If you're like most drivers, your insurance company raises your premiums every year even when you have made no claims.
The cost of auto insurance in Texas is already one of the highest in the country. It averages about $2,330 a year. That's just for one person. Add your spouse and teen drivers onto your policy, and you are looking at several thousands more. Rates are headed up next year with most companies.
Nationwide is raising its premiums by 9 percent in 2019. Liberty Mutual's rates are going up 7 percent.
To keep your premiums low, you should shop around and check prices annually, but don't switch companies every year.
"About three years gives you the opportunity to show that you're a loyal client and that you will stay with the insurance company for a while and they like that," said Chris Mims, an independent insurance broker with Mims Integra Insurance.
Mims says he's found insurance companies offer the best rates to consumers who don't hop around too much.
"It costs money to write a new policy; and so if you're bouncing around every six months or so, insurance companies are going to see that," he explained. "They see how long that you're with a company and they're going to give you a different rate."
Free Services Can Drive Up the Cost of your Insurance
Put on the brakes before you use that supposedly free roadside assistance from your policy.
"A company may not raise your personal rate at that point in time because you've had several roadside assistance claims, but if you're going to shop and look for a better rate, those claims are gonna be held against you by some companies," Mims said.
The same is true for so-called free glass repair. You don't pay anything, but it counts as a claim against your insurance. When one of Mims' clients tried to get a new policy, one glass repair claim raised her premium by $295 a year.
"It doesn't cost you as the insured at that moment any money, but in the end, every claim is gonna cost money to somebody. Nothing is free," he said.
Beware of Devices that Monitor your Driving
Lastly, Mims says those tracking devices some insurance companies offer to plug into your car to monitor your driving habits and give you discounts don't work that well in our area. If you are often in a lot of stop-and-go traffic where you may have to brake hard because the driver in front of you does, that can count against you.
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