Auto insurance companies consider multiple factors when deciding how to price your yearly premium. Typically, they’ll look at your driving record, time with the company, traffic violations, criminal record, and more. They’ll come up with a number they believe is fair based on these factors.
Unfortunately, that number isn’t always fair to you, especially when you get in an accident. A small fender bender could raise your rates by 50 percent!
However, all is not lost. With time and good behavior, you can reduce your rates significantly. Here are a few strategies for achieving better rates:
Contact an Attorney
If you believe an insurance company isn’t treating you fairly, you can always involve an attorney, especially if you were injured in an accident caused by someone else. You may be able to prove that your recent rate increase was unjustified, given the fact that you were the victim of an accident rather than the perpetrator.
With the right proof and a sound case, you and your attorney can convince your insurance company to not only lower your rates, but also pay you back the extra money you paid from the time of the increase to when the case was resolved.
When you’re in an accident of your own making, all insurance companies will consider this an infraction on your record. However, not all will give you the same rate. Your current insurance company will likely raise your rates to the maximum percentage after an accident. You can often find a much more competitive quote from another insurance company, even though it will still be higher than your original rate.
Once you’ve found a lower rate, you have two options: You can switch to the new insurance company and enjoy a lowered rate, or you can try to convince your current company to match the other quote.
You might consider shopping for online insurance companies rather than well-known household names. A reputable online company may offer much better rates despite your past accident.
Change Your Policy
Most insurance policy holders are more insured than they need to be. If you feel comfortable doing so, you might reduce some of your coverage amounts to reduce your monthly premium.
For a low-risk change, consider increasing your deductible from $500 to $1500. This can reduce your rates by as much as 40 percent. You could also decrease coverage for uninsured motorist, bodily injury liability, and other categories so that you’re still covered but for a smaller amount. In most situations, basic coverage is adequate, and it will significantly decrease your monthly obligation.
Ask About Accident Forgiveness
If this is your first accident ever or your first one in several years, you may be able to use something called “accident forgiveness.” Many insurance companies offer this clause as an addition to your policy so that your rates don’t increase after your first infraction.
If you didn’t sign up for accident forgiveness when you first created your policy, you may be able to add it after the fact. Companies will often grant you accident forgiveness after raising your rates if you’ve been a good driver thus far, and they’ll set your rates back to the original.
Enroll in a Driver’s Course
Show your insurance company a sign of good faith and enroll in an approved driver’s course. Upon completion, some insurance companies will lower your rates slightly because you’re making a clear effort to improve your skills and prevent future accidents.
Every state offers these driver’s education courses, sometimes online and sometimes in-person. Double check with your insurance company that the course you’ve enrolled in will meet the requirements for a rate decrease.
Get More Discounts
Insurance companies offer a variety of discounts to drivers, but they don’t always advertise them. Contact customer service for a comprehensive list of discounts that may be available through your current company.
Many companies will insert a chip into your vehicle that tracks your driving habits. It will note when you exceed speed limits, break quickly, or accelerate too fast, and good habits will give you a discount. You could also receive discounts for bundling different insurance policies, sticking with a company for several years, or adding another vehicle to the policy.
Wait Three Years
For most insurance companies, an infraction only remains on your record for three years. After that period, they’ll no longer consider that accident a sign of a bad record.
They may automatically lower your insurance at this point, or you may need to call and ask them to do so. If you can make a convincing argument involving your good driving record over the last few years, they’ll likely reduce your rates accordingly.