College grads, congratulations! You’ve worked hard and earned your degree. Perhaps you’re in the thick of a job search or you’ve already landed the perfect gig. Maybe you’re moving to a new city or going back to your hometown. No matter the case, graduation is an exciting time in your life, and if you’re like most forward looking graduates, you’re probably wondering how you can find cheap car insurance.
Okay, okay. We get it. Car insurance isn’t all that exciting. We know that when you finished the last of your exams and tossed your cap into the air and late into the night you hugged all of your friends goodbye, they asked, “What’s next?” We’re willing to bet you didn’t say, “I’m going to shop around for a cheap car insurance policy!” We know that’s a conversation that has never happened.
But that’s why we’re here for you. Whether you’re getting booted off your parent’s policy, buying a new or used car, or even if you already have an insurance policy but you haven’t compared rates to other carriers, if you’re going to drive–and unless you live in New Hampshire or Wisconsin–car insurance is mandatory. And while rent and entry-level jobs don’t always make for the most flexible of budgets, here’s a handful of ways to help you potentially save some cash and find cheaper car insurance.
Good Student Discount
Typically, insurance companies may reward students who’ve maintained a B average or better in the prior semester, or who have been named to the Dean’s List, Honor Roll, or similar listing for an academic achievement. Some insurance companies may even offer a Good Student Discount for recent graduates if their cumulative scholastic record meets their requirements and they’re relatively inexperienced drivers (usually licensed nine years or less). Good Student Discounts can often save anywhere from 5 to 15 percent, so it’s worth asking if the carrier you’re interested in offers it.
Type of vehicle
In terms of risk, insurance companies consider what type of car you have. For example, an $88,000 Lexus LS 460 will cost you more to insure than a $17,000 Ford Focus, as a higher premium is necessary for potential repairs. Other factors may come in to play as well, such as the location you’re garaging the vehicle and if that model is amongst the most stolen.
Insurance companies also consider the number of miles driven per year when determining their rates. The more miles driven equates to a higher risk for an accident. If you live in an area that offers public transportation, consider this an option to reduce the number of miles driven, as well as wear and tear, and gas consumption.
Telematics tracks the way we use our vehicles, either through devices installed in our vehicles, or a mobile app such as EverDrive. With ratings in acceleration, speeding, braking, turning, and distracted driving, a good score in these metrics may result in cheaper discounts as more and more insurance companies are turning to telematics to offer competitive rates for safe drivers.
Lower your deductible
Since insurance companies will have to pay less in the event of a claim, a higher deductible will lower your yearly premium. For example, consider a $1,000 deductible rather than $500. If you’re comfortable with a higher deductible, make sure you have the resources to cover it should you have to file a claim.
Cut optional coverages
Also consider what types of coverages you’re purchasing. For example, if you’re driving an older vehicle, collision and comprehensive coverages may not be necessary if their costs outweigh the overall value of your vehicle.
Are you renting an apartment or recently buy a home? Either way, if you’re out on your own, you’re going to want to consider renters or homeowners insurance. Renters insurance can be relatively inexpensive and covers your personal belongings in the event of a loss, whereas your landlord’s insurance most likely will not. Many insurance companies will offer a discount if you bundle your renters or homeowners insurance along with your auto insurance.
Budget and build your credit score
It’s controversial, but many insurance carriers factor in credit scores in determining risk (Hawaii, California, and Massachusetts prohibit this practice). A 2015 Consumer Reports found that the average difference paid by those with a “good” score versus those with the “best” score was $214 per year. If you’re a recent graduate, you’re in the beginning stages of building your credit profile. And while it might not pay off immediately, at least in terms of your auto insurance, it may very well pay off later. Develop a monthly budget and take steps that will help you develop and improve your credit profile. Try to avoid taking on massive credit card debt and missed payments. Your future self will be grateful for it.
We know this wasn’t a lot of fun, but it wasn’t so bad, right? By shopping around, comparing rates, and asking questions, you’re putting yourself in better position to free up some money. Good luck out there, and congratulations.