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The best times to evaluate your car insurance

It’s good practice to reevaluate your car insurance coverage once or twice a year, because many life changes can adjust your premium payments. The rate you pay for car insurance isn’t set in stone because it’s based on so many factors that can change over time.

This is especially important if you’re inadvertently paying more than you need to for insurance coverage, or your policy doesn’t provide the level of coverage you now need. Here are the best times to evaluate your car insurance and see if you’re getting the best deal for your needs.

When you buy a new car

You have a grace period of about seven to 30 days (depending on your insurance policy) to inform your insurance provider that you bought a new car, but you can also shop for policies before you buy. You must get a policy on your new car by the time your grace period ends, or you risk driving without insurance.

It’s a myth that new cars are always more expensive to insure than older cars. Factors that affect your insurance rates, besides the age of the car, include:

  • The make and model, including if it’s a car that’s more commonly stolen
  • The car’s safety features
  • The cost of repairing or replacing the car’s components

When your family situation changes

Changes to your family mean changes to who is on your insurance policy. If you get married, this can affect your insurance rates (generally being married lowers rates). Adding your spouse to your policy can increase or decrease your payments, depending on their driving record. Even if your spouse doesn’t own a car and rarely drives, it might be worth it to add them to your policy to lower your rates.

If your teenager starts driving, adding them to your policy can increase rates substantially because teens are statistically less safe drivers. However, you can take advantage of discounts for teens:

  • If their GPA is 3.0 or higher
  • If they take a defensive driving course
  • If they’re away from home for school and aren’t driving as often

When the amount you drive changes

Depending on which state you live in, driving fewer miles per year can lower your insurance premiums by a noticeable amount. For example, in California, increasing the miles you drive in a year from 5,000 to 10,000 means your insurance rate would increase by about 17 percent.1

So if you previously had a long commute but started to work from home this year, you relocated to a home much closer to your office, or you moved to a more walkable area so you don’t drive as often, check with your insurance provider to see if you’re eligible for a lower rate.

When your premiums go up

If your premiums increase and there have been no changes to your driving record, it’s worth checking to see if you’re getting the best coverage for your money. This might be time to compare your current insurance provider with others to see if you can find a competitive rate.

When You Move

Insurance rates are location-dependent (like, again, how California offers lower rates if you drive less, but North Carolina doesn’t). If you move, see how that changes your premiums.

Even a move within one state (or one city!) can make a difference. If you move from a more urban to a more rural area, for example, your rates may decrease, and vice versa.