How to Maximize Your Insurance Discounts

National survey finds many people are missing out on insurance discounts.

National survey finds many are missing out

As millions of Americans look for ways to stretch their budgets to survive these tough economic times, too many are not utilizing all of the discounts that may be available to them in their homeowner and auto insurance, according to a new national survey conducted for Trusted Choice®.

The survey asked home and auto owners if they thought they were taking full advantage of all the discounts on their homeowners and auto insurance

More than 34% of respondents, representing 53 million households, admitted they were probably not taking advantage of all homeowners insurance discounts, or said that they simply didn’t know. Regarding auto coverage, more than 20% of car owners either didn’t know or said they thought they were not maximizing all the car insurance discounts available to them.

And those who stand to benefit most from the discounts are often those who aren’t taking advantage of them: nearly 38% of respondents with a household income of less than $25,000 said they weren’t taking advantage of all possible homeowners discounts or said they didn’t know.

The survey also found that the largest percentage of respondents, about 26%, estimated they save 6%-10% on their insurance premiums by using discounts. In reality, many consumers could be saving significantly more—as much as 30%.

“One of the biggest advantages to using an independent insurance agent is that they can explore the various companies and find the best possible coverage for each individual family or business,” says Robert A. Rusbuldt, Trusted Choice® president & CEO. “Finding specific discounts can be time-consuming and confusing, so we advise consumers to consult with their Trusted Choice® independent insurance agent and ask questions.”

How to Get Discounts on Car Insurance

Car insurance companies offer a large range of discounts, but sometimes they aren’t quick to advertise them all, save for some of the most common ones like bundling your home and your auto. 

To get the full range of possible discounts, be sure to ask your independent insurance agent about all of the discounts offered by their insurers. Keep in mind that while you may qualify for every type of discount, insurance companies will cap your discount amount at a certain threshold. Your premium can only be reduced by so much, because insurers need to collect enough premium to cover their expected losses in a given year.  

Some of the most common car insurance discounts, and how you can qualify, include:

  • Multi-policy. By putting your car insurance with the same company that does your home or renters insurance, you’ll usually be able to save around 15%, sometimes on both policies. 
  • Multi-vehicle. Insurers will add this discount automatically if you have more than one vehicle on your policy. 
  • Safe driver. Insurance companies typically look back 3 or 5 years for this discount, and you’ll need to be completely without any claims or violations in order to qualify, no matter who’s at fault. 
  • Claims-free. Some insurers offer a separate, claims-free discount for people who don’t qualify for the safe driver discount. It allows you to have one or two violations, but no claims. 
  • Payment type. Insurance companies may offer a discount if you can pay for the entire 6- or 12-month policy in full in one payment. This could reduce your premium by up to 20% or more. You may also receive a smaller discount if you sign up for automatic monthly withdrawals from your checking account. 
  • Defensive driver course. If you take an approved defensive driver course, you’ll become eligible for this discount. Anyone can take a defensive driver course, but it could be particularly helpful for young or high-risk drivers who already have high premiums. 
  • Good student. Any driver who is enrolled in school and under the age of 25 with at least a B average is eligible for this. The B average could be overall or just in the latest semester. 
  • Distant student. If your student lives over 100 miles away from home, goes to school full time, and does not have a car with them on campus, they’ll be eligible for this discount, which acknowledges the fact that they aren’t driving regularly. 
  • Education and occupation. Some insurers will offer a discount for your level of education, including military service and/or occupation. Office jobs might receive this discount as opposed to realtors, who typically use their cars with greater frequency. 
  • Green vehicle. More and more insurance companies are offering a discount if you have a green vehicle, which usually means either a hybrid or a full electric vehicle. 
  • Low mileage. Many insurers offer a discount for driving under a certain mileage every year, such as under 8,000 miles. Some companies will offer a blanket discount for less than 8,000 miles, while others will offer a tiered discount, which would give you a greater discount for the fewest miles. 
  • Paperless. Most companies will offer a small discount if you opt out of traditional paper and mail, where you’ll receive all of your paperwork and bills electronically. 
  • Telematics. Each company that offers this calls it a different name, but telematics is the drive-tracking program that you can earn a discount on. These programs typically track how fast you accelerate, how hard you brake, your total miles driven, and the time of day you drive most. 
  • Advance quote. If you get a quote well in advance of your effective date, you’ll be given the advance quote discount. This discount normally is slowly taken off your policy over a period of 3 years. 
  • Vehicle safety features. Eligible safety features for this discount normally include things like a passive or active restraint system, blind spot monitoring, or various other sensors or cameras. 

How to Prove a No-Claims Discount on Car Insurance

Every insurance company will run your MVR, or motor vehicle record, before issuing a new policy. If you’ve been with the same insurer for awhile, they will still run your MVR every few years to keep tabs on your driving record. 

