04 Jun 2020 Can I Pay Less for my Car Insurance if I’m Driving Less?
It’s been quite a year already, but there is at least one positive part of 2020: less cars on the roads.
Since the March stay at home orders resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic began, many people have been working from home and not visiting their usual stores or businesses, leaving their vehicles mostly dormant in their driveways.
So during these periods of time where you are driving less, it only makes sense you pay less on your insurance, right?
At Berry Insurance, we’ve been getting this question a lot, and our answer … well, it’s complicated.
While you technically can pay less on your car insurance for driving less, you may not be eligible, and even if you are, it probably won’t mean immediate savings.
Let’s get into how discounts for driving less work, as well as some other ways you may be able to save money on your car insurance during this time.
What is a low mileage discount?
Most insurance companies offer low mileage discounts to drivers who do not drive often.
After all, the less you are on the road, the less risk you are at of having a claim and costing the insurance company money.
The average American drives approximately 13,000 miles per year, but if you drive less than 7,500 miles per year, you may be eligible for a discount from 5-10% depending on how little you drive, and the rate your insurance company designates for you.
Generally, the less you drive, the greater your discount will be.
Since the rate is based on a 12-month driving period, you will not be able to get immediate savings if you aren’t driving a lot right now. In fact, you might not even be eligible since you may be driving more later in the year as things get back to normal.
However, if you’re driving way less for the year, you may see a discount when your policy renews. When it’s time for your car insurance renewal, check with your agent to see if you are eligible for the discount.
Your agent or insurance company can check Registry of Motor Vehicles records for the mileage reported on your vehicle during your last inspection.
Keep in mind, if you’re late getting your inspection, you may miss out on the discount because your insurance provider will not have an up-to-date mileage record to use.
What is pay-per-mile/pay-as-you-go insurance?
You may have also heard of pay-per-mile or pay-as-you-go insurance, which allows you to pay for your insurance based on how much you drive each month.
While something like this could be useful at a time like this when you aren’t driving a lot, these plans are only available in certain states, and are not available in Massachusetts at this time.
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Since you may not be eligible for a low-mileage discount on your Massachusetts car insurance policy once your mileage for the entire year is calculated (or you at least won’t be getting the discount until your policy renews), you might be wondering if there are other ways to save during this time.
Fortunately, there are several ways to save on your car insurance, some of which may result in immediate savings.
Many insurance companies offer incentives for the more business you provide them. By bundling your car insurance with other policies (such as homeowners/rental) within the same insurance company, you may be able to save approximately 5-25 % on your policies.
Insure more than one car with the same policy or carrier (multi-car discount)
Similar to bundling policies, you can also earn discounts for insuring more than one vehicle in the same household.
Shop around for rates
Insurance prices differ from company to company, so if you feel like you’re paying a lot for car insurance, you might want to obtain quotes from a few different companies.
Alternatively, you can also save money by maintaining your coverage with your insurance company, as some carriers offer price breaks for longtime customers, so you’ll want to check with your agent to see which option is best for you.
Pay via EFT/ACH or pay ahead
Paying for your auto insurance through electronic funds transfer (EFT), automated clearing house (ACH), or paying the premium up front can eliminate billing fees.
If you’re comfortable with your payment automatically withdrawing from your bank account each month, or if you can afford to front the premium, these methods can save you both time and money.
Choose a higher deductible plan
Of course, you can also lower your premium by selecting an auto insurance plan with a higher deductible.
Doing this means you’ll be paying less per month, but will have to pay more if you get in an accident, so if you select a higher-deductible plan, you’ll want to make sure you have enough money set aside in case you need to cover damages from an accident.
Ask your agent about any discounts
You can get a discount for doing the following:
- Being a member of an association (such as AAA, AARP, alumni associations, wholesale clubs, military organizations, honor societies, and more)
- Giving to a charity
- Getting good grades (insurance companies reward both high school and college drivers for earning good grades)
- Being a safe driver (drivers without accidents or violations for a certain period – usually five years – can save hundreds on their insurance through a safe driver or good driver discount)
Ask your agent if you are eligible for any discounts that aren’t already applied to your policy.
Remove Optional Coverages
Many insurance plans include optional coverages intended to provide services in specific scenarios. If these coverages do not apply to you, or if you have another service that provides similar coverage, you should not be paying the extra amount for them.
Collision insurance offers coverage to repair or replace your vehicle if it is damaged in an accident. If your vehicle is older and the value is low enough that you could afford to repair or replace it if it were damaged or destroyed, you may want to remove collision insurance.
Keep in mind, if you are leasing your vehicle, or if it isn’t paid off, collision coverage is typically required.
Substitute transportation insurance will pay for at least a portion of the cost of a rental vehicle if you need one due to a covered loss while it is being repaired or replaced (if you have collision insurance).
If you have an alternative vehicle you can use, or if you are able to go without your car for a period of time, you could remove substitute transportation.
Many insurance companies offer roadside assistance or towing insurance if your car breaks down on the side of the road and you are unable to get it to a mechanic. If you have both roadside/towing and AAA, you are essentially paying for the same coverage twice, so choose one or the other.
Enroll in telematics
It’s no secret that technology is advancing and infiltrating almost every industry, but did you know it can also help save you money on your car insurance? Through telematics, insurance companies are using tracking devices to monitor driver data including speed, mileage, driving time, hard brakes, and more to determine if you are eligible for a discount.
Pay-as-you-drive insurance models using telematics, such as Drive with Safety or N&Drive through Norfolk & Dedham, monitor driving habits to offer discounts up to 30% to cautious or low-mileage drivers.
Telematics can not increase your premium. At worst, your premium will stay the same, but you could get a discount.
Check with your agent/carrier for savings
We know all of this can be a lot to digest. Reach out to your agent to discover which combination of these opportunities could save you money on your car insurance while you aren’t driving much.
In addition to saving money on your car insurance during this time, you should also be making sure your car isn’t costing you extra money while it sits in your driveway. Read these tips about maintaining a vehicle you aren’t driving.