The financial balancing act is proving to be a tricky one for many Americans right now. With the general cost of living in the US continuing to soar as a result of the country’s subprime crisis and the recent global financial downturn, you’ll need to be prudent about making savings wherever possible. If you set up your auto insurance policy and then forgot about it, then you could be in for a treat. Read on for a few handy hints on ways you can save on your auto insurance premium:

courtesy of Kike Guisasola via Flickr

1. Offer to pay a higher deductible

If you have an accident that costs $1,000 and you’ve agreed to pay a $200 deductible, then your automobile insurance company will be liable to pay the remaining $800. So what happens if you offer to pay more than $200? Bolstering your deductible by offering to pay $500 instead of $200 could result in a saving of up to 30 per cent on your collision and comprehensive cover, while offering to pay $1,000, you see you save up to 40%. And since most people don’t like putting in a claim for damage under $1,000 anyway.

2. Eliminate unnecessary coverage

Work out the cost of your insurance premium and the deductible, and if your car’s worth doesn’t exceed that, then consider ditching your collision and comprehensive cover. Take a trip to to find out your vehicle’s worth.

3. Avoid doubling up on medical coverage

If you already have comprehensive health, life and disability insurance, then be sure to buy only the minimum personal injury protection required by whichever state you reside in – otherwise you’ll be paying twice for what’s essentially the same cover.

4. Buy a less valuable car

If your nice, shiny vehicle is likely to be a thief magnet or is going to cost a lot to repair after an accident, then consider buying yourself a little run-around with a lower profile and a less expensive chassis. In some areas, the color of certain types of cars will also drive the price up.

5. Decrease your mileage

With most insurers offering discounts for lower annual mileage, the fewer miles you travel the bigger the saving you’ll reap. Traveling to work via carpool instead of driving on your own is a great way to save on gas, maintenance and miles.

6. Boost safety and security features

Safety features like automatic seat belts, air bags and anti-lock braking systems will help you shave a few dollars off your policy, while security features like an approved alarm system or other approved anti-theft devices will also count towards lowering the cost of your premium.

7. Get your kids on the discount wagon

When your kids start to drive, get them on your policy instead of insuring them on their own. Teens who maintain good grades and pass an approved drivers’ education course can also receive healthy discounts, while if your child attends a college more than 100 miles from home and doesn’t take a car, they can also qualify for a hefty discount.

8. Take a car safety course

In many states, if you sit through a one day course that runs from 6 – 8 hours you’ll get a safe driver discount on your insurance. If your spouse goes through it as well, the discount will be even bigger.

9. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Ask what else you might be entitled to (in addition to, of course, doing your own research first). Discounts are often available to those who are retired or over 55 and those who’ve had no accidents or moving violations in the past three years, for example. Some insurance companies even pay you for being a safe driver.

10. Pause before paying extra for roadside assistance

Make sure you’re not already paying for roadside assistance in another way, such as through your car dealer or something like AAA. If you aren’t, then it may well be a good idea to sign up for a roadside assistance plan with your auto insurer because a tow could hike up your premium and may also affect your eligibility for future coverage.

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