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Unless you live in New Hampshire, here in the States, you're required to have some form of car insurance covering your vehicle. The annual cost to insure a car depends on an array of factors ranging from the type of vehicle to where you live to your driving record. You undoubtedly know what you pay for insurance on an annual or monthly basis, but do you know how much you will end up paying over the course of your driving life? According to Insurance.com, the average person will spend $84,388.

What does 'average' mean in the context of this study? In this case, researchers assume that you first insure your own vehicle at 21 years old, get married at 27, insure two teenagers for a few years and then stop driving when you turn 75. That passage of time is filled with a variety of claims, including accidents and other incidents that get sent across your insurance agent's desk.

Predictably, Insurance.com offers up a few suggestions for cutting your overall coverage expenses. Some are easier said than done (avoid traffic tickets) while others might actually be fun (defensive driving course). Check out the company's press release for the full details after the jump.

[Source: Insurance.com | Image: Flickr/jcrakow via CC2.0]
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Dig deep! Car insurance will cost you $84,000

A typical American can expect to pay an average of $84,388 for car insurance over a lifetime, according to an analysis of auto insurance quotes in the Insurance.com database.

How much money is that? Enough to purchase a median-priced home in central Florida city of Ocala – and still have $2,188 in pocket change left over, according to recent home price statistics from the National Association of Realtors.

Insurance.com based its analysis on quotes from drivers who first purchased insurance at age 21, married at 27, briefly insured two teens and stopped driving at age 75. The average premium includes drivers with all types of claims, accidents and other driving histories.

The lifetime cost of car insurance stacks up against other lifetime costs (ages 16 to 75) as follows:

Athletic shoes at one pair annually (ages 16-75): $2,737.01 for males, $2,597.18 for females
Pet insurance for one dog (12 years): $4,766
Trip to Disney World for a family of four: $5,026
Four years of college: $30,420
NYC monthly subway pass (ages 16 to 75): $63,012
New car every seven years (ages 22 to75): $150,065.71
All of the costs are in 2011 dollars and are not adjusted for inflation.

Cutting your lifetime car insurance cost

The thought of shelling out tens of thousands of dollars to insure your car may make you consider trading in car keys for a bus pass. Fortunately, there are relatively easy ways to trim auto insurance costs.

Sandra Spann, a spokeswoman for American Family Insurance, suggests one simple rule for driving down your lifetime insurance costs: "Obey the traffic laws and stay ticket-free."

Most companies give you lower auto insurance rates when you remain accident-free and don't rack up violations, Spann says. In that way, "they will reward you for good behavior," she says.

Raising your deductible is another easy way to cut your lifetime auto insurance costs.

However, don't take this step unless you have enough savings to pay the deductible should you have an accident. Paying a deductible with a high-interest credit card can be costly, Spann warn.

Adding teens to your auto insurance policy

Finding ways to trim auto insurance costs becomes even more important during the years your children are driving.

"Your biggest insurance expense comes when you add your kids to the policy," says Joann Kraemer, a spokesperson for MetLife Auto & Home.

Kraemer says taking advantage of good-student discounts can save parents money on auto insurance.

Kyle Anderson, a spokesperson for State Auto Insurance Cos., urges parents to alert their insurance company once the children head off to college.

"Let your insurer know if your child goes away to school or college," Anderson says. "Premiums may be lower if the car doesn't go to school with them."

Some insurance companies also will offer a lower insurance rate if you'll agree to install a device in the car that monitors your teen's driving habits.

Other ways to cut auto insurance costs

Some tips for cutting auto insurance costs may be less obvious than others. For example, your plan to cut car insurance costs should begin the minute you zero in on the model you'd like to buy in your next car purchase, Anderson says.

"Take a look at its track record," he says. "How is it rated in terms of safety? Does it often make it onto the list of 'most stolen vehicles'?

Cars with strong safety records are less expensive to insure.

"Safer vehicles save you money," says Kraemer. "They just have the features that protect people against injuries."

Experts say other ways to save on lifetime auto insurance costs include:

Alert your insurance company if you are driving fewer miles to work.

Take a driver safety/defensive driving course. (In another recent story, we noted that discounts for classes are generally available only to certain age groups.)

Drop collision and comprehensive coverage on older cars.

Compare auto insurance quotes – using both online insurance tools and going to agents – to zero in on the lowest insurance rates.

Investigate whether bundling your coverages (such as auto insurance, home insurance, and umbrella insurance) with the same provider will give you better value for your insurance dollar.

Consider alternatives such as pay-as-you-drive auto insurance if you don't have a long commute, and if it's offered in your state.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      I got distracted by the sticker on the bottom of the engine cover..the one that says "LIFT COVER FOR EMERGENCY ENGINE STOP". I wonder if anyone has ever lifted that cover while the bus was stopped in traffic and killed the motor...
      • 4 Years Ago
      Trailbrakingftw -
      This is why auto insurance is optional.. If you don't want it or can't afford it, you don't have to drive.

      - James
      • 4 Years Ago
      and why do insurance companies also base your payment on your credit score? i pay $120 a month for an 06 focus. no tix. no accidents, and i drive at work all day in a mail truck.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It's because that's how it is. They see a correlation and adjust rates accordingly. Insurance don't care to get into the "why", they see the "what".
      • 4 Years Ago
      For this/the new generation, I would say… first insure your own car at 23, get married at 33, insure two teenagers for a dozen years and then stop driving when you turn 90.

