Driving Car in Heavy RainYou may have heard that red cars cost more to insure than cars of other colors. Or that men pay more for auto insurance. In reality, the color of your car has no effect on your auto insurance premiums. And while male drivers often do pay more for coverage as teen-agers, gender isn’t much of a factor — or even one at all — after that. So what really matters to insurance companies? Check out this list of factors that insurance companies do use to help determine the cost of your auto insurance coverage:

Your credit history and score. Surprised? Although the practice has been around for some time, many people are still surprised to discover that their credit history plays a significant role in what they pay for auto insurance coverage. Why? Statistical analysis consistently shows a strong correlation between higher credit scores and lower accident/claims rates, and vice versa. Unless you live in one of only a handful of states that prohibits the use of credit scores in determining insurance rates, the quality of your credit history will likely be used to help determine your auto insurance premiums, along with your driving record and other factors.

Your driving record. This factor can’t be understated. Safe drivers pay less for coverage. Drivers with previous violations and/or accidents are considered to be higher risk and may pay significantly more than drivers with no violations or accidents on their records. Insurance companies generally look at how many violations/tickets/accidents a customer has had in the last three to five years.

Your gender and age. Generally, men in their teens and to some degree, their early 20s, have more accidents than women of a comparable age. Statistically speaking, they are less likely to wear seat belts and more likely to drive above posted speed limits. After that, gender doesn’t play as much of a role, if any. Age, however, is another matter. Young adults of both genders under the age of 25 — without all of those years of driving experience under their belts — generally pay more for car insurance because, statistically, they cause more accidents and get more tickets.

Your marital status. As a group, married people generally have lower rates of claims than single drivers.

Vehicle use. Higher annual mileage results in higher exposure to risk and possibly, higher premiums. You’ll pay more if you use your car for business as well as personal use.

Make and model of your vehicle. Car shopping? Call your insurance agent before you buy. Some cars definitely cost more to insure than others! Cars with good to great safety records and certain safety/anti-theft features may cost less to insure. Cars that are more attractive to thieves and are difficult and costly to repair often will cost more. Generally, the more expensive the vehicle, the more it will cost to insure.

Where you park your car at night. Your home Zip Code may have an effect on your auto insurance rates. Generally, it costs more to insure a vehicle in a large city with more crime compared with a small rural area with a lower incidence of crime such as theft and vandalism.

Your deductible. That’s the amount you must pay out of pocket in the event of a claim. The higher your deductible, the lower your premiums will be and vice versa. (Just make sure you always have enough money saved to pay your deductible on any insurance policy in the event of a loss. ) The higher your policy limits, the more expensive your coverage will be. A limit is the maximum amount your policy will pay toward a covered loss. In other words, when it comes to insurance, you get what you pay for.

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