See How Your Insurance History Affects Your Car Insurance Rates
Your auto insurance rates can be affected by a wide range of factors. Your history can be a major component of how much you’ll end up paying for your auto insurance.
Things like age, demographics, and the type of vehicle you drive will all affect your monthly rates, as you might expect. However, your insurance history can also be important when insurance companies are determining your rates.
Below are some of the main elements in your insurance history that could cause you to have to pay more for your car insurance coverage.
The Number and Frequency of Claims You Have Submitted
What if you’ve had an accident? Sometimes, the accident isn’t your fault, and in these cases, you might not see an increase in your rates, or at least only a small increase. However, this will often depend on the insurance company and the exact circumstances of the accident.
Fortunately, accidents shouldn’t affect your insurance forever, even if they are your fault. Even if you have a lifetime record on file at the DMV, insurance companies will typically only look at the previous five or so years of your driving. Some might only look at the previous three years of your driving record. The accidents or other violations—discussed below—will eventually not be included when the insurance company is determining your rates.
If you continue to maintain a clean driving record with no accidents, it is often possible to get a reduction in your rates.
Of course, you have to keep in mind that different states will have different regulations on the types of accidents (and how far back they can check) an insurance company can use when determining how much you will pay.
Those who submit a large number of claims could be seen as risky, or they could be looked at more closely for fraud. For example, if you file a claim every year for four years, you’ll most likely see your rates go up significantly. In some cases, they might even choose not to renew your policy.
The number of claims and the frequency of the claims you’ve submitted will play a large role in how much you have to pay. Fortunately, with time and by maintaining a great driving record, you can often work to reduce the amount you’ll have to pay.
In some cases, an insurance company still won’t work with you to reduce your rates even after you’ve proven that you’re a safe driver and haven’t filed claims in several years. In those cases, it may be a good idea to start comparing rates from other companies.
Something else you’ll want to keep in mind “just in case” is that some insurance companies today offer accident forgiveness as an add-on or for customer loyalty perks.
This means that your rates won’t go up if you have an at-fault accident. A few of the companies that offer this type of benefit include Allstate, Farmers, Nationwide, Liberty Mutual, and Progressive. You will want to check with your insurer to see what they offer and what the parameters are to take advantage of the benefit if needed.
To help ensure that your rates stay low, something you might want to do if you have a small amount of damage from a collision, weather, etc. to your car is to pay out of pocket. Doing this instead of filing a claim will help to ensure that your rates stay the same. You could also opt to increase your deductible for collision and comprehensive damage, which will lower your insurance rates immediately.
Violations on Your Driving Record
Something else that you’ll want to consider when it comes to your insurance rates is your driving history. This doesn’t only include accidents, of course.
You should also be thinking about the other types of moving violations that could affect your insurance. Speeding, for example, could cause insurance companies to see you as a higher risk. The same would be true of reckless driving or a DUI. All of these will be factored into the price of your insurance for several years.
Consider that even having a minor violation on your record, such as speeding, your rates could be affected by as much as 20% to 40%. The companies need to make sure that they’re protected from people they deem to be risky. For larger violations, such as a DUI, the increase could be 100% or more. If you’re currently paying $150 a month for your insurance, the DUI could bump it to $300 or more.
If you have multiple violations or accidents, some insurance companies might no longer insure you. In those cases, you would have to find a nonstandard insurance company, which would be more expensive. Drivers would have to stay with them until the violations were no longer counted on their driving record.
Your best course of action is to make sure you’re driving safely and following the law so you don’t have any new violations on your record. When you have a clean driving record, you will qualify for better rates as well as good driver discounts that many companies offer.
Lapses in Your Coverage
If you’ve never had a lapse in your coverage, most auto insurance companies see this as a good sign and will reward you with the best rates. They find that people who don’t have lapses in coverage tend to be less likely to get into an accident than those who do.
Having continual auto insurance coverage could help you to find a better rate. It doesn’t necessarily matter if you’ve had coverage through the same provider or many different ones. The insurance companies are looking for your overall coverage record.
