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.
- 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.