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Car insurance in New York is - again - on the high side when it comes to pricing. How to manage your premiums better.

Talk about history repeating itself and being in the wrong place at the wrong time: for the fourth year in a row, the 1994 Honda Accord has been the most stolen vehicle in the country according to multiple insurance industry reports, and last week the National Insurance Crime Bureau.

Of course, many people usually think of NYC as being the number one state when it comes to stolen vehicles, even though other states also rank just as high and also share the most commonly sold vehicle. But people aren’t far off in being scared away by high numbers of vehicle thefts that cause high premiums. Sure, there are other factors, like the statistics of how many accidents occur due to traffic congestion and due to resulting car accidents, but theft still remains the top contender for the high New York auto insurance premiums.

Premiums in New York (upstate, downstate, NYC, Long Island, you name it) can seem to be as high as the Empire State building, Dubbed the  ‘Empire State’ itself, the state is notorious for high insurance rates, especially for residents in or near “the island”. For “upstate” residents, it’s not quite as bad; unfortunately, higher risk in the city can cause rates to increase upstate as well. It makes it even more difficult when there are so many people that try to get around paying insurance, that they cause everyone else’s rates to increase. New Yorkers are probably tired of paying the high cost of everyone else’s claims and fraud, but until people are entirely honest, the cost of insuring in New York remains to be expensive.

So what are you supposed to do to combat these high premiums? If you’re not living in the city or don’t have access to public transit, the obvious choice is that you have to have a car. It’s an expensive, yet valuable protection. Usually to save money, friends, family, your insurer, and everyone will tell you to raise your deductibles, and drop ‘full coverage’ (which simply means comprehensive and Collision and comprehensive coverage—aka, no protection to replace or repair your car if it were damaged.)

So how do you really avoid the costs of expensive auto insurance in New York, and what’s the best way to do without sacrificing insurance entirely, possibly hurting your future score, or without skimping on liability coverage?

However, it’s not a wise move to ‘Rob Peter to Paul’ (or however that old saying goes.) If you’re getting the skimpiest amount of auto insurance available—ie, state minimum liability only, no physical damage coverage, and no extra options, you could be putting yourself up for a very large loss if you ever cause an accident. New Yorkers in the city reading this may think, ‘eh, I don’t have to worry about it, I don’t have car and take the subway and taxis.’ But people in other parts of the state need coverage, and those who don’t have to worry about auto insurance, may one day find that their lack of auto insurance will turn around and bite them in the tail fender. With that in mind, how do you keep auto insurance rates low if you do have own a car and carry standard auto insurance, and how and why does any  lack of insurance hurt your future rates, and most importantly, what can you do about it?

1.     Shop

  • Many people don’t need encouragement to shop, but it really is the first option to discuss when trying to find affordable New York auto insurance.
  • Even though New York tends to be higher in premium, it remains that insurance company has their own special way of rating so that what is too high for one, someone else may find much more reasonable for their needs.
  • If you already have auto insurance (New York or any other state) make sure you have a copy of it when you go online to compare quotes or talk to someone on the phone to get quotes.

 2.     You Want to Make Sure to Have an Apples-to-Apples Side-by-Side Comparison

  • Many people do not realize that if they have higher liability limits they receive bigger discounts when they switch companies. Make sure to discuss the limits you already have, and discuss the differences in prices between the liability levels.
  • In a litigious society, we need to be conscious to protect our assets in the event that someone has an option to sue. Very often the difference between $50,000 and $100,000 is a couple dollars a month.

 3.     Play With Deductibles

  • If you live in or near the city, your collision insurance is probably going to be your biggest cost.
  • If you must have collision insurance because of a car loan, talk to your agent about having the highest deductible.
  • Sure you will have to pay out more for a claim, but collision is the coverage that pays out when you are at fault for damage to your own vehicle.
  • If you are a very safe and careful driver with little to no history of prior accidents, you might want to take on that risk and save yourself thousands of dollars a year.

4. Play with options

  • If you do not have a car loan, consider taking collision and comprehensive coverage entirely and just opt for liability coverage. The important note here—given NY’s high accident and violation numbers, don’t reduce your liability limits to less than $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident for personal injury liability and $100,000 for property damage.
  • Remember though—comprehensive covers theft, fire, glass, storm, and animal. If you have a nice car that isn’t so easily replaced, it makes sense to at least cover it for things out of your control.
  • PIP (Personal Injury Protection) is pretty expensive on New York car insurance policies. There are some ways to reduce that expense, but you have to meet certain requirements to do so. Talk to your agent about those options. If you are retired or if you have a great benefits package at work, you might be able to exclude some of the PIP options to decrease your premium.
  • If you don’t need roadside or rental, take them off. It might not cost much, but if you are trying to squeeze into a tight budget, it might make sense to do that. Especially if you have a close family or friend who is in the towing business, or if you have access to other vehicles to drive if yours is out of commission.

 5.     Consider a Named-Non Owner Policy

  • True fact—there is insurance called named-non-owner insurance that’s a liability only policy following you whenever you drive someone else’s car. It’s a policy that follows the drivers in whatever car they’re in.
  • The importance of a named-non owner policy isn’t just so you can feel safer while driving or so that other drivers can. Instead, it’s a way of ensuring you carried constant liability insurance policy in case you cause an accident. It’s a way for you to always have insured, and since insurance follows the driver, it’s essential you have this if you ever do travel with other people’s vehicles. One of the best reasons for named-non-owner policies you’ll be rated in the future.
  • True, you don’t have a car, but if you’re still driving, you have the potential to cause an accident and at least have some kind of funding from your policy and the owner’s policy. If you do want get a name-non-owner insurance policy, you can get several auto insurance quotes at reasonable prices since named-non owner policies are liability coverage only and are typically very inexpensive—even with higher liability limits, of course depending on your driving record and insurance information.
  • These policies are THE answer to making sure your insurance history doesn’t come back to haunt you in the future—possibly worse than some accidents and violations will. Insurers give discounts for continuous coverage, and the longer you have insurance, the better your rates. Insurers don’t care if you don’t have a car as they know these policies exist, so they don’t accept a gap at all and it can sometimes triple or quadruple rates—even if you go without coverage for a few days. For New Yorkers in the city, this is the BEST choice if you don’t have a car but need to carry coverage.

Living in New York certainly has its advantages, whether in the city or upstate. However, auto insurance isn’t always advantageous. Knowing these simple points can really help cut costs that New Yorkers pay for car insurance.

Picture: Photocase.