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Your car insurance rate can fluctuate, even if you haven’t been in an accident recently. While some reasons for this may be in your control, some aren’t — such as an increased crime rate in your area.

Here’s what you need to know about car insurance rates and why they go up:

Can car insurance rates fluctuate?

Car insurance rates can go up or down for a variety of reasons. Though it may seem like it happens out of the blue, insurance carriers don’t raise or lower insurance premiums for no reason.

You’re likely familiar with some of the common factors that affect your premium, such as a change in address, auto accidents, and adding a new vehicle to your policy. The important thing to keep in mind is that rates tend to fluctuate based on your perceived risk to insurers.

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Can I lock in my car insurance rate?

Unfortunately, most insurance carriers won’t allow you to lock in a rate, which is when your car insurance premium stays the same year after year. However, some insurance providers may offer a rate lock as a feature, where your rates won’t change even if you make a claim — the premium will change only when you make changes to your insurance policy, like adding a new driver. Contact your insurer to find out if it offers this option.

While you won’t be able to lock in a rate in most cases, you can pay your monthly premiums for the year in advance, either when you purchase a new auto insurance policy or when you renew. Or, if you’d rather not pay all at once, your insurer may give you the option to pay for six months at a time. Another advantage of this strategy is that many insurance carriers offer a discount for paying the year’s premiums up front.

Read More: Car Insurance Guide: Everything You Need to Know

Why did my car insurance go up?

Whether your car insurance rate already went up or you’re curious about potential changes to your premium, here are several reasons why auto insurance rates may increase:

Changes to your driving record

Adding new incidents to your driving record — such as speeding violations, car accidents (whether or not you were at fault), and reckless driving — can raise your auto insurance premium. Filing claims in the past couple of years can also influence how much you end up paying for car insurance. The more claims you’ve made, the more likely your premium will go up.

All these incidents increase your perceived risk as a driver, and insurers will respond by raising prices to account for a higher chance that you’ll file a claim.

Moving to a new location

Different locations have different risk factors, such as the number of car accidents and the cost of repairs. Insurance carriers look at these factors as a way to assess your risk of being in a car accident or filing a claim for another reason (like vandalism).

For example: If you move from a rural area to a larger city, you may have to pay more because there are more cars on the road, and speed limits may be higher, two contributing factors in car crashes.

Changes in your current location

If your area has experienced a higher number of claims recently due to perils such as theft or natural disasters, it’s more risky for an insurance carrier to cover drivers in that location. Therefore, auto insurance rates may go up because the insurance data in your area shows more risk. That means even if you don’t make any changes to your policy, your premium may still go up.

Adding a new driver

Adding a new driver will increase your insurance risk, since an additional driver means a higher chance of your car being on the road and getting into an accident.

Keep in mind: Your rate could go up even higher if the additional driver is a teenager or a driver with a poor driving record.

Vehicle changes

Your rate may go up if you purchase a new vehicle or one that’s of a higher value. New cars typically cost more to repair or replace than used cars, and luxury vehicles may be at higher risk of theft. In some cases, vehicles with parts that are considered to be in high demand are also considered higher risk.

Do car insurance rates ever go down?

Yes, your car insurance premium can go down for several reasons, including:

  • Less coverage: Many drivers decrease their coverage for an older vehicle. For example, you may consider dropping comprehensive coverage and sticking with liability only, or whatever is required at a minimum by your state.
  • Good driving record: Insurers reward good drivers. You’ll generally qualify for a more competitive premium if you maintain a clean driving record free of speeding tickets or car accidents.
  • Loyalty discounts: Plenty of insurers offer discounts for policyholders who renew their policy or stick with them for a certain number of years. If you’ve had the same car insurance carrier for several years, you may qualify for a loyalty discount that drops your premium.
  • Increase in deductible: In general, the higher your deductible, the lower your premium will be. So, if you raise your deductible, you’ll typically get a lower premium. Keep in mind that a higher deductible means you’ll have to pay more out of pocket before your insurer pays for repairs on approved claims, so make sure you can afford to pay the deductible in the event you file a claim.

How to keep car insurance rates from getting expensive

You can maximize opportunities to save on your car insurance premium by doing the following:

  • Shop around. Getting quotes from multiple insurance carriers enables you to find the best price for the coverage you’re looking for. Consider getting quotes from at least three insurance providers before your current policy expires to potentially switch insurers and save money.
  • Ask about discounts. Contact your current insurance provider to see what kinds of discounts it offers, and whether you qualify for any. For example, some insurers offer discounts for choosing paperless statements, being a loyal customer, and installing anti-theft devices in your car.
  • Maintain good credit. Many car insurance carriers look at your credit score as a factor when determining your premium. A couple ways to maintain good credit include paying your bills on time, every time, and keeping your credit balances low. In addition, consider checking your credit score each year to dispute any inaccurate information on your credit reports. You can do this for free at AnnualCreditReport.com.
  • Bundle insurance policies. Many insurance providers offer discounts if you purchase multiple policies through them. For instance, you can bundle home and auto insurance to save on costs.
  • Seek out group insurance opportunities. Some employers offer group plans for their employees, which could result in significant discounts. You may also be able to get group discounts through alumni, business, and professional organizations. It might be worth taking some time to contact these groups to find out what they offer.


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Disclaimer: All insurance-related services are offered through Young Alfred.

About the author
Sarah Li-Cain
Sarah Li-Cain

Sarah Li-Cain is a personal finance journalist with work featured in major outlets such as Bankrate, CNBC Select, and NextAdvisor (in partnership with Time).

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