The price you pay for auto insurance depends on multiple factors, from the state you live in to the type of car you drive, to how many miles you add to the odometer each week. According to Consumer Affairs, car insurance rates have gone up 23 percent since 2011. That means if you’re paying more for your car insurance, you’re not alone.

This is not a sad state of affairs that you have to quietly accept. Low, affordable insurance rates are there for the taking, if you know how to look for them.

What Affects Your Insurance Rates?

The final price you pay for auto insurance is not just some number an insurance agent pulls out of a hat. There are multiple factors that play into the equation when figuring the cost of your insurance premium. Some of these you can control, but some you can’t.

So, what’s involved in insurance rate costs?

  • Gender and age. Male teenagers will usually incur a higher premium cost than female teens. That’s based on statistical data showing accidents involving male teenagers outnumber those involving female teens. On the flip side, older men generally enjoy lower premium rates than older women.
  • Geography. Where you live makes a difference in your insurance costs. If you live in a densely populated neighborhood, there are more cars around you. This places you at higher risk for accidents, collisions with and without injuries, and theft. Repair costs vary, with higher costs usually seen in large urban areas. Also, your state’s rate of uninsured drivers can impact the cost you pay for your coverage.
  • Marital status. Single people tend to have more accidents than married people. Married men, especially, can enjoy a significantly lower premium rate.
  • Monitor your credit score. Your credit score can play a role in the amount of premium you pay each year.
  • Check your ride. The type of car you drive impacts your insurance premium. A vehicle with a high safety rating usually means a lower insurance premium. Larger cars tend to fare better in an accident than smaller cars. A larger car with a high safety rating can mean a lower premium for this reason.

There are other factors that can find their way into the equation but you get the point.

How to Lower Your Insurance Rates

The best way to tackle high insurance premium is to attack them head on. There are steps you can take to make certain you’re getting the best metaphorical mileage for your insurance premium dollar.

  1. Shop around. The auto insurance market is a very competitive place. If you check for rates with two or three different insurance companies, you’ll probably get different rate quotes. Shopping around before making a decision can go a long way toward finding you the best coverage for your budget.
  2. Ask about specific discounts. While you’re comparative shopping, ask about specific discounts for the following:
    • Accident-free and no moving violations for several years
    • Anti-theft devices in the vehicle
    • Driver's education course
    • College students away from home
    • Low annual mileage
    • Good credit record
    • Longtime customer
    • Student with good grades
    • Multi-car discount
  3. Defensive driving course. Some insurance companies will offer a lower insurance rate, possibly 5 to 15 percent in some cases, on liability and collision coverage if you take a defensive driving course. Combine this with a clean driving record and you could be looking at a nice savings.
  4. Look at a higher deductible. The amount of up front, out-of-pocket cost you’re willing to pay before your insurance coverage kicks in is your deductible. The higher your deductible, the lower your premium will be. For example, raising your deductible from $200 to $500 could make you eligible for a premium discount of as much as 15 to 30 percent. If you can absorb a deductible of $1000, you may qualify for savings in the 40 percent range. This is a specific detail you’ll want to shop around.
  5. Mind your credit report. Auto insurance companies look at “risk factors” when setting the rates that you’ll pay (in states where the law permits.) One of these factors could be your credit report. Simple things like paying your bills on time and safeguarding your good credit rating can help get you a lower insurance rate.
  6. Bundle where you can. If you can bundle your auto and homeowner’s insurance, you’ll probably be looking at a sweet discount, possibly as high as 20 percent or better.
  7. Drop back on coverage. Collision and comprehensive coverage are optional; most states require a minimum on liability coverage. Collision is the coverage that pays to fix your car when an accident happens. You’ll need comprehensive if your car suffers fire damage, animal encounters, flooding, hail, etc. If your car is brand-new, you’ll want this coverage. If, however, your car is 10 years old or more, or if the value is less than $3000, it may not be as important. Consider downsizing the policy to get a lower premium on the liability coverage you’ll maintain.
  8. Pay up front. Some insurances will give you an additional discount of 5 to 10 percent if you pay your entire premium upfront, before the effective date of the policy.

Stay on Top of It

The world of insurance is an ever-changing landscape. Keep on top of things by doing a check on your rates every year. If you’ve been with the same insurer a long time, they’ll make it worth your while to keep you. Compare prices online to see how your rate stacks up.