20 Ways to save on car insurance

Saving money can be a real drag if all you are doing is cutting out the fun stuff. There are plenty of ways to spend less if you know where to look – like car insurance. You likely already signed up for a higher deductible to cut costs, but have you ever taken the time to compare rates? It could save you money every single month. With all the discounts companies offer, you would be a fool not to spend an hour looking around online.

Here’s a list of 20 discounts most insurance companies offer – but only if you ask:

1. Drive Safe

Insurance companies used to drop rates only after you could prove years of good driving records. Now, several companies offer discounts when you let them record your moves behind the wheel. Progressive’s Snapshot uses a plug-in device on your car’s computer system to determine if you slam on the brakes, speed or take other risky actions that could lead to accidents.

2. Safety Features

Newer cars offer safety features that can get you up to 10% off collision premiums. Look for things like anti-lock brakes, daytime running lights, rearview cameras and tire-pressure monitoring systems. Allstate, for example, offers drivers up to 30% discounts for cars with factory installed airbags and motorized seat belts.

3. Prevent Theft

Another big risk factor that determines rates is how likely it is your car will get stolen. Alarm systems, ignition cutoff switches, LoJack tracking systems, and VIN etchings on your windshield can earn you another 10% in savings. The Hartford insurance group gives unspecified discounts on comprehensive coverage when you install passive or active anti-theft devices.

4. Choice of Vehicle

A screaming sports car or a 4×4 SUV usually comes with higher premiums because insurance companies think the drivers will be reckless. Minivans and sedans are cheaper, and even hybrids are getting a lot of attention. The Travelers Hybrid Auto Discount can save you 10% because the insurance company believes hybrid owners go out of their way to buy them, so they are more likely to take care good of the car.

5. Driving Habits

Insurance companies believe that where you live, where you park and how far you travel to work each day factor into your risk of getting into an accident. Many provide discounts if you travel less than 15 miles to get to the office and park in a secured lot. State Farm’s Drive Safe and Save program combines your commute information with your skills behind the wheel to offer discounts up to 50% when monitored by a plug-in device.

6. Low Mileage

The less you drive, the less likely you are to get into an accident. Most insurance companies offer discounts for driving less than 12,000 miles a year. A few have now started charging drivers based on monthly mileage. For instance, Auto Insurance America offers discounts to drivers with less than 833 miles a month with an odometer verification, but they are only in select states.

7. Good Students

If you have good grades it can get you a discount up to 20% off your premiums. Insurance companies believe students who do well in school are less likely to have an accident. Most require you to have a 3.0 GPA, be in the top 20% of your class, or get placed on the honor roll. Nationwide’s Good Student Discount is up to 15% when student maintains a B average.

8. College Students

College students living more than 100 miles from home can often get discounts if they leave the car at Mom and Dad’s place. Insurance companies know they will be home less and driving less, which makes them less of a risk for an accident. 21st Century’s Away at School Credit offers an unspecified discount for students who are away at school most of the time, but still need coverage for occasional visits and school breaks.

9. Work

Your occupation can help you get discounts, depending on what field you joined. Engineers apparently get the biggest discount because as a group, they cause the fewest accidents. Many companies will also give savings to educators, accountants and scientists; perhaps because they are believed to be more conservative. Farmers Insurance Group takes it a step further, giving discounts to doctors, nurses, police officers and firefighters.

10. Military / Government Workers

Several companies offer savings to members and retirees of the Armed Forces, and the National Guard, as well as commissioning programs like ROTC. USAA bases its premiums on a member’s rank in the service and provides a 15% discount on the comprehensive coverage if the car is kept in a base garage. Some insurers will also provide savings to civilians who work for the federal government.

11. Who You Know

Are you part of an association? Not just AAA, but industry groups, unions, fraternities and associations make deals with insurance companies to get its members discounts. Employers also set up sponsorship relations to provide workers savings. Liberty Mutual’s Affinity Program is so large, it offers discounts to members of 11,000 organizations including colleges, employers and associations.

12. Who You Know Well

Once you get married, insurers assume you are less likely to take risks and reward you with lower premiums. Recently, several companies agreed to provide the same discounts to same-sex couples living in states with legally recognized civil unions. Esurance takes it one step further, offering insurance savings for domestic partners who are living together in nearly all the states where it does business.

13. Multiple Cars

If you are an unmarried couple living together in the same home, you can still get discounted rates from most insurance companies using the multi-car discount. If you are living with a parent or sibling, look into Amica, which offers discounts for two or more cars in the same house which are insured by related individuals.

14. Multiple Policies

Larger companies that offer auto, home and life insurance usually offer discounts for bundling your policies. It makes it easier for set up and billing if they already have your background information. American Family’s Auto & Home Discount will save up between 15-20%.

15. Credit History

In many states, insurance companies can use the policy holder’s credit history to determine their base rate. High debt, court judgements and bankruptcy can ruin your credit score and cause you to pay more for insurance. Insurers won’t reveal where they draw the line, but scores 700 and above would be considered a better risk than someone with a 500. One consideration when buying a car, GMAC Insurance offers unique discounts for customers who get financing through them or Nuvell Auto Financing.

16. Defensive Driver

Defensive driving courses teach students how to lower their risk of being in an accident by avoiding dangerous situations. Taking a defensive driver course, no matter how old you are, can save you 10%. Safeco drivers over the age of 55, who take an accident prevention course, may also qualify for a discount that lasts three years.

17. Long Term Customer

Most insurance companies will provide discounts for sticking with them for several years, but you have to ask for it and terms vary. For example, some companies won’t give you a discount until you have been a member for 5 years, but Nationwide will provide a 5% discount when members reach their 3 year anniversary. Farm Bureau Member’s Choice plan rewards repeat customers with loyalty credits every time they renew their policy.

18. Pay in Full

You can usually save money by paying 6 months at a time, instead of each month. It eliminates the monthly fees and often results in an additional discount. Even insurers that target higher risk drivers, like The General, will offer discounts to members who pay their premium in full.

19. Automatic Payment

Set up your bank or credit card to automatically pay your insurance bill and it could save you money. Most companies won’t say how much, but every little bit counts! At Titan Insurance, you can even get a discount when you manually pay your monthly insurance payment, as long as you do it electronically.

20. Going Green

While many people need to get the bill in the mail to serve as a reminder, signing up to get your statements online can save you money. Some companies will even give you a one time discount up to $50 just for signing up with their insurance online. The Auto-Owners Insurance Green Discount also offers savings to drivers who enroll in online paperless policy viewing, bill viewing and bill payment.

The most important thing you can do to save money on your car insurance is to compare prices. About a month before your policy comes up, research offers to find the lowest rates for comparable insurance. Then ask your current insurance company if they can match it. You may be surprised what they will do to keep your business – especially if you have a good record.

If you still want to switch, ask the new company if they will give you a new customer discount. Some will provide up to $100 and they will handle all the paperwork. It doesn’t get much easier than that, just make sure you review the terms of the coverage.