|Six ways to cut auto insurance costs|
|Friday, 11 May 2012 10:47|
There is nothing that affects your wallet more today than purchasing gasoline. The average household now spends $50 per month more on gasoline than last year, notes financial planner Rick Rodgers, author of The New Three-Legged Stool: A Tax Efficient Approach To Retirement Planning.
"But that's not the whole picture," says Rodgers. "Higher fuel prices affect a lot of other expenses in the family budget, from heating to food. The government estimates the average household is spending $150 per month more this year because of higher oil prices."
You can ease the pain at the pump by using your car less, but you should also look for other places to offset costs. Car insurance is a good place to start. Rodgers suggests these tips below to reduce your costs:
• Shop around regularly: Your insurance agent doesn't have much incentives to reduce your premiums. The internet makes it easy to compare costs for the same coverage, or you can get an independent insurance agent to shop for you. Contact the Independent Agents Association to find companies with a good credit rating and claims-paying history.
• Bundle your coverage: Bundling is combining different types of policies with the same company. The most common combination is packaging auto insurance and homeowner's policies together. Bundled packages usually result in a 10 to 15 percent savings.
• Ask for discounts: You may qualify for discounts, but you won't know until you ask. They're commonly offered for good driving records, anti-theft devices, vehicle safety features, low annual mileage and multiple cars.
• Take a defensive driving class: Even if you've been driving for years, you can learn a lot from driver's education. Most insurance companies recognize and reward the value of a refresher course, which can reduce accidents. Such discounts vary by insurance company and from state to state, although most insurers offer a 10 percent discount on your premium for three years. AARP offers a driver safety program for those over age 50 and it's available online.
• Increase your deductible: Do your auto and homeowners policies have low deductibles? If so, you may be able to reduce your premiums 15 to 30 percent by raising the deductible on your collision and comprehensive coverage. But your homeowner's policy may be the first place to consider raising the deductible, since statistics show the average homeowner files a claim only once every nine years. Be sure to check with your mortgage holder first, as some specify maximums.
• Change cars: This is probably the most difficult savings tip but may have the largest impact on your premium. Used cars are cheaper to insure than new ones, while sports cars are more expensive to insure than minivans. Insurance companies like cars with safety features and low repair costs.