Car insurance: How to get a lower rate

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- While you have probably heard of the "good student" and "good driver" discounts on car insurance, but there are other things you need to consider to get the lowest possible rate.

As Brad Oltmans of AAA Arizona explained to 3TV's Gina Maravilla, there are a variety of factors that go into determining your premiums.

For example, not all cars in a single class will be rated the same. It varies from brand to brand and even model to model.

While the make and model make a difference, Oltmans said color does not. Many people think bright-colored vehicles, especially red ones, are subject to higher premiums.

"The color really doesn't mean anything," Oltmans said. "If you like yellow or red, go get it."

When it comes time to buy or lease a car, Oltmans suggests you get a rate quote before you head to the dealership. You want to know what it's going to cost you.

You also want to be sure to ask your broker or agent about discounts for which you might qualify.

Oltmans said not only are there discounts for teens and those over 55 who go through a specific education program, there also are different association discounts, including a potential option for Arizona State University students and alumni.

Another thing to keep in mind is your credit score's effect on your rate. If you've had credit trouble in the past, do what you can to clean it up and be sure to stay in touch with your insurance agent as it improves.

Once you have settled on an insurance company and policy, do not just sit back and consider the job done. Oltmans suggests you shop around every two years and combine policies -- homeowner's, renter's, etc. -- whenever you can. Most insurance companies offer multi-policy discount.

Finally, consider installing a vehicle telematics device that tracks your driving habits. If you're a good driver, that could get you a discount. Many think such a system can be used to jack up your rates.

"The good point about this is most carriers don't surcharge for this, but they do discount for this," Oltmans said, holding up a device. "If you're a really good driver, you should consider putting this in your car."