Auto insurance is an expensive necessity, and while drivers enjoyed a brief discount early in the pandemic, the respite was short-lived.
Several insurers have already returned to hiking their rates, bringing the average premium to $1,450 per year, according to quote comparison site SmartFinancial.
Need a break that’s going to last? You probably already know a few ways to lower your rates, like reducing your mileage or installing a device to monitor your driving habits.
However, insurers use an incredibly wide range of information to decide your premiums — and that means there are plenty of potential discounts available you might not know about.
1. The fun or farming discount
Available from companies like Allstate, American Family, Progressive, Amica, Liberty Mutual, Nationwide and State Farm.
Typical car insurance policies are designed for commuters. The expectation is that you’re probably spending a lot of time on the road in traffic-heavy conditions.
But if you only use your vehicle for special occasions, leisurely Sunday drives and occasional errands, you can unlock a “pleasure use” discount.
You can get a similar discount if you only use your vehicle on a farm for towing or getting around. It's much less likely you'll have an accident, and you won't be driving great distances, reducing wear and tear.
Depending on your insurer, the discount could range from a couple bucks a year to more than $300, so it pays to shop around.
If you do claim a pleasure or farm discount, don't start driving that vehicle to work without notifying your insurer. Your claim could be denied if you get in an accident. You may also be required to sign up for driver-monitoring technology that tracks your mileage.
2. The good student discount
Available from companies like State Farm, Farmers, American Family, USAA, Allstate, Travelers, Nationwide, Progressive, Amica and Liberty Mutual.
Good grades don't just earn you scholarships. Most major insurance carriers offer discounts for students that can go as high as 25%.
To qualify, most insurance companies require you to be between the ages of 16 and 24 and enrolled full-time in a high school or college. You will usually have to maintain a B average or a grade point average of 3.0 or better or be ranked in the upper 20% of your class.
You may also qualify if you make the honor roll or dean's list at your school.
What about after you graduate? Some insurance companies offer additional discounts to people with advanced degrees, like a master’s or PhD, because they are statistically less likely to make a claim.
And don't forget you can qualify for discounts when your children are away at school if they are insured on your vehicle. Generally, they must be under the age of 25, live at least 100 miles from home and only have access to your car during school holidays.
3. The marriage discount
Available from companies like USAA, Progressive and Allstate.
If you’ve got a fear of commitment, maybe this will convince you to tie the knot.
Even if your spouse doesn’t drive or you don’t bundle your coverage together, married drivers save an average of $123 per year on car insurance, according to LendingTree’s ValuePenguin site. That’s about 5% of a typical policy.
Many insurers view married couples as less of a risk than single drivers in terms of their driving habits and financial stability. (They're also more likely to buy homeowners insurance or life insurance, so insurers are probably happy to keep their business.)
The use of non-driving factors to set car insurance rates remains controversial. The federal government is currently studying the practise, and legislation like Proposition 103 in California has limited their impact in some areas.
4. The homeownership discount
Available from companies like State Farm, Allstate, Amica, Travelers, Nationwide, Progressive, Farmers and Liberty Mutual.
Most homeowners know that you can take advantage of a multi-policy discount by bundling your home and car insurance policies with the same company.
However, many car insurers give homeowners a discount even if you find a better deal on your home insurance elsewhere and don’t bundle with them.
Auto insurance discounts for homeownership can be substantial. A 2016 study by the Consumer Federation of America found that, on average, renters paid as much as 47% more for auto insurance than homeowners did.
And your housing can affect your car insurance rates in other ways. If the location of your home puts your car at a low risk of theft or vandalism, or if your home has a garage where you can safely store your vehicle, you may receive discounts for that, too.
If you’re still renting, remember that mortgage rates are at historic lows and prices aren’t likely to drop anytime soon.
5. The high credit score discount
Available from companies like State Farm, Farmers, American Family, Travelers, Progressive, Nationwide and Allstate.
The three little numbers that make up your credit score affect much more than your interest rates.
A high credit score can unlock lower premiums, too, as various studies — including one from the Federal Trade Commission — have determined that your credit can effectively predict your likelihood of making a car insurance claim.
Some states, including California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Michigan, ban or limit the use of credit scores to determine insurance rates. Other regions, including Virginia and the District of Columbia, have enacted laws that ensure companies lower rates for good credit if they raise them for low credit.
However, most states do allow insurers to use credit-based insurance scores. Just like a standard FICO score, your payment history, debt level, history with credit, number of recent applications and mix of credit types will all be taken into account.
Poor credit can more than double your insurance rates, ValuePenguin says, while those with excellent credit pay up to 24% less than people with average credit. That’s why it pays to make sure your credit score is in the best possible shape.
How to get these and other discounts
These are just a few of the many discounts available, but remember: Not all discounts are offered by every insurer in every state, and they don’t all apply automatically. You have to call and ask.
That said, if your current insurer doesn't offer to cut you a deal, it may be time to look elsewhere.
Different insurers use very different calculations to determine your premiums. Cheaper isn't always better if a policy omits critical coverage — but if you don’t bother to compare, you could be overpaying by as much as $1,000 per year for the same protection.
This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.