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The price tag for car insurance can be a major factor in your budget, but you may be able to reduce it with one simple fix: driving less. A lower annual mileage on your vehicle can translate directly into saving on your car insurance premium. If you're able to find a way to reduce how much you drive, you could be eligible for some discounts on your car insurance.
How Driving Less Affects Your Insurance
Your state and lender (if your vehicle is financed) may require minimum levels of insurance coverage, but even the lowest tier of protection can take a sizable bite out of your paycheck. The rate you pay for car insurance varies according to several factors, including your location, driving record, age, gender and annual mileage.
Your insurance company may offer special plans or discounts specifically for low-mileage drivers. In general, these discounts apply to those who drive fewer miles than the average driver, depending on your insurance plan's fine print and state laws. Americans drive nearly 13,500 miles each year on average, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, but individual insurance companies set their own standards for who is considered a low-mileage driver.
Call your insurance company to learn more about how the number of miles you travel affects your premium. You might get a lower premium for a major miles reduction. Per-mile coverage or coverage that has you use a device to track your driving data can also help you save.
How to Drive Less
Let's take a look at the best strategies for driving less:
- Review your public transit options. It might be worth it to take a train or bus if it means you'll save on car insurance. Some employers may even be able to reimburse or subsidize the cost.
- Carpool with family members or coworkers. You might also ask a friend to give you a ride if they're headed in the same direction. Often, these arrangements require you to contribute money for gas, but it's still likely less than you'd pay to drive yourself.
- Work from home if it's possible to do with your job. Gather your own data: You might be able to save in both personal and company costs by cutting down on your commute. Working from home even just a few days a week can help you drastically cut down your mileage.
- Walk or take up cycling. Google maps can make it easy to navigate walking paths and bicycle routes in your city. Plus, you'll get exercise and fresh air, avoid traffic and possibly even get to your destination faster. If you'd like to ride a bike but don't own one, many areas have easy-to-use and inexpensive bike-sharing programs.
Other Ways to Lower Your Insurance Rates
Reducing the number of miles you drive isn't the only way to lower your car insurance bill. Here are a few other ways you can tap into a great rate:
- Maintain a clean driving record. Car insurance companies often offer better rates if you demonstrate a driving history that's free of accidents. Ask your insurance company about any safe driving discounts they offer.
- Improve your credit. Auto insurance companies in many states can use a credit-based auto insurance score to help them decide your premium and whether to take you on as a policyholder. Keep an eye on your credit reports and actively work to keep your credit in good standing for the best car insurance rates.
- Increase your deductible. You may wind up paying more for repairs if you do get in an accident, but you'll likely see savings reflected on your regular insurance premiums.
- Shop around for better rates. Perhaps your insurance plan just isn't the best fit for your life. You can compare quotes by browsing Experian's auto insurance marketplace for options that match your needs.
- Drop unnecessary coverage. Your car insurance plan may include extra features such as roadside assistance or rental reimbursement insurance. Find out which ones you need and eliminate the ones you can live without. Keep in mind, though, sometimes spending a little more to customize your coverage can actually bring down your costs in the long run.
The Bottom Line
Overall, driving less remains a simple and effective way to reduce how much you have to pay for car insurance. Driving less means you're less likely to have an accident, you'll need fewer repairs and you could potentially land you a cheaper insurance plan. On top of all that—and maybe the best part—think of the money you'll save on gas.