There are many factors that affect the cost of your particular auto insurance premium. It takes experienced agents and lots of computer power to calculate all the risks. However, for the sake of simplicity we can say that there are three general categories of factors that affect your insurance rates: your life situation, your vehicle, and your driving history.
While you probably wouldn’t want to change your life situation (i.e. marital status, home ownership) simply to lower your insurance rates, you could consider a safer, slightly older, or less valuable vehicle. You can also modify your vehicle to make it lower risk, for instance by adding an alarm. But chances are you already have a vehicle, and you want to keep the rates on it low without spending more money to do so. The easiest way to do this by maintaining your driving record – fortunately something you have a good bit of control over, and can work on doing every day.
Avoiding moving violations and infractions such as speeding and reckless driving is the easiest thing you can do to keep your insurance rates low. Moving violations happen when you break the law while the car is moving. Speeding, not using turn signals, running red lights, etc, are all preventable infractions that are completely up to you to prevent. Some states even consider a seat belt violation to be a moving violation. If you are not sure what is considered a moving violation in your state, you can get a free driver’s handbook from your local DMV. Ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking it. Driving the speed limit, driving courteously, and buckling up will prevent you from getting ticketed for a moving violation, and leaving a mark on your record, which lasts three years in most states.
Avoiding a criminal violation while driving is a no-brainer. DUIs and criminally reckless driving will get your license suspended and could even get you jail time, not to mention the ticket fines. These violations can stay on your record for ten years or more, and usually increases your insurance rates, probably requiring you to carry an SR-22. Here are some common-sense driving habits that will help ensure that you don’t get involved in an accident or moving violation:
- Don’t drink and drive.
- Don’t drive under the influence of drugs that affect your physical or mental faculties.
- Don’t drive when feeling high stress or extreme emotion.
- Don’t drive when you are fatigued.
- Drive according to the law.
- Drive defensively, anticipating trouble before it happens.
- Stay aware and alert behind the wheel.
- Minimize distractions like music or other passengers.
- Pull off the road and stop to attend to tasks, including talking on the phone, reading a map, having an intense conversation with a passenger, etc.
- Use courtesy and respect in your interactions with other drivers and the driving environment.
Avoiding an accident is a great way to keep your rates low, but unfortunately even the safest drivers will likely be involved in an accident at some point. We can’t control everything that happens on the road, and we certainly can’t control other drivers. However, safe driving at safe speeds can greatly reduce your chances of causing an accident. Tickets for causing an accident take many forms, but they will usually stay on your record for three years. If you find yourself the victim of someone else’s negligent driving, you may still see an accident (“not at fault accident”) show up on your record, though it won’t affect your rates as much as if you had caused an accident yourself. The only way to prevent this from happening is to always be vigilant and pay attention while driving. Your own safe driving could keep you out of harm’s way.
Finally, if you have been in an accident or received a ticket for a minor infraction such as speeding, you can still keep your rates low if you choose to go to traffic school. You may arrange this with the authority that issued the ticket, and upon completion of the course the infraction will be removed from your driving record. Traffic school usually costs about the same as a ticket (which you still have to pay), however your savings on insurance over the next three years will probably make it worthwhile. But be careful! Most states only allow one traffic school exemption every 18 months.
Following these simple safety suggestions will greatly reduce your risk of being involved in an accident or bring ticketed for a moving violation. Your clean driving record will reflect that reduced risk, bringing you lower rates and a more affordable premium payment.
This information is courtesy of SaveALot Auto Insurance, providing low auto insurance rates to safe drivers and drivers with not-so-spotless records throughout Illinois.