NEW YORK (MainStreet) – You can’t blame people for thinking that auto insurance companies have a license to print money.
After all, every other television commercial seems to have a gecko, an office geek who calls himself the “saver,” or if you really stay up late at night, a Cap’n Crunch-like spokesperson who calls himself “The General” and pushes auto insurance policies.
But there is a method to the auto insurance industry’s madness in taking over the airwaves, because they know something you don’t: They make money when you make some serious auto insurance mistakes, and it's more than you might think.
According to Insurance.com, the average American spends $84,388 on car insurance in his or her lifetime. So how can you cut that down to size? For starters, avoid making the following car insurance mistakes:
Getting the wrong insurance. Many consumers choose to buy the minimum coverage when it comes to auto insurance , but that can be a costly mistake. If you get in a car accident that causes $15,000 in damage to the other vehicle and your minimum coverage only covers $10,000 in damage, you’ll be on the hook for the additional $5,000. It’s much better to pay a few extra bucks per month and get auto insurance that will cover the entire cost of an accident.
Holding back the facts. Insurance companies hate it when you withhold information on your auto insurance application. Sooner or later, they will dig up any old speeding tickets or auto accidents and drive your rates up much higher than if you had been honest about your driving history in the beginning. The way insurance companies look at it, if you’re hiding old driving infractions, you’re not trustworthy to begin with and that makes you a higher insurance risk, which elevates your insurance rate.
Getting a DUI. If you’re arrested for drinking and driving you’ve surely got a whole boatload of problems, but one of the long-lasting ones is the added cost to your auto insurance. Some studies show that a DUI conviction can raise your rates for 10 years, and by up to 40%, according to a study from OnlineAutoInsurance.com.
Not demanding a discount. Auto insurance companies are open to cutting your insurance costs, but you have to be willing to ask for it. If you have a homeowner’s policy with a major insurer, ask for a discount for “bundling” your policy with an auto policy. If you have anti-theft devices in your car, make sure to mention that to your insurer, because that should also get you a discount. If you have two cars you’re looking to insure, demand a multiple-vehicle discount. There are usually discounts available, so all you have to do is ask.
Not paying a lump sum. Insurance companies love to get their money up front--so much so that they’ll offer you discounts of 20% or so if you pay your entire annual costs in one big payment. Most consumers don’t like the idea of parting with, say $600, at once when they can have monthly payments that are more manageable in household budgets. But if you could pay $500 up front, you’d be done with your auto insurance payments for the year – and you’d save $100 in the process.
You don’t need to talk to a gecko, or get “the saver” on the line to cut your auto insurance costs. Just be informed, plan ahead and get aggressive about things like discounts and payments. If you can manage all that, you’ll save big bucks on your auto insurance policy.