Auto Insurance Buying Tips

There are several factors which impact insurance premiums, some of which you can control.

Starting with the ones you can't, know that demographics are one. Males pay more than females, and the middle-aged pay less than the young or the old (ages 25 and 56 seem to be milestones). If you want to decrease your rates, it certainly helps to move to a better neighborhood (less theft and/or traffic congestion) or get married (only responsible people tie the knot, right?)

Now for what you can control. As far as they type of car, dullness pays. The lowest rates go to the most innocuous vehicles – minivans and low/mid-priced sedans – because of what they imply about their drivers: mild personalities make for mild risks. Another element at work is how much damage one vehicle can do to another. Battering ram-like trucks and SUVs do not fare well. These factors mostly impact liability, which in nearly ll states, is the mandatory piece of the insurance equation. Consequently, ultra-cheap lightweights like the Kia Rio don't have stellar rates either because they do a mediocre job of protecting the driver.

Another major point is the value of the car. This impacts collision coverage, which covers repairs to your car. It also reduces another type of coverage called comprehensive, which basically covers your car in any loss that doesn't involve crashing. Another way to lower comprehensive is to pick a car with a low theft rate. Example: a recent study found the Ford Taurus wagon and Saturn LS at the bottom of the theft list.

Don't get tickets. Insurance companies look for any excuse to raise those premiums, of which tickets are the most common and reviled. Remember, this is the industry that gives radar detectors away for free so that cops can take down your speed. It shouldn't be hard to trace the motivation.

Don't wreck. As if you needed another reason not to, getting involved in a crash (even ones that aren't officially your fault, in some cases) is the most sure-fire way to inflate your premiums. The label of "high-risk driver" stains your record, typically for about three years.

Get a car packed with safety features. Like air bags, traction control, antilock brakes, and stability control.

Don't drive excessively. Risk increases with exposure and premiums increase with risk, so if you can, don't drive more miles per year than you have to. Don't get too caught up in this point, though; it's broken down by brackets of every few thousand miles, the impact isn't tremendous, and there isn't always a discount for driving below average.

If you have kids, cover them under your policy. Utilize the standard practice of giving discounts for insuring multiple cars on one policy. Try to not make those accident-prone minors the stated primary driver of any car – especially an expensive one.

Do your homework. Literally. This can give a much-needed discount for drivers who are stuck with the lowest incomes and the highest rates: students. Maintaining a 3.0 GPA is the common requirement, and maintaining is a must, since applicants will be prompted to send in annual proof of their good study habits.

Shop for the best company. Some consumers stay with the same insurance company for life. But, they could be missing out on hundreds of dollars in savings per year. Once you've found an ideal match, try to stick around because loyalty discounts eventually kick in.

Pay your bills on-time. It might seem odd, but many companies, insurance premiums vary with credit scores. The belief is that someone irresponsible with money would be irresponsible behind the wheel. This has aroused all sorts of controversy.

Take a class. A certified driver training or defensive driving class can lower your rates.

Texas Insurance Advisors
3585 N Beltline Rd
Irving, TX 75062

Posted 10:56 PM  View Comments

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