Due to the coronavirus pandemic, social distancing measures have changed the lifestyles of many, including reducing the amount of time people are using their cars. COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the state of working from home. In the U.S., approximately 31% of employees working in an office in March were switched over to work-from-home arrangements by April, and this situation continues today for many.1 Others have changed jobs, made career pivots, and even left the workforce. Many insurers recognized these changes early on and gave back to their policyholders via premium decreases and refunds. But as the months progress, you may be looking for more ways to reduce costs in all areas, including car insurance.
You can reduce your car insurance rates right now by making necessary adjustments while staying at home and driving less frequently.
Ways to Reduce Car Insurance Premium
Reduced driving during COVID-19 prompted many insurance companies to issue refunds and discounts because the time normally spent commuting is now being spent at home, off the roads. These refunds may not be the only discounts you’re entitled to. There are other ways to save money on your car insurance beyond the coronavirus credits the insurers have already paid out.
If you’re wondering what to say to your insurance company to get a better price on your car insurance when working (or staying) at home, start by asking about your policy coverages and discounts: “Hello, I am calling about my car insurance premium. I have been researching insurance prices, and I am looking for ways to reduce my costs. Can we go over my policy coverages and discounts to make sure I am getting the best price?”
If you have stopped driving your car, changed your work situation, or drastically reduced your time on the road, try saying: “I usually drive X amount of miles to work, but I am working from home now, and it has been several months. Can you reduce my annual mileage/make a change on my policy to pleasure-only use, since I no longer commute?”
Other questions and statements to ask your insurer include:
- “My car has been in storage—do I qualify for a storage credit?”
- “Can we review the optional coverages on my policy?”
- “What about increasing my deductible?”
Lower Your Annual Average Mileage
The annual mileage on your car impacts how much your insurance costs. You can get a sense of your annual mileage by looking at your car’s odometer and seeing how many miles you’ve put on since owning the car. If you had vehicle maintenance before COVID-19, you can check the mileage on the paperwork from your last servicing.
We received quotes from several major insurance companies to see how adjusting the weekly mileage would affect the premium. We used the same profile for each quote: A 35-year-old female driver living in the Minneapolis area with no accidents, tickets, or violations, and a good driving record with at least five years of prior insurance. The car quoted was a 2018 Ford Explorer on a six-month policy. Some insurers quoted reduced premiums, while others did not.
|Insurer||3,000 Miles Annually, Pleasure Use Only (no commute)||10,000 Miles Annually With a Typical Commute (five days)|
|Allstate (Standard Coverage)||$759||$759|
Ask Car Insurance Company for Discounts
If you’ve been with your car insurance company for a while, it’s worth calling to find out if you qualify for any new discounts. A few discounts to ask your insurance company about include:
- Multiple-car discounts: If you have two cars, consider insuring them on the same policy, or with the same company.
- Multi-policy discounts: Bundling your home and car insurance with the same company may give you a discount, but some companies provide more of a discount than others.
- Payment option discounts: Some insurance companies offer discounts based on how you pay your premium. Ask about full pay discounts, responsible payer discounts, or discounts for an automated payment plan.
- New policy or loyalty discounts
- Early signing discounts: Not leaving your insurance to the last minute can save you money. Some insurers offer discounts when you shop ahead.
- Group affiliation discounts: Many insurers offer discounts to members of groups. Military and government employees, for example, get discounts with GEICO. People over 50 can get insurance through AARP’s car insurance program from The Hartford, and many insurers will ask you about member affiliations when you first sign up to offer discounts.
- Internet discounts or “buy your policy online” discounts
- Paperless discounts: Choosing to receive documents by email and going paperless gets a discount with some insurers.
- Car safety feature discounts
- Anti-theft device discounts
- Student driver, good grade, or other discounts for students away at school
- Defensive driving course discounts
- Good credit rating discounts: If your credit has improved since you first got your insurance, see if you can get a better discount. If your credit is not as strong, consider shopping with insurers who do not use credit scoring as heavily in their ratings.
Enroll In Usage-Based Insurance
There are insurance companies that offer better rates when you enroll in a usage-based insurance program. Usage-based insurance programs typically use an app or device to monitor different factors of your driving habits, such as how much you drive. This information is used to adjust your rates based on your actual driving.
For example, State Farm offers a Drive Safe & Save Program offers up to 30% off, while Travelers has the IntelliDrive program that gives you a discount of up to 20%.2 3
Reduce or Cut Optional Coverage
When you purchase car insurance there are many optional coverages. We researched quotes with several insurers and noticed that there were often multiple options for “full coverage” and a large selection of liability limit options beyond the minimum required by law. It may be wise to review optional coverages such as the following:
- Collision coverage and comprehensive coverage: Optional coverage that covers physical damage to your car in a variety of circumstances. For example, when your car is damaged in an accident, vandalized, or even stolen.
- Coverage upgrades:Insurance companies offer options to upgrade the basics to include perks, such as diminishing deductibles or even cash back. Review how much you are paying for these upgrades (if you have them).
- Roadside coverage, transportation expenses, or rental reimbursement coverage:If your car is parked most of the time and you’re staying local, you may want to weigh the cost of this coverage vs. your current rate.
Before you decide to reduce your insurance coverage as a way to save money because things are tight, make sure the changes won’t cause undue financial hardship if you have to file a claim.
Increase the Deductible
One way to keep all your coverage and still save some money is by choosing a higher deductible. For example, one company we looked at charged up to $100 more on a six-month policy term to have a $0 deductible vs. a $500 deductible on the comprehensive coverage alone. In general, the cost of increasing your deductible from $200 to $500 can save you between 15% and 30% on collision and comprehensive coverage. Increasing your deductible up to $1,000 could save you 40% or more.4
When shopping around for insurance, be sure to get quotes in writing and check the coverage line by line against your existing policy before making any decisions. You can even try to get your current insurance company to match what you’re being offered—insurance companies are often willing to negotiate rather than lose your business.
How to Make Car Insurance Policy Changes
To make a change to your car insurance policy you have to get in touch with your insurance company. Most companies offer several options to get in contact, including chatbots, online account management, community forums, apps, in writing (by email or mail), and of course, by phone. Depending on the type of change you’re requesting, insurers will have different procedures or requirements.
Most insurance companies offer some form of online account management through the company website. Often you can make basic changes or start requests online. We checked various insurers and found some of them only allow basic changes (like a change of address) online, but require you to call in for other requests. Other insurers have more options.
When you call to make changes to your policy, it gives you more of a chance to ask questions about your discounts and coverages. If you are calling to request a change to your policy, the agent will usually be able to help right away with basic changes. Still, some changes may require additional documentation or information, like the VIN number of a new car or a driver’s license for a new driver.