Have your auto insurance premiums been rising, even when you’ve had no accidents?
You’re not alone. Rates for motor vehicle insurance have been increasing nationwide for a number of years now, for a variety of reasons.
And if you’re in the military, and moving this summer, you may see your insurance premiums change, because rates vary from state to state, and even within a state. In some cases, your rate could go down when you move.
According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the nationwide average cost of motor vehicle insurance rose by nearly 12 percent between 2011 and 2015, the latest data available. The average cost for a year of insurance was $889.01 in 2015, up from $795.01 in 2011.
The entire auto insurance industry is seeing more frequent, and more severe, accidents. People are driving more, medical costs are rising, repair costs are rising — especially with newer technology — and people are distracted by their mobile devices when they’re driving.
Those with accidents or tickets pay higher rates than those with clean driving records, but as the costs increase, everybody shares the cost. It’s the basic concept of insurance.
USAA has had to raise its rates, too, although its increases were lower than the industry average from 2013 to 2018, said USAA spokesman Jason Shropshire.
Such a move came “only after a hard look at the financial facts,” Shropshire said.
Individual costs are based on a variety of factors, such as your driving record, your vehicle’s make and model, where you live, how many miles you drive, your gender and age, and your marital status.
Shop around with different insurance companies for the best prices. Let them know you’re a member of the military community. For example, through Geico, if you’re active duty, a National Guard or Reserve member, or retired, you may be eligible for up to a 15 percent discount on your total car insurance premium.
If you’re going to be deployed for an extended period and your vehicle will be stored — and no one will be driving it — check with your insurance company to find out if you can suspend part of your insurance coverage while you’re gone. USAA offers deep discounts for deployed service members who put their car in storage.
CUTTING YOUR COSTS
Shropshire offered more tips for vehicle owners to consider to keep premiums as low as possible, while maintaining the right amount of coverage:
- Always consider insurance costs before buying a vehicle.
- Set higher deductibles to save on monthly premium payments, but be aware that you’ll need more money out of pocket if you have to file a claim. You might want to make sure you’ve got the money in an emergency fund, or at least bank the premium savings each month. The higher deductible also might make you think twice about filing claims for smaller incidents; filing those claims could increase your premiums.
- Review coverage for older, low-value vehicles to determine whether you need collision coverage, for example. The insurance costs could exceed anything you get back on a claim.
- Research all possible discounts, including discounts for good driving, safety features, multiple vehicles and others.
- Pay your insurance bills on time.
- Build and maintain a good credit score.