Georgia Auto Insurance Learning Center
How to Save Money on Car Insurance
By Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor
There is a very good chance that you are — this very moment — paying too much for your car insurance. There is an even better chance that you could get a better rate, from another insurance company, than you could from your existing insurer.
So why not take an hour or so and review your policy for potential savings? Or, if you're fed up with the high insurance rates from your current insurer, shop around for a new company.
The Internet has created increasing competition between car insurance companies. It is easier than ever for consumers to shop for low insurance rates, to analyze coverage and compare premiums. Still, studies have shown that people don't shop around for insurance in the same way they might shop for a new car. Also, people tend to stay with the same car insurance company for years. Why not prove these studies wrong? Put the power of the Net to work for you and save money in the process.
You can save on auto insurance in five ways:
1. Make sure you get all discounts you qualify for
2. Keep your driver's record clean and up-to-date
3. Adjust your coverage to assume more risk
4. Drive a "low profile" car equipped with certain money-saving safety features
5. Shop around for a good, low cost insurance provider
First, let's look at the discounts you might qualify for. Discounts fall into a number of categories:
* Low-risk occupations
* Professional organizations
* Combined coverage
* Discounts for safety features
* More risk assumed by driver
* Discounts for senior citizens
Insurance is a numbers game. Adjustors collect information about what types of people get into accidents. Over the years they see a trend. Drivers that work as engineers tend to get into fewer accidents. Why? It would be fun to speculate about the reasons (pocket protectors — need we say more?) but the insurance companies don't really care about that. All they know is that, in fact, engineers are a low risk. Since there is less chance that they will wrap their cars around the trunk of a horse chestnut tree, they charge engineers less for insurance. Simple.
But you say you are a teacher instead of an engineer? You might still be in luck. There may be discounts for teachers. You never know unless you ask — and unless you shop around. Not all insurance companies are the same.
Professional Organizations and Auto Clubs
Have you ever been about to pay $100 for a hotel room, only to discover that a AAA discount saves you 15 percent? Now you're paying $85 and feeling proud of yourself. It's similar in the insurance business. Affiliation with AAA — and certain other professional organizations — will lower your rates. You should check with your employer to see if there are any group insurance rates. At the same time try checking directly with the insurance company representative when you inquire about the cost of policies.
Combined and Renewal Discounts
A big source of savings is to insure your cars with the same company that insures your house. Make sure you ask if combined coverage is available. This will lower your payments on your car insurance and make your homeowner's policy cheaper too.
It's also important to make sure you are getting a "renewal" discount that many car insurance companies offer. This is a discount given to people who have been with the same insurance company for an extended period of time. If you have carried insurance with a company for several years, and not had an accident, your insurance company likes you. Think about it. You paid them a lot of money and they didn't have to do anything except send you bills and cash your checks. True, they were ready to do something if you got in an accident. But you didn't get into an accident so they're happy and want to continue their relationship with you. A renewal discount is a good incentive to urge you to return. And it's a good reason for you to stay with them.
Discounts for Auto Safety Features
Auto safety features will also lower your payments. Heading the list of money saving safety features is antilock brakes. Certain states — such as Florida, New Jersey and New York — encourage drivers to buy cars with antilock brakes by requiring insurers to give discounts. Check to see if you live in such a state, or if the insurance company you are considering gives a discount for this feature. Automatic seatbelts and airbags are also frequently rewarded with insurance discounts.
Assume More Risk
Two powerful ways to bring your coverage down is to assume a higher risk. This is done in two ways. The most dramatic reduction can be realized by dropping your collision insurance on an older car. If the car is worth less than $2,000, you'll probably spend more insuring it than it is worth. The whole idea of driving an older car is to save money, so why not get what is coming to you?
Another way to redesign your policy — and save money in the process — is to ask for a higher deductible. The deductible is the amount of money you have to pay before your insurance company begins paying the rest. In other words, you pay for the little dings and bumps and let your insurance company pay for the heavy hits.
For example, a common deductible amount is $500. This means if an accident you're in causes $1,500 worth of damage, you pay $500 and the insurance company pays $1,000. You could, however, set your deductible to $1,000. This still covers you against heavy losses, but it may decrease your monthly premium by as much as 30 percent.
As a final note, if you are being strangled by high insurance costs, keep this in mind when you go car shopping next time. The more expensive and higher-performance the car is, the higher the premium will be. This is particularly true of cars that are frequently stolen, or are expensive to repair. The insurance company keeps this in mind when setting its insurance rates for this vehicle. Shop for a low-profile car and get your kicks in other ways. You'll love the savings you'll see on your auto insurance.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage- A Closer Look
Uninsured Motorist (UIM) is part of every auto policy in Georgia (and most other states too). It covers you and anyone in your car during an accident when you are hit by a hit and run driver, a driver that does not have automobile insurance, or a driver that does not have enough coverage. At the end of 2008 the Georgia General Assembly passed Senate Bill 276 (effective January 1, 2009). Now, insured’s can choose to elect one of two different Uninsured Motorist coverages, “Traditional” (some companies are calling this “Reduced”) or “Added On”.
