April 28, 2009

The ABCs of Auto Insurance

One of the first questions people ask when comparing auto insurance is what determines the cost? With auto insurance, many variables factor into the ultimate cost. The following are some of those main things that determine how much you pay for a policy. I’ve broken them down into two categories–the things you can’t control and the things you can control:

Why Worry About Things You Can’t Control? You Can’t Control Them!

1. Where You Live. The place you live will impact your insurance rates. Besides the rate differences from state to state, living in a city, where you can naturally expect higher claims from traffic accidents, thefts and vandalism, will be pricier than in the burbs and more rural areas. Some would argue that this is something you can control. I would answer with a question, “How many people do you know who sold their houses and up-rooted their families just to save on auto insurance?”

2. Sex. No, I’m not referring to the quality, frequency, style or preference–most of which you can control–unless, of course, you’re like me and you’ve signed over your “performance rights” to your significant other. It’s gender that impacts auto insurance rates. Yes, gents, the fact is that we have more accidents than the ladies. So for the sins of a few, all men end up paying more. A little unfair? Perhaps, and some states are eliminating gender-based underwriting. Oh, and let’s not argue over whether this is one you can control. I can double check with Dr. Phil on this one, but I’m pretty sure lower auto insurance rates is not a major reason behind transgender surgery.

3. Age. Bottom line, if you are 16-25 you will pay more for insurance. It should come as no surprise that the inexperience and recklessness of our ADHD-saddled youth leads to more dust-ups and fender benders. Ah, youth is wasted on the young. It also makes sense that when we turn 26, get married and have kids, the world slows down just enough to make the auto insurers sleep a little easier.

Why Worry About the Things You Can Control? If You’re Worried, Change ‘Em!

4. Get Yourself a Spouse. It’s a known fact that married couples are safer drivers. If you disagree, just call up one of your bachelor or bachelorette friends and tell them you feel like taking a ride on the open road. What you’ll likely get is a thrill ride, music blasting, heading straight towards a destination of other joy-riding singles seeking the same. Then follow it up immediately with the suggestion to a married couple that you’d like to take a day trip out of town and that their car would be perfect. You’ll need about two minutes in the minivan to understand what the statistics tell the auto insurance companies–married couples are more careful. And the on-road conservatism isn’t only dictated by a dissipating level of testosterone, but rather the lovingly, sung chorus, “Honey, please slow down”. And yes, tying the knot or staying single is definitely in your control, until, of course, your guilt-producing parents start the “when are you going to give me a grandchild?” chatter. And if arranged marriages are in your future, feel free to move this up to the previous category, and consider this a new-found benefit.

5. Credit History. OK, here’s another reason to irrationally monitor your credit rating 24/7. The auto insurers have established a direct relationship between credit history and expected claims. If you’ve missed a few credit card payments, or you’re levered up like a Wall Street buy-out king, and your credit score is below 650, you’ll likely pay more for your insurance. Unfortunately, this gives the “free credit report” marketers more reason to pollute the airwaves with lame, pseudo-user generated indie bands making up songs about credit scores.

6. Driving Record. Simply put, if you are a good driver, you’ll pay less for your insurance. For the most part, you have control over your driving destiny. Here are some helpful tips to consider when behind the wheel: don’t speed, don’t eat (especially spring-loaded Chalupas from Taco Bell), don’t text, don’t use a cell phone (except hands-free), don’t read the paper, don’t day-dream, don’t fall asleep, don’t do needlepoint, don’t watch TV, don’t blog, don’t run red lights, don’t run yellow lights that you know will turn red, don’t hit anything, don’t park under falling tree limbs, etc… To the extent you’ve had an accident or traffic violation in the prior 3-5 years, you will pay more for your insurance.

7. Your Ride. Choose wisely. The model and make of your car will have a direct impact on your insurance costs. If your vehicle is one that is popular with the car-jacking set or is just prone to higher historical claims, then you’ll pay more.

These are some of the important factors that go into the formula that determines your final auto insurance quote. There are other factors too. In the end though, the best way to get the best quote for your insurance is to start at AutoInsuranceQuote.com and let the insurance companies compete for your policy. Ultimately, this is the best way for you to save big bucks.