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Take the lead on lowering auto insurance rates

Sticker shock at the gas pump? Lower insurance costs.
June 22, 2005 - Consumers are countering rising gasoline prices and other vehicle operating costs by capitalizing on lower auto insurance rates, according to leading insurers.

Auto policy costs and regulations vary significantly from state to state, but there are a number of areas that consumers are able to control and adjust to optimize prices and quality.

Financial experts offer these 10 tips for keeping your rates down:

Check credit rating. In all states except California and Georgia, an individual's credit rating is a key factor that affects auto insurance rates. Get copies of your credit report and correct any inaccurate derogatory points.

Check motor vehicle report. Like credit reports, state driving records may include inaccurate data on personal driving records. Report errors to both your state motor vehicle department and your insurance carrier.

Double check accident reports. Local law enforcement and insurance accident reports occasionally include mistakes that will result in a higher rate.

Never let coverage lapse and review deductibles. Maintaining coverage without a lapse makes a significant difference in rates. Additionally, drivers almost always save on premiums with higher deductibles of $500 or $1,000.

Look for package rates. Besides multiple-vehicle discounts, consumers often save substantially by packaging all their insurance policies together with one company.

Don't miss good-student and mature-driver discounts. Most insurers lower rates for mature drivers — 55 years old and older — and for students who carry a 3.0 grade-point average or better.

Take a driving safety course. Many insurers will cut rates for drivers who take an approved driving safety course.

Don't forget car pool credit. Many auto carriers drop premiums if you carpool to the office, especially if you drive more than 10 miles round trip.

Check rates before buying a new car. Insurance rates vary considerably from car to car.

Take credit for safety and security features. Drivers should make sure they are receiving lower rates for safety features such as air bags and anti-lock brakes.

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