If you did not own a vehicle until they started looking for coverage, or you were on someone else’s policy, such as your parents, let the insurer know. This ensures they don’t think that you simply didn’t have coverage when you’re applying. They’ll see the reasoning behind it. Those who have major lapses in coverage tend to be those who are more likely to skip payments.
If you are selling your vehicle, or if you won’t be driving for a while, you may want to consider getting a non-owners policy. These are affordable, and they show that you still have some type of coverage when you are driving other vehicles. If you have a vehicle that’s stored and that you don’t drive, you may still want to have a special policy that covers it.
You must keep up with your payments, as well. Having a lapse of coverage, even if it’s just for a single day, can be a problem. It could result in the auto insurance company charging you higher rates. It may also be illegal in your state to have even a short amount of time without coverage.
How Long You’ve Been with Your Current Insurance Company
Something else to consider when it comes to your history and your rates is just how long you’ve been with the same auto insurer. When you’ve been with the same company for several years, it may be possible to get a loyalty discount.
However, there’s also the possibility that your rates might go up too. Sometimes, because of a policy called price optimization, the rates might slowly increase over the years. If you notice that you’re paying more for your insurance even though you haven’t had any accidents, talk with your insurance company. You might want to consider looking for another insurance company that has lower rates for the same amount of coverage.
You might also find that you get discounts after a certain number of years with a company. Of course, you need to be sure that you’re making all of your payments on time if you want to receive these types of rewards. Some will also have safe driving rewards that could lower the amount you pay.
Your Credit History Could also Play a Role
One of the things that you might not think about when it comes to your insurance rates is your credit history. However, research has shown that people who have lower credit scores will often file more claims, file inflated claims, and could even commit insurance fraud.
While it’s not true of everyone who has poor credit, it’s perceived as a large enough problem that some insurance companies will charge higher rates for those with bad credit.
The credit rating and history could also affect how much an insurance company will allow you to pay for your policy. Some statistics show that customers with low credit scores are more likely to miss a payment, so the insurance companies might request that you pay a larger percentage of your policy when you start. In some cases, customers who have poor credit might be required to pay for 6 to 12 months of the premium before the policy can be issued.
Some states prohibit the use of credit scores and history as a factor. These states include California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Michigan.
Other Factors That Could Increase Your Rates
It’s not just your history that will affect your insurance rates. There are also plenty of other factors, touched on at the beginning, that could increase the amount you pay each month.
One of these is the type of vehicle you are driving. If an insurance company’s data shows that certain types of vehicles tend to be in more accidents or have more claims filed, then the rates will often be higher for those cars.
Some of the other factors determined by the model of vehicle can include the price of the vehicle, the cost of repairs, safety tests, and the theft rate. Safety features can be beneficial on vehicles, but if the cost to repair or replace those features is high, it could mean that you’ll have higher rates. You might want to check with your insurance company to see if they offer discounts for advanced safety features.
Your annual mileage will be considered, too. Those who drive less will be at less of a risk of getting into an accident. If you have a short commute or you only drive a little each day, it could result in a lower insurance rate. However, you want to be honest when you’re estimating the number of miles you’re driving.
Even marital status could affect your rates. Statistics show that married couples are usually a lower risk to insurance providers than those who are single. They tend to be safer behind the wheel and less active than single drivers. They have fewer accidents and file fewer claims and are seen as being low-risk drivers. The car insurance rates could be as much as 5% to 15% lower for married couples. Additionally, married couples can often receive discounts when their policies are combined and when they have other types of insurance, such as homeowner’s insurance, bundled with the same company.
Drive Safe and Find a Great Insurance Company
Driving safely is one of the best things you can do to ensure that you have low insurance rates. Keep the information in this article in mind, so you know how to avoid some of the factors that can cause your rates to increase. Take your time to ensure you have an insurance company that’s treating you fairly, as well. You can always shop around and look at the other insurance offerings.
However, before you opt to choose a different insurance company just because they might appear to be cheaper, compare like with like. You need to be sure you’re getting the same amount of coverage for the price.
And if you think you’re paying too much for your car insurance, take a few minutes to shop around and find the best rate. With Compare.com, drivers find an average of $720 in annual savings.
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