5 ways to send your car insurance rates through the roof

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In your quest for good car insurance rates , you may be your own worst enemy.  The insurance industry spends a lot of time evaluating risk, and the surest way to drive up your premium is to make a big mistake that flags you as "risky."  

car insurance rates 1. Cause a car accident

If you are at fault in an accident, your car insurance premium is likely to increase. The exact increase, often called a "surcharge," will depend on your insurance company. Before you buy car insurance, ask your agent for a "surcharge schedule" which will reveal how much you'll be charged in the event you cause an accident.  

Some car insurance companies forgive first-time accidents but require that you fit certain criteria in order to escape a rate increase. If your insurance company holds your rate steady, consider yourself lucky. For more, see how much your rates can go up after one accident .

In some cases, adding a driver with a terrible driving record to your policy can more than double your premium because your insurer will base the rate increase on the risk associated with your spouse.

2. Get convicted of a DUI

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious risk - and insurance companies base their rates on risk.  Aside from your irresponsibility on the road, impaired driving carries serious consequences from car insurance companies .

If your insurer discovers you've received a DUI, your rates could increase or your policy may be cancelled or nonrenewed. You will be classified as a "high-risk driver," and that makes shopping around for insurance difficult.  If your policy is cancelled, you'll have the double whammy of a DUI and a cancellation on your record - a factor that a new insurer will use to increase your rates even more.    

3. Buy a vehicle with a high claims history

Certain cars shoot to the top of the "most expensive to insure" list because their drivers have submitted frequent and/or expensive car insurance claims. High-performance sports cars often fall into this category.  In most cases, liability premiums aren't affected by car choice. But if you buy a sports car, you could be charged higher liability rates because insurers expect that sports car drivers intend to make liberal use of the gas pedal. You'll also generally pay more for collision and comprehensive insurance. Drivers of certain vehicles like the Hummer also receive higher liability rates because their vehicles inflict more damage and injuries during crashes.

4. "Soup up" your car

If you have a passion for "souped-up" cars, you can expect souped-up car insurance premiums too.  Modified cars and "bling machines" - as they are commonly called - are considered high risk by many car  insurers because their parts are often worth more than the car itself, and their owners tend to drive them with caution thrown to the wind.  In any case, when you make modifications to your car, you should inform your insurer. These modifications could include a 600-horsepower engine, custom paint job, spoilers, ground effects, custom wheels, highly customized interior or expensive stereo components. If you make modifications and fail to inform your insurer, your insurance will cover you for what the car was worth before you made modifications.

5. Marry a reckless driver

If you get hitched to a reckless driver and wish to add him or her to your car insurance policy, you can expect your premium to skyrocket. The pain of the increase will depend on how much your significant other has tarnished his or her driving record. For example, a DUI conviction will be costly while a speeding ticket may not be as bad. It will also depend on your insurance company and the state where you live. In some cases, adding a driver with a terrible driving record to your policy can more than double your premium because insurance companies will base the rate increase on the risk associated with your spouse. In really bad cases, your insurer may refuse to insure your spouse and you'll have to shop around for a car insurance quote from another insurer.



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.



This article appears in: Personal Finance , Insurance

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