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Conventional wisdom says that the only two certainties in life revolve around taxation and the eventual shaking off of this mortal coil. But there’s a pretty good chance that car insurance is a certainty for most of us.
Finding affordable insurance, however, can be particularly problematic for those drivers with a less-than-stellar driving record.
The Review Process
Car insurance companies regularly review driving records to see what type of risk drivers pose. This review usually happens when you first apply for insurance and every time you need to renew it.
If your driving record is clean, then you represent less risk and receive lower rates. But having an accident or moving violation – such as speeding or a DUI – on your record means you will be pegged as a high-risk driver, warranting higher rates.
If you have two or more moving violations within a six month period, many companies won’t even provide a policy.
Getting a Copy of Your Driving Record
When looking at car insurance quotes, it’s common practice to ask if the driver has had any accidents or moving violations within the past five years. But what happens if you can’t recall the date of a fender bender or you forgot about a speeding ticket?
Fortunately, the Department of Motor Vehicles (or the equivalent in your state) can provide you with your driving record, also known as a motor vehicle record (MVR).
Getting your MVR before buying or renewing your car insurance provides an excellent opportunity to correct any inaccurate personal information within the report and to request that some penalty points be removed. These points can have a negative impact on your premium and end up costing you more.
The DMV often requires proof of a valid license and will usually charge a small fee when you order a copy of your record, but it’s generally less than $10.
The length of time it takes to receive your MVR will vary from state to state. Some of them provide it immediately online while others require you to mail in a form or visit the DMV.
Other Tips For Lowering The Cost Of Your Insurance
Of course, your MVR will only help you so much. The good news is that there are a number of other steps you can take to help ease the pressure on your wallet.
1. Find a different insurer
Many insurance companies have different types of discounts, so it pays to do your research.
Some brokers specialize in finding you low-cost options, for example. And some insurance companies provide a discount if you drive under a certain number of miles per week. Others may ease up on your rates if you only drive during certain periods of the year.
Begin by checking with an insurance agent or broker to look for any deals that may apply. Whatever discount you find should help to lower your premiums.
2. Drive an older car
There are certain types of vehicles that have been deemed statistically more likely to be involved in accidents. If you’re driving one of these vehicles then your premium will be higher.
However, switching to an older car that is considered safer can drop your rates by a noticeable amount.
Insurance companies determine their rates according to statistics. So if your vehicle is considered safer and less expensive to repair, then your rates will likely be lower.
3. Build Your Credit
Your credit rating will play a major role in how much you’re charged for car insurance.
If you have a decent credit score, you might be able to lower the deposit required. In some cases, you may be able to eliminate it entirely.
Insurance companies view people with good credit as being less likely to get into accidents. So, if your credit is in good standing, you may be able to pay a lower rate even if your driving record has a few blemishes.
4. Raise Your Deductible
One tried and tested way of lowering your premium is to increase your deductible. For example, if you pay $500 instead of $200 per month, you can potentially save as much as 10 percent, depending on a few additional factors.
Don’t be discouraged if you have a bad driving record. Thankfully, insurance companies look at a number of factors when determining what price to charge. So, there are affordable rates out there if you’re willing to do a little research and make some minor changes in your life.