Reviewing your auto insurance policy is something you should do every few years or whenever there’s a change in vehicles or your lifestyle. This past year, thanks to the global pandemic, more people than ever before began working from home. In fact, in April of 2020, 31% of Americans working in offices were moved to a work-from-home situation. While some of these workers have chosen to return to their workspaces, many continue to work from home.
Whether you were working home before the pandemic or see your job transitioning to a full-time work-from-home operation, you might be able to save money on your car insurance. I’ll walk you through everything you need to know in this guide.
Many auto insurance companies already offered coronavirus discounts
It’s true — you may not have realized it, but many top auto insurance providers issued coronavirus discounts and/or credits in spring of 2020. Not sure if you received a discount? Here’s what was issued:
- Allstate issued a 15% payback for personal car insurance companies for the months of April, May, and June.
- GEICO offered a 15% credit on auto insurance renewals for personal auto and motorcycle customers between April and October of 2020.
- Nationwide released a one-time $50 refund per personal auto policy for all customers between March and April 2020.
- Farmers Insurance reduced premiums by 25% in April and 15% in May.
- Progressive issued 20% discounts on premiums in April and May.
- USAA issued 20% discounts on premiums in April, May, and June.
- Liberty Mutual issued 15% discounts on premiums in April and May, and waived late fees.
If you think you were eligible for a discount and did not receive it, reach out to your auto insurance agent for more help. Whether you received this coronavirus discount or not, I’ll show you how you might be able to save even more on your insurance if you’re working from home.
Why working from home can lower your auto insurance premium
When you set up an auto insurance policy, one of the factors used to determine how much you’ll pay is your estimated annual mileage. Typically you’d check off a box if you drive your car to and from work, and that calculation goes into producing a quote for you.
If you did drive yourself to work before the pandemic and now find yourself at home, seldom using your car, it’s possible that your auto insurance provider will offer you a discount by reducing your annual mileage.
Take these steps to improve your chances of securing a lower auto insurance rate
In general, many auto insurance providers have issued credits or discounts for anyone working from home during the pandemic. However, these discounts are not guaranteed, and your insurance company might not immediately agree to offer you a credit or reduced rate going forward.
If you find yourself in this position, here’s how you should proceed:
Let your insurance provider know you’ve been researching rates
When you call your insurance company, be polite, and let them know that you’ve been working from home since the pandemic hit. From there, notify them that you’ve been researching rates from other providers and the coronavirus credits other companies have been issuing and want to discuss your policy coverage and current discounts.
Sometimes just mentioning you’ve been quote shopping from other providers is enough to prompt your insurance provider to offer you a discount.
Calculate your yearly mileage
If you know you’re driving much less than pre-pandemic, it might be worth actually analyzing your miles to find out if you’ll qualify for pleasure use only car insurance instead of commuter car insurance. If you find there’s a significant difference in miles, you should not this difference and notify your insurance company.
Don’t panic if you weren’t able to keep track of your mileage during the pandemic. Instead, think about how often you use your car. Do a quick Google Maps search to determine how many miles you used to drive weekly going to work, school, or other places. Now, determine how far and often you currently drive. If you only leave to go to the grocery store and gas station, this will be pretty easy to calculate. Determine the difference from pre-pandemic to now and inform your insurance company.
Depending on your company, you may or may not see a significant reduction in your insurance bill. According to The Zebra, on average pleasure use only drivers pay $1,427 annually, while commuters pay between $1,432 and $1,445 (depending on how far away their workplace is).
However, each insurance company is different and some offer more significant discounts for no longer commuting to work.
|Auto Insurance Provider||Pleasure Use Only Annual Premium (average)||Commuter Annual Premium (average)||Savings|
Keep in mind, these figures are only averages and your individual premium will vary based on your policy details and personal driving information. However, if you’re not tied to your current auto insurance provider and want to shop around, you can use a service like The Zebra or Gabi to shop for quotes and discounts for pleasure use only drivers.
Review any other eligible discounts
Auto insurance providers offer dozens of discounts that you might be eligible for without even knowing it. If you’re looking to say some money on your policy now that you’re working remotely, you should spend time reviewing other eligible discounts, as well.
Common discounts include:
- Bundling services discounts. This is usually automatic, but if your homeowners’ insurance and auto insurance are through different providers, consider bundling them to save money.
- Multiple car discounts. If you’re insuring more than one car at your address, consider putting them on the same policy to save money.
