How I Lower Our Auto Insurance Premium Costs

Did your car insurance premiums go up a lot recently?

You’re not alone.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that motor vehicle insurance went up a whopping 20.6% in the last year.

That is not a typo – over twenty percent increase!

(this is on top of a near 15% increase from January 2022 to January 2023)

If you’re looking for ways to lower your car insurance premiums, we have a few tips that might be able to make that payment a little less painful this year.

Table of Contents
  1. Ask Your Agent
  2. Work with an Independent Broker
  3. Shop Around
  4. Bundle Up
  5. Increase Your Deductible
  6. Participate in Drive Tracking Programs
  7. Join Associations & Organizations
  8. Maintain Good Credit
  9. Cut Collision or Comprehensive Coverage
  10. Update Your Driving Patterns
  11. Take a Driving Class
  12. Shop Around Annually

Ask Your Agent

The simplest way to reduce your premiums is by asking your agent for suggestions. Agents are usually on your side because they want to keep your business and they don’t lose much (if anything at all) if you take advantage of discounts.

Plus, your insurance agent will know what you can do to lower your insurance premiums. This can include organizations you can join, classes you can take, and any other modifications you can make to your vehicle or your habits. They have a laundry list of items, just go through and see what you need to do to qualify for each one.

Remember, your agent wants to help you because it means they can keep you as a customer. You can save yourself a lot of time guessing and get recommendations directly from someone who knows your exact policy and any changes you may have.

Don’t be afraid to go through the list of discounts to see what you can do to qualify for them. You can get a discount based on what you do for a living (occupational discount) to paperless statements to having anti-theft systems to being a good student.

Asking can save you a lot of money.

Work with an Independent Broker

After I sent this post out to our email newsletter subscribers, Bob from Michigan shared this great tip about the value of independent insurance brokers:

I use one here in the Detroit area. This broker works with a number of carriers, and each year he contacts me to go over coverage and advise whether to stay put or change. Carriers sometimes run promotions to gain new customers, offering more competitive rates for a year at least (think cable providers). In the past that was enough for me to switch because I knew my agent would be spinning the wheel again the following year. Comparisons are always apples-to-apples, of course, and we always bundle. 

I assume the low promotional rate works for those carriers in the long term because most people will stay with them indefinitely, even as the discount fades. (I recently heard a friend brag about how he’s been with AAA since the 1980s, as if he’s some VIP client. No shopping around for him.)

Also, my independent broker invites check-in calls from me, e.g. if I’m weighing whether to file a claim. He tells me that if I was to call the national number with such a question, the encounter goes into their data bank as a flag and can only hurt, not help, me come time for policy renewal. Bastards. 

When our daughters moved out for good, each with used cars we bought for them during high school and each with new ‘permanent’ addresses, my broker asked me whether I had signed over the title to the cars to them. The cars had always been in my name, and transferring the titles hadn’t crossed my mind. My agent warned me, correctly, that if God-forbid one of our kids was in an accident that hurt or killed someone, my assets would be exposed to a lawsuit (beyond what their insurance company would pay out) because I’m the owner of the vehicle. Great advice.

I’m thinking most folks abhor the process of comparing rates and procrastinate. 

Brokers live and breathe this stuff and do the work for you. You just e-sign the docs.

I’ve never used an independent insurance broker before and my thinking is that they get paid a commission (or are salaried by the agency’s owner), but I don’t see an issue with it. If they bring you an offer that’s better than what you’re paying, I have no problem with them earning a commission.

If you don’t want to do the next tip, of shopping around yourself, this is a good way to have someone do it for you.

Shop Around

Even if you love your agent and the insurance company, sometimes your agent needs help to get you a lower rate (and they may not be able to tell you this).

To get a better deal, you might have to get quotes from other insurance companies as a bargaining chip.

Car insurance companies make it easy to get quotes – they can look up a ton of information without you having to enter it. With just your name and a few other personal details, GEICO, Esurance, and several other companies were able to pull up both of our vehicles. I entered in some more information and had a quote within minutes that I could screen grab and send to my agent for comparison.

