It’s easy to think of auto insurance as a fixed cost. Unless you move or buy a new car, you might not even think about it all. However, Michigan insurance pro Peter Vitale wants you to know that you might have a lot more control than you think. As the owner of Bloomfield Insurance in Bloomfield Hills, he’s picked up a lot of specialist knowledge about what drivers can do to maximize their coverage while minimizing costs.
What you pay has a lot to do with your driving habits, of course, but this general advice glosses over the more nuanced details that ultimately determine your rates. Peter Vitale is here to tell you more, so you can slash (or at least reduce) your bills.
This is more than just cutting down on speeding. It’s about knowing what other people are doing on the road. Is there someone else coming from the far left lane when you’re trying to merge into the middle one? Do you have enough time to brake if the person in front of you unexpectedly stops? Turning off your text messages and limiting distractions makes it easier to see who’s swerving a little and who keeps decelerating for no reason.
Dropping coverage should be approached with caution, but it is an option for certain kinds of drivers. For instance, if your car has seen better days and unlikely to be worth replacing if it’s totaled, you can consider liability-only coverage. Michigan insurance consultant Peter Vitale recommends that every driver answers a series of hypotheticals in this case. If you lose your car because of an accident, will you be able to get to work on time? What’s the expense of replacing if your car is stolen and you don’t have theft coverage? If you’re confident that you can get by, dropping coverage can save you some real money.
If you get a moving violation, such as rolling through a stop sign or a red light, you might amass points on your license. The more you have, the higher your insurance premiums will be. How long points stay on your license will depend on where you live, but there may be ways to knock a few off or eliminate them in the first place. Anything from a safe driving course to a courtroom challenge of the ticket can make it easier to keep your points down.
Consider taking a driving class even if you don’t have any marks against you. Doing this is not just a way to show your insurance company that you’re proactive, but it can help you be a better driver overall. Every licensed driver knows the principles of safe driving, but a class is a good reminder and can reinforce what you’ve already learned. It can even teach you tips to implement better habits — even if road rage is a daily occurrence.
Much like you might shop around for a sweater or an appliance, every insurance company has its own algorithms to determine how much you pay. One company might put more stock into how many accidents you’ve had while another will care mainly about speeding tickets. Since there isn’t a universal formula, the amounts can really vary, depending on which company you choose. While it may not be worth your time to check every auto insurer under the sun, it is definitely worth an hour or two to fill out a few quotes online and go from there.
Few people really knew how the pandemic would really affect them over time, but for most of us, we stopped driving nearly as much as we used to. Thus, there are now more companies that offer per-mile programs if you’d rather be charged only while you’re on the road. Many of these programs are location-based or dependent on your background, so keep that in mind as you do your research. You can also consider buses, trains, and carpool options to help you shave off miles (and wear-and-tear on your car).
You might think of a standard $500 deductible, but they can go lower or higher, depending on your policy and the company that you insure with. Insurance expert Peter Vitale recommends adjusting this number to see how the savings work out. Just keep in mind that your deductible is not per year like your medical insurance, but per accident. If you, unfortunately, run into claims in a year, this can end up costing more than you think.
Admittedly, this a more long-term tip as you likely bought your SUV or minivan for a reason. However, if you can switch to a commuter car, particularly an environmentally friendly one, you’ll likely see lower premiums. This might be more effort, but think of how you’ll help both yourself and the planet at the same time!
Your credit report is something of a standardized test for a lot of companies. Even if your payment history doesn’t seem to have anything to do with how you drive, it’s meant to be proof of your personal responsibility in life. This might be hard to accept for many people, but there is something making yours the best it can be.
Your first step is to verify the information is correct. Because there’s not just one bureau keeping track of your credit though, it’s easy for mistakes to occur. From there, start thinking of ways that you can eliminate your debt and keep up with your monthly bills.
An insurance company likes it when you do the work for them, and preventing theft is definitely something that you can work on. The right anti-theft system can not only stop criminals in their tracks, but it can also track your vehicle just in case they do break through the barriers. From alarms to LoJacks, this technology can translate to significant savings.
Going online to learn more about insurance discounts is a great start, but it’s also a great way to miss something. Peter Vitale knows that the people in Michigan all have their own backgrounds, which means that each person will have a different story for which benefits they’re available for. When you talk to someone, tell them that you’re looking for any and all ways to save, and the agent should take you through each one to see which ones apply for you.
Some companies will give you a (usually small) discount if you pay for your entire premium at the beginning. This gives your insurance company peace of mind, protects your credit report, and lets you settle your insurance in one lump sum instead of missing that money every month.
Peter Vitale knows that it can be tempting to save money at all costs. Thinking about all you could do with the extra funds can blind you to the potential consequences though. Most of the tips above are pretty fool-proof. There’s not a lot that can go wrong when you take an online driving course or buy a LoJack.
However, there are a few warnings to keep in mind as you go through the tips:
Quality: Just because a company has cut-through rates doesn’t mean that you’ll be happy you signed up with them. A poorly run company can make it difficult to file a claim, change your policy, or get your questions answered. At the end of the day, this can end up costing you far more than you save.
Honesty: If you run a side business that involves your car, such as ride-sharing or food delivery, your rates will likely be cheaper if you keep that to yourself. However, this can lead to a denial of coverage if you’re not careful, which again, can be far more financially damaging than being upfront.
Safety: Your personal safety is far more important than saving money. If you don’t feel comfortable taking mass transit or you would rather have a larger SUV in the event of a serious accident, these are important factors to take into consideration.
Peter Vitale has been in this business long enough to know that drivers miss out on discounts all the time for any number of reasons. Some aren’t paying attention because insurance is not the most exciting topic in the world, but many just don’t know that they’re even eligible for different categories of savings.
The above tips really just boil down to giving your policy more attention and figuring out what can be adjusted to your advantage. This is also a great time to understand how your coverage functions in different scenarios and whether you have enough in case something happens to you.