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8 factors that impact car insurance premiums

The price of your car insurance depends on a lot of different elements. This can make it difficult to make simple apples-to-apples comparisons between carriers, but understanding these factors can make comparisons easier. Here are a few of the factors:

  1. Geography

    Insurance companies are regulated by individual states. This means options and prices may vary not only because of varying geographical-based risk factors, but also because individual state regulators may have different requirements.

  2. Age

    Historically, age has been correlated to accidents and claims. Thus, one's age can impact price, e.g. rates for teens and college students are much higher than the rates for 40 year-olds.

  3. Annual mileage driven

    If you commute 100 miles a day and take frequent weekend road trips, expect to pay more than someone who works from home and just drives to the local grocery store and gym a few times a week.

  4. Driving record

    Recent accidents or speeding tickets can result in considerably higher premiums than if your record has been clean for several years. Recent, in general, means within the past three years.

  5. Type of vehicle

    A flashy new sports car will cost you more than a 20 year-old compact. There are multiple factors at play here such as, 1) repair prices differ by vehicle and 2) driving style or likelihood of claims.

  6. Coverage

    This includes things like the amount of deductible you want, how much total liability coverage do you need, do you want to have the insurer cover the cost of a rental car, etc.

  7. Discounts

    Many insurers offer discounts off the standard price for things like taking safe driving courses, insuring multiple vehicles, bundling home and car insurance, and even for getting good grades in school.

  8. Pricing method

    Some companies have added options allowing you to pay premiums based on the exact amount you drive, and how safely you drive, rather than a fixed monthly amount. With this "usage-based" pricing, your mileage and driving safety are measured by an installed tracking device that can monitor things like whether you accelerate and brake smoothly, allowing you to receive great discounts—if your driving satisfies the device’s algorithms.

Finding the right insurance provider

Now that you have a basic understanding of the different factors that influence prices you can better evaluate your insurance quotes. Some carriers may price more aggressively based on different factors. For example, some carriers may specialize in higher risk drivers with recent accidents or DUIs. If you are a higher risk driver, it may save you money to get a quote from one of these carriers. Conversely, if you are a low risk driver who rarely drives, it makes more sense to go with a carrier who prefers to serve low risk drivers.

Many times you can figure out if a carrier specializes in low risk or high risk drivers just by comparing quotes that incorporate these factors. Carriers that specialize in high risk drivers will often be able to provide a lower quote for high risk drivers and vice versa. This means rather than researching all carriers, you can request a quote and details like accidents, DUIs, etc. and then quickly filter out the relevant carriers based on their quotes.

Next steps

We've partnered with many of the leading car insurance carriers, including those that specialize in both high risk and low risk drivers. Using our form above, you can pre-qualify based on many of the eight risk factors. The service is free and anonymous. Once you are pre-qualified, you can then choose to go to the specific carrier to receive your custom quote.