If you want to search several companies at once, a marketplace can be convenient. Take a look at Insurify – they can help you compare car insurance quotes quickly and easily so you can find the lowest rates.

Bundle Up

Buy all of your policies from one place and you will almost always get a discount. Every car insurance company offers anywhere from 5-15% off if you get 2+ policies.

Keep shopping around after that because you don’t usually get a bigger percentage off with more policies, you could find that 3rd policy for cheaper elsewhere.

Increase Your Deductible

Deductibles are what gets deducted against a claim before the insurer pays out. If you have a $1,000 deductible and you have damage to your car of $1,500, the insurance company will pay you $500. Increase your deductible and decrease your premium.

This is risky because now you’re venturing into self-insurance – where you increase your savings to pay for any potential claims. Just remember to put the savings in your emergency fund because your personal funds will be needed.

Participate in Drive Tracking Programs

There are some insurance companies that will offer discounts if you allow them to monitor your driving. The idea behind these driving tracking programs is that they can monitor your speed, braking patterns, and mileage to better determine your risk. If you’re interested, ask your insurer if they offer anything like this and how big of a discount you can get.

Just beware how tracking will affect your driving, because it affects everyone differently.

Here’s one reader’s experience:

I wanted to tell you about my car insurance experience.  When mine went up I switched to a second independent broker I knew.  He put me with Safeco, and said I could get up to a 10% discount, I think it was, after three months of letting them monitor my driving through an app on my phone.  I did it.  It was torture.  Someone would turn in front of me and I’d have to brake hard, then I would get dinged.  There was no way to figure out how to stay ahead of their game.  Over time I realized that there was nothing I could do after the fact to get me back into the high 90’s.  A road trip would only recover a point or two.  I finished at upper 80’s.  They sent me a check for $4.00, plus let me keep the discounts they said I was already getting.  Geez.  Three months of misery.

Join Associations & Organizations

Years ago, while with GEICO, I joined the National Military Family Association for a discount on my auto policy (it’s a Military and Federal Organization that gets a discount as part of GEICO’s membership discounts program). Membership was a mere $20 then (only $15 now), went to a good cause, and I saved far more on my annual insurance bill (7-8%).

Your insurance company will have a list of related organizations that, if you were a member, would afford you a discount on your policy. Ask them, they will provide it if they offer this type of discount, and join if it makes financial sense.

Maintain Good Credit

Your credit is used to determine your premiums and you can reduce your premiums by increasing your credit score.

If you haven’t reviewed your credit in a while, review our guide on increasing your credit score for what you should do.

Cut Collision or Comprehensive Coverage

🔴 This is the riskiest option on our list.

I cut comprehensive coverage with my first two cars after they were a bit older and saved hundreds each year. When the insurance company doesn’t have to cover you in the event of non-collision perils, they will give you a big discount because that’s a big risk.

It’s a big gamble because I could be in big trouble if a tree fell on my car, but I took on that extra risk and put the savings in my high yield savings account.

If you do not fully own your vehicle, because it’s a lease or you have a loan, you can’t do this. Leases and loans will require you to have this coverage.

When you look at your policy, review your policy coverage and you’ll see exactly how much collision and comprehensive coverage is costing you.

We currently have coverage on our 2011 Toyota Venza and it’s costing us $71.09 (collision) and $37.93 (comprehensive) per six months, with a $1,000 deductible. It’s an older car worth only abut $5,000 and I was OK with paying $200 a year for those coverages. It’s getting to the point where it may not make sense to pay it anymore.

We also have the same coverage on a 2015 Toyota Highlander — $136.31 (collision) and $74.86 (comprehensive). The car itself is worth about $16,000 and we’re paying $400 a year, which feels fair.

If you do this, you’re now self-insurance so put your savings into your emergency fund and be aware that you are taking on added risk.

Update Your Driving Patterns

If you drive less than 8,000 miles a year, you may qualify for a low mileage discount. Many companies offer a low mileage discount and the number of miles will vary, but it’s typically in the 7000-8000 range. Some insurers offer different discounts based on the tier you fall into, so you may get a discount – be sure to ask.

If your driving habits change, let your agent know.

