Most Americans don't realize there are cheaper insurance options

If you don’t like what you pay for car insurance, that’s probably because it isn’t as cut-and-dry as you think it is.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners says drivers aren’t taking advantage of things like usage-based insurance: a plan that involves electronic tracking of your driving habits to calculate a discount. UBI is one of many ways to pay less on auto insurance.

The NAIC says less than half of drivers know that UBI is an option. It tracks how many miles you’ve driven, how fast (or slow) you drive, and the time of day you’re driving around to determine your insurance costs. Three years ago, 8.5 percent of drivers were letting companies track their driving habits. Now, that number is at 6 percent, according to NAIC.

Most big insurance companies offer some sort of usage-based insurance that shows you what the company is tracking, although you probably won’t know what they’re tracking it for. This is a good option for drivers who aren’t driving all that much — why pay more for car insurance when you’re not on the road too often?

If you’re not into insurance companies tracking your driving habits and would prefer a bit more privacy on the road, there are other ways to save on auto insurance.

Just… ask

When you’re signing up for auto insurance — whether it’s on a lease, new car, or used car — it never hurts to ask about discounts.

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Sometimes companies will check your driving record to see how good of a driver you are — the more accidents you’ve been in leads insurance companies to believe you’ll be more accident-prone in the future, which means you’re more expensive to cover. But if you’ve got a relatively clean driving history, or an accident has crossed whatever age threshold your insurer cares about, your rate can drop.

Sometimes insurance companies offer package deals, like grouping your car and renters insurance together, to save. Progressive, Allstate, and Geico all offer multiple types of insurance.

For younger drivers, ask about good student discounts and driver education courses that will lower your rates.

Be older, get married

Single drivers under the age of 25 face harder battles. Car insurance companies believe younger, less experienced adults are more accident-prone than their older counterparts. Once you hit 25, your insurance will drop. Nearly a decade of driving does have its advantages!

There’s also a discount if you’re married. To insurance companies, stability is everything. If you’ve got a legal partner, that shows you’re responsible — at least on paper.

And responsible driving doesn’t just come with age and marriage, it also comes with your car. Some cars cost more to insure than others. If you’re in the market for a new car, talk to your agent about which cars offer less expensive auto insurance. If you’re buying a used car, see the history of the vehicle before buying.

Just stop driving

The NAIC says driving is down for young millennials and Generation Zers. In 2014, 69 percent of 19-year-olds had a driver’s license. In 1983, that number was 90 percent.

To really save money in an urban environment, ditch the car altogether. That will save you a car insurance payment, maintenance, and gas. Bus, train, or carpooling with a friend are all much more cost-effective ways to get around. In a pinch, you can also try ride-sharing. Uber and Lyft account for 46 percent of all ground transportation during business trips — a sector traditionally held by taxis and car rentals.

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Article last modified on August 2, 2017. Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: We’re Driving Less But Paying More - AMP.