Being in your 20's is a magical, liberating time for most young adults. You become legally old enough to drink, experience the fun and challenges of college life, and begin building the career you've dreamed about. You may even get married or move across the country to pursue a new way of living away from your family.
It's understandable to forget that your car insurance is also changing while you're busy experiencing all of these life milestones.
Sure, car insurance is probably the last thing on your mind during your 20s, but if you want to save money so you can travel the world, you'll need to learn a thing or two about what happens to your car insurance rates as you transition through this one-of-a-kind decade.
But if you're in an accident, you'll be glad you took the time to get the right coverage.
The good news is we totally understand -- and we have your back. Today we'll be discussing everything you need to know about what happens to your car insurance in your 20s.
Let's jump right in.
Length of Time Matters More Than Age
Contrary to what most people think, there's not always a magic number when it comes to seeing a decrease in your car insurance rates. What really matters is how long you've been driving.
So if turning 25 means you've been driving around for close to ten years (and you still have your accident or ticket free badge), then you're likely to see a decrease in your monthly premiums. Score!
On the flip side, if you're turning 25, but you've only been driving for two years, you'll have to wait a little longer to see any noticeable differences.
Insurance companies use lengths of time to gauge your driving progress to see if you're developing smarter habits. For example, if you've been racking up speeding tickets or unpaid parking fees, your insurance company is not going to reward you with a lower premium payment each month, even if you follow them on Twitter and like all their Facebook posts.
That's why it's important to keep your record as squeaky clean as possible. Otherwise, you'll feel the repercussions where it hurts interns and entry-level employees the most -- your wallet.
Here's Where Age Does Matter
Now, we're not saying that age isn't taken into consideration when determining insurance rates, because it certainly is. In fact, it plays a significant role in how much you pay for your premium each month.
You may think age is just a number that doesn't reflect your driving record specifically, but your age matters in the eyes of insurance companies because they assess risk. And statistically, drivers in the 20s age range account for the largest portion of distracted drivers.
According to Distraction.gov, drivers in their 20s make up 27% of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes." Plus, "10% of drivers of all ages under the age of 20 involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted during the time of the crash."
We're not going to point any fingers here or mention something you don't already know. Text messages, selfies, social media check-ins, and even finding that perfect Kesha song all have to wait until you get to your destination. Period. Multitasking while driving is like using emoticons in your thesis paper -- it's a dangerously foolish idea. Not only are you putting your health and safety at risk, but you're also putting someone else's life in danger, too. #Selfish.
These split-second decisions that can cause anything from major accidents to minor fender benders have the potential to send your monthly insurance premiums skyrocketing. And getting hit with a rate increase makes it so much harder to get your payments lowered later down the line. So you'll be stuck dealing with a higher premium long after your accident has been taken care of.
Your Job & Education Level May be a Factor
It turns out that your job and education level are also being taken into consideration when you're given a quote for car insurance. Unfortunately, the stack may not be in your favor. Here's what we mean:
An interesting study conducted by the New York Public Interest Research Group found that, "Some of New York's largest auto insurers charge higher rates to drivers with less education and nonprofessional, nonmanagerial jobs."
After plugging in the same age and marital status and only changing his job and education level, the lead researcher concluded that, "[A] bank teller with a high school degree would pay on average 18% more than a bank executive with a college degree."
As you can imagine, this means that someone with a lower income and a clean driving record is going to still end up paying more than someone with a higher income (i.e. someone who can afford to pay more) and terrible driving record (i.e. someone who should be paying more).
Think you're in the clear if you live outside the Big Apple? Guess again. The study found that this bias extends to several other states as well. Talk about unfair advantages.
It's Not All Bad News
Just because you're sailing smoothly in your 20s for another few years doesn't mean you'll be stuck spending most of your paycheck on car insurance.
If you're a city-dweller, you'll be able to reduce your monthly payments if you elect what's known as a usage-based plan. Essentially, your insurance company installs a device on your car for a short period of time so they can gauge how safe your driving is.
This nifty tool measures stats like how hard you break, how many miles you drive each day, and if you're driving between midnight and 4 a.m., according to Aubrey Cohen of NerdWallet.
Cohen also mentions that the biggest factor for determining how much or how little you pay each year is your mileage. You'll find the most savings if you drive under 12,000 miles a year, he says, and you could save as much as 10-30% from providers such as Esurance.
As you can probably expect, if you drive on the aggressive side, or at all hours of the night, these plans will not work in your favor.
In addition to focusing on how much you drive, your insurance company is going to care about what you drive, too.
A tiny sports car is certainly fun in your 20s, but in the eyes of your insurance provider, it's a liability that you're going to pay a premium for with your monthly payments.
And you may as well just forget about large SUVs. Not only will these guzzle gas faster than you gain likes for your new Instagram selfie, but they'll also cost you more in insurance. The same goes for large engines. A V8 or V6 is going to cost you more in repairs, which means your insurance company will raise your rates accordingly in order to compensate for this difference. Steer clear of these vehicles or be ready to pay more.
Your best bet is sticking to cars with the highest safety ratings. Four-door sedans, small SUVs, and minivans tend to be the cheapest when it comes to insuring. It's also a good idea to buy older, used models as these will also be less expensive to cover.
Use Bundling to Your Advantage
Similar to car insurance being low on your to-do list in your 20s, bundling is probably not on your radar either. But here's why it should be.
You're probably already opting for health insurance from your employer or you're getting ready to hop off your parent's plan soon. There's no better way to make the transition than to utilize insurance bundling to save you money.
Bundling your health, auto, home/rental insurance, or even your life insurance into one monthly payment can save you money in both the long and short run.
Getting Married Could Save You Money
While this shouldn't be your only motivation for getting hitched, marriage may save you so much money on your monthly car insurance premiums that you might be able to afford that honeymoon in Tahiti after all.
The Department of Motor Vehicles mentions an interesting study that was conducted in 2004 by the National Institutes of Health, which found that "drivers who have never been married had twice the risk of driver injury than drivers who were married."
Insurance companies are assuming that if you're married, you're not going to be driving as much, and therefore, are less likely to get into an accident which they'll have to shell out money to cover. Hence the small savings.
However, just because you're married doesn't mean you'll automatically receive a wedding gift from your insurance company. Both your and your spouse's driving records will be used to determine your monthly premiums. So if you have a clean record and your partner is busy collecting speeding tickets, you may not see the marital bliss savings you were hoping for.
Don't Be Afraid to Get a Few Quotes
To ensure that you're getting the best possible rates, whether you're bundling or not, you'll want to obtain a quote from multiple providers so you can compare not only coverage, but your monthly premium payments as well.
Whatever you decide to do, we hope that you'll focus on keeping your driving record accident and ticket free throughout your 20s. Take your time and shop around for multiple quotes so you're not forced to spend your whole paycheck on car insurance just because you didn't know any better.
Remember: Plans based on usage or life changes such as getting married can also save you money. That's why it's important to revisit your car insurance rates each year, or after you hit any major milestones, to make sure you're taking advantage of the best possible savings.