According to many personal finance experts, you can negotiate discounts for just about anything, including expensive jewelry and electronics.
But can you do the same thing and negotiate a cheaper car insurance premium with your insurer?
The answer is yes, you can. The key to dealing with automobile insurers and insurance brokers is knowing what questions to ask in order to nab the lowest premium.
Here are 5 questions you can ask to obtain a discount, negotiate better prices and ensure you have the right auto insurance coverage.
1. Is my driving safety record taken into consideration?
Asking an open-ended question to find out the discounts an insurer offers may be the best place to start, says Storm Wilkins, assistant professor of insurance at Temple University in Philadelphia.
“Ask them to list all the criteria and see which you meet or change something like buying anti-theft devices,” she adds.
If you've been a safe driver with no accidents or speeding tickets over the last five years, you may be entitled to a discount. "Good drivers with no accidents pay the lowest possible rates," says Jack Hungelmann, author of “Insurance for Dummies.”
If you have a clean driving record, you can pay up to 30 percent less for car insurance than drivers who have a crash or tickets on their record, Hungelmann says.
Wilkins agrees: Insurers are focused on minimizing risks, so driving safely all the time lowers risk and keeps premiums down, he says.
2. Do I qualify for a multi-policy discount?
If you have two or more types of policies with the same insurer, such as homeowner’s and automobile insurance, you're often entitled to discounts of up to 15 percent off your premium, Hungelmann says.
3. Will I get a discount if I take a defensive driving class?
Most states offer discounts for customers who take a defensive driving class.
However, whether or not you qualify varies by state. For example, in Minnesota, drivers who are 55 years and older and take a three-hour class can get a 10 percent discount on their premium for three years, Hungelmann says.
4. What if I have the latest safety devices installed in my car?
Drivers who install anti-theft devices, automatic lock brakes and passenger air bags may qualify for a 10 percent discount, Hungelmann says.
If these devices are factory installed, consumers are still entitled to a discount, says Loretta Worters, Insurance Information Institute vice president.
If your car has the full complement of anti-theft devices such as fuel, ignition and starter cut-offs that prevent the car from starting, vehicle identification numbers etched into at least two windows and alarm devices, you may qualify for a discount of up to 35 percent, Worters says.
5. Will a higher collision deductible lower my premium?
Raising your collision deductible from $500 to $1,000 is a sure way to save at least 10 percent on your annual fee, says Michael Barry, spokesman for the nonprofit Insurance Information Institute.
However, he warns that doing this is "basically a sign that you're willing to file a claim only if there's a substantial loss." If you increase your deductible, you run the risk of paying more out of pocket if you need to make a claim.
6. If my automobile is getting older, can I drop collision insurance?
Barry says drivers with cars 10 years and older could consider dropping collision insurance. If your car is worth $5,000 or less, repairing your car after a severe accident may not make much sense. Dropping collision insurance can lower your premium by 20 percent, depending on the insurer, Barry says.
7. Is my lower annual mileage factored into my policy?
The definition of “low mileage” varies with each provider but usually falls between 7,500 and 15,000 miles per year, Worters says. If your annual mileage is below this range, ask your insurer about a low-mileage discount, which varies by insurer.
In addition, if you change jobs and work a mile from home instead 40 miles, let your carrier know, Wilkins says.
"The less you commute to work, the less you pay," Barry says.
8. If my under 25-year-old son or daughter is away at college without the car, can that lower my premium?
If you son or daughter is 25 years old or under is attending college 100 miles or more away from home and didn’t take their car to college, you may be entitled to a lower premium, Barry says. "Since the youngster isn't likely to be driving much, it's taken into consideration," he says.
9. Is my credit score taken into consideration?
For over 20 years, most insurers have used credit-based insurance score, which is a proprietary score based on your credit history, to determine the likelihood of whether or not you’ll file a claim. Statistically, a person with a poor credit history are more likely to file an insurance claim than someone with an excellent history.
So if you have a good credit score, ask if this may qualify you for a discount.
10. If I’m over 65, do I qualify for a discount?
With many insurers, people aged 65 and older may qualify for a premium because they’re retired and typically drive fewer miles.