With the exception of some adults with SR-22 filing requirements, excessive accidents and moving violations, or multiple drunken driving citations, teenagers and males below the age of 25 are generally subject to the highest insurance rates. Two reasons for this are: Teenage and early adult years are typically some of the most volatile years in one’s life and research statistics show that adult females reach mental and emotional maturity before adult males.
You may have to pay higher rates at first because of your age or gender (or a combination of both), but you don’t have to perpetuate the stereotype that keeps drivers in your group locked into the highest rates. Here are some tips for getting and keeping the best auto insurance rates.
If at All Possible, Piggy Back on Your Parents’ Insurance Policy
There are some exceptions, but – generally speaking – it is less expensive to add a teenager to a proven responsible adult’s active insurance policy than it is for that teenager to start a new policy of his/her own. Gaining coverage through your parents’ auto insurance policy will help you in multiple ways besides saving you money.
One of the ways it will help you is when you’re finally ready to get your own insurance policy; you will have been insured already for however long you’d been on your parents’ plan so you will be viewed as less of a risk than somebody who hadn’t been insured. Another consideration is that by saving money you have your family’s earned great insurance rates at risk by practicing less responsible driving habits; that should be enough motivation to help you follow the other suggestions in this article on how to get the best insurance rates.
Work on Building a Positive Credit Profile
Whether you have to get your own policy or you’re able to piggyback on your parents’ policy, the next step in guaranteeing low rates in the future is to begin building your credit profile. If at all possible, you should try to do this before you even get a car and start driving. Your credit profile and score affects the way insurance policy underwriters view you, and a low or non-existent score increases your auto insurance rates.
If you have a part time job or earn extra money doing chores, try to get a secured credit card or a department store card. To build your credit, use these cards very wisely. Don’t use more than you can afford to pay back in the following month, and pay the full balance each month to avoid accruing interest and developing an unimpressive credit profile. If you can afford to pay back the entire balance of your total available credit every month, don’t use it all; you should keep your balance at least 35% or less of your total available credit. If you took out an auto loan to help you get your first car, make sure to stay current on your payments and make higher payments toward principle whenever possible.
Practice Safe Driving Habits
Most safe driving requires the use of common sense. Consider the fact that you’re controlling a 2-ton object that is capable of causing disaster. At the same time, other vehicles are on the road in addition to cyclists, pedestrians, children, etc. Practice following speed limits consistently – especially on city streets and in residential neighborhoods.
Pay attention to other drivers on the road in front of you, behind you, and on the side of you. Stay aware of vehicles entering and exiting the highway/freeway, pay attention to turn signals, and make room whenever possible to share the road safely.
Allow yourself plenty of space between your car and the vehicle in front of you. Even if you’re paying attention not to rear-end it, you don’t know if something is going to be coming around the corner and smashing into it. If this were to happen you would have no time to react – this very incident is what causes pileups.
Minimize your break usage. Look ahead while you’re driving to anticipate red lights and stop signs. Instead of driving full throttle all the way to the light and having to stop, practice simply picking up your foot off the gas a few hundred feet before you reach the light and only applying your break if necessary once you’ve reached a lower speed. More often than not, the light will turn green before you ever get there and you won’t ever have had to use your break at all. Furthermore, this will give you excellent practice being more aware of your surroundings and adjusting your driving speed according to conditions.
Slow down for rain, snow, and other hazardous conditions. Once a vehicle gains speed and traction on snow and ice, it’s very easy to go fast – especially in a 4 Wheel Drive. It’s not as easy to slow down, though. Depending on the severity of the conditions, you need more than 3-4 times your regular stopping distance to come to a safe and complete stop. Remember the last tip about minimizing break usage? In hazardous conditions, it’s even more important; hitting your break when engaged in high speeds on slick roads can cause your vehicle to spin out. Once you’ve lost control, there’s no stopping that 2-ton object until the force of gravity has completed its job. Maintain slow speeds that allow you plenty of stopping distance. To stop safely on ice or otherwise slick roads, pick your foot up off your break to begin slowing down and slowly and gently pump the break to safely and gradually reduce speed.
Practicing safe driving habits will help you avoid accidents and citations and be worthy of lower insurance rates within the first 6 months to a year of your driving experience. Furthermore, working responsibly to build a worthy credit profile with a high score will help to show that you are more responsible than the stereotypical members of your age group and help to reduce your auto insurance rates even further.