While maintaining auto insurance is a requirement in most states, not a choice, you do have a choice in which auto insurance provider will get your business. We always recommend pulling quotes from multiple providers, but assuming that the coverage quoted by each potential insurance provider is equivalent, most people select the provider that offers the lowest premium.
However, if that base quote is the only determining factor in selecting auto insurance, you may be missing out on an important aspect that will put money back in your pocket: car insurance discounts.
As you begin to gather quotes, it is important to know what car insurance discounts are available in your area and what each discount means to you. Remember, not all car insurance policies are created equally. All companies offer different discounts, and the same discount at two companies may offer different levels of savings — meaning that the sheer number of available discounts doesn’t necessarily mean a lower premium. While you should always prioritize coverage levels over discounts (don’t skimp on necessary coverage just to save a few bucks per month with a company), there are a few that you can look for as you start your search for a provider.
There are a few discounts that you’re likely to see offered on most policies. Many of these discounts will be applied automatically by the provider, without you even having to ask. Some of the most common include:
- Safe driving discount: Some providers determine a certain number of years you must remain accident-free before receiving the discount, while others give you a discount for each accident-free year. This discount usually comes in the form of a lowered deductible.
- Good student discount: Many providers will cut costs for full-time students with a good academic records, or for those going to school far from home.
- Bundling discount: If you insure both your car and your home with the same provider in a bundle, it may cut your overall premium.
- Multi-car discount: Do you have more than one vehicle to insure? If so, your provider may offer you a discount to insure all vehicles.
- Anti-theft system discount: If your vehicles have factory-installed anti-theft systems, you may be able to save.
- Payment discount: Pay your premium in full each year (instead of monthly), or set up automatic payments, and your provider could slash your costs.
Uncommon Car Insurance Discounts
While the discounts above are offered by most big-name providers, many companies try to gain the advantage by offering less common ways to save. If you qualify for one of these more unique discounts, it may be enough to sway you toward that provider. As you research companies, be on the lookout for some of the following discounts:
- Low mileage discount: Ask potential providers if they offer a discount for customers who do not put many miles on their vehicles.
- Defensive driver discount: Taking a defensive driving course not only helps you be safer on the road, but can also lower your monthly bill.
- Vehicle equipment discount: Vehicles with air bags, anti-lock brakes, or any other safety-related vehicle equipment could help you save on your insurance premium.
- Long-term customer discount: By the time you’re a long-term customer, you may not think to ask about a loyalty discount. We recommend asking potential providers upfront if they offer any discounts to customers who stick around for a few years.
Other Ways to Save on Your Car Insurance
Discounts aren’t the only way to lower your premium. While insurance providers may advertise savings potential that you can tack on to your policy, there are other ways you can be proactive about your insurance and your finances. Things like the type of car you drive can be a determining factor in your insurance premium, for instance — something to keep in mind if you’re thinking of buying a new vehicle.
Additionally, some providers offer usage-based insurance that determines your premium based on how you actually drive. Progressive’s Snapshot program, for example, tracks your driving through a plug-in device or app, monitoring things like your braking, acceleration, and mileage. If Snapshot deems you a particularly safe driver, it will cut your premiums. Some up-and-coming companies like Root Insurance base their entire business model on this premise, eliminating traditional discounts entirely.
Most importantly, drive safely and shop around regularly. If your driving record or your circumstances change, your potential quotes from companies will change as well — meaning the company that is cheapest for you now may not be the cheapest for you a few years down the road. We recommend checking quotes every time your policy is set to expire or renew to make sure that you’re still getting the best deal on coverage.
Cheap Car Insurance FAQ
How do I find cheap auto insurance?
Shopping around, driving safely, and looking for discounts are great ways to find the best cheap car insurance. However, when searching for a cheap premium, never sacrifice quality of your insurance or the level of coverage you need — it’s better to pay a few more dollars every month than to be stuck with a provider that doesn’t meet your needs.
How often do you pay for car insurance?
Most providers will allow you to pay annually, semiannually, or monthly. Many will also offer a discount if you pay in full annually.
Will the value of my vehicle affect my insurance costs?
Definitely. The higher the value of the vehicle, the higher your premium will be. It is also important to consider that if your vehicle is financed, your lender may require higher levels of insurance coverage.