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Factors that Could Affect Auto Insurance Premium

Factor #1: Your Driving Record

It’s probably no surprise to you that insurers look at your driving record. They do so to gauge or estimate the risk to insure you. But what exactly are they looking for? Insurers will scan your driving record for at-fault accidents, traffic violations and claims made, usually within the last three to five years. If you’ve received marks against your driving record, you can bet you’ll be paying more for your auto insurance.

The good news: Marks against your driving record usually fall away in the eyes of your insurer after three years. You can avoid being penalized for a less than stellar driving record by driving as defensively as possible and avoiding filing small claims (such as those for hail damage) and paying for the repairs yourself.

Factor #2: Previous Insurance Coverage

If you’re applying for car insurance under a new insurer, your prospective agent will almost certainly look into your previous insurance coverage. He or she will want to know if you paid your premiums on time, how many claims you filed with your old insurer, as well as any other problematic behavior that would increase your risk to insure.

Any red flags in previous insurance coverage will likely result in an increased insurance rate. And unfortunately, if you’ve not been previously insured, you may pay more car insurance until you establish an insurance history.

The good news: You can avoid these penalties in the future by paying your premiums on time, avoiding filing small claims and maintaining a respectful relationship with your insurers.

Factor #3: Your Credit History

According to a recent study by insurance research firm Conning and Company, 92 percent of the nation’s 100 top insurers are factoring credit history into auto insurance premiums.

And while insurers are looking directly at credit scores, they’re more interested at how you’ve used your credit in the past. Insurers will look at the length of your credit history, the amount of revolving debt you have and any collections or late payments to form an insurance score.

And while critics and consumers alike accuse insurers of using credit-based scoring as an excuse to inflate auto rates, there’s a surprising amount of statistics to back the use of insurance scoring. In fact, studies have found that consumers at the bottom of the credit pool file 40 percent more claims that consumers with good credit. Insurers also use your credit history to judge the likelihood of paying your premiums on time. It’s for these and other reasons that insurance scoring is most likely here to stay.

The good news: You can improve your insurance score by paying your bills on time, paying down high existing balances (such as those on credit cards), and having your car insurance premium automatically withdrawn from your account every month.

Bonus tip: Insurers tend to grant discounts for customers with automatic bill pay!