If you’re at fault in an accident or rack up a few speeding tickets, you won’t be surprised when your auto insurance premium goes up. But in cases that don’t involve wrecks and tickets, a rate hike may leave you scratching your head.
Providers set rates based on certain factors that you can and can’t control. Learn what those factors are and what you can do to reduce your rising car insurance rates.
Which Rate Increase Factors Can You Control?
Insurers apply many factors when they set your car insurance premium and rates for policy renewals.
Many insurance companies use a credit-based insurance score. Factors like your credit history and types of credit, such as loans or credit cards, can affect your car insurance rates. If your credit score goes down, your insurance carrier may raise your rate when it’s time to renew your policy.
Most states allow credit-based insurance ratings. But, the practice is banned in Hawaii, Massachusetts, and California.
What you can do: If your car insurance rate increases due to a drop in your credit score, improve your credit. Pay your cards on time and reduce your balances.
Your Claims History and Driving Record
If you’re at fault for an accident, the provider may consider you a higher risk and raise your rates. But, a carrier may also deem you a high-risk driver if you are involved in several accidents for which you were not at fault. An insurer may also increase your rate if you file many comprehensive claims for things like broken windshields, weather damage, or contact with animals, such as hitting wildlife.
What you can do: Avoid accidents. Pay out of pocket for minor damage, such as a cracked window.
A History of Convictions or Surcharges
Traffic violations, such as driving under the influence and speeding, may prompt your insurer to increase your auto insurance premium. Following a crash, the provider may also raise your rate if you were 50% or more responsible for the accident. The insurer may also apply a price increase for a history of late payments.
Carriers refer to these types of increases as "surcharges." The increase may remain until you prove that you’re a good driver. The surcharge amount and the length of time you must pay it will depend on the severity of the incident.
What you can do: Improve your driving skills following an at-fault accident. Avoid accidents. Also, consider adding accident forgiveness to your coverage.
What Other Factors Increase Your Car Insurance Premium?
Other factors, some beyond your control, may also lead to a rate increase.
- Change in marital status: Statistics show that single drivers file more claims than married ones. So, your rate may go up if you divorce and, in some cases, after a spouse dies.
- Adding drivers to your policy: If you add a new spouse or a teen driver to your auto insurance policy, the company may increase your premium.
- Change in gender marker: Female drivers have fewer traffic accidents than males. So, if you change your gender marker from female to male, the insurer may increase your rate.
- Your location: If claims for collisions, weather-related damages, auto theft, or vandalism increase in your ZIP code, your provider may raise your premium.
- Your car’s make and model: If a spike in claims of your car’s make and model occurs, your carrier may increase your rate.
- Your age: Most often, younger drivers pay higher insurance rates. While your rates may decrease as a young adult and when you reach middle age, they may increase when you reach your 60s.
- Lost discounts: If you’ve earned a good driver discount and have an accident, receive an employer discount and change jobs, or cancel a policy for which you receive a multipolicy discount, your car insurance rate may increase.
- Across-the-board rate increase: Insurance companies may increase the rates of all their policyholders for various reasons. These include an increase in claims, the number of cars on the road, or more accidents involving injuries and fatalities.
How to Lower Your Auto Insurance Rates
Insurance companies can apply many factors to determine your rates. But, that doesn’t mean you have no control over your premiums. When it’s time to renew your policy, review your coverages. Drop any that you no longer need. For instance, if you’ve paid off your car, you may consider dropping collision and comprehensive coverages.
Speak with your agent to find out if you qualify for any discount programs. For instance, some companies offer big savings for cars equipped with safety and security devices such as airbags, anti-theft systems, and daytime running lights. Many carriers extend a discount when you bundle home and auto insurance or when you buy more than one auto policy.
You can also save money by raising your deductible. While you might have to pay a little more out of pocket following a covered loss, you can enjoy a lower rate.
Reducing your annual mileage is a great way to lower your rates.
If you drive a car that costs a lot to insure, consider trading it in for a more sensible ride. Premiums for luxury or electric cars often run high because they cost more to repair.