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Haggling and negotiations are often a part of the car buying process, so you may assume you have the same wiggle room when buying car insurance. Although it’s fair to want the best price possible, how much you pay for auto insurance does not have room for negotiation. However, understanding how insurance companies set rates and the factors that affect them may help you achieve a lower rate. Since you cannot negotiate your rate, taking cost-saving measures like shopping around to compare quotes and taking advantage of discounts may help you save on car insurance.
Can you negotiate car insurance?
Many people ask, “Are car insurance rates negotiable?” You cannot negotiate car insurance rates or get a price match like you can with appliances, vehicles and other goods. Understanding how car insurance companies determine rates may help you understand why car insurance costs are not negotiable.
Car insurance companies use algorithms and proprietary tools to determine their rates. The base rate determines how the company will price policies and weigh rating factors, and must be approved by the Departments of Insurance in the states where they operate. Once the rate is set, it cannot be adjusted again without prior approval, which is why you cannot negotiate car insurance rates.
Once the base rate is approved, individual and household factors determine your individual premium, which include:
- Age and gender of all household drivers (in most states)
- Driving and claims records for all household drivers
- Vehicle makes and models
- ZIP code (in most states)
- Marital status
- Credit tier (in most states)
- Coverage choices and deductibles
- Coverage history
- Gaps or lapses in coverage
Each company’s base rate can vary, as can how the company weighs things like insurance gaps and driving infractions. Additionally, factors that benefit you with one carrier may not impact your policy at all with another. For example, one company may offer you a discount for homeownership, even if you do not insure your home with that carrier, while another company might not consider it unless you bundle your home and auto with that carrier. Because each company has its own underwriting formula and savings opportunities, you will get different rates when comparing car insurance quotes from different companies, even if you choose the same coverage choices, limits and deductibles.
Ways to lower your car insurance bill
If you are wondering how to negotiate car insurance, you should understand that you cannot haggle a lower premium. However, there are other ways that you can save on your premium that might help you get cheap car insurance.
Because each car insurance company sets its own rates, the premium for the same coverage will vary between companies. When you are seeking the most affordable price, comparing quotes and coverage options from multiple providers is one of the best methods to see which company can offer you the lowest premium.
Take advantage of discounts
Most insurance companies offer discounts that can help to lower your premium. Discounts will vary from one provider to another, but there are some common savings opportunities that many providers offer. Some of the most popular car insurance discounts include:
- Multi-policy: This discount is awarded for buying more than one policy from the same company. The most common package is an auto and home discount, but some companies offer savings for buying other lines of insurance, like life or business policies.
- Multi-vehicle: If you have more than one vehicle, insuring them with the same company might save you some money.
- Safe driver: Having a clean driving record, which typically means you have no at-fault accidents, tickets or DUI convictions in the past several years, can help you avoid premium surcharges.
- Vehicle safety features: Insuring a car with safety equipment like side curtain air bags, anti-lock brakes or an automatic braking system to help avoid forward collisions often means you will pay less for insurance.
- Pay-in-full: You might be able to avoid paying installment fees and may get a discount if you pay your car insurance in full, rather than pay monthly or quarterly.
- Paperless: When you choose to go paperless, the insurance company often gives you a discount since they can save on printing and postage costs. Just remember to review your policy at renewal for changes or company errors and to get a copy of your ID cards.
Other common discounts include savings for good students, students at college without cars, participating in a telematics program or signing up for paperless billing. Reviewing a company’s discounts and taking advantage of as many as you qualify for can help you fit your car insurance premium into your budget.
Drive an affordable car
The type of vehicle you insure has a significant impact on your car insurance cost. Vehicles that cost more to repair or replace, have limited safety features or have a higher statistical likelihood of accidents typically cost more to insure. When buying a vehicle, it is generally a good idea to get an insurance quote before finalizing the purchase. That way, you know the cost for coverage and can decide if the vehicle makes long-term financial sense for your situation.
Try to avoid frequent claims
Any claim you file or accident you cause can affect your insurance rates. Although insurance is there to pay for claims, filing frequent claims may indicate risky driving behavior, which might mean you are viewed as a high-risk driver. The company may increase your rate to reflect their higher cost of claims payout or even choose to cancel or not renew your policy.
If you get into a minor accident, it may be worth considering paying out of pocket. Getting a quote for repairs before filing a claim can help you determine if it’s worth going through insurance. For instance, if you have hail damage that will cost $700 to fix, but your comprehensive deductible is $500, it may not be worth putting in a claim for a $200 payout. In this case, it could be best to pay out of pocket and avoid putting in a small claim. Your rates could increase as a result of even a small claim, and it may not end up being the best financial decision in the long run.
Frequently asked questions
The cheapest car insurance will be different for each individual because everyone has a different situation to consider. The company you choose, the coverage and limits you purchase, the car you drive and your driving record will all impact how much you pay. Getting quotes for the same coverage from several different insurance carriers might help you find a price that fits your budget.
Car insurance premiums do typically increase after incidents like at-fault accidents, tickets and DUI convictions. After these incidents, insurers view you as more likely to file a claim in the future, which means you might be rated as a high-risk driver. You will typically be penalized for these incidents for three to five years, although this can vary by carrier.
The average cost of car insurance in the U.S. is $2,014 per year for full coverage. The state you live in plays a large role in how much you will pay, as do other factors like your driving history and the company you choose.
Your car insurance premium likely will not stay the same each year. Car insurance companies submit new rates each year and this can affect how much you pay even if nothing else on your policy changes. State laws can change, as can the cost of repairs, parts and medical bills. Individual factors, like an accident or ticket on your driving record expiring, or a new at-fault accident on your record, can also affect your car insurance rate.