Whether you love your ride or just the places it takes you, cars are expensive, and they need to be protected. But your car insurance doesn’t need to cost a trunkload, you’ve got countless fuel-ups and tune-ups to worry about. Thankfully, the discounts you need are out there. Heck, you may already be getting them—but wouldn’t you love more?
Everything from your job to your kid’s rock-star grades could qualify you for big savings on your premiums. And our independent insurance agents can help you find the deeper discounts you may have never thought about so you can spend less on your bills and more on the good things in life. But first, let’s chat about car insurance discounts. Buckle up.
When you insure your car, you're signing up to pay premiums (usually monthly or quarterly payments) in exchange for coverage. If you get into an accident or your car’s damaged, your insurance company promises to pay as long as certain conditions are met.
Simply put, car insurance discounts are a nice little way to lower those premiums of yours. But most insurance discounts don’t work quite like those coupons you love. They’re more like a giant secret formula that the insurance company uses to calculate how likely you are to get into an accident. The more positive factors you add to the algorithm (which means the less likely an accident is), the less you’ll pay.
Things that might go into the secret formula include your age, gender, location, marital status, credit score, and driving record. Two things that never go into the formula, however, are your race and religion, since those characteristics are protected by law when it comes to insurance.
Insurance discounts also vary widely from state to state. This is because of differing state laws, population densities, climate, and natural disaster risks. Densely populated coastal states like Florida and Louisiana have higher insurance premiums than rural, high-and-dry ones like Idaho and Vermont. Some states mandate more comprehensive insurance coverage than others, which drives up costs.
Another factor in car insurance discounts is the size of your deductible. A deductible is the amount of money in damage that you agree to pay (usually a few hundred to a few thousand dollars) before your insurance coverage kicks in. The higher your deductible is, the lower your premiums will be, since the insurance company is on the hook for less money and they pass those savings on to you.
It’s important to remember that not all discounts will be spelled out in your policy, even if they’re still saving you money.
You’ll know if you’re getting a military or veterans’ discount, but you might not realize you’re getting a marriage discount, too. It’s all part of the special formula.
Insurance companies (also called carriers) don't like to share their exact formulas with customers. It's key to their bottom line, so they consider it proprietary information. Luckily, we've got insider knowledge. Here's what carriers are really thinking when they offer you savings on your car insurance.
There are nearly as many car insurance discounts available as there are runaway french fries under your driver’s seat—lots. And they can all be divided into five major types:
That's the big picture, but more specifically, you’ll be looking for discounts like these:
Bonus round: high deductible discounts. If you agree to pay a higher deductible in case of an accident, your premiums will be lower. The insurance company will owe less in case of an accident, so they pass those savings on to you. Choosing a high deductible makes sense if you have enough savings on hand to cover minor car repairs on your own.
The short answer: not very. Even with a spotty driving record, there will probably be some discounts you qualify for. If you have a good record, there will be even more.
The longer answer is that the hardest part of getting car insurance discounts is understanding when you're getting the discount. Some carriers will advertise their discount programs, while others just quietly factor savings into the final deal.
There are hundreds of insurance carriers in the United States. Each has a different focus and formula, which means that each offers slightly different discounts.
Famous carriers like GEICO and Progressive put tons of money into advertising catchy discount programs, but that doesn't mean you're getting the best deal. You may be getting the one big advertised discount, but you could be getting overcharged on everything else, because one-size-fits-all companies have less time to design coverage just for you.
The more tailored-to-you your insurance is, the more discounted it will be, even if you're not getting any flashy coupon-style deals.
If you're having trouble getting car insurance discounts, make sure your agent knows as much about you and your driving habits as possible. That way they can plug that information into the insurance formula, finding you more savings.
If you have a history of accidents, tickets or impaired driving, it helps to shoot for the bundling and group discounts first. Try to stay with a carrier as long as possible to net those sweet loyalty discounts. In the meantime, keep your nose clean and those good driver discounts might not be so elusive, after all.
First, remember that you're probably already getting discounts based on stuff you don't have a lot of control over: your gender, marital status, location, and age. They might not be spelled out as discounts, but they're still saving you money.
The next step is to do a little bargain hunting, both with an insurance agent and with your social network. Be sure to ask any major organization you're a part of if they offer discounts. That includes your union or other professional organization, bank, advocacy groups like AARP, and your place of worship, if you have one.
Remember, carriers can't take your religion into account, but your place of worship may organize discounts for its members, or encourage you to work with a certain company. For example, Thrivent Financial offers financial and insurance services primarily to Lutherans.
Working with an independent insurance agent is another great way to get discounts. Since they aren't bound to one company's super-secret insurance formula, they can comparison shop between carriers and help you find the best deal.
If you're shopping for a car, you can start working with an independent agent to compare costs before you even sign the papers. Here's what goes into calculating insurance for a new (or new-to-you) car:
It's a popular myth, but a car's paint color actually doesn't affect your insurance costs. Drab colors aren't cheaper to insure and bright ones aren't more expensive. You can splurge on that cherry-red convertible in peace.
After factoring in group discounts and the make and model of your car, your agent will start running the numbers. You'll probably start by filling out a questionnaire, and your agent will ask you questions to fill in any gaps. Don't be shy about speaking up if you think they're missing something. A good agent wants to know as much about you as possible so they can find you the best deals.
Here are the basics of what an insurance agent needs to know about you so they can get you the most car insurance savings:
Getting discounts on your car insurance doesn't have to stop when you pick a plan. Keeping your agent updated on major life events — like marriage or a job change — can help you qualify for discounts you missed the first time around.
Well, now you know how discounts work. But we all know how valuable your time is, so why do the hard work yourself? Our independent insurance agents stay on top of the industry and all the latest discounts so you don’t have to. That means they’ll help find the right coverage at the right price for you.
They’re not just there in the beginning, either. If you get in a jam and need to make a claim, they’ll help you meet deadlines and ensure you’re getting all the benefits you’re entitled to. How sweet is that?