Slash Car Insurance Rates with Common Sense - TheStreet

Talking British geckos are having a field day making hay in the car insurance market, but the ads do have a point: you can save money on your car insurance rates, but not just in the ways that silver-tongued lizards would have you believe.

How’s that again? It’s pretty simple. Be a careful driver, a smart insurance shopper, and look for those little advantages that tend to add up; those are the basics for some solid savings in your car insurance.

Here’s how it all lays out:

Get a “gold star” driving record – Far and away, the best way to save money on car insurance is to have a great driving record. Accidents, speeding tickets, traffic citations and, heaven forbid, a driving-while-impaired issue all can hang around your neck like an albatross, and no gecko can help. But if you can avoid the above, you can save hundreds (even thousands) from your car insurance bill. It doesn’t take much to inflate your car insurance tab. According to the web site,, one traffic ticket for rolling through a stop sign could cost as much as $3000 in increased premiums over the three years it remains on their record. A bonus: driving more slowly saves money on gasoline, as well.

Shop smart – With no shortage of car insurers out there, it’s easy to get confused about your insurance options. Don’t be. Make it a point to find a local insurance agent who knows the ropes, and can find you here good offers (if you’re especially confident, you can try this yourself online at

Be aggressive and ask family, friends or co-workers for referrals. Anyone with a car has auto insurance, so you should get some useful feedback – and probably a horror story or two.

Know what pricing factors are in play – You already know that having a good driving record is critical to getting a good insurance deal, but there are other factors. If you drive a foreign car, expect your rates to be higher (parts and labor are more expensive). If you drive a new candy-apple red convertible, good for you, but know that your insurance costs can rise because the vehicle has a higher risk of theft than an older grey sedan. Also, make sure to fortify your car’s insurance health with cost-cutters like anti-theft technology and safety bags.

Calculate your car’s age into your insurance needs – The older your car gets, the less insurance it usually needs. To determine how much car insurance your vehicle needs, try a site like Car

Consolidate your insurance – Chances are that your life or home insurance company wants your business so bad, they’ll cut you a great deal to bring your car insurance business under the same roof. Call your insurer and ask them about relevant “loyalty” programs; then be prepared to lowball their first offer. If they want your business bad enough, the price should come down.

Look outside the “industry” – The auto insurance market is big and getting bigger by the day. Now, places like The American Automobile Association (AAA) and Costco (Stock symbol: COST) offer great deals on car insurance. Contact them and ask for a quote, and don’t be surprised if they clock in with a lower price than you’ve seen so far.

Pay up front – Sure, it’s a no-brainer, but you can save potentially hundreds of dollars by paying your annual policy amount upfront rather than on a month-to-month basis. This can really save you money if you’re insuring multiple cars (while you’re at it, ask your insurer for lower rates on “combined” vehicle insurance. A “two-fer” should qualify you for a lower insurance rate).

In the end, you don’t need a talking lizard or a sales clerk with a tricked out name tag to find you a better car insurance deal. You just need a little creativity, and a lot of common sense.

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