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By Doreen Martel

Finding the best car insurance rates

Car insurance: It's one of those necessary evils we must contend with. Reducing your car insurance premiums can save you hundreds of dollars a year. If you have not already purchased a car, you should find out which ones have the lowest coverage rates. If you already have a car, you can still save money on auto insurance. Here are some simple tips for reducing your rates:

Mind your credit score

You may not think so, but a good credit score is a bonus with your insurer. Insurers believe higher credit scores mean fewer insurance claims. Fewer claims mean lower costs for insurance companies. Lower costs mean they can pass on the savings to consumers.

Combine policies when possible

If you have renters or homeowners insurance, ask your insurance company for an auto quote. Multi-policy discounts are common, and you can take advantage of them to lower your costs. Combine auto, life and homeowners whenever possible.

Accept a higher deductible

Claims of all sizes are costly to insurance companies. If you can afford to pay some costs out of pocket, accept a higher deductible. An insurance company rewards high deductibles with lower premium costs.

Usage-based insurance (UBI)

These programs involve placing a device on your steering column that tracks your driving. You can save money on insurance based on when and how you drive. Metrics like braking and speeding factor into the cost of insurance premiums. If you drive a lot, this may not save you money on premiums.

Mileage-based discounts

If you drive only back and forth to work, you could qualify for low-mileage discounts. Drivers who travel less than a specified number of miles a year often qualify. These discounts vary from insurer to insurer, so ask what the limitations are.

Safety feature discounts

Many insurers offer discounts based on certain equipment. These may include anti-lock brakes, airbags and more. You may also qualify for a discount if you have an alarm system on your vehicle.

Research other discounts

Insurers may offer student discounts based on grades. Married drivers may get better discounts than single drivers. Ask about all the possible discounts available from your insurance company.

Always shop around

Many people believe insurance rates are set in stone. This is not always true; rates may vary from company to company. Shop around after you get a quote so you can compare rates and discounts.

Value of a clean driving record

Drivers who have not had infractions tend to get better rates. Speeding tickets and other violations can increase your rates. The better your driving record, the more likely you are to get favorable rates.

Reduce coverage on older cars

If you have an older car, consider reducing the amount of coverage. Theft and collision coverage is expensive, so reducing this coverage saves you money. The older the car, the less likely you are to need certain coverage.

Car insurance premiums seldom go down. Pay attention to your premiums and always be on the lookout for a better deal. Your insurance should be there when you need it, but that doesn't mean you have to pay more for coverage.

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