Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Auto insurance: commonsense to keep your premiums down

Insurance is all about risk. However, the insurance companies are not gamblers, they have research and years of data behind their decisions. They have actuarial tables depicting life expectancies, ages, gender, race, education and reasons for death collected over time and over population densities. It is the real actual data, hence the name actuarial. Auto insurance companies combine that date with the data that the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) for crash statistics, car safety data, theft rates, repair rates, regional conditions and more.
What does that mean? That means they take your data, plug it into an algorithm in a computer, along with your credit score (gives them a hedge on whether you pay your bills) and come up with your premium. You may argue with it. You may even give them extra data like a bad driving record. Traffic citations, number of years driving, and the number of claims you have made over time all are predictors of your risk. So how do you bring your premiums down even when all the data seems stacked up against you? The answer is simpler than you think.
Work on your behaviors. Start with simple things first like car maintenance. Whether you have an unlimited income and drive a Porsche, or live for the day and drive a beat up old car, setting a routine to check it out before you drive can save you in un expected breakdowns or close calls. Create a notebook where you make your own table. Check your oil on regular intervals and check your tire pressure. Make sure your windshield wash is full. Check the fluids on a regular basis. At the start of fall (and spring depending on how many miles you drive) replace your windshield wiper blades. Have a mechanic, or do it yourself, check the battery condition. Make a note of how many mile you have on your breaks.
Then you can begin to work on your driving behaviors. Leave a little earlier. That way you won't be as frustrated when traffic bogs down because you gave yourself plenty of time. Make a conscious decision to slow for the yellow, stop for at least two counts at a stop sign; and signal for lane changes as well as turns. Statistically people who behave this way have lower premiums...they are lower risks. When you are looking at auto insurance, look at yourself in the mirror and ask "am I worth the risk?"

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