Auto insurers may be able to help Arizonans distressed by ever-increasing gas prices. The Consumer Federation of America says consumers who are driving less could save an average of 5 percent to 15 percent on their automobile insurance rates.
In Arizona, that could mean an annual decrease of $53 to $160.
Drivers switching to mass transportation and/or car pooling and taking fewer trips could get immediate savings on auto insurance, according to the federation.
Drivers who have stopped driving a car to work or school can have their insurance classification changed from “drive to work” to “pleasure,” resulting in premium savings of 10 percent to 15 percent. Motorists driving only part of the way to work may be able to change their classification from the “drive to work” mileage classification, resulting in savings of 5 percent to 10 percent.
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., the largest insurer of autos in Arizona, rewards drivers who log less than 7,500 miles each year with lower premium rates, said spokesman Gus Miranda.
“They probably see a rate discount in the area of 12 percent to 18 percent,” he said. “A lot of people are changing their driving habits, and if they drive under that mileage limit, that can save them some money.”
Policyholders have to track their mileage for a year to prove that they didn’t exceed 7,500 miles, Miranda said. Staying below 7,500 miles may not be a struggle for drivers who are retired, commute often and/or don’t need to drive often, he said.
“In Arizona, and Phoenix specifically, (traveling) across the Valley is very difficult to do under 7,500 miles per year,” he said. “But people are inquiring about (taking) the bus or other modes of transportation, car pooling and those types of things to help keep the mileage down on vehicles.”
Arizonans insured by Farmers Insurance Group can see an immediate savings if they simply tell their agents they have cut back on driving, said spokesman Cristofer Pereyra.
“You can walk in and say ... I’m driving less,” he said. “That’s the way it works. But of course, when there is a claim, if it is significant, there will be an investigation and hopefully that person hasn’t been lying to an insurance company.”
Another way drivers may be able to save money on insurance is by increasing their deductible, Pereyra said.
“If someone hasn’t had an accident for five years or longer, and they have a low deductible like $500, or even $250 or $100, that same person could save a lot of money throughout those five years or more if they would have had a higher deductible, like $750 ... or $1,000,” he said. “It would be a lot cheaper for them to pay the extra $500 in the rare case they have an accident, and save all that money throughout five years or more.”
Increasing your deductible won’t save you money, however, if you’re prone to accidents, Pereyra said.
Another way consumers can save on insurance costs is by bundling their auto, homeowner’s and life insurance policies with one carrier.
“A lot of people don’t think they have options,” Pereyra said. “They think it’s all about their age, their driving record and the car they drive. But there are ways to tweak it and make it cheaper.”
Switching to a lower-classification vehicle, such as a four-cylinder one, can also mean lower insurance rates, Miranda said.
“Obviously, lower-classification vehicles ... are going to be cheaper to insure than, say, a Hummer,” he said. “Personally speaking, I traded in a Ford F-150 Super Crew Cab for a four-cylinder Nissan Altima just because the cost of gas and other factors that cost me as an individual.”