Car Insurance: Are You Leaving Money On The Table?

Listen: with the economy the way it is, with gas prices going up, with taxes going up, it is more important than ever to find ways to save money. One place that you can save a lot of money is on your auto insurance.

But you know what's interesting? No matter how many commercials we see from companies like Geico and Progressive telling you to shop around and get the best rate, no matter how many of those commercials we see, 90% of the people never shop.

Make sure that you're not one of those people. You work long hours and you don't want to throw away money on the table that you could save on your auto insurance. You can save lots of money -- hundreds and maybe thousands of dollars a year -- just by making a few phone calls and shopping around.

Now, the Insurance Research Council says that if you shop around, you can save nearly $900 a year on your auto insurance. Think of all the things you could buy for $900 a year.

Where should you start? Well, call your insurance company and asked them if you qualify for any of the different discounts that they offer. I'll bet you you don't even know all the different discounts you could get. Of course there are auto insurance discounts for things like having a good driving record, but did you know that if you're a student and you have good grades, you can even get a discount for that? Now, it may only amount to 2-5%, which doesn't sound like a lot. But think about how much you are paying for auto insurance. Suddenly, a couple of percent here and there does add up.

The biggest discount comes if you've got a good, accident free driving record. That alone can be worth up to 20% in discounts per year in savings. But as soon as you get a single ticket -- there go the discounts. So be careful.

And speaking of tickets, make sure you know how many points you have on your license. If you don't remember, call the Department of Motor Vehicles and have them look up your record. And if you have more than 3-4 points, you might qualify for a discount simply by taking a safety class. Now many car insurance companies will sponsor classes to promote safe driving and sometimes you can take those classes and reduce your insurance costs. We're not talking about a lot of your time -- maybe one day or four or five hours over several days. Most of the classes cost a little bit of money but not too much -- maybe $20-$50. But that's a small price to pay in order to get a substantial discount on your car insurance.

Of course it should go without saying that you need to shop around every couple of years. Look around, compare prices. Even though you believe your current auto insurance company is the best one, things change.

Your rates also depend on where you live. If you've moved or if you're planning to move, shop around for auto insurance. Your car insurance company might offer a completely different rate for the city you're about to move to.

So that's the reality on saving money for your car insurance. Shop around and compare prices. And of course, drive safely. It really pays.