Car insurance rates barely dropped during the pandemic. Here’s how you can save in costs.
Between lockdowns and working from home, many Americans likely put fewer miles on their vehicles in the past year. Americans have driven 15% less on average during the pandemic than before. But they are not saving much on their car insurance. In some cases, they are even spending more.
According to a report by the insurance comparison company The Zebra, car insurance rates only fell by 3.9% during the pandemic. Locally – rates fell by just 3% in New York and by 6% in New Jersey. Rates went up in 18 states, according to The Zebra.
It has left some drivers to feel that they are being taken advantage of.
“Car insurance is based on a bunch of different factors. You can kind of think of them in four buckets: who you are, where you are, what you drive, and how you drive. So, mileage alone is obviously just one part of those four things,” says Nicole Beck with The Zebra.
But shouldn’t lower mileage have made more of a difference in the rates? It turns out, it is more complicated.
The data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that while Americans drove fewer miles, they didn’t drive more safely. In fact, over the first nine months of 2020, fatal accidents were up nearly 5%.
“People driving in the pandemic, while there were less of them, were driving with riskier behaviors,” says Beck.
She adds that this winds up impacting rates paid by other drivers as well.
“The more claims filed in an area, a ZIP code, or even a city, the higher the rates will be for everybody,” she says.
If driving less during the pandemic only drove down insurance rates a little, there are other things that drivers can do to save more money.
Paying in full instead of monthly could save up to 5% per year. Raising the deductible can save up to 10%. Bundling with homeowner’s and renter’s insurance could save another 5-10%. And the biggest way to save money on car insurance is to improve one’s credit score. This can make a difference of 15% or more.
Anyone who thinks that they will be driving less for a long time can also switch to a pay-per-mile plan. But this usually entails letting the insurance company monitor one’s driving, so it is not a good idea if one is prone to driving above the speed limit.