How Car Insurance Rates are Calculated

May 19, 2011

If you’ve ever purchased car insurance, you know that there are many factors that determine how much you pay. Since we’re nearly half-way through the year, and most auto insurance policies are written for a six-month term, we thought we’d offer a refresher on what some of those factors are.
The most common factors that affect your car insurance rate are:

  • Driving History: Generally, in order to get get the best rates, you’ll need to have no points on your license in the last two years, though some insurance companies require that you have a perfect record for three years, and some even go back five.
  • Mileage: Even if you aren’t purchasing a PAYD (pay-as-you-drive) policy, you can reduce what you pay for auto insurance if you drive fewer than 14,000 miles in a year. You’ll be asked to provide two certified odometer readings a few months apart to verify this, however. Note: some insurers only give this discount if your annual mileage doesn’t exceed 10,000 miles.
  • Experience: Especially if you are shopping for specialty car insurance, your experience behind the wheel will save you money. In most cases, if you’ve been driving more than ten years, you’ll get lower insurance rates. In some cases, if you’ve had fifteen or more years of licensed driving experience, you’ll get an even better break. If you’re young, or haven’t been driving that long, you can take a defensive driving class to earn a discount.
  • Gender: Because women are perceived as being safer drivers than men, they usually get better auto insurance rates, though this trend is changing.
  • Marital Status: Again, a married person will pay less than an unmarried person for car insurance, if all else is equal, because marriage lends an air of stability, and reduces perceived risk.

These are just a few of the factors that help determine what your auto insurance premium will be. Others include the make and model of your car, whether it has any safety features or anti-theft devices, your zip code and your credit score. All insurance companies use slightly different calculations and give more or less weight to different factors, so it’s important that you always get multiple insurance quotes before committing to one company.