Make sure you're getting the best deal possible by knowing when the best time is to switch car insurance!

Years ago, I thought I had the best auto insurance policy ever. I thought the rates I paid couldn’t be beaten. I was wrong. When I got married, I looked to add my wife to my policy and was shocked by the new premium. My wife had a perfect driving record, but our premium still increased far more than anticipated.

I called my insurance company to verify if the new rate was right. Even though I’d been with them for over 10 years, they said they couldn’t offer anything better.

So that day, I decided it was finally time to shop for a new auto-insurance company. What I found out shocked me.

It turns out that auto insurance rates seem to constantly be increasing everywhere. While I thought auto-insurance companies would reward loyalty, that didn’t seem to be the case. I got quotes from the major auto insurance companies in my area, and most of the new quotes beat my old insurance company quite handily for the same exact coverage.

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While price isn’t everything when shopping for auto insurance, it’s still a huge factor. You should also take a look at what the policy covers, what the claims process looks like, and how good the customer service ratings are.

Most of the companies I got quotes from were very similar to my old company. So I decided to switch and save hundreds of dollars on my six-month auto insurance policy.

Whether or not you’ve been with your auto insurance company for 10 years like I’d been, it pays to shop around to make sure you’re getting the best rate. There are a few times in your life when it’s a particularly good idea to shop around for new auto insurance:

1. Switch When You Get Married

When you get married, it usually makes sense to get one policy for both you and your spouse, rather than keeping separate policies. Adding a second person and a second car to your policy can add multi-car discounts, but it may also change the company’s perceived risk for your policy.

Each company offers different discounts and has different risk models, so it pays to shop around after getting married. Usually, getting married is viewed as a sign of stability, so it actually helps lower your rates.

2. Switch When You Reach a New Age Group

Your age has a huge effect on your auto insurance premiums, according to Value Penguin. Costs usually decrease each year from age 16 to 21. Then the changes are more pronounced every five years, starting at age 25.

Age-based rates differ from company to company, so make sure to get quotes from competing companies whenever you hit a milestone birthday, such as 25, 30, or 40. If you’re still in your teens or early twenties, it doesn’t hurt to check every birthday.

3. Switch When You Get a New (or Different) Vehicle

The vehicle you drive has a huge effect on your insurance rates. Some vehicles are equipped with more safety features than others. The rate of accidents for minivans could be very different than the rate of accidents for sports cars.

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Auto insurance companies take these factors into account. Shop around for savings whenever you take a car off of your policy or add a new car to it.

Try researching the vehicle type you are planning on switching to get a quote before making the move.

4. Switch When You Move or Buy a Home

Your place of residence and your homeownership status can drastically change your insurance rates. Even just moving down the street can sometimes result in large changes. Insurance companies have huge databases relating to driving risk in each zip code.

If you go from renting to owning a home or vice versa, you’ll want to check, too. Most companies offer discounts when you combine home and auto insurance under one provider. 

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5. Switch When You Get a Ticket or Get in an Accident

No one likes getting a ticket or getting in a car accident. What makes it worse is the dreaded increase in your insurance rates. Not all companies treat all accidents and tickets the same way, so shopping around may get you a better deal on insurance after your mishap.

6. Switch Once per Year

Even if nothing changes in your life or your driving record, it makes sense to check auto-insurance rates at least once a year, if not every renewal period. Insurers are constantly changing their risk models, adding new factors, and competing for new customers in different markets.

Shop around to see if you’re still getting the best deal. It usually only takes a few minutes to switch car insurance providers, and you could save hundreds of dollars each year.