We tend to be creatures of habit – we see the same doctor and dentist, we shop at the same stores, we bank at the same bank. When something is working, why change it?
For instance, when was the last time you checked how much you were paying in car insurance? You receive the bill monthly or quarterly, and sign up again at the end of the annual policy; most of us don’t take the time to comparison shop.
But car insurance rates and coverage vary widely, and often, the only time we review them is when we get a ticket for speeding, or that second or third parking violation that we are afraid may increase our rates.
Not every driver in the state pays the same premium for the same amount of coverage. Income, education and occupation are considered by some insurers in Connecticut when they establish premiums. Low-income people with little education pay more.
Your car insurance is also determined by your age, the year and model of your vehicle, your driving record, credit history, marital status, vehicle type, driving record, the condition of roads and highways and overall frequency of car crashes. Some of these factors could disproportionately affect middle-class and low-income drivers.
Where you live in the state also helps determine premiums. A low-income driver in Hartford is rated as a higher risk than a wealthy driver in Danbury.
The safety features of your car can also play a role in determining your rates. For instance, if you have automatic emergency braking installed in your new car, or the latest crash-prevention technology, both of which data show can help prevent crashes, you should be eligible for a discount, but most insurance companies have yet to offer that discount. Ask for it if you don’t see it on your policy.
Car insurance is mandatory in Connecticut – all drivers, regardless of age, are required to own basic insurance.
There are a few ways to lower your rate, such as improving your driving and credit records, purchasing cheaper and safer cars, lowering the amount of coverage and raising deductibles. Or get married, as married drivers pay less than unmarried drivers.
Most people would agree that marrying to lower your car insurance premiums is not the best way to enter into marriage, and sometimes, we can’t afford newer, safer cars.
But here are a few things Connecticut drivers can do to lower premiums.
- Shop for the best deal. There are more than 100 companies providing automobile coverage in the state and that should provide plenty of competition.
- Make sure your coverage needs match your policy. There is probably no need for comprehensive collision if your car is 20 years old.
- Don’t be lazy!! Call and speak to insurance brokers and companies. Don’t depend on websites; you are more likely to get a deal by speaking to a person.
- Get another quote and ask your current company to match it.
- Ask about combining your home and car insurance if that’s applicable.
- Ask your current company if they have a “long-term customer” discount.
- See if there is a discount for paying the entire year at once.
- Ask about low-mileage discounts, which might be good for older drivers.
- See if your current company has defensive-driver training discounts.
- Ask if they have discounts for people in low-risk occupations.
- Go over the policy very carefully with your insurance agent; ask questions.
- If you are a safe driver, consider raising your deductibles.
- AAA, Costco, credit cards, large employers, associations (AARP, teachers’ union) – all
offer low cost car insurance. Ask about it.
It seems like a lot of work, but the savings can be substantial! And if you choose a reputable company, and pay attention to the details, it can save you thousands of dollars.
Remember, an informed consumer is a smart consumer, and when you find a good deal, pass it on to family and friends!
This article was written by Catherine Blinder, chief education and outreach officer of the Department of Consumer Protection of the State of Connecticut. To learn more about how the Department of Consumer Protection can help, visit us online at www.ct.gov/dcp.