You swerved for a squirrel and wrecked your ride; now your car insurance is going to triple, right? Not necessarily. The right insurer — and some clever maneuvering — will save you money on car insurance after a ticket or an accident.
Anyone with a good driving record can get a great rate on car insurance. But if you are among the millions of drivers with a blemish or two on your driving record, getting coverage can be tricky — and exorbitant.
It is expensive just to drive and own a car. AAA’s 2019 Your Driving Costs study found that the average cost to own and operate a 2019 model vehicle was $9,282. Yet, there are over 222 million Americans with a driver’s license happy to pay a countrywide average of $936 a year for auto insurance, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
Car insurance is a double-edged sword — the more you use it, the more you pay for it. Frequent payouts, regardless of the reason, can make you seem like a risky customer. Numerous driving violations are also a black mark. If an insurance company sees you as a high-risk customer, it will charge you higher premiums as a safety net.
If you are one of the 20 percent of U.S. drivers with a moving violation, you could end up paying 70 to 92 percent more for your auto insurance. Here are five ways to save:
- Shop around. Insurance technology has blown open the industry creating increased competition and more options.
- Study hard. Take a defensive driving course to show insurance companies that you are striving to become a better and safer driver; you might even get a discount.
- Know your numbers. Contact your local DMV, request your driving record and check it for errors. Some states, like Texas, will remove first-time violations if a driving safety program is completed.
- Stop Thieves. You can lower your annual premiums, sometimes by as much as several percentage points, if you install anti-theft devices.
- Pay-As-You-Go. If you’re a low-mileage driver — less than 10,000 miles a year — a usage-based insurance program could save you money. You let your insurer track your driving in exchange for possible discounts.
How much your insurance goes up after an accident depends on who was at fault and the amount of the claim. Most insurance carriers are interested in violations with the past five years, but some will be able to look back even further.
People with multiple violations might have to get high-risk insurance. Many state DMVs require drivers to prove financial responsibility for three consecutive years by getting an SR22 or an FR44. To find out if your state requires one, check out the non-profit AIPSO, a management organization and service provider for the insurance industry. They have a tool to check every state’s requirements. They also address various nuances with the industry by state.