Typically, companies will look back between 3 and 5 years to determine your eligibility for either a claims-free discount or a safe driver discount. In addition to your MVR, they’ll also run a C.L.U.E report on your vehicle’s accident history. 

These reports will show if you’ve had any violations or accidents. In order to qualify for these discounts, you’ll need to have no claims at all; it applies to any type of claim, not just an at-fault claim. 

If you believe that you should qualify for a claims-free or safe driver discount but your insurer says you don’t, it’s possible one of the reports they are basing it on is incorrect. 

How Much Is the Good Student Discount?

The good student discount varies among insurers, but can be anywhere from 10% to 35%. Most insurers are in the 10% to 20% range, but this discount only applies to the vehicle that your good student is assigned to. This means that you won’t see a 10% to 20% reduction in your entire premium, it will only apply to the premium on the vehicle that your student drives. 

But this can still make a fairly large difference because young drivers usually cost a lot of money to insure due to their higher risk. Even a 10% discount can result in a $100 savings if your young driver costs $1,000 a year on your policy. 

Can You Use a Dental Discount Plan with Insurance?

Yes, you can have and use both a dental discount plan and dental insurance. Many people may not need both options, but that will depend on your situation. 

Many dental insurance plans don’t cover elective procedures, such as cosmetic procedures that aren’t deemed necessary for your overall dental health. But most dental discount plans cover these, so having both would cover you for regular cleanings and required procedures and things such as tooth whitening procedures. 

Dental insurance also normally has a maximum payout, which means it won’t pay above a certain amount. So if you’re expecting a lot of dental bills, having both a dental discount plan and dental insurance would give you the maximum amount of coverage. 

How to Get Discounts on Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners insurance discounts are similar to car insurance because your insurer won’t go out of its way to offer you these discounts; it will be up to you (or your agent) to get them for you. By using an independent insurance agent, you’ll defer this extra work to them. Your agent will know which discounts each of their insurance companies offer and how you can take maximum advantage of them. 

Some of the most common homeowners insurance discounts, and how you can qualify, include:

  • Multi-policy. Almost every insurance company offers a multi-policy discount for combining your home and auto with them, but some companies only give this discount on the car insurance side. 
  • Claims-free. Your insurer will run a property claims report to see if you’ve had any claims in the last 3 to 5 years. They’ll also run a report on your name if you’ve recently moved and had a claim at your old address. 
  • Security system. Nearly every company offers a security system discount, sometimes called a central station discount. You’ll probably need to submit a security certificate, but this discount can help offset the cost of your security system. 
  • Sensors. Separate from a security system, if you have a water leak or gas sensor installed in your home, you may be eligible for an extra discount. 
  • Home updates. If you have an older home, your insurance company will probably want your roof, heating, plumbing, and electrical system all updated in the last 20 or 30 years. If you have upgraded systems, such as a hail-resistant roof or a geothermal heating unit, you may be eligible for a discount. 
  • Gated community. Houses inside gated communities are typically safer from theft and have stricter building guidelines, meaning your insurer might offer this discount. 
  • Paperless. Similar to car insurance, you can save a few extra dollars by opting to receive all of your insurance documents and bills electronically. 
  • Payment type. Some insurance companies only offer a payment discount on their car insurance but not their home insurance, so be sure to check if you can save money on your home insurance by paying for the whole year up front. 

Furthermore, there are some items that might NOT land you a discount, but instead will result in a surcharge. Some of the most common items include:

  • Trampolines. While some insurers won’t offer you insurance if you have a trampoline, others will require you to pay an extra fee. Nearly all companies will want you to have a net. 
  • Swimming pools. Most companies will charge extra if you have a pool and will also have different requirements depending on the type of pool. Nearly all types of pools will require some type of fencing and/or locking gates. 
  • Dogs. Almost every insurance company has a list of prohibited dogs that they won’t allow, either on liability specifically for a potential dog bite, or they might not insure your home at all. Some companies charge extra if you have any type of dog. 
  • Solid fuel burning stoves. These could be wood-burning, coal, or any other type of solid fuel. Some companies won’t insure your house if you have a solid fuel burner, while others will charge extra and will want it to be used as a secondary heat source and professionally installed. 

Do Insurance Agents Get Discounts?

Independent insurance agents have access to an insurance company’s entire selection of products and discounts, meaning you might be able to receive more discounts by going through an independent insurance agent than you would by shopping yourself online. 

Independent insurance agents also have access to more insurance companies, including many that only offer insurance through independent insurance agents and not anywhere else. In order to receive the most options on companies, discounts, and coverage options, be sure to talk with your local independent insurance agent. 

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For discounts I just checked with many of my insurance companies and what their amounts are. I also used this page because I know they verify numbers as well. https://www.finder.com/car-insurance/discounts