7 Ways to Lower Your California Car Insurance Costs This Year
As you probably already know, car insurance costs in California can be steep — especially if you live and drive in the Los Angeles metropolitan area.
Many factors influence what you or other family members will pay for coverage, but on average, it costs California drivers over $2,000 a year for their car insurance premiums.
So What Can California Drivers Do to Cut Car Insurance Costs?
Fortunately, there are several discounts and strategies that can reduce what you and your family pay. These include tips ranging from combining coverage with your homeowner’s insurance to getting good grades. Here are some of our favorites.
1. Increase Your Deductible
The deductible is the amount you pay for collision or other damage before your insurer helps out. If your deductible is $500, you’ll pay that amount on $2,000 in damages before the insurance company takes on the remaining $1,500. Your insurance premium goes down as your deductible goes up. That’s because the insurer has less financial responsibility if you’re assuming a larger chunk of the damage cost.
How much do your rates drop? It can make a considerable difference. For instance, if you increased your $200 deductible to $500, your insurance premiums would decline by as much as 30% on your collision and comprehensive coverage. Raise that deductible to $1,000? Your premiums now drop by as much as 40%.
No-brainer, right? Just make sure you can pay for the higher out-of-pocket cost if you raise your deductible and get into an accident.
2. Consider Minimum Coverage
The state of California says you must have car insurance — and it wouldn’t be smart to be without coverage even if it wasn’t mandated. One big way to save is to only carry liability insurance, which is the minimum coverage allowed.
Liability coverage only pays for damage to the other vehicle and its driver and passengers if the accident is your fault. It doesn’t pay for the damage to your own ride in such a situation. So it’s more for the sake of the other motorists on the road than for you. If your car sustains thousands of dollars in collision damage, you’ll pick up the tab yourself — or be forced to take public transportation to get around town. That could be difficult or impossible if you live in widespread Los Angeles.
Although it costs more, a policy that includes comprehensive and collision coverage will cover your own vehicle in case of car accidents, theft, vandalism, fire damage, or other incidents that could sideline you.
3. Have a Good Driving Record (Or Clean Yours Up)
Your driving record is one of the most important factors your insurance underwriter will consider when setting your rates. Motorists with one or more at-fault accidents and a high number of points for moving violations will always pay more than those considered to be safer drivers.
If you do have a less than desirable driving record, take comfort in the fact that points drop off your record over time. Vow right now to observe speed limits and drive carefully, and you’ll see positive results and, ultimately, lower rates for car insurance.
4. Watch Your Mileage
You know that the more you drive, the more you’ll pay for fuel. That makes sense. It’s also true that the more car insurance you “use,” the more your coverage costs. In other words, low annual mileage can earn you fairly significant rate discounts. What’s low? It depends on the insurer. Some allow a maximum of 7,000, 12,000, or 13,000 miles, or other mileage points, to qualify for the deepest discounts.
If you commute 80 miles to and from work every day, there’s not much you can do to qualify for this rate reduction. But if you can work from home, even just part of the time, it might cut your mileage significantly. How about taking public transit? Or, you can roll most of the excess mileage into one family vehicle so you’re not paying top dollar to insure both cars.
Ask your independent insurance agent where the mileage cutoff points are from various insurers, then see if you can reasonably get there.
5. Take Advantage of Special Discounts
You can’t simply negotiate for better car insurance rates. That’s because state insurance regulatory agencies set rate amounts. However, there are a variety of discounts permitted.
For instance, you might get a cost cut from bundling your car and homeowner’s insurance with the same insurance company. You can also lower the cost by insuring more than one vehicle with the same agency.
It’s even possible for your young drivers to show good high school or college grades for special savings. The theory is that better students make better drivers.
The point is that there are several “hidden” discount and rate adjustments that you might not know about. But your California independent insurance agent does. So make sure to discuss which discounts might apply in your circumstances with your agent.
6. Know Before You Buy How Your New Car Will Impact Your Insurance Rates
Certain auto models get stolen more frequently than others. Some cost much more to repair than other models. The make and model of your vehicle could affect what you’ll pay for car insurance.
That’s why it’s important to scope out that information before you buy a new or used car. A price “deal” at the dealership can turn out to be an expensive decision if the insurance is too high. Simply pick up the phone and get a quote from your insurance agent before you buy.
7. Outgrow Your Major Rate Liability
This is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek way of saying that at least one cost factor can only be overcome by time. No matter where you live, younger drivers — especially males — pay top dollar for car insurance coverage. This is because underwriters have determined that young males (and even females but to a lesser extent) drive more recklessly, earn more speeding tickets, and get into more accidents than older drivers.
This can be a major hit to your finances if you’re in your late teens to mid-twenties. Be patient. You’ll simply age out of that problem, and your car insurance rates will drop considerably as long as you keep a clean driving record.
Contact Your Cost-U-Less Insurance Agent
The best way of all to reduce rates if you’re a California driver is with a consultation with a Cost-U-Less Insurance agent. Our independent agents give you access to multiple insurers, so we can find the line that best delivers low-cost auto insurance in Los Angeles, California, and elsewhere in the Golden State.