insurance

Who offers the most car insurance discounts?

Insurance » Who Offers The Most Car Insurance Discounts?

With gas prices stubbornly staying well above $3 per gallon, you owe it to yourself to find ways you can save on the cost of driving. If you haven't reviewed your car insurance in a while, you might be missing out on a wide range of valuable discounts.

The marketplace for auto insurance has become so competitive that new car insurance discounts are advertised all the time, says Michael Barry, a spokesman for the industry group the Insurance Information Institute.

"They're trying to differentiate themselves in the marketplace," he says.

Bankrate has put together a table of popular discounts found on the websites of the 10 largest auto insurers to help you make sure you're getting all the available price breaks.

Compare car insurance discounts

 State FarmAllstateGEICOProgressiveFarmersUSAALiberty MutualNationwideTravelersAmerican Family
Multiple policies:
For bundling car insurance with other policies, such as home insurance.
Multivehicle:
For insuring more than one vehicle.
 
Anti-theft:
For anti-theft device, such as alarm system.
 
Anti-lock brakes:
For anti-lock brake system.
   
Passive restraint:
For safety features such as air bags and motorized seat belts.
 
'Green' vehicle:
For a hybrid or alternative-fuel vehicle.
        
Safe driver/accident-free:
For a clean driving record.
 
Defensive driver:
For taking a defensive driving class. May be limited to senior drivers.
  
Low mileage:
For keeping mileage down. Electronic monitoring of mileage may be required.
    
Military:
For members of the armed forces.
     
Affinity/occupational (nonmilitary):
For belonging to a certain group or working for a certain company or in a certain field.
     
Full payment:
For paying premium all at once.
  
Paperless billing/automatic payment:
For billing or payment done electronically.
 
Loyalty:
For having stayed with the insurer for a length of time.
     
Early signing:
For switching to a new carrier if shopping process started at least a certain number of days before old policy expired.
     
Good student:
For a young driver earning good grades.
Distant student:
For a young driver on a policy attending school far from home.
  

Note: Some discounts not available in all states.

Results found during a June 11-13, 2013, survey of discount information available on the websites of the 10 largest car insurance companies. List of top 10 car insurers is by market share in 2012 and is courtesy of A.M. Best Co.

We unscientifically but methodically searched through sites' nooks and crannies and sifted through sometimes intricate wording about discounts, so you don't have to.

Many well-known car insurance discounts, including those for safe driving or good grades in school, are spelled out prominently on companies' websites. Geico's site, for example, clearly states that five years without an accident could get you up to 26 percent off, and that high grades could mean up to 15 percent off some coverage for full-time students.

Farmers Insurance Group, like all the insurers, touts a main list of discounts on its website. If you dig deeper into the discounts by state, you'll find various additional reductions for some locations, including lower prices for active military members, young drivers attending school at least 100 miles from home and policyholders who etch vehicle identification numbers on their vehicles as an anti-theft measure.

In a few cases on other sites, details about certain discounts can be found only in Q-and-A sections or in comments on blog posts.

Some companies urge you to get a quote on a policy to reveal all discounts.

Some discounts are fairly common ...

Each of the top 10 insurers offers a discount if you buy insurance for your car and home through the same company, and most also give a discount for insuring more than one car.

The most popular discounts we found

  • Multiple policies (bundling).
  • Good student.
  • Multivehicle.
  • Anti-theft.
  • Passive restraint.
  • Safe driver/accident-free record.
Source: June 11-13, 2013, Bankrate survey of discount information available on the websites of the 10 largest auto insurers.

Other favorite price breaks are for air bags, anti-lock brakes and anti-theft features such as car alarms or ignition cutoff switches.

Keeping mileage low will often get you a reduction. Some companies give better deals on mileage if you install a device in your car or use an onboard information system, such as OnStar, to monitor your driving.

Drivers must weigh whether they are willing to give up some privacy for a lower rate with these "pay-as-you-drive" programs.

State Farm's program, called Drive Safe & Save, provides the company's largest car insurance discounts, ranging as high as 50 percent, spokeswoman Holly Anderson says. People who drive the fewest miles will reap the biggest discount.

... while others are fairly unusual

All the companies offered discounts not tracked in the table. Are you a new parent? Do you own a home? Does your car have headlights that run during the day for safety? You might be able to pick up a less common discount.

Why doesn't your insurance company offer the same discounts as competitors?

Discounts vary because state regulators control which reductions are allowed, and companies' market research might show that a discount would be bad for business in some areas, industry experts say.

Barry acknowledges that finding every available discount "might take some digging."

Anderson says State Farm encourages people to go over policies with an agent once a year and after any major life event.

"That's a great time to sit down with an agent and find out how those situations may equal discounts," she says.

Go beyond the websites

Websites should be only the starting point for buyers' research, consumer advocates say. They suggest reading buying guides from state insurance departments, media reviews of companies' offerings and research by industry groups.

J. Robert Hunter, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America, says one issue can affect your premiums more than discounts: your insurance score. Most companies look at parts of your credit history to give you a score when determining what to charge you.

"That can be bigger than all the other factors," he says.

Hunter says shoppers should ask if they qualify for other discounts in case an agent forgets to offer them or doesn't know about circumstances that would qualify.

Finally, he points out that companies offering a lot of car insurance discounts might not ultimately provide the lowest premiums.

"You really have to be careful," he says.

advertisement

Show Bankrate's community sharing policy
          Connect with us
advertisement
CD & INVESTING NEWSLETTER

Learn the latest trends that will help grow your portfolio, plus tips on investing strategies. Delivered weekly.

Blog

Jay MacDonald

Obamacare’s Heartbleed heartburn

HealthCare.gov users need to change their passwords as precaution against the security threat.  ... Read more

advertisement
Partner Center
advertisement

Connect with us