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Five factors you must consider when buying auto insurance

June 5, 2014 1:25 p.m.
        There are a number of key factors most insurance companies use to calculate how much you'll pay for auto insurance. What's important to remember is that you can control many of these factors.
        Your location, age and driving habits all play a major role, as do the types of vehicles you drive and your record of accidents. In many cases, the choices you make about the coverage you want determine the cost of your premium.
        "Talking with an auto insurance professional about your particular needs can really help you find the best coverage at the lowest rate," said JJ Puccio, a State Farm Insurance agent in Statesboro.
        Below is a look at some key factors that affect your premiums, as well as some suggestions for keeping the costs down:


1. Coverage and deductibles
        Auto insurance providers allow you to choose your deductible and decide whether to add additional coverage that isn't necessarily required by the laws in your state. Compare car insurance, the specifics of your coverage and deductibles play a major role in your monthly payment.
        Typically, choosing a higher deductible means a lower monthly payment; choosing a lower deductible means a higher monthly payment. Additional coverage gives you added financial protection, depending on the claim, but also adds to your monthly costs.


2. What you drive
        By collecting a large amount of data from customer claims and analyzing industry safety reports, auto insurance providers often develop vehicle safety ratings and offer discounts to customers who drive safer vehicles.
        Some insurers increase premiums for cars more susceptible to damage, occupant injury, or theft, and lower rates for those that fare better than the norm.
        Before you head down to the dealership, do some research. Does the vehicle that has caught your eye have strong safety ratings? Is the same particular model often stolen? Knowing the answers to a few simple questions can go a long way in keeping your rates low.


3. How often, how far you drive
        People who use their car for business and long-distance commuting normally pay more than those who drive less. The more miles you drive in a year, the higher the chances of an accident - regardless of how safe a driver you are.
        Consider joining a car or van pool and other ways to drive less. If you reduce your total annual driving mileage enough, you may lower your premiums.


4. Your driving record
        Drivers who cause accidents generally must pay more than those who are accident-free for several years.
If you've been accident-free for a long period of time, don't get complacent! Remain vigilant and maintain your good driving habits.
        As time goes on, the effect of past accidents on your premiums will decrease.


5. Your age, sex and marital status
        Accident rates are higher for all drivers under age 25, especially young males and single males. Insurance prices in most states reflect these differences.
        If you're a student, your car insurance rates might also be in line for a discount. Most auto insurers provide discounts to student-drivers who maintain strong grades. In some states, younger drivers are also able to take driver safety courses that will lower premiums.
        This article is sponsored by JJ Puccio, an insurance agent for State Farm in Statesboro. He can be reached at (912) 764-9061, or visit him at 102 N. College St.

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