Traditional coverage provides that you will have coverage UP TO your policy limits, regardless of the coverage of the person that hit you.
Example: You are rear ended at a stop sign
* Total damage is $150,000
* At fault driver has $50,000 in liability coverage
* Your policy has $100,000 in Uninsured Motorist coverage (Traditional)
* You will receive a TOTAL of $100,000 (50k from the other person’s insurance and 50k from your insurance).
Added On Uninsured Motorist coverage provides coverage IN ADDITION to the coverage of the person that hit you.
Same example above: You are rear ended at a stop sign
* Total damage is $150,000
* At fault driver has $50,000 in liability coverage
* Your policy has $100,000 in Uninsured Motorist coverage (Added On)
* You will receive a TOTAL of $150,000 (50K from the other person’s insurance PLUS 100k from your insurance)
Added On Uninsured Motorist coverage is more expensive than Traditional coverage (since, in some cases the insurance company will have to pay out more). We know of several companies that changed their insured’s coverage by default, even though they may not have desired this increased coverage. It is important to review your insurance documents and the level of coverage that you have.
When choosing the amount of Uninsured Motorist coverage, keep in mind, Georgia’s minimum coverage laws allow people to drive with only $25,000 of coverage.
1. This part of your auto insurance policy protects YOU.
While each person’s situation is different, most of our clients have at least $100,000 of Uninsured Motorist coverage…….
Car Insurance for Teenage Drivers
By Philip Reed
The statistics about teenage drivers aren't good. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 16-year-olds get into accidents almost six times more often than drivers between the age of 30 and 59. No wonder car insurance premiums are so high for this age group.
However, not all car insurance companies take the same dim view of young drivers. And some discounts are available to help you cut costs. Remember, the higher the risk, the higher the cost of insurance premiums. Let this be your guiding principle as you shop for insurance.
Here are 10 suggestions to help lower premiums and keep your teenager's license free of violations:
1. Help your teen learn the laws and follow them to the letter. By far, the best way to lower car insurance costs for teens is for them to keep their driving record clean. Make safe driving a family project. In some states, restrictions apply to new drivers. Parents should know what the laws are and insist that their sons and daughters follow them.
2. Set a good example. Do you break the speed limit and tailgate? Do you yell at other drivers when you're behind the wheel? If you do these things, how can you expect your children to act differently? Start watching your own driving long before they get their license and you'll have a much easier time convincing them to be safe drivers. Remember, actions speak louder than words.
3. Put your teenager on your policy. Rather than setting up an independent policy for your teen driver, put them on your auto insurance policy as an additional driver. In this way, all the discounts applied to your policies will be passed on to them.
4. Pay your teenager to get good grades. Here's a creative tip — find out how much you save if your teenager gets a good grade point average and pass it on to them. Usually, having a 3.0 or higher GPA will reduce your car insurance premium by 10 percent. Figure out exactly how much this saves you and give that money to your teenager. This accomplishes two things. First, it provides a direct reward for academic performance. Secondly, it motivates them to continue getting good grades.
5. Enroll them in driver education courses. Discounts are available for teens who take recognized driving classes. But call your car insurance company to find out which schools are covered before paying big bucks.
6. Steer clear of sports cars. Don't try to live vicariously through your teenager by giving them the hot car you couldn't get in high school. Getting your teenager a safe car to drive, with the latest safety equipment, will lower your premiums. Not only will you save money on car insurance, but fast driving will be less of a temptation.
7. Get their support. Don't assume that your teenager wants to vacuum clean your wallet. Ask them for help cutting costs and point out that you will share in the savings (see rule #4). Tell them how much car insurance costs and show them how this fits into the family budget. If nothing else, you will score points for treating them as adults.
8. Talk to your kids about drugs and alcohol. This is a tough subject to broach with teenagers, who think they have everything under control. But the consequences of saying nothing can be catastrophic. Take the time to lay down some guidelines in this important area.
9. Take traffic school to beat tickets. Once a ticket is on your teen's license, it takes months to get the violation removed. Instead, encourage them to take traffic school if the judge allows it. A day spent thinking about the consequences of unsafe driving can bring rewards for years to come.
10. Ride with your teenager. Your teenager was a safe driver last year when he or she got a license. But what's happened since then? Let your son or daughter take the wheel while you sit back and relax in the passenger seat. If you see them doing something that breaks rules or seems unsafe, point this out in a diplomatic way. If they are doing a good job driving, praise them for their efforts.
If you follow the above suggestions, you will find that you can make it through the teenage years safely — and without paying an arm and a leg for car insurance. It just takes cooperation and understanding from both sides of the generation gap.