keep their car insurance rates down.
- Senior Discount: Seniors between the ages of 50 and 65 are often eligible for a senior discount. People is this age bracket are considered to be at a lower risk for filing a claim according to extensive research. Seniors often drive slower and have less distractions.
- Seat Belt Discount: Seat belts save lives. They also reduce medical expenses. Especially in a no fault state like Michigan with unlimited medical payout, reducing injury is huge. Usually this discount is automatically given out without any type of verification since it is the law in Michigan it wear it.
- Air Bag Discount: Again, air bags reduce injury so insurance carriers offer discount based on air bags. Most air bag discounts are set up the same regardless of how many air bags are actually in the vehicle. Older model vehicles will pay a higher rate for medical verses a model with an air bag.
- Anti Theft Discount: Lots of carriers offer a discount for an anti theft device, however the discount can be rather small. Protecting against theft really only helps reduce the cost of a single coverage and that is comprehensive. Comprehensive tends to be an affordable coverage for most drivers. Expect to see a little savings if you have comprehensive coverage and an anti theft system.
- Advanced Quote Discount: This discount has always seemed a little odd to me. Most insurance carriers offer an advanced quote discount. That is right, a discount for getting your quote in advance. It is often applied if you get a quote and wait 8 or more days to actually switch over. I would think it would be in the insurance carrier’s best interest to offer a discount for switching immediately, but they want to reward the responsible driver. The driver who thinks ahead and does not wait until the last minute to make car insurance decisions.
- Loyalty Discount: Stay with your insurance carrier for an extended period of time and receive a discount for it. This discount often starts coming into play two years after starting your policy and can increase over time. Potential higher discounts after five and ten years depending on your insurance carrier.
- New Car Discount: A new car discount can be nice, but it can be slightly annoying too. Some carriers offer a new car discount to vehicles five years old and newer. Sometimes the discount increases based on the newness. Meaning a brand new car could get a better discount than one two years old. The potential to total out a new car is less because the value is higher. So you would have to be in a severe accident in order to see a total loss. Plus, new cars usually have the best safety features. The annoying part comes in when your vehicle ages and the new car discount is removed. Nobody ever thinks they should pay more for an insuring an older vehicle. It is just one of those quirky car insurance discounts which can be hard to understand. Keep in mind older vehicles cost the same to repair only costs the insurance company less if it is a total loss.
- Military Discount: Active military, reserves, and veterans can all potentially get a discount on car insurance depending on the insurance carrier. Most people know USAA as the best place for military families to get insurance. It is possible to get better rates and possibly service with other carriers based on your specific circumstances. It never hurts to ask if a discount is available.
- Teacher Discount: MEEMIC, Michigan Educational Employees Mutual Insurance is an exclusive insurance carrier for teachers. It is going to be hard for a teacher to find cheaper car insurance coverage, but not necessarily impossible. Keep your options open, but definitely check with the carrier who specializes in your expertise.
- Traffic School Discount: Some insurance carriers offer a discount for defensive driving classes. If you have taken such a course, then definitely mention it to your insurance agent.
- Education Level Discount: Have you completed a college degree or even taken a few courses here an there? You could get a discount for it. Insurance carriers are allowed to discount rates based on education. Apparently some insurance carriers have found less claims are filed based on your level of education. I did not say it was fair, I’m just telling you how it currently stands.
- Income Level Discount: Another controversial discount is rating drivers based on their income. Some carriers reward higher income families with lower rates because they feel a claim is less likely to be filed. Some insurance carriers believe more damage is handled without filing an insurance claim based on past research.
Hidden Car Insurance Discounts
Not all discounts are transparent. Some are maybe not discounts at all, but just different ways to save. Go beyond your insurance carriers list of discounts to truly find cheap car insurance.
Prior Car Insurance:
Prior Limits of Liability: Did you know your prior limits of liability have a huge effect on the cost of car insurance when you go to switch insurance carriers? This is probably the most unknown factor in determining car insurance rates for drivers and nearly every insurance carrier does it. A prior limit of liability discount is a little hard to explain but bare with me because it is important in order to get cheap car insurance.
