Jessica Sautter is a Content Writer for with a Bachelor’s Degree from Eastern Michigan University in Elementary Education with a Major in Reading and a Minor in Mathematics.

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager

UPDATED: Nov 9, 2020

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Key takeaways...

  • A good driving record can help keep your rates low
  • Your location contributes to your rates based on the number of traffic accidents, car thefts, and other potential hazards in the area
  • Companies may put more weight on the location of your home address rather than your work address

Discount car insurance quotes may come fast and furious from many different companies, but there are a number of facts to note before you jump on the first one you like to purchase a policy.

The rate offered in a quote may not exactly match the rate you are offered when it comes time to signing a policy, which makes paying attention to the information that goes into your quote of utmost importance

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Quotes May Not Take All Facts into Account


A number of factors go into setting the rates for insurance, many of which you provide when requesting a quote.

Although the request form may seem comprehensive, there are factors that may be left out of the discount quote, only to come into play when it comes to offering you a policy.

One of the first things insurance companies do when calculating your cost is establish a base rate, according to the Washington State Insurance Commissioner.

Factors that make up the base rate generally include your location, age, gender and marital status, and car use. Your driving record and vehicle type and year also contribute to your base rate.

Your location contributes to your rates based on the number of traffic accidents, car thefts, and other potential hazards in the area.

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Location and Personal Information

The higher rates based on location will usually show up with an increased premium for collision and liability policies.

Companies may put more weight on the location of your home address rather than your work address, regardless of which location may result in lower or higher rates.

Where you park your car can also be a factor.

Lower rates may come from parking in a protected lot, garage, or location that is more secure than simply parking on the street.

Your age and gender contribute to your rates because statistics prove certain groups are at a higher risk of accidents than others.

People under age 25 are in a high-risk group of drivers, with males under age 25 in one of the highest risk groups around.

Another high-risk group consists of people over age 65 of either gender.

Statistics on married people show they are at less of a risk of accidents than unmarried individuals. Married couples, therefore, usually enjoy lower rates than single people.

Vehicle Use, Type, and Record


How and when you use your vehicle contributes to your rates, with lower mileage typically earning lower rates. Miles you amass commuting to work are counted differently than miles you amass driving for pleasure.

Jobs that require heavy vehicle use, such as delivery work or jobs involving house calls, may merit a higher rate than desk jobs at which you do not use your car.

Cars that are often stolen or expensive to repair will typically cost more to insure than other vehicles that hold up better in crashes or are less costly to repair.

New cars are usually more expensive than used or older models, and high performance or sports cars are often near the top of the cost list.

A good driving record can help keep your rates low, while tickets and accidents can make them skyrocket.

The number of past claims you filed with car insurance companies also plays a part in your current rates.

Even if you are not totally honest about your driving record or claim history when requesting a quote, the truth will come out when the insurance company offers you a policy.

Not being completely honest with an insurance company can do more than simply raise your rates.

Companies generally have the power to cancel their offers or even cancel your policy if they find out you either misrepresented or withheld pertinent information when applying for a policy.

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Other Factors Used for Your Rates

While the list of factors is already lengthy, there are still others that go into calculating your insurance rates.

Federal law dictates your credit history can impact your car insurance rates, although not every state agrees that the practice is fair.

Washington’s Insurance Commissioner, for instance, introduced a bill that limits what information can be used to determine credit scores.

Your credit history may be used to establish an insurance score.

Your rate may not be based on your own information alone, but may instead be based on all of the licensed drivers in your household.

This can include family members, as well as roommates who are not related to you, covering anyone who may conceivably be able to drive your vehicle.

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Quotes May Not Include the Insurance You Need


Discount quotes from insurance companies may be able to stay at the lowest prices because they only include the minimum amount of insurance required by law.

Each state has its own laws regarding how much and what type of insurance licensed drivers must have, and quotes may stick to the bare minimum to keep the rates most attractive.

Coverage can vary dramatically, the Texas Department of Insurance notes, with eight basic types available on the standard state policies alone.

All eight are not required by state law, but their additional coverage may be useful for many drivers.

Types of insurance include:

  • Liability for damage to other vehicles
  • Liability for injuries to other people
  • Personal injury protection
  • Medical payment coverage
  • Collision
  • Comprehensive
  • Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage

Additional options may also exist, such as coverage for rental car reimbursement, towing costs, or emergency service.

Unless you somehow specify the exact type and limits on insurance you want above the bare minimum when requesting a quote, your quote may include just the basics or a combination of the various types.

Quotes May Not Include All Possible Discounts

While insurance companies may automatically apply certain discounts when offering a quote, others may not be included.

Discounts they can usually automatically apply are the factory safety and security features that came with your vehicle, but they may not be aware of additional features you added that could reduce your insurance rates even further.

Insurance companies can also access your driving record and apply a good driver discount, but they may not be aware of other eligibilities.

Discounts for being a good student, a mature driver, or completing a defensive driving class may not be factored into the mix.

Other potential discounts noted by the Illinois Department of Insurance include those for carpooling, having low annual mileage, and having a college student living away from home.

Others may come from insuring more than one vehicle or having more than one type of policy with the same company.

Even if your eligibility is obvious based on the information you provided to obtain the quote, double check that any and all applicable discounts were applied.

Quotes May Be Negotiable, But Only to a Degree


Quotes are not the bottom line, but you may be able to make the bottom line even lower if you attempt to negotiate with the insurance company.

There is absolutely no harm in asking if a company can give you a break or match a quote you received from another company, although you may not get the answer you want.

Although insurance companies do have the power to set their own rates, most states require pre-approval from the state insurance commissioner before those rates can go into effect.

Rate criteria noted by the Indiana Department of Insurance include being adequate, fair, and non-discriminatory. They must also refrain from being excessive.

The regulation of insurance rates by the state helps to ensure that costs are both competitive and obtainable for a fair price.

Knowing what goes into the rate calculations and providing accurate, detailed information can go a long way to obtaining quotes that are equally as accurate and work for you.

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