Whenever I talk to you about your North Carolina car insurance my first concern is to get you the right coverage. The second is the right client experience. The third is to save money on your car insurance.
Let’s discuss some of the strategies we use to do this! Ready?
Often times, these three items are in the opposite order. People want to save money, get good customer service (it’s key to realize there’s a difference between customer service and a client experience), and then the right coverage. That’s typically how the general public views insurance.
I don’t want to be the guy that only cares about getting you the cheapest price on your car insurance in North Carolina, and/or getting another policy under my belt, and then crossing my fingers, toes, and any other body parts, hoping that you don’t have a claim without having the right coverage.
Okay soapbox rant over.
How to save you money on your North Carolina car insurance quotes:
1. Have a good (clean) driving record
This is by far the biggest factor to save you money on your car insurance.
This does two big things for you:
- It qualifies you for the preferred insurance companies such as Erie Insurance, Kemper Insurance, and MetLife Insurance that offer lower rates than other insurance companies.
- It doesn’t add insurance points to your record which is what makes your car insurance go up.
If you aren’t familiar with insurance points in North Carolina let’s do a quick overview of what can happen to your car insurance premiums:
- 1 insurance point = 30% increase
- 2 insurance points = 45% increase
- 3 insurance points = 60% increase
- 4 insurance points = 80% increase
- 8 insurance points = 195% increase
- 10 insurance points = 260% increase
- 12 insurance points = 340% increase
Insurance points are charged/added to your car insurance for a three year period. This means, the insurance points will come off your record once the the violation or accident is three years old and the policy renews.
Now you may think to yourself, “Wait, I have to wait until the policy renews that’s not fair!!!”
Let’s take a step back for a moment and dive a little deeper into this:
In this scenario I want to you imagine that your car insurance starts on June 1, 2016 and it renews on June 1, 2017.
It’s a beautiful fall day, September 15, 2016 to be exact and you are driving home one evening after a long day at work. It’s bumper-to-bumper traffic on the Beltine (thank goodness they stopped using Inner and Outer Beltine back in 2008). All of a sudden traffic comes to a standstill, you hit your brakes, but not soon enough.
You end up rear ending the Cadillac in front of you. Luckily no one is hurt except your car, the other car, and your pride.
After a few weeks your car is fixed, the other car is fixed, and your car insurance company has closed the claim. Since they paid about $5,000 to fix both vehicles this is a 3 point accident and those points will be added to your policy when it renews on June 1, 2017.
You will pay extra for the next three years and when your policy renews on June 1, 2020 those 3 points will come off your record.
Because your car insurance company does not add them to your policy right away that’s why they don’t come off your record when it’s three years old according to a calendar.
As you can see/read (what’s the right word to use here?!?) having a good or clean driving record is vitally important to saving you money on your NC car insurance.
2. Get a multi-policy discount
This will not only save you money on your car insurance, but it will save you time and headaches by having one agent (one independent insurance agent).
Whenever someone calls our office to discuss their car insurance needs we always tell them upfront that in order to get them the coverage they need, the experience they deserve, and a fair price we need to talk about their car and home insurance at the same time — as a package. Not because it helps us, but because it can substantially reduce your insurance premiums.
This allows your independent insurance agent to look at all of their insurance companies instead of just a few, although this generally applies more to home insurance than car insurance.
The other huge benefit is having one independent insurance agent and one insurance company to call.
Let’s say that the Triangle area gets hit with a huge hail storm, like we did the first week of May 2016, or back in April 2011.
The hail storm turns your car into a golf ball with all the dimples caused by the hail and your roof into Swiss cheese. If you have one insurance agent and one insurance company to deal with it makes the claims process much smoother for you and allows you to avoid any unnecessary headaches.
3. Have a high credit score
Yes, your credit score has an impact on your car insurance because it’s a factor used in determining your insurance score.
There was a study conducted by The University of Texas Austin in 2003 that analyzed 175,647 policies. This study determined that people with low credit scores where more likely to have an accident and when they did the claim payout was higher than those with a high credit score.
Whether this is a fair practice or not it is something to closely monitor.
The next time you are out shopping at Best Buy, Banana Republic, or Victoria’s Secret and you’re offered a store credit card just remember in the back of your mind that it could lower your credit score which in turn could raise your car insurance premiums.
4. Liability only versus Full Coverage
First things first there isn’t such a thing as Full Coverage.
What this term refers to is if you have collision and comprehensive coverage for your car. What you have to decide is if your car is worth paying for collision and comprehensive coverage or having liability only.
If you want to learn more about collision and comprehensive coverage check out this article.
We advise our clients based on three criteria:
- Can you afford your deductible amount tomorrow if you had to file a claim? Do you have $500 or $1000 set aside in case or do you have $100 or $250?
- How much does it cost to have the coverage plus the deductible compared to the value of the vehicle?