Michigan’s minimum liability coverage is 20/40. Buy 20/40 limits and go to switch insurance carriers you will pay more than someone who has been carrying 100/300 limits of liability. Often each increase in liability is rewarded with cheaper rates. Common liability limits include 20/40, 50/100, 100/300, and 250/500. Other options are available, but you get the idea. Why do higher limits of liability get cheaper rates? I can only assume it is because it shows responsibility on the driver’s part. Michigan’s state minimum is really not enough coverage for most drivers. Insurance carriers want to sell 100/300 limits because it is the preferred coverage. To encourage those limits they offer a lower price to those people who have carried the coverage in the past.
- Primary Health Insurance: Do you have health insurance through an employer? Will that health insurance policy cover you in an auto accident? If it does, you qualify for a lower car insurance rate in the state of Michigan verses a driver with state medical coverage or no medical coverage. It is called coordinated medical coverage because you have another policy in effect which will help cover medical expenses in an auto accident. All drivers on the car insurance policy need to have a primary health insurance policy in place in order to qualify for this discount. It is all or none for coordinated medical coverage.
Car Insurance Payment Discounts
Paying for your car insurance monthly through the mail is the worst way to make your payments. Insurance carriers offer incentives for some other forms of payments. Take a look at these other payment options to ensure you get cheap car insurance.
- Paid In Full: What payment plan you select could make a difference in your overall insurance costs. Paid in full discounts are popular. Paid in full refers to paying for the entire term of your car insurance policy. A six month policy is the most common, but some go as long as a year.
- Automatic Withdraw / EFT: Nearly all insurance carriers offer automatic withdraw. It is also referred to as EFT which is short for electronic funds transfer. Insurance carriers love their clients to be set up on EFT because it has been proven clients stay longer and consistently make their payments on time. Discounts are usually offered when you sign up for automatic withdraw and some make the discount even better than the paid in full discount. Check with your insurance agent to see what payment discounts are available.
- Paperless Discount: Some insurance carriers try to promote being “green”. Going paperless usually means you will never get paperwork in the mail from the insurance carrier. All documentation will be sent to you via email. This discount is fairly small, but paperless can be more convenient. Combine convenience with savings and it becomes a pretty good deal.
More Car Insurance Rate Factors
To get really cheap car insurance you have to think about all aspects of insurance ratings. Some things are within your control while others are not. Know all the factors so you know what to expect.
- What Kind of Vehicle You Insure: Some vehicles are inherently more expensive to insure. One good rule of thumb is the more expensive the vehicle the more it will cost to insure. Safety features also have a big impact on a vehicle’s rate. Sometimes smaller vehicles are at a greater risk of getting damaged therefore cost more than you might think. For instance, an Eco Chevy Cruise can get crunched easily by a deer. The Eco technology of the vehicle is expensive to repair. When compared to a pickup truck it is possible to payout more money for insuring the Chevy Cruise. It is just an example, comparison shopping is the best way to determine which vehicle will be cheaper.
- What Coverage You Select: Coverage most definitely makes a big impact on the cost of car insurance. It is important to be smart about coverage. Keep what is important and drop the rest. It is best to speak with an insurance agent about what coverage is the best for you. Understand the coverage you choose and make an educated guess on what future claims you might come across.
- Your Age: We cannot control our age. We all have to live through the higher risk ages to get to the lower risk ages. Expect 16 to 25 to be more expensive than 26 to 50. 50 to 65 often get great rates. Then 66 and up start to see rates increasing as if they are a teenager again.
- Where You Live: Do you live in the city of Detroit or Flint? Then you are probably paying a higher rate of insurance than someone living in the suburbs of Kalamazoo. Where you live does make a difference in your car insurance rate. More traffic often means more accidents. More crime means more car thefts and vandalisim. All of these things play a role in your insurance rates.
Shopping for Car Insurance
Now that you have done everything possible to become the best insurance client. It is time to start getting car insurance quotes. If you think you are paying too much for car insurance, the best way to find out is to start checking around. You might be surprised to see your rate is competitive. Or, you might be shocked by how much you have been over paying all this time. Rates are constantly changing with all insurance carriers. It does not hurt to check around every couple of years just to look into things. Also review your coverage with your insurance agent. Sometimes things change in your family composition or possibly discounts have been over looked. Talk to your licensed insurance agent to see what suggestions they might have to help get you the cheapest car insurance possible. Image: posterize / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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