The next time you get an auto insurance renewal notice in the mail, be prepared for sticker shock!
According to AAA’s annual Your Driving Costs study, a typical low-risk driver with a good driving record pays about $1,222 a year for insurance, up nearly 10%.
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Auto insurance rates are on the rise
Of course, your personal rate will vary depending on many factors, including the following:
- Type of car
- How much you drive
- Marital status
- Driving history
- Coverage limits
- Credit history
Over the past few years, AAA says rates have been rising — even for low-risk drivers — because there have been a greater number of collisions and higher insurance payouts.
If you haven’t already guessed, America’s smartphone habit is partly to blame for this trend.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says 3,477 people were killed in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2015 alone.
Texting is the most alarming distraction, according to the government agency.
Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.
Paying too much? Here’s what to do
If you’re not happy with your current auto insurance rate or your renewal rate, shop around!
Last year, I spent about an hour comparing rates from Geico, Progressive, Amica and State Farm and saved $100 by making the switch — and my coverage stayed the same.
Six months later, Progressive, the company that I switched to, increased my 6-month premium from $442 to $518, a $76 hike!
When I called up Geico, my former insurer, the numbers were even worse. The company sent me a bill for $541 before I switched to Progressive, but I got a quote for $759 this time around.
For the same coverage, a 6-month policy with Allstate was $1,141 and Esurance was $1,231. Ouch!
To recap, 6-month policy rates:
- Progressive — $518
- Geico — $759
- Allstate — $1,141
- Esurance — $1,231
Although comparison shopping doesn’t always result in a lower rate, it’s worth calling up a few reputable companies to see if they can offer you a better deal for the same coverage.
Have your existing policy with you to speed up the process, which usually takes about 15 minutes.
“There are enormous differences in what you pay in premiums from company to company,” Clark said. “So if you get hit with sticker shock with a much higher premium from your insurer, that’s your signal that you should go shop your auto insurance and see if you can find a better deal for your wallet.”
Clark generally recommends shopping around for auto insurance every two or three years, but you can do so at any time – and you don’t need to wait until you get a renewal notice.
To help you with the process, read our guide to the best auto insurance companies.