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Auto insurance is up by more than 15% this year in some states. Here’s how to keep your premium down

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As with many line items in your household budget, your auto insurance probably costs more this year than in 2022.

How much more?

It depends on a variety of factors, including where you live. Nationally, the average for full coverage — generally defined as liability, collision and comprehensive — is $2,014 in 2023, up about 2.6% from 2022, according to a new study from Bankrate.

But in some states, the jump is above 15%. That includes 16.7% in Illinois — up $258 to $1,806 — as well as 15.4% in Alaska (up $260 to $1,946) and 15.2% in Florida, up $421 to $3,183.

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The Sunshine State also is one of two spots where the average premiums have crossed the $3,000 mark — the other is New York, at $3,139.

There are two states where the average has dropped this year: New Jersey, down 7.2% to $1,754, and Massachusetts, where it slid 2.6% to $1,262.

Of course, the exact amount you pay also is based on things like your car’s make and model, and your specific coverage choices, as well as your age and driving record.

While auto insurance tends to eat up a small share of a person’s income — about 3% for the average person, according to the Bankrate study — you may be able to reduce it even further.

Here are some expert tips for getting the cost down.

Try improving your credit score

If your state allows it — and most do — insurers can use your credit information to price policies, said Mark Friedlander, spokesman for the Insurance Information Institute. Industry research shows that drivers who manage their credit well have fewer claims, he said.

The average annual premium for someone with very good or excellent credit — generally, above 740, on a scale of 300 to 850 — is $1,764, according to the Bankrate study. In contrast, a poor credit score — below 580 — yields an average yearly premium of $3,479. That’s an additional $1,715.

In other words, it’s worth trying to get your score up if there’s room for improvement. You also could benefit from getting better terms on loans and credit cards with a higher score.

Ask about all discounts

Some insurers offer discounts for a variety of things, ranging from your car having an antitheft device to having more than one car on the policy or “bundling” — getting both auto and homeowners (or renters) insurance from the same provider.

Bundling can save you 8% yearly, according to Insurify. Or, if you are a member of the military, you could save 2.2%. And if you take a driver safety training course as an older American, you could save as much as 15.2%.

Additionally, low mileage may yield a discount. Some insurers offer discounts for driving a lower-than-average number of miles per year.

“If you’re working from home now, I’d definitely let your insurance company know you’re not commuting to work,” said Brian Moody, executive editor of Kelley Blue Book. 

Consider increasing your deductible

A deductible is the amount you pay out of pocket when you file a claim. The higher the deductible, the lower the premium.

If you were to increase your deductible to $500 from $250, it could reduce your coverage cost by 15% to 30%, Friedlander said.

However, he said, “be sure you have enough money set aside to pay the cost differential out of pocket if you file a claim.”

Shop around

Preferably once a year, compare your costs to other insurance options.

While cost isn’t the only consideration — you also want a company with sold financials and good service — it’s worth checking whether there’s a less expensive policy available at another insurer.

“Auto insurance is extremely competitive and companies want your business to grow their market share,” Friedlander said. “Prices can vary significantly from company to company, so it pays to shop around.”

Explore usage-based insurance

Many insurance companies offer usage-based insurance policies.

These programs can generate premium discounts by “allowing the insurer to monitor how you drive and your driving habits — speed, acceleration patterns, braking patterns — through a mobile app or plug-in device in your vehicle,” Friedlander said.

Consider less coverage on older cars

While states require you to have a minimum amount of car insurance, which differs from place to place, you may be able to drop your comprehensive or collision coverage if your car is paid off and, perhaps, isn’t worth much.

Collision covers what you’d expect — accidents with another car or an object like a telephone pole — and comprehensive covers things non-collision events such as theft or a tree falling on your car.

“If your car is worth less than 10 times the premium, purchasing these optional coverages may not be cost-effective,” Friedlander said.

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