- Automatic payment discounts. Many companies will offer you a discount if you enroll in autopay.
- Full pay discounts. If your policy lasts six months or a year, you are often eligible for a discount if you pay in full, rather than paying monthly.
- Paperless billing discounts. If you opt to receive your bill via email, you could receive a discount.
- Online policy discounts. If you purchased your auto policy online, you could receive a discount.
- Affiliation discounts. If you’re a member of a particular group, you might be able to secure a discount (i.e. you’re a government employee).
- Credit rating discounts. Many insurance companies offer discounts for good credit, so be sure to review your options if your credit score has increased.
- Vehicle safety and anti-theft discounts. Some vehicles with specific safety features and anti-theft devices could qualify for these discounts.
- Student discounts. Some companies offer discounts for college students, students with good grades, or students studying away from home (and their car).
- Safe driver discounts. Continuously maintaining a safe driving record and accident-free history can also score you discounts.
These are only some of the most common discounts you should be aware of. Not every provider offers all of these, and some offer many more. It’s important to research your insurance company’s eligible discounts on your own and then bring them up with your agent.
Here’s how to make changes to your insurance policy
You can make changes to your auto insurance policy a few different ways: online, in-person, and over the phone. Although you can update your policy online, it could be difficult to request discounts online, depending on your insurance providers. Since many auto insurance providers are also working remotely or have limited hours, an in-person meeting might not be possible.
The best way to have your auto insurance policy updated in 2021 is by talking to your agent over the phone. I recommend having all of the information you’ll need laid out before your call. You’ll want to have:
- Your policy information (you can pull this up online if you don’t have a copy)
- An overview of any changes you’d like to make
- Annual mileage decreases (if applicable)
- A list of discounts you believe you’re eligible for
Explain to the agent that you’re working from home for the foreseeable future (or perhaps permanently) and let them know if you think you qualify for pleasure use insurance. Be sure to discuss any other changes or discounts you hope to have applied during this call.
Other ways to save money on your vehicle during the pandemic
Downsize from two cars to one
I know many couples who have at least one person working remotely that decided to get rid of one of their vehicles this past year. Doing this could save you in car insurance coverage, car payments (if you don’t own your car), maintenance expenses, and gas. Of course, this decision won’t work for everyone, but is worth discussing, particularly if you never leave the house anymore.
Store your car
If you aren’t using your car at all and have it stored in a garage or other safe place, you may qualify for a storage credit. Auto insurance providers typically offer storage credits for vehicles that are not being used. But, if you do take this credit, it’s important not to drive it, since your car won’t be protected from accidents or medical expenses.
Trade-in your car for a used vehicle
Another option for reducing both car payments and possibly car insurance for a vehicle you’re not using is selling it and buying a used car. If you own a newer car, but never drive, it might make more sense to trade it in for a used vehicle that will get you from point A to point B, while putting more money back in your pocket.
Ask to increase your deductible
If you don’t want to get rid of your vehicle or trade it in, but rarely use it, increasing your deductible might make sense. By switching to a higher deductible policy, you could save a few hundred dollars (depending on your insurance provider). However, you want to be careful when increasing your deductible — make sure that if an accident were to occur, you’d be able to pay this higher amount comfortably. If not, then I would recommend skipping this suggestion.
Consider usage-based car insurance
One additional option worth exploring is usage-based car insurance. This type of insurance bases its price on your mileage and how you drive. You’ll usually need to download a mobile app or install a plug-in device in your car so your driving can be tracked. Some usage-based insurance companies only track mileage, only look at driving behavior, or come up with a price based on both.
While this insurance was touted for the past few years for safe drivers, it’s now a good way for those who seldom drive to pay much less on insurance.
Lastly, be sure to shop around for different auto insurance quotes to make sure you’re receiving the fairest deal for the amount of coverage you need. If your current provider isn’t offering your the discounts and credits you feel you deserve, there’s most likely a car insurance company out there who will. It never hurts to weigh your options.
The bottom line
It might seem unfair to have to pay for car insurance when many of us are no longer or rarely using our vehicles. The good news is, so far many car insurance companies have made positive steps to reduce premiums during the hardest months of the pandemic, and are open to negotiating your policy if you feel you qualify for additional discounts while working from home.
Be sure to shop around before talking to your agent to make sure you know the other options available to you. Talk hard numbers whenever possible, especially if you’re asking to reduce your mileage and remove your commuting status. Lastly, be sure to review any other discounts or changes you’d like to make to your policy.