Considering that most of us drivers on the road have some car insurance coverage, we think we know how car insurance works: we buy an insurance policy, and if we have an accident, the insurance pays, right? Correct, that is the overall concept, but what about insurance premiums? How are these calculated?
First, we must understand that auto insurance is a contract between a person and an insurance company in which the latter undertakes to cover the expenses for damages to third parties and their property or effects on the insured and their car (depending on the coverage) in the event of road mishaps.
However, car insurance costs may vary based on several factors. This is because insurers calculate their rates based on your driving history, age, demographics, and the car you drive to name a few.
Factors That Influence Auto Premiums
Many variables influence the cost of insurance for your car. For example, your car’s engine displacement will affect how much you’ll pay for insurance, even within the same model lineup or car brand. In contrast, cars with advanced safety features may qualify for specific premium discounts.
Let’s compare, for example, a 2010 Corvette with a heavily modified 2018 Civic Type R. The Corvette can cost around $127 a month to insure if you’re between 30-39 years old. In contrast, a 2018 Civic Type R will be more expensive, with an average of $190 a month (not including modifications) for that same age group.
The price difference is because the technology and/or the vehicle mods and other customizations may increase your insurance premiums. These include upgrades that make your car more valuable or more attractive for theft, and therefore it will be expensive to insure. Still, determining what mods will increase your vehicle’s value is subjective.
Finally, your premium rates may increase if you declare modifications that make the car “riskier” on the road. For example, suppose you made your car faster by removing body parts or modifying safety features. In that case, these mods will affect the vehicle’s overall safety, thus influencing your auto insurance premiums.
As we mentioned in the Civic vs. the Corvette example, age plays a role and how much drivers pay for their insurance. For instance, young inexperienced drivers often pay a higher price than their parents to get behind the wheel. Why? Teenagers are at greater risk of car crashes than drivers of any other age group.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the fatal crash rate per mile traveled for 16- to 19-year-olds is nearly three times that of drivers aged 20 and older.
Typically, an auto insurance company charges a higher rate if the policy includes a driver under 25.
Drivers over 65 also pay more for car insurance due to increased auto insurance claims and risk and higher crash fatality rates.
This factor is very straightforward. A history of tickets or violations will increase the cost of current and future insurance premiums. So, the cleaner your driving record, the more affordable your insurance rates.
In addition to driving history and vehicle type, your credit score can influence how much you pay for auto insurance.
Most auto insurance companies use a credit-based insurance score when determining premiums. Studies show that using this score allows for predicting insurance losses better.
Insurance carriers typically check how often you use your car because the less you drive, the less you drive, the lower the risk of being involved in an accident.
In addition, your insurer may determine by the distance of your commute whether you are heading to a metropolitan area from your rural or suburban home and calculate your rates based on the risk level.
When setting auto insurance rates, insurance companies look at the zip code where the car is parked most of the time. Because where accident, theft, and vandalism rates are often more severe, urban car owners may pay higher car insurance premiums than their small-town or rural counterparts.
These are other geographic factors that can affect your auto insurance rates.
The number of auto insurance frauds occurring in your area
Extreme weather conditions, such as hail and ice storms that affect your region (and how often)
The cost of car repairs in your area
Data shows that men are more likely to crash, especially in the early years of driving. In addition, the IIHS has determined that men generally drive more miles than women and engage in more risky driving behavior, such as speeding, driving while intoxicated, and not wearing a seat belt. As a result, crashes involving male drivers tend to be more severe than those involving female drivers.
However, this does not mean that men will always pay higher rates than women as gender differences in fatality risk decrease with age.
According to statistics, married couples represent a lower risk for insurers than single people. In addition, studies have found that married couples are less active and more cautious than single drivers, thus reducing the number of accidents and claims.
For example, a study from the National Institute of Health found that single drivers (including divorced or widowed) are twice as likely to be in a car accident compared to married drivers.
The use of the vehicle
Insurers also want to know why you are driving your car. For example, a vehicle used to go to school or work represents a greater risk than a car that leaves the garage once a week.
In contrast, personal use of a vehicle costs less than work use, as those who use the car for work are more likely to be in an accident due to increased driving time.
If you have a car, you sometimes use for work, see if your personal auto insurance policy covers it. Instead, you may need a business or work use policy.
Auto insurance policies comprise multiple coverages that protect your vehicle in different situations.
These coverages have different limits, may have deductibles, and may be required by the lender or loaner. Therefore, more types of coverage with higher limits mean higher insurance costs because it involves higher risks for the insurance company.
Check your state’s requirements, keeping in mind that the minimum requirements won’t necessarily be enough in a severe accident, and compare quotes to see if the additional coverage and protection make sense for your financial situation.
Premiums rates can increase over time because, in an accident, the cost of repair increases regardless of the car’s age.
It doesn’t cost any less to replace the bumper on a one-year-old vehicle than it does on the equivalent brand new one.
Repair costs, parts, and labor will all increase over time, irrespective of the age of the vehicle, and since most claims are for accident damage, the reduced total value of an older car bears little relation to the price of the premium.
So before purchasing car insurance (if you don’t have it yet), you should first choose the option that best suits your needs and a price within your budget.
Then, shop around because choosing too quickly risks shelling out money and perhaps getting an insurance policy that doesn’t suit your needs. Companies such as Insurance Navy make it very easy to obtain quotes, so if you’re looking, be sure to visit their website to request a quote online.
Get a car that is not expensive to insure
Another important tip is to buy a vehicle that is not expensive to insure. For example, buying a family sedan to take your children to school is not the same as buying a high-performance car since the insurance coverage and costs vary drastically.
You can think of a simple car whose safety standards are certified by the brand and international institutions that will help make your insurance much cheaper.
Select an insurance policy with basic coverage
Consider the type of coverage and, if necessary, the “premium insurance,” whose coverage includes risk or indemnifies third parties in an accident.
If you live in a small city and often use your car for daily tasks, a policy with basic coverage, or only civil liability, will suffice.
Prove yourself as a risk-avoidant driver
If you show that you are a good driver who avoids risks, your policy will be more affordable. But if, on the other hand, you have a history of accidents, violations, and fines, and you do not have a suitable place to park your car, you will have to spend more on car insurance.
Choose a higher deductible
If you choose to pay a higher deductible, your insurance premium will be lower since you agree to cover more of your expenses through the deductible.
Don’t be afraid to shop around for insurance providers, and while you’re at it, don’t discount online providers. The world has changed, and you don’t need to sit in an office to get a quote.