You have to have car insurance. Every state requires at least minimum insurance for you to get a license for your car. How much insurance coverage you have, what kind you get and how much you pay can vary widely. The kind of car you have, the area where you live, who drives the car and other factors can affect how much you pay. You want the best insurance for the least money.
Keep Your Record Clean
Start with a clean driving record. You'll always get a lower premium if you have no tickets, no accidents, no medical problems or history of drug or alcohol use. The kind of car you drive affects the premium, too. You may get lower rates with safety features, such as air bags and collision warning systems. Don't put a spouse or family member with a bad record on your policy.
Pick Your Coverage
Get the right insurance. Every state requires liability insurance to cover other parties if you have an accident that is your fault. Get the most coverage you can afford; premiums will go up as you increase the dollar value of coverage. For example, don't buy collision insurance, which pays for damage to your vehicle, on an old car where the annual premiums might be almost the value of the car.
Raise your deductible, the amount you have to pay for any accident before insurance takes over, to the highest level you can afford. You'll pay a much higher rate for $100 or $250 deductible than for a $1,000 deductible. You'll have to make this decision based on how much a deductible payment would tax your finances.
You can get big discounts for cars driven less than 7,500 miles a year. You also may find student discounts, good driver discounts, loyalty or multicar discounts for staying with the same company or insuring more vehicles. There also can be discounts based on affiliations with organizations or businesses.
Once you've decided on your coverage needs and deductibles, get quotes from several companies. Make sure you compare apples to apples, though, so you get quotes on identical coverage. Check out those television or mailed cheap rate offers, but compare each coverage item with what you're paying now or were quoted by another agent. Watch those cheap offers for hidden options that might not cover you.
Bob Haring has been a news writer and editor for more than 50 years, mostly with the Associated Press and then as executive editor of the Tulsa, Okla. "World." Since retiring he has written freelance stories and a weekly computer security column. Haring holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri.