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UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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If you scroll through your monthly budget, you’ll see several different expenses that you could lower or eliminate completely. Unfortunately, auto insurance is an expense that you must pay if you’re licensed to drive and you own your own vehicle.
Once you buy a car, it’s your duty as the liable party to insure the car for as long as it’s in your name.
Searching for insurance the first time around can be intimidating. Not only do you have to decide on coverage options, you also have to compare rates through multiple carriers to find a deal.
Once you find the best deal, don’t assume you’ll be automatically billed the same payment amount forever. No matter how clean your driving record is, your policy will be scheduled to renew and your rates can change at that time.
Why do policies renew so often?
Depending on your state and the carrier you’re insured with, your policy will be set to renew once every six months or once every year. While buying insurance is no longer an extremely time-consuming process, learning that you’ll have to basically re-qualify for coverage in as little as six months can be a surprise.
Renewals are necessary because they protect the insurance company from charging inadequate rates. You could have a completely clean driving record when you apply for insurance but that could change in the blink of an eye.
If you get major traffic infractions or you cause serious injury in an accident right after you buy insurance, the company has to update your rates. They can’t update the rates during the term so they wait until renewal time.
Why do renewals often lead to a change in premiums?
Auto insurance renewal premiums can change for a myriad of different reasons. You could be paying very low rates when you start your relationship with a carrier just to see your rates climb up every time your renewal notice is sent. It’s frustrating to see your rates go up but it happens all across the country with all types of companies.
Some of the reasons for rate increases are because of changes in your personal rating factors and others are no fault of your own. If you’re shocked to learn that you’ll be paying 30 percent more this upcoming term, here are some of the reasons your rates could have increased:
- You were convicted of a moving violation and the insurer just ran your Motor Vehicle Record (if you didn’t complete traffic school)
- You had an accident during the term and you were found to be at fault
- You lost Good Driver discounts because of a combination of tickets and accidents
- You lost discounts for Driver Training or Mature Driver because you failed to provide documentation that was requested
- Your credit-based insurance score has gone down
- Your vehicle rating has gone up because of cost to repair, claims records, and other safety data that’s been collected in the last year
- You have lost a multi-car or multi-policy discount
- The insurance company has changed their rates through the state and you’re now paying more with the same rating factors
How do you find out if your renewal rates are going to go up?
You aren’t just expected to wait until your policy due date to learn whether or not your renewal rates are going to be higher. States have insurance departments protecting their consumers and they have declared that all companies must send their clients’ renewal notices in advance.
In most states, your renewal documents will be sent to you at least 30 days before your policy expires. You can find your specific expiration date by referencing either your declarations page or your ID card. If you haven’t gotten any information on your new rates at least a month before your expiration date, call your carrier.
If you pay your premiums manually, will you have to pay to keep your coverage?
If you are offered the option to renew, you have to be sure that your premiums are paid by the renewal date.
When you don’t pay, the insurance carrier takes that as you have decided to get insurance through another company and the coverage will lapse. Anyone who manually makes payments in person, by phone, online, or by mail should submit their payment per usual to keep their coverage.
Is there a way to set up an automatic renewal?
Every insurance provider has their own payment arrangement options. Some carriers like to offer flexible options to their consumers that will reduce administrative costs that are incurred by the company when policies lapse and need to be reinstated. You’ll have to check and see which options are most convenient for you.
If you pay for the entire term at once, there’s a chance that you can ask the company to keep your payment information on file to use it when your policy renews.
If you set up the automatic renewal draft, the money will come out of the account provided on the due date. You’ll have to contact the company if you don’t want to renew at least five days before the due date to cancel the draft.
What happens if you pay automatically each month?
If you have EFT payments set up on a monthly basis, your policy will probably renew automatically. This varies by companies but it is common for the draft to come out as long as the carrier sent you a schedule showing your new due dates and payment amounts.
Automatic renewals are convenient but you need to be sure to review your rates closely. If you aren’t happy with an increase, start to look for better rates elsewhere before you end the coverage. Use an online comparison tool for instant quotes and you’ll be on your way to cheap coverage.