You may already know the importance of shopping around to score the best rate on your auto insurance premiums, but did you know that certain factors (or the absence of them) could cause your insurance premiums to rise?

To understand what makes your insurance premiums spike, it helps to understand the basic nature of auto insurance: Insurers make money when they insure drivers who don't have accidents, and don't make claims. They lose money when the opposite happens. As such, it is in the insurer's best interest to predict driver risk factors as accurately as possible. When any of the following factors are present in your life, they indicate an increased likelihood that you, as a potential auto insurance policyholder, may have an insurance claim that will cost the insurer money. To compensate for the increased likelihood of a payout, insurers charge you more money in the form of a raised premium. Here are six things that spike your auto insurance.

Buying a New Car
Because a new car as an asset is worth more money than an older model, it will cost more to replace. Additionally, if you finance or lease your new car purchase, most lenders require you to carry full coverage at a stated level, which makes it impossible to skimp or strategize only on the coverage you need. You can be wise about how your new ride will impact insurance premiums before you buy. According to a recent study by Insure.com, the cheapest new cars to insure tend to be larger, sturdy models such as minivans, SUVs and trucks. Don't assume that premium boosts come only with a flashy sports car or other high-priced model. The study indicated that the Honda Civic, for example, commands higher insurance rates simply because it tends to be driven by younger, childless owners who are inherently deemed riskier than parents. Further, it's one of the most stolen vehicle models in the United States.

Increasing Your Commute
Long commutes to work don't just cost you in time and fuel; they'll also boost your auto insurance premiums. Again, the risk is much greater that you'll get into an accident when you're driving during rush hour. Further, if you are in a profession that involves frequent driving, like a pizza delivery person or salesperson, you'll pay for the increased time that you spend in the car because more time spent driving increases the risk of an accident.

Moving
Though actual risk is determined by the zip code you live in, city residents statistically have more accidents, which drives their premiums higher than those who live in rural areas. Additionally, more people living in an area means more claims, which is reflected in the higher premium prices in such places. If you've recently taken up residence in New Mexico, Alabama, Oklahoma or Florida, expect to pay higher premiums. According to the Insurance Research Council, these states have the greatest concentrations of uninsured motorists, which ultimately seeps into insured drivers' premiums.

Marital Status and Age
If you're unmarried and without children, you're considered part of a higher-risk category than married couples with kids. If you're 26 or younger, and male, you'll pay even more.

Dumping Your Auto Insurance
If you ditched your auto insurance in an effort to save some money, you've committed a classic case of being "penny smart and pound-foolish." Not having any auto insurance, even for just over 30 days, will cause your premiums to jump.

Having a Brush with the Law
Having no accidents or tickets will lower your auto insurance premiums and, as you might imagine, having either or both could raise them. When and if you'll see the spike is largely determined by your locale and your insurance provider. Insurance companies use a "merit plan" system. Most insurance companies periodically scan for recent traffic violations, whether you are a new or existing customer. After you commit a traffic violation and your insurer learns of it, your auto insurance rates could be higher for the next few years.

The Bottom Line
Auto insurance rates are often based on factors out of your immediate control, including age, occupation and accidents. Understanding what factors cause your auto insurance rates to spike can help you to shop around for a more competitive provider before you receive a surprise rate increase. It may also cause you to rethink some of your current driving habits.

Related Articles
  1. Budgeting

    Blue Apron Review: Is It Worth It?

    Read about one of the top meal-kit delivery services in the United States, and learn more about what it offers and how much it costs.
  2. Home & Auto

    Don't Be the Victim of Auto Loan Rip-Offs

    Subprime auto loans – and 60-day delinquencies – are up. These 4 signs of predatory auto loans can tip you off before you're caught in one.
  3. Stock Analysis

    JCPenney's Path To Profitability (JCP)

    Learn about what J.C. Penney's management team has been doing to profitably grow its business as the company recovers from years of revenue declines.
  4. Insurance

    Beware the Sneaky Math of Universal Life Insurance

    Universal life insurance's cash value can be a cash cow – if there's any left. Read on to see if it'll work as an income source after you've retired.
  5. Home & Auto

    The Latest Airbag Recalls: What to Do

    The latest warnings are from Honda/Acura and Dodge. How to look up your car – and what to do if you find it on the recall list.
  6. Retirement

    Shopping the New Retirement Products

    There are more options than ever for retirement portfolios these days. Choosing the right product comes down to your needs, time and management style.
  7. Economics

    What is a Complement?

    A good or service that’s used in conjunction with another good or service is a complement.
  8. Retirement

    Ipsy Review: Is It Worth It?

    Discover the history of ipsy, how much packages cost, options available for membership, major competition and what the future looks like for the company.
  9. Stock Analysis

    The Biggest Risks of Investing in Johnson & Johnson Stock (JNJ)

    Learn the largest risks to investing in Johnson & Johnson through fundamental analysis and other potential risks. Also discover how JNJ compares to its peers.
  10. Budgeting

    Craft Coffee Review: Is It Worth It?

    Learn more about one of the first and most flexible specialty-grade coffee subscription services on the market, a perfect fit for any coffee lover.
RELATED FAQS
  1. How does a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) affect my salary?

    Some companies build salary adjustments into their compensation structures to offset the effects of inflation on their employees. ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Where can you buy NetSpend reload packs?

    You can only purchase NetSpend reload packs at Giant Eagle, Albertsons, Roundy's and Pathmark supermarkets. NetSpend cards ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Can your life insurance company sue you?

    A life insurance company generally cannot sue you, but it can sue your estate. The company may do this in order to recover ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How can insurance companies find out about DUIs and DWIs?

    An insurance company can find out about driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) charges against ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Can your insurance company cancel your policy without notice?

    In most states, an insurance company must give a policyholder written notice of at least 30 days before canceling a policy. ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Does your car insurance company report accidents to the DMV?

    Your car insurance company does not generally report accidents to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). However, depending ... Read Full Answer >>
Trading Center