In early August of 2018, I finally worked up the nerve to take my driving test. It was long overdue, but the fact that I work primarily from home and didn’t go out much allowed me to put it off for years.
After getting my license, I started to hunt for a car. Family and friends warned me repeatedly that I should wait for a year or two before purchasing one as my insurance premium would be through the roof.
They weren’t lying. Most insurance companies denied me altogether, including AllState. The ones that would insure me wanted to charge me an arm and a leg. Here is one of the most unbelievable quotes I received at that time:
However, I didn’t go through all that trouble just to wait another year. To make matters worse, I am ridiculously stubborn and when I have my heart set on something — and I have already planned extensively for it — good luck trying to change my mind.
So, I kept looking and plotting. In less than three weeks of getting my first driver’s license, I bought my very first car, who my more regularly readers know lovingly as Seth. Before I could drive my 2016 Hyundai Accent Hatchback SE off the lot, I needed insurance.
I paid $1,070 to Esurance for 6 months of coverage. When I renewed with them this month for the second time, I only paid $750 for the same 6 months. Here’s how I got that 30% reduction after 12-months of coverage and how you might be able to achieve the same.
1. Start Off Right
When you get car insurance for the first time, it’s important to take all the discounts that you possibly can. There were several that I took advantage of when I first applied with Esurance. I tried to get the bundle discount, but found out that my husband was actually on his mom’s policy and my Dad’s insurance was bundled with another home he owned.
So, I had to get insurance on my own. I did, however, cut a few hundred dollars from my original quote because of the following reasons:
- I own my home.
- I have a bachelor’s degree.
- I took defensive driving classes.
- My annual mileage estimate was low.
- I chose the car with the lowest insurance premium.
- I signed up for the DriveSense program, which evaluates my driving.
2. Practice Good Driving
Knowing that your insurance company is monitoring your speeding and hard-braking events is enough to make most people think twice about their driving behaviour. When I told my friends about the app, they wanted to try one that was not tied to their insurance company, so we installed EverDrive. That helped me to better monitor my driving behavior and improve.
Because my driving habits were good, the DriveSense app gave me an additional discount both times that I renewed my policy. Those good driving habits also helped to keep me out of trouble on the road, so I have had an accident-free year. I haven’t so much as scratched a car in a parking lot.
3. Build Your Credit
In July of 2018, I bought a new phone. Desperate to improve my credit as an immigrant, I opened a credit account I didn’t need … to finance a phone I could afford to pay for in cash. My credit score took the hit. I wasn’t worried about it and thought my credit would recover in time for the car purchase. It did not. My credit score went from 750 to 718 and stayed there at the time of purchasing my car.
When I renewed my insurance this time around, I called the insurance company ahead of time to try to get every single discount I was elligble for. I was already getting all of them except one, but it required a credit check. My credit score at the time of renewal was 752, so I told them to go right ahead. My good credit score knocked off some extra bucks off my insurance.
4. Pay in Lump Sums
You may have noticed that I quote my insurance premium in bi-annual instead of monthly figures. That’s because I do pay my full insurance premium for six months in one lump sum. When I first came to America, I asked a family member why more people didn’t do this to save money. He laughed and said, “No one can afford to do that!”
Don’t let people convince you this is true. It’s not. It is even cheaper to pay annually when you get the choice. Both Mom and I pay our insurance premiums bi-annually together and we much prefer it. Not only does your insurance company provide you with a discount for doing so, but once you get it out of the way, that’s a monthly bill you can forget about for half a year.
5. Bundle With Someone
As I mentioned before, when I first got my insurance plan, I wasn’t able to bundle with anyone. However, that situation changed earlier this year when I talked my mom into purchasing her own car. Once she found one she loved and made up her mind, she asked if she could bundle with my insurance. I was surprised she hadn’t chosen to go with Dad, but was also happy for the bundle discount.
This is the largest discount I received so far. Note that you don’t have to bundle with parents or other family members. I’ve been told by friends that they successfully bundled with housemates. My husband was also able to bundle with his mom though they live at different addresses. I didn’t chance that with my Dad because for immigration, having two addresses on file can send Uncle Sam prying into your business more than usual.
6. Switch Companies
Many people know me as an adventurous person, but I am also a creature of habit. Once I get used to a particular company and I have a good experience with them, I am in no great rush to move on to another. I am especially grateful to Esurance for taking a chance on me for such a “low” cost when no one else would. By the time my renewal period comes around in December, I will have had insurance for 18 continuous months, making me a less risky driver.
Not having ever had insurance before is why many insurance companies denied my original application and why those I heard from wanted to quote me $1,200-plus monthly premiums. Who knows how much lower that insurance premium can go when companies have to compete for my business!
If you are a new driver worried about car insurance, I hope this article helps you find new ways to lower your monthly or bi-annual premium. However, note that insurance companies use multiple factors to decide the level of risk you bring to the table, so there is no guarantee that these will work for you. Still, there’s no harm in calling them up and asking!
To celebrate my one year anniversary with Seth, this is the first of a series of articles providing advice to new drivers. Stay tuned for more! If you have any additional advice on how new drivers can lower their insurance premiums, please share these in the comments below.