- How much money does it save me a year?
Where I will spend the most time with a client is on question number 2. We have to first figure out what deductible to go with, how much will the collision and comprehensive coverage cost, and how much is the vehicle worth.
The first may require a little bit of back and forth to figure out the right combination. To determine the value of the vehicle I would recommend checking out Edmunds, Kelly Blue Book, and/or NADA. Even though these aren’t the companies that your car insurance company will use to determine the value it gives you the best idea possible.
Once you have answered these three questions the final part of this equation is to use the 3 to 1 rule. If you multiply how much the coverage costs plus your deductible and it’s more than the car is worth, then you should probably have collision and comprehensive coverage. If you the cost is less than what the car is worth, then you should probably have liability only.
Let’s use a real world example. I personally own a 2004 Honda Accord and I love my car. It was the first new car that I drove (thank you mom and dad) and I’ve put almost all 203,000 miles on it.
- Cost of the coverage = $163
- Deductible = $1000
- Total cost if I filed a claim = $1163
- 3 to 1 rule = $3489 ($1163 x 3)
- Value = $3500
Based upon this information I have liability only for my vehicle because the cost of the coverage plus the deductible is below the value of the vehicle when I use the 3 to 1 rule.
This is a conversation that you definitely need to have with your independent insurance agent to see if it’s worth having comprehensive and collision coverage or liability only.
By having liability only on an older vehicle you will save money on your car insurance.
5. Raise your deductibles
This is something that takes longer in a conversation with someone than liability limits even though we are talking about hundreds of dollars versus hundreds of thousands of dollars.
If you want to pay less each month for your car insurance than go with a higher deductible such as $500 or $1000.
What you want to keep in mind is that you need to be able to come up with $500 or $1000 quickly if you need to file a claim.
This is a great discussion to have with your independent insurance agent and they can quickly tell you how much you can save by increasing your deductible.
6. Buy higher liability limits
Wait, this article is suppose to be about saving money, not spending more money. Before you completely dismiss this tip I need for you to follow me here for just a moment because higher limits can actually save you money!
Most of the companies that our agency works with actually has lower rates for your car insurance when you buy higher limits of liability such as bodily injury $250,000 per person & $500,000 per accident and property damage $100,000 than if you bought lower limits of liability such as bodily injury $30,000 per person & 60,000 per accident and property damage $25,000.
Now the overall premium dollars that you will pay is going to be higher, but the rate that the insurance uses is lower.
For example, the higher limits of liability that I mentioned above may have a rate of 10 cents for every $1,000 in liability protection whereas the lower limits of liability may have a rate of 50 cents for every $1,000 in liability protection. You are going to pay more in pure dollars, but the rate that you are paying is lower.
7. Ask what discounts are available
This is going vary from insurance company to insurance company especially the ones that I deal with.
Here’s a list of some of the available discounts that you insurance companies either give you automatically or that your independent insurance agent can add:
- Multi-car discount: as mentioned earlier, this one is HUGE!!! You could save as much as 25% a year, or more, with this one discount.
- Company car discount: Insurance companies discovered that often someone has a company car and their spouse has their own car. So instead of insuring two vehicles these people only have to insure one. Well they are going to miss out on the multi-car discount that they would be afforded if they owned their own vehicle. Many insurance companies will now allow you to add this discount so you can get that multi-car discount.
- Alarm: Depending upon the type of alarm that you have on your vehicle you can receive anywhere from a 3-15% discount on your car insurance.
- Airbags: The more airbags that you have in your car, the safer you are, and the less you pay for your car insurance. You’ll want to let your independent insurance agent know if you have a driver airbag, driver and passenger airbags, or driver, passenger, and side airbags.
- Anti-lock brakes: If your car has them, then you get discount, everyone gets a discount. (Okay slow down Oprah.)
- Age of driver discount: One of our insurance companies will add a discount if you are over the age of 55. Your next birthday you might find out that you’re going to save a little bit of money on your car insurance.
- Advance Quote discount: Often insurance companies will give you a discount if you call them to start a policy more than 8 days in advance. They believe that if someone is responsible enough to think about their car insurance more than 8 days in advance, then they they deserve a discount.
- Pay in full discount: Insurance companies like to get their money upfront and when they do they sometimes you give a discount if you pay it in full. One of insurance companies, Erie Insurance, will give you a 7% if you pay your car insurance in full for the year.
These are the most common types of discounts that are available and there are probably more depending upon the insurance company that best fits your needs.
What should you do now?
What you should do next is call your independent insurance agent to have them review your auto policy to make sure that you are saving as much money on your car insurance as possible. If this article has been helpful for you, and you are not already a client of our agency, we would be thrilled to help you in any way we can with your car (and other) insurance, even if it’s just a general fact finding conversation.
To get the process started, call us today at (919) 463-5300, or head over to our contact page. Thanks!