5 Surprising People Who Play a Role in Your Car Insurance Rates

By Elizabeth Renter, NerdWallet

We would all like to spend less money on bills, but cheap car insurance isn’t always easy to come by. You know your driving record affects your rates, and a single accident can increase them substantially. But what you might not realize is that there are people in your life who can similarly influence your rates. While some of these relationships can help save you money, others can be a drain on your wallet when it comes to car insurance.

1. Your landlord

Your landlord can be the difference between a happy home life or being subjected to the incessant sounds of a dripping faucet or dealing with an ancient air conditioner in the heat of summer. Just having a landlord affects how much you pay for auto insurance. Generally, homeowners pay less for coverage than renters. A 2016 study from the Consumer Federation of America, an advocacy organization, found that renters pay about $112 more each year, on average, on auto insurance premiums than homeowners.

2. Your teacher

Do what your teacher says and study hard, because getting good grades doesn’t only please your parents; your auto insurer will like it, too. Good student discounts aren’t only about a pat on the back — the insurance industry believes that your responsibility in the classroom will carry over to the roads and that good students make for good drivers.

3. The bill collector

If you hear, "This call is an attempt to collect a debt," when you answer the phone, then you may be paying more for insurance. Whether you’re frequently late on your credit card or loan payments, or you have other dings on your credit report, you could be penalized with higher auto insurance premiums. In fact, a 2013 Consumer Federation of America study found that some drivers with bad credit could pay twice as much for their coverage as those with excellent credit — even with identical driving records.

4. Your neighbors

Where you live affects your auto insurance rates in several ways, and the people in your neighborhood can play a role, too. If your area is filled with bad drivers and sees an inordinate number of car accidents, insurers will view you as being a higher risk for a crash. They also factor in the vandalism and theft rates in an area, as you’re more likely to become a victim and file a claim if you’re living in a high-crime neighborhood. Although you can’t necessarily choose your neighbors, remember that car insurance is another reason to focus on location, location, location the next time you move.

5. Your spouse

If you have a spouse, you’re in luck — married folks typically pay less for auto insurance than singles. The savings are potentially greater when you combine your policies into one. However, there are a few exceptions: If one of you has a marred driving history or credit report, you may pay less with separate policies. Compare car insurance quotes using both scenarios to make certain you’re getting the best deal possible.

Elizabeth Renter is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: elizabeth@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ElizabethRenter.

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