Perhaps you changed jobs and now the office is closer to your home. Or maybe you’re fully remote with no plans to return to the office. Or you quit and are now self-employed (yay! congrats!). Or you started carpooling because you love the Earth.

Even if you don’t have less mileage but work from home, that could be good enough for your insurance company. They may be able to do something for you.

You will need to periodically update your agent on your vehicle odometer, to confirm you are driving less, so you can’t just say you drive 7,000 miles when it’s 10,000.

Take a Driving Class

Many insurers will give you a discount if you take a defensive driving course. Some states mandate the discount. In New York, as part of the Point & Insurance Reduction Program, you will get a 10% reduction of the base rate of your auto insurance premiums every year for three years).

Check with your insurance provider before you sign up for a class because they cost money and time, so you don’t want to be wasting it on a class that won’t save you money.

Shop Around Annually

Put a recurring event in your calendar to review your auto insurance every year. It’s worth shopping around each year and at the very least, gives you a reason to contact your agent to see if there are new discounts you qualify for.

When I originally wrote this article, I contacted my agent at State Farm and she chopped $100 off our annual premium because my wife no longer drove ~20 miles each way to graduate school every day.

A few emails back and forth for $100? A deal I’ll take any day.

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

The fundamental misunderstanding about budgeting

Budgeting suffers from a marketing problem. We all misunderstand the purpose of a budget and often think solely about how it's about restriction. Budgeting is about freeing your spending, not tying it up.

How to Redeem Your Costco Reward Certificate

Did you get a Costco reward certificate and are wondering how to redeem it? We explain how you can get it direct deposited, with step by step instructions, plus the fastest way to get it redeemed in store.

10 AI Apps to Help You Save Money

AI-powered apps are making our lives easier in so many ways. But did you know that they can also help you manage your money? Here are 10 of the best AI apps to help you save money. Learn more.

The Rule of 10

How much is $100 worth in 30 years? If it grows at 8% a year, it'll be worth over a thousand dollars. Learn how the Rule of 10 can be your friend in learning how to save for your retirement.

About Jim Wang

Jim Wang is a forty-something father of four who is a frequent contributor to Forbes and Vanguard's Blog. He has also been fortunate to have appeared in the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Entrepreneur, and Marketplace Money.

Jim has a B.S. in Computer Science and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.S. in Information Technology - Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Masters in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University. His approach to personal finance is that of an engineer, breaking down complex subjects into bite-sized easily understood concepts that you can use in your daily life.

One of his favorite tools (here's my treasure chest of tools,, everything I use) is Personal Capital, which enables him to manage his finances in just 15-minutes each month. They also offer financial planning, such as a Retirement Planning Tool that can tell you if you're on track to retire when you want. It's free.

He is also diversifying his investment portfolio by adding a little bit of real estate. But not rental homes, because he doesn't want a second job, it's diversified small investments in a few commercial properties and farms in Illinois, Louisiana, and California through AcreTrader.

Recently, he's invested in a few pieces of art on Masterworks too.

>> Read more articles by Jim

Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank or financial institution. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Reader Interactions

Leave a Comment:

Comments

About the comments on this site:

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

  1. Dennis J Midkiff says

    My Jan 1, 2024 insurance renewal rates were up about $500 over what I paid last year. That’s for my home and 2 cars with Cincinnati Insurance. I checked with Allstate and their rates on the same home and 2 cars, with the same coverage and deductibles, dropped me back well below what I was paying last year with Cincinnati.

    For reference, I’m single and 69 years old, 800+ credit rating and no tickets or accidents in past 7 years.

    I imagine Allstate will start bumping their rates up next year and if they’re small bumps, I’ll stay with them. When they get crazy and jump them up 20% per year, I’ll go insurance shopping again.

  2. Sally Scott says

    Dear Jim,
    We live in Santa Monica,CA which is an area covered by Metromile, a car insurance company, which blows away all of the competition you mentioned in your article. We have used it since Covid as they charge by the mile on top of a base rate as we were privileged with being able to work from home. We no longer do but with the recent increase of rates they are still the most competitively priced out there.

As Seen In: