The average annual cost of car insurance in Virginia is $836, and across the country it’s $982, according to a 2018 report by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners based on 2015 data. That’s a lot of money, so you want to do everything you can to reduce the cost of covering your vehicle.

To lower your car insurance premiums, you need to understand how insurance companies set rates. Insurance companies study car accidents and gather huge amounts of statistical data. A computer model compiles information and compares it against your driver profile. Your insurance rate is calculated based on your profile and the statistical data.

The bottom line: You need car insurance. You have to find a way to get the best deal but not limit your coverage. You want that coverage when an accident occurs.

We have compiled a list of 55 ways you can reduce the cost of car insurance. Some of the suggestions will only have minor effects on the rate you pay for insurance on your vehicle, but many of them can lower your by rate hundreds of dollars a year. When combined together, you can reduce your car insurance by 5 percent 10 percent or even 25 percent.

Insurance companies reward loyalty

1. Get a loyalty discount

Some insurance companies offer loyalty rewards. It pays to stay with the same company for a long period of time. Generally, the discount is offered to customers with a clean driving record, but sophisticated software is used to calculate the discount. The software understands how sensitive you are to changes in price based on your buying habits and optimizes the price accordingly.

2. Stick with the same independent insurance brokers

Independent insurance brokers have longevity discounts recognized by insurance carriers. You can get a reduction if you stay with the same broker.

3. Get multiple quotes

Insurance rates can vary greatly from company to company. Shop around and get quotes from multiple carriers. These rates change yearly, and a carrier that was expensive one year might be less expensive the next. The discounts can be as much as 10 percent.

Check insurance rates on the car you drive

4. Compare insurance costs before purchasing a car

Insurance companies base insurance costs partially on the type of vehicle you drive.

You should buy a car that is rated safe and reliable by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. If you want a lower insurance rate, don’t purchase a sports car or small vehicle.

5. Drive a hybrid or alternative fuel vehicle

Research has shown that people who drive hybrid or alternative-fuel vehicles are safer drivers, and drive fewer miles. As a result, insurance companies offer a discount to drivers of these types of vehicles. The discount can be between 5 percent and 10 percent but vary between states and your insurance carrier.

Structure car insurance policy properly

6. Get higher deductibles

Your deductible is an important part of calculating your insurance rate. You can increase your collision deductible to $500 or $1,000 to lower the rate. Realize, however, it’s a good idea to keep your glass and comprehensive deductible low, as these are often less than $500.

7. Reduce coverage on older cars

You can purchase both liability and collision coverage when buying car insurance. The law requires liability. Collision is coverage over and above liability, and it means your vehicle will be repaired or replaced when you are at fault in an accident. For an older model vehicle, it might not be worth the extra money to have collision insurance, because the value of the vehicle is low. For example, a vehicle valued at $1,000 has a $500 collision deductible. You pay out more in premiums than you will ever get in a claim.

8. Remove “lien” information from insurance records

Is your vehicle paid off? You can get a discount if you have the loan information removed from your insurance records. It’s a simple process and can save you money. It shows that you are a responsible person with good credit and a lower insurance risk.

9. Set older vehicles to “stated value”

Your older vehicle might not be worth as much money as the insurance company believes. You can lower your insurance rates by setting your vehicle to “stated value.” Your agent can help you determine if a “stated value” policy is the right way to lower your insurance rate.

10. Buy auto insurance through your homeowners’ insurance carrier

If you have a home insurance policy, it’s a good idea to add your auto insurance policy to it. Bundling insurance policies will lower your rates.

11. Bundle policies together

If you have multiple insurance policies on items such as a home, jewelry, a boat, ATV,

or rental properties, you can bundle those under one carrier. Insurance companies offer a discount when you have multiple policies through them.

12. Maintain a good credit record

Your credit plays a role in how insurance companies set your rates. They assume you are more responsible if you have a higher credit rating.

13. Separate your commuter car from your “pleasure only” vehicle

If you drive a commuter car to work and drive a different vehicle on the weekend, your insurance agent needs to know that. Insurance companies assume you drive the pleasure vehicle less and might lower your premium.

14. Pick a Top-Rated Insurer

It’s easy to pick the cheapest insurance rate, but that is not always the best way to save money. Second-rate insurance companies often add fees and other expenses to your premium. Also, a top-rated insurance company might be more expensive, but if you file a claim, it is more likely to offer a fair settlement.

Understanding insurance for young people

15. Ask for a student discount

Many insurance companies offer discounts for students. The discounts are given to both college and high school students and are often based on your grades. Students with “B” averages should qualify for discounts.

16. Garage vehicle at parent’s house

You can get a discount when you’re away at college, and you garage your car at your parent’s house. Often, your parents have to live more than 100 miles away from school. Insurance companies assume you are driving the vehicle less due to the distance.

17. Take a driver’s education class

A driver’s education class will teach basic driver’s safety and the rules of the road. Insurance companies can give a discount to young drivers who have completed a driver’s education class. They’re readily available and often involve both written and on-the-road training.

18. Limit the number of teenage drivers

Teenagers are high-risk drivers. Limit the number of teen operators on a policy.

19. Make your teen drive a dependable but less valuable car

There is a correlation between a vehicle’s value and the cost of insurance. You don’t want a teenager driving an expensive vehicle. You should have them drive a dependable vehicle but one that is low in value if you want to save on your auto premium.

20. Don’t drive until you’re 25 Years Old

Insurance companies slap a surcharge for drivers under the age of 25 because of their lack of driving experience. Ride public transportation or a bike until you’re 25 to save on car insurance.

Be a safe driver

21. Be a responsible driver and follow the law

Speeding tickets and other moving violations impact insurance rates. Insurance companies believe you are higher risk when you have a bad driving record.

22. Don’t get a DUI

Nearly 10,000 people died in drunk-driving accidents in 2018, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Insurance companies will deem you a high risk for years after a DUI, and you might be required to file proof of insurance (FR-44) with the state. Your insurance company will charge you for the service and increase your liability requirements.

23. Restrict unsafe drivers from the policy

If you have several drivers listed on an insurance policy, it pays to restrict the highest-risk drivers. The higher-risk drivers cost more to insure, and insurance companies will reward you for restricting high-risk household drivers.

24. Graduate from college or get an advance degree

Many insurance companies give discounts to college graduates. After you graduate, you need to inform your insurance company.

25. Be a first responder

Firefighters, police officers and EMS professionals are entitled to a discount with many insurance carriers. Other professionals like nurses, CPAs, engineers and teachers are also offered an occupation discount.

26. Take a driver’s ED class for seniors

Driver’s education is not just for younger drivers. AAA, AARP and other organizations offer driver’s education classes for seniors, and insurance companies often offer a discount.

27. Have anti-theft or other safety features in your car

Newer cars are equipped with modern lights, ABS brakes, alarm systems and automatic breaking. These safety features help reduce your risk of an accident and can lower your rate for car insurance.

28. Don’t get in accidents

Insurance companies offer accident-free discounts. They prefer not to pay out for accidents.

29. Keep a clean driving record

A clean driving record will help lower your car insurance. You might be eligible for a violation-free discount.

30. Research a car’s safety rating

Insurance rates are based partially on the vehicle you drive. You need to make sure you drive a vehicle that has safe vehicle statistics. That will lower your insurance rate.

31. Get a retired discount

It pays to be retired when buying car insurance. Some carriers offer discounts to retirees.

Consider where you live

32. Move to a certain zip code

A move to lower-risk zip code can reduce your car insurance. Insurance carriers will charge you more for living in a high-crime area or an area that has an increased number of accidents.

33. Move closer to work

Insurance companies consider the number of miles you put on a vehicle each year when setting a rate. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, people commute an average of 26 minutes to work.

If you move closer to work, you’ll put fewer miles on a vehicle. You might even consider moving close enough to bike or walk.

34. Park your car in a garage

It’s better to park your car at night in a garage. It’s not exposed to the elements, and the vehicle is less likely to be burglarized. Insurance companies sometimes offer a discount when a vehicle is stored in a garage.

Keep insurance up-to-date

35. Don’t let your coverage lapse

It’s important that you make your insurance payments. A gap in insurance coverage signals that you’re a high risk. If your prior coverage lapsed, you should switch your auto provider after one year. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles charges $500 and requires you to file an SR22 for lapsed insurance to maintain insurance.

36. Cancel insurance after selling a vehicle

The Department of Motor Vehicles doesn’t notify your insurance company when you sell a vehicle. You must notify your insurance company and turn the tags into the DMV.

37. Pay your premium in full

Most insurance companies have an installment fee when you make a partial payment. It’s best to pay the premium in full.

38. Have automatic withdrawals for payments versus direct bill

You can have your bill payment automatically withdrawn from your checking or savings account. Some carriers will offer a discount. Plus, it’s much easier than having a bill mailed to your house and writing a check.

39. Don’t lease a car

It’s better to own your vehicle. Insurance companies will charge a higher rate for a leased vehicle.

40. Remove old infractions from your driving record

Your insurance carrier can increase your insurance rate for as long as five years for a major violation or accident. You can take a class to remove minor violations from your driving record, or it’s an option to switch carriers rather than wait.

41. Take a safe driving class

You can get points removed against your driver’s license by taking an accident-prevention course. It’s another box to check off in the discount column.

Be part of an organization

42. Join a sorority or fraternity

It pays to be a brother or sister in a fraternity or sorority. Some insurance carriers offer discounts for being part of the Greek system.

43. Enlist in the military

Serving your country has numerous benefits; one of them is a lower car insurance rate. Some carriers offer discounts to military veterans and those still actively serving in the military.

44. Become a member of a professional organization

Insurance companies offer discounts for joining a professional organization like a state bar association for attorneys, an association for engineers or an association for medical professional. You have to check with your provider.

Update change in lifestyle

45. Get married

It pays to get married. Both individuals must have good driving records, and they must share a policy. For example, a married 20-year-old pays less than a single 20-year-old for the same policy. Data shows that married people are more responsible and thus safer to insure.

46. Update insurance company about marital status

If you get divorced, it’s better to claim being divorced than single. You’re considered more responsible if you have been married.

47. Buy a house

You can receive a discount on car insurance if you purchase a house. An insurance company will give you a responsibility discount for home ownership.

48. Move out of mom and dad’s house

Your car insurance will often be less if you are renting a place rather than living at your parent’s house. You’re sometime assessed a lifestyle surcharge for living under your parent’s roof, as people who live on their own are considered more responsible.

49. Place the person with the highest credit score first on the policy

The person with the best credit score should be the primary policyholder.

50. Properly structure combined marriage policies

When combining your spouse’s insurance, the primary driver should be the one who has higher liability limits, longer longevity and better credit on his or her current policy.

Unique car insurance discounts

51. Remove roadside service

You can remove the roadside assistance part of your policy if you’re already a member of AAA, which provides the same services.

52. Opt in to safe driving monitoring system

Insurance companies can install a device that tracks mileage, top speed, RPM and other vehicle metrics. You get a discount if you opt into the program and install this on your vehicle. Insurance companies reward safe drivers.

53. Ask for an Advance Quoting Discount

Some carriers will give you a discount on car insurance when you establish your policy more than a week before your coverage is set to start.

54. Choose paperless discounts

It costs money to send paperwork through the mail. You might get offered a discount if you ask to receive bills and other statements electronically.

55. Sign for the policy electronically

Some companies allow you to start a policy with an electronic signature. It’s more efficient, thus a discount may be offered.