Driving can be a hazardous activity, and insurance premiums are priced to match the risks. Numerous factors can influence the cost of auto insurance premiums, including:
- The type of vehicle covered (SUV, sports car, sedan).
- The safety record of the drivers on the policy.
- The overall condition of the vehicle.
- The car's safety features.
Side air bags
The sides of your car are some of its weakest spots, with little ability to absorb the force of a collision or shield occupants in an accident. Side-impact crashes form a major risk to drivers, accounting for 27 percent of car-occupant deaths in 2009, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Side air bags can mean the difference between life and death in a side-impact collision, reducing the likelihood of a driver's death by 70 percent, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found in a 2011 study. Insurance providers, including GEICO, reward this increase in safety with discounted premiums for cars with air bags.
Electronic stability control
The risk of skidding and losing control of your car is always present, especially on slick surfaces and during sharp turns. Owners of large vehicles like SUVs are in even more danger, as skids often lead to rollovers. Electronic stability control (ESC) is a computerized system that monitors how well a vehicle is responding to the driver’s input and makes necessary adjustments to the car when it senses control is lacking. Single-vehicle accidents involving cars equipped with ESC are roughly half as likely to be fatal as those without, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Farmers Insurance, for instance, offers discounts on ESC-equipped vehicles.
Another safety feature that reduces the likelihood of skids is an anti-lock brake system (ABS). Anti-lock brake systems automatically pump the brakes for you in emergencies and hazardous driving conditions, reducing the likelihood of brake lockup and loss of control. Major insurers, including State Farm and Allstate, offer discounts to drivers with anti-lock brakes.
Ask your insurer which auto insurance discounts it offers before you go car shopping. Spending a little extra can be an investment in safety -- and in years of lower premiums.