Keeping your premiums from rising? That can feel like playing a game where the rule maker refuses to tell you the rules.
*If you have good credit, you’ll pay less on car insurance.
Almost all car insurers including the top five pull your credit report.
Why? Studies have shown a direct correlation between your credit score and the likelihood that you will file a claim.
Car Insurers also know that if you pay your bills in a timely fashion and have had the same credit accounts for a long time, you’re more stable than someone who pays late and frequently opens and closes accounts.
Car insurers use this information to create your “insurance risk score,” which is one factor that determines your car insurance rate.
Tip: Your car insurance risk score is not available to you, but it may be similar to your credit score. If you have unusual credit activity, wait a month for it to return to normal before buying car insurance.
*Your car model affects your premium car insurance. You won’t get these numbers from your Car insurer. But the car insurers do have a rating system for every car make and model.
Most use a system devised by the Car Insurance Services Office, which starts with the cost of the vehicle and then factors in safety and theft data.
Tip: You can file a claim on your home insurance. Most home insurance policies will cover smaller, less expensive items such as compact discs.
*Bad drivers will pay
You’ll pay for your bad driving. The industry standard is to increase your premium by 40% of the insurer’s base rate after your first at fault accident. Not all car insurers play by this rule.
Tip: Some car insurance companies have a forgive the first accident policy. So ask your Car insurance company if it has a forgiveness policy and how to qualify? .
*You’ll pay for your friend’s bad driving, too. If your friend borrows your car and crashes it, you’ll have to file a claim with your car insurance company.
Tip: If your friend didn’t have permission to take your car, in most cases you won’t be held liable for the damage. But if your friend is uninsured and causes damage that exceeds your policy limits, the injured party can come after you for medical and property damage expenses.
*Your car’s real worth
each car insurance company has its own proprietary list of car values.
The car insurance company may also ask local dealers what they’d charge for a similar replacement car.
Tip: If you disagree with your car insurance company’s value determination, there are several things you can do:
Next time, get gap insurance. It wil l pay the difference between what an car insurer will cover and what you owe.
If you have maintenance records that show you’ve had the oil changed every 3,000 miles and you’ve had the car checked routinely by a mechanic.
If you’ve been paying premiums on any special parts or upgrades, make sure those are included in the car insurance company’s evaluation.
*Odds and ends
Hit by an uninsured motorist? Try to “stack.” (UM/UIM) coverages means collecting from more than one car insurance policy that you hold.
Tip: Check the language of your car insurance policy to see if stacking is allowed.
There are two scenarios for stacking:
First, if you have multiple cars on your car insurance policy with UM/UIM coverage on each, you can collect the limit of your UM/UIM coverage under as many vehicles as necessary to cover full payment for damages.
Second, if you have more than one car insurance policy with UM/UIM coverage, even if they’re from two different car insurers, you can make a claim under each policy until all your damages are recovered.
*You can wait to add your teenager to your car insurance policy until he or she is licensed.
Tip: Don’t forget to tell your car insurance company that you have a licensed teen. If you have to file a claim on his or her behalf, your car insurance company is entitled to charge you back premiums from the date your teen received a license.
*You must officially cancel your car insurance policy when you switch car insurers. you can cancel your car insurance coverage at any time by notifying the car insurance company in writing of the date of termination.
Tip: Call your car insurance agent and let him know you are canceling your car insurance policy. Give a specific date, or you may end up uninsured for a period of time.
The car insurance company will send you a cancellation request. Most often, the form is already filled out and all it requires is your signature.