Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are working from home and driving less. In the U.S., 31% of employees working in an office in March 2020 were working from home by April. Many are still doing so today.
Other people have changed jobs, made career pivots, and even left the workforce. Many insurers recognized these changes early on and gave back to their policyholders via premium decreases and refunds. But as the months progress, you may be looking for more ways to reduce costs. Lowering your car insurance rates can help.
You can reduce your rates right now by making a few changes while staying at home and driving less.
Ways To Reduce Car Insurance Premiums
Post lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, many insurance companies offered refunds and discounts. These refunds may not be the only discounts you’re entitled to. There are other ways to save money on your car insurance beyond the credits insurers have already paid out.
Wondering what to say to your insurer to get a better price on your car insurance while working at home? Start by asking about your policy coverages and discounts: “Hello, I am calling about my car insurance premium. I have been researching insurance prices, and I am looking for ways to reduce my costs. Can we go over my policy coverages and discounts to make sure I am getting the best price?”
If you have stopped driving your car, changed your work situation, or reduced your time on the road, try saying: “I usually drive X amount of miles to work, but I am working from home now, and it has been several months. Can you reduce my annual mileage or make a change on my policy to pleasure-only use, since I no longer commute?”
Other questions and statements to ask your insurer include:
- “My car has been in storage—do I qualify for a storage credit?”
- “Can we review the optional coverages on my policy?”
- “What about increasing my deductible?”
Once you’ve finished making changes, ask your insurer “What’s not covered?” They will tell you what is no longer insured.
Lower Your Annual Average Mileage
The annual mileage on your car impacts how much your insurance costs. You can get a sense of your annual mileage by looking at your car’s odometer. See how many miles you’ve put on since owning the car.
We received quotes from several major insurers to see how adjusting the weekly mileage would affect the premium. We used the same profile for each quote: A 35-year-old female driver living in the Minneapolis area with no accidents, tickets, or violations, and a good driving record with at least five years of prior insurance. The car quoted was a 2018 Ford Explorer on a six-month policy. Some insurers quoted reduced premiums, while others did not.
|Insurer||3,000 Miles Annually, Pleasure Use Only (No Commute)||10,000 Miles Annually With a Typical Commute (Five Days)|
|Allstate (Standard Coverage)||$759||$759|
Ask Car Insurance Company for Discounts
If you’ve been with your car insurer for a while, it’s worth calling to find out whether you qualify for any new discounts. A few discounts to ask about include:
- Multiple-car discounts: If you have two cars, consider insuring them on the same policy or with the same company.
- Multi-policy discounts: Bundling your home and car insurance with the same company may give you a discount. Note that some insurers offer more of a discount than others.
- Payment option discounts: Some insurers offer discounts based on how you pay your premium. Ask about full pay discounts, responsible payer discounts, or discounts for an automated payment plan.
- New policy or loyalty discounts
- Early signing discounts: Not leaving your insurance to the last minute can save you money. Some insurers offer discounts when you shop ahead.
- Group affiliation discounts: Many insurers offer discounts to members of groups. Military and government employees, for instance, get discounts with GEICO. People over age 50 can get insurance through AARP’s car insurance program from The Hartford. Many insurers will ask you about member affiliations when you first sign up, to offer discounts.
- Internet discounts or “buy your policy online” discounts
- Paperless discounts: Going paperless gets a discount with some insurers.
- Car safety feature discounts
- Anti-theft device discounts
- Student driver, good grade, or other discounts for students away at school
- Defensive driving course discounts
- Good credit rating discounts: If your credit has improved since you first got your insurance, see whether you can get a better discount. If your credit is not as strong, consider shopping with insurers that do not use credit scoring as heavily in their ratings.
Enroll In Usage-Based Insurance
There are insurers that offer better rates when you enroll in a usage-based insurance program. These programs often use an app or device to monitor different factors of your driving habits, such as how much you drive. This information is used to adjust your rates based on your actual driving.
For instance, State Farm offers a Drive Safe & Save Program that offers up to 30% off. Travelers has the IntelliDrive program, which gives you a discount of up to 20%.
Reduce or Cut Optional Coverage
When you buy car insurance, there are many optional coverages. We researched quotes with several insurers and noticed there were often multiple options for “full coverage.” Also, there were often many liability limit options beyond the minimum required by law. It may be wise to review optional coverages such as the following:
- Collision coverage and comprehensive coverage: Optional coverage that covers damage to your car under a variety of circumstances; for example, when your car is damaged in an accident, vandalized, or even stolen.
- Coverage upgrades: Insurance companies offer options to upgrade the basics to include perks, such as diminishing deductibles or even cash back. Review how much you are paying for these upgrades (if you have them).
- Roadside coverage, transportation expenses, or rental reimbursement coverage: If your car is parked most of the time, and you’re staying local, you may want to weigh the cost of this coverage versus your current rate.
Before you decide to reduce your insurance coverage as a way to save money because things are tight, make sure the changes won’t cause undue financial hardship if you have to file a claim.
Increase the Deductible
One way to keep all of your coverage and still save some money is by choosing a higher deductible. For instance, one insurer we looked at charged up to $100 more on a six-month policy term to have a $0 deductible versus a $500 deductible on the comprehensive coverage alone. In general, the cost of increasing your deductible from $200 to $500 can save you between 15% and 30% on collision and comprehensive coverage. Increasing your deductible up to $1,000 could save you 40% or more.
When shopping around for insurance, be sure to get quotes in writing. Check the coverage line by line against your existing policy before making your choice. You can even try to get your current insurer to match what you’re being offered. Insurers are often willing to negotiate rather than lose your business.
How To Make Car Insurance Policy Changes
To make a change to your policy, you have to get in touch with your insurance company. Most insurers offer a few options to get in contact. These include chatbots, online access, community forums, apps, writing by email or mail, and phone. Depending on the type of change you’re requesting, insurers will have different procedures or requirements.
Most insurance companies offer some form of online account management through their websites. Often, you can make basic changes or start requests online. We checked various insurers and found that some of them only allow basic changes (like a change of address) online, but require you to call in for other requests. Other insurers have more options.
When you call to make changes to your policy, it gives you more of a chance to ask questions about your discounts and coverages. If you are calling to request a change to your policy, the agent will usually be able to help right away with basic changes. Still, some changes may require additional information, such as the VIN number of a new car or a driver’s license number for a new driver.
Mobile apps have become popular with insurers and give consumers a chance to self-serve with immediate access to policy information. Many insurers offer policy-servicing options, such as updating your policy using an app. In other cases, the apps are more for emergency service, proof of insurance, and claims management.
- Insurance companies have already given out pandemic discounts, but you can still lower your car insurance costs more.
- Call your insurer to decrease annual mileage and remove coverage for commuting.
- Double-check that you have all of your discounts, and comparison shop for better pricing.
- Combine your home and car insurance with one company.
- Find out whether usage-based insurance is available—it could save you up to 30%.
- Review your deductibles and limits, but don’t get rid of coverage you still need.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Ability To Work From Home: Evidence From Two Surveys and Implications for the Labor Market in the COVID-19 Pandemic." Accessed Aug. 11, 2021.
Progressive. "Progressive Provides $1 Billion to Customers." Accessed Aug. 11, 2021.
Travelers. "IntelliDrive." Accessed Aug. 11, 2021.
State Farm. "Drive Safe & Save Mobile for Your Smartphone." Accessed Aug. 11, 2021.