Zaneta Wood, Ed.S. has over 15 years of experience in research and technical writing bringing a keen understanding of data analysis and information synthesis to reach a wide variety of audiences. She studied adult education and instructional technology at Appalachian State University as well as technical and professional communication at East Carolina University. Zaneta has prepared technical p...

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Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers Insurance CSR 4 Years

UPDATED: Jun 13, 2019

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You may not be surprised that avoiding traffic accidents is one of the best ways to prevent rates from rising, but there are also several other ways to keep your premiums in check. A good driving record is one of the first things car insurance companies look at when determining your rates, and it’s one of the things they continue to review.

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Your driving record comes into play when applying for a new policy and renewing an existing policy. It can contribute to a rate increase if you have an accident or receive a ticket. While not every insurance company automatically increases your rates in the event of a collision, especially if the collision is not your fault, some may be apt to do so.

Good Driving Record

Traffic accidents definitely affect your driving record, regardless of who was at fault, but it is not the only factor that determines if you are considered a good driver. Obeying the law is part of good driving, as is driving safely.

Any infraction or violation you incur in your vehicle goes down on your record and can play a part in increasing your premiums, warns the Idaho Department of Insurance.

This can include speeding tickets, property damage, broken headlights, driving under the influence and the overall number of tickets, accidents, or claims you incur.

Those with good driving records typically pay lower premiums than drivers with poor driving records do. The underlying reason behind the philosophy for the insurance companies is that a good driver is less likely to cost them money in accident, damage, lawsuits, and other claims the insurance company may be forced to honor.

The increase in premium generally covers the increased risk the company may feel it’s taking for insuring a driver with a bad record. If your driving record becomes particularly horrendous, some car insurance companies may choose to cancel your policy, not offer a renewal, or not offer you insurance in the first place. Each state has its own laws regarding what it allowed within its jurisdiction.

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Vehicle Type

If you think running out to buy a brand new car will keep your insurance rates lowest, you may need to think again. The type of vehicle you drive plays a part in your insurance rates, although the rates are not necessarily based solely on a vehicle’s age and make, according to the Illinois Department of Insurance.

More expensive vehicles will usually be more expensive to insure just because they are more expensive to repair, but other factors come into play. Cars that statistics say are more frequently stolen can cost more to insure than less theft-happy vehicles. Vehicles that have a history of severe damage in crashes or breakdowns can also increase the cost of your premium over cars that perform to higher standards.

You can research automobile statistics before you buy. You can also contact an insurance company prior to purchasing a new vehicle to request a quote on the rate of the vehicle you are considering.

One helpful resource may be this list of most stolen vehicles, issued annually by the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Avoiding the most-stolen vehicles can help keep your rates lower if you are considering purchasing a used car. Most of the vehicles on the list typically older models that have not been updated with additional security features often found in newer models.

The 1994 Honda Accord made the top slot on the top 10 list for 2010, the NICB reports. Other cars on the list include the 1999 Ford Taurus, the 1994 Acura Integra, the 1991 Toyota Camry, and the 1995 Honda Civic.

Trucks and larger vehicles also made the top 10 list for 2010. They are the 2002 Ford Explorer, the 2000 Dodge Caravan, the 2004 Dodge Ram, and the 1997 Ford F150 series pickup. The most-frequently stolen truck on the list was the 1999 full-size Chevy pickup.

Mileage and Vehicle Use

If you suddenly increase your mileage or use your vehicle for additional purposes, your rates may just as suddenly see an increase. The Illinois Department of Insurance notes your annual mileage, usual work commute, and how you use your vehicle are all factors in your car insurance premiums.

The lower your mileage, the lower your rates will generally be. This can be easily explained by less time on the road translating to less chances of getting in an accident for which the insurance company will have to pay. Changing job locations can increase or decrease your mileage if you use your car for work every day. This can result in an increase if you must travel farther and wider than you did before.

Vehicle use plays a part on several levels. Drivers who use their cars just to get to work may have a different rate than those who also use their vehicles on the job. This can really play a part if the job includes making deliveries, transporting cargo or otherwise spending large amounts of time on the road.

You can decrease your annual mileage by finding alternate means of transportation to work. This may be done by taking public transportation if it’s available, carpooling with coworkers or friends, or even bicycling or walking to work if possible.

Drivers in rural locations with less traffic, fewer car thefts, and a lower rate of vandalism may enjoy a lower rate than those in urban areas, notes the Illinois Department of Insurance. Where you park your vehicle can also play a part. Parking garages, personal garages and other secure areas make your car less likely to be damaged or stolen.

Coverage Levels

Keeping your coverage levels and types the same can keep your premiums steady, or you may even considering lowering some of the coverage as your car gets older. Of course, you will want to keep the minimum level of insurance your state of resident requires, but higher limits and additional coverage is entirely up to you.

Coverage offered by most companies include liability, collision, comprehensive and medical coverage, according to the Indiana Department of Insurance. Liability pertains to accidents that were your fault. Bodily injury liability covers injuries to other parties while property damage liability covers damage to other people’s vehicle or property.

Collision coverage reimburses you for damage done to your car in a collision. Comprehensive covers damages done to your car from other means, such as vandalism, falling trees, and other incidents that are not collisions. Medical coverage helps cover medical bills resulting from an accident injury.

Keeping your types and limits at the bare minimum can keep your premiums on the low end of the scale, although you would have to pay for items that go beyond your lower limits.

Steering clear of optional coverage can also keep your insurance rates lowest. These include coverage for items such as towing service and rental car reimbursement.

You are likely to see an insurance rate increase if you up your coverage limits or start adding all types of options to your policy. The more insurance you require, the more it’s going to cost you.

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Deductibles

Lower insurance rates typically come from higher deductibles, explains USA.gov website. The site suggests raising the deductible on comprehensive and collision, and even dropping that coverage altogether if you have an older vehicle. The cost to repair a vehicle that is old, worn down or on its last wheels, so to speak, may not be worth it. Paying a premium on insurance for repairs, therefore, may not be worth it, either.

Discounts

Making sure you are receiving any discounts for which you are eligible can also help keep your insurance rates at their lowest. Good driver discounts are often available, as are those for having a number of safety and anti-theft devices.

A number of safety devices are already the norm with newer vehicles, and you may be sitting on a discount without even knowing it. Discounts may be available for features such as airbags and anti-lock brakes.

Anti-theft devices can be included with newer models, as well. They include alarm systems, engine shut-offs when the key is not in the ignition, and brake and wheel locks.

Potential discounts outlined here by the Idaho Department of Insurance include those for insuring more than one vehicle with the same carrier or being a good student or mature driver. Good student discounts typically cover students under 25 years of age who maintain good grades. Mature driver discounts usually extend to drivers between 50 and 65 years of age.

Other Money-Saving Tips

Shopping around for insurance and comparing rates from a number of carriers is another way to keep your rates low, notes USA.gov. Some companies may increase your rates upon renewal for any given reason, but especially if you have amassed claims, accidents or infractions over the past several months. The cost of insurance for the same type of coverage can vary widely between carriers.

Requesting quotes from several different carriers can help you decide on the best deal. Make sure, however, you are comparing the same type and level of coverage on each quote to ensure accuracy. Also, make a note of the discounts offered to ensure you receive all of those for which you are eligible.

Get quotes now by putting your ZIP in our FREE tool found here to nab the lowest insurance rates!