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Worldwide, auto accidents claim over 1.3 million lives per year. And in the US alone, there are some 37,000 auto accident fatalities annually, along with over 2 million injuries and around $230 billion in related expenses.

When you let those kinds of statistics sink in, it’s easy to see why the average cost of car insurance (comprehensive) is over $100 a month.

But while you may be able to comprehend why insurance prices tend to be higher than you’d like to pay, what you’re really probably interested in is how to make you own personal car insurance premiums as low as possible.

For extensive information in everything driving-related, check out the insurance quadrant of this in-depth online driving guide. Below, we’ll focus on just one thing: better understanding what’s affecting your car insurance costs.

1. Where You Live

Not only state of residence but locality will affect your auto insurance quote. That’s why insurers immediately ask for a zip code. A congested city is a higher-risk area than lonely country roads, for example.

2. Age & Gender

In most states, age and gender affect car insurance rates. Those below 25 typically see higher raters due to inexperience, while the elderly see their rates go up due to declining reaction time and physical ability. And since males are more likely to get in an accident, they almost always pay higher premiums.

3. Marital Status

On average, married couples tend to pose a lesser risk to insurers than do singles, divorcees, and widows/widowers. Therefore, fair or not, many car insurance companies have rates for marrieds that are 5% to 15% lower than for their non-married counterparts.

4. Use of Vehicle

There are two ways in which the way you use your vehicle will affect your insurance costs. First, it you drive more miles per year, you’ll see higher rates since the more time you spend on the road the more likely you get into an accident. Second, if you use your vehicle for work, it may cause your rates to go up or may prevent you from being covered at all under a personal auto policy.

5. Continuous Coverage

Another major factor insurers look at in determining your rates is whether you’ve had any gaps in coverage. If so, your rates might go up a little, if the gap was very long or if there are frequent coverage gaps involved.

6. Type of Vehicle

One of the most basic and obvious factors that affect car insurance prices is what kind of car you are insuring. More expensive cars cost more to insure (even if they have extra safety features) because they cost more to repair or replace. Vehicles with high theft rates and accident rates or that do poorly on safety tests, however, will also see premium increases.

7. Driving Record

A clean driving record will almost always get you a lower insurance rate than a record with moving violations on it in the recent past – often 25% lower. One or two speeding tickets could increase your rates by 50%, and a DUI could more than double them or simply get your policy canceled.

8. Claims Record

It only makes sense that those with a history of making lots of expensive claims will send up red flags with auto insurance companies. Who was at fault, how frequently the claims were made, and for how much will all be weighed.

9. Credit Score

Although it’s very controversial and not all auto insurers do it, many times your rates can go up based on a poor credit score. Or, you could be required to pay 6 or 12 months of premiums up front to get covered at all in extreme cases.

10. Amount of Coverage

Finally, whether you opt for liability only or full out comprehensive car insurance can easily be a 100% difference in rates. If you’re buying a car on credit that is worth very much, however, you may be required to buy comprehensive by the lender.

Knowing which factors determine your car insurance rate will give you perspective in shopping for car insurance. Some factors you can’t do anything about, while others you can. But you’re in a better position aware of how the equation works than if you’re not.

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