      I say this because people are in college and grad school until like… forever. I'm 26 and I just got my own car like this year. And if you live in cities, like young people these days, you might not have a car until you're 40 and married.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yes, I do. What I mean is… the first car I bought on my own. Honestly, maybe I'm just a little too privileged, but everyone I know from high school, college and grad school still drives a car that their parents bought for them or helped buy for them. I was still on my parents insurance until this year in fact. I know, pathetic.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I have to agree with Nick here, I spoke to an ex insurance executive one time and he mentioned the same thing about safety affecting the rate significantly. Which makes sense as the insurance companies want to make sure they pay less when people get into an accident.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Nuts isn't it. With that money you could buy a house in some areas, or put a suitable downpayment on some others.
        • 4 Years Ago
        An average accident with any amount of bodily injury can rnu far beyond $50,000 in damages. If you have personal injury protection, liability, and full coverage, you can end up with accidents in the 100's of thousands of dollars.

        The point of insurance isn't to get back every dime you put in, it's to afford you financial stability and ensure your personal interests are protected in the unfortunate event that you end up in a wreck, your fault or otherwise.

        The service you pay for with a good insurance carrier is peace of mind that should the unthinkable happen, it won't burry you.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Yeah, you still end up ahead, ultimately, if you paid out of pocket.
        How many gnarly crashes does the average person get in? maybe 0.75 per lifetime, average?

        Insurance companies always end up ahead, no matter what.
      • 4 Years Ago
      is that Iggy Pop in the photo, lol?
      • 4 Years Ago
      I live in Canada and own 5 vehicles,2 have Collectors plates/insurance those 2 are $1000 a year combined,cannot drive them to work though..and they have to be restored to stock,no aftermarket stereo's ect..

      My 1 year old truck is just under $2100 a year and my 3 year old car is $1950 a year,my other old classic car I drive alot is $1700 a year....And I usually buy/sell another vehicle during the year,insure if for 3 months at a cost of $400.

      I always insured 2 cars from the age of 16,I am a car guy and could not live without multiple vehicles.I am in my 30's,last ticket was in 11 years ago (knock on wood)...I had about the same insurance rates from 16-early 20's because of speeding tickets ect,back then it should of cost me $700 year but I loved the Big Block power and speed..Now I have full discount you are allowed and I pay around $7,150 for insurance combined for all my vehicles and another $10-12,000 a year for fuel..I own a small business,drive about 3,000 miles per month and on nice weekends cruise around another 100-200 miles for fun !
      • 4 Years Ago
      Or you can drive an $800 beater and pay abot $280 a year.

        • 4 Years Ago
        Since I hit 25 in the state of WI my insurance has been looow. I too now drive a $500 beater (with a $600 motor) and pay around $250 a year for "liability only" insurance. If someone hits me, I get a check. If I am dumb enough to hit someone else.... well if I can't fix my car I'll part out what's good and buy another one for $500.

        Knock on wood, no accidents and no tickets since I was 21.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Every time I buy a newer car, my insurance goes down. I went from a 1997 Pontiac to an 07 tC and my insurance went down $4. You'd be surprised how safety equipment can affect your costs.
      • 4 Years Ago
      That’s a lot of money spent on car insurance! However insurance is a gamble and if you get into one serious accident in your life, you might end up spending much more in damages and medical costs.

      Source: http://hartfordauto.thehartford.com/auto-insurance-quote.shtml
      • 4 Years Ago
      I personally think that auto insurance is a racket. I've been driving since I was 16, and I'm 24 now, and have never once used my insurance for anything other than avoiding a nasty ticket for driving without insurance.

      Even with a clean record, being over 21, student discount, and a package discount for renter's insurance, my car insurance is nearly $1100 per year. I don't even drive an expensive car, I bought my '95 Maxima for $3200 four years and 110,000 miles ago, meaning that I am now paying more per year for insurance I've never used than my car is worth.

      I think that the auto insurance industry needs a little federal checkup, just like the health insurance industry. How about a partial refund for every three years that you don't have a claim? How about more substantial discounts for a safe driving record or attending subsidized driver training? (a $165 course would net me $33 per year in discounts over 3 years -- not worth it)
        • 4 Years Ago
        It USED to be regulated, but the idiots then were all screaming about big government the same way they are about health insurance now, and de-regulated it. That sure went well for the average consumer with his sub 30K dollar a year salary, eh?
        • 4 Years Ago
        You are 100% correct. Most insurance is a racket, especially auto insurance. I was interested in changing my insurance company recently. I knew I was going to get dinged a bit due to a speeding ticket 2 years ago. (For some reason, my current company never jacked up my rates after I got the ticket). While discussing the quote with the agent, I was informed that the fact I had made a claim in the past 4 years counted against me.

        The claim? Uninsured motorist. A few years ago, some moron pulled a hit and run on my car. $3k worth of damage with no witnesses (the car was parked) since the perp sped off. Yet, I was the one getting punished for having the nerve to actually use a service I was paying for. And it stays on the record for five years.

        Biggest rip-off in the country, and it's perfectly legal.
        • 4 Years Ago

        Not only perfectly legal, but required in 49 states.

        Anything that a normal citizen is legally obligated to have should have much tighter Federal controls, with the end-user (the customer) in mind.

        Speaking of ridiculous insurance costs, a friend of mine moved across town, and has to pay an extra $55 per year on his '96 Ford Ranger because he lives near a "dangerous intersection". The intersection in question is a major highway intersection that he rarely drives on, three miles away on the South side of town. He lives, works, shops, visits friends and family on the North side of town, and can count on one hand the times he has been through that intersection in the past six months, as can I.
        When he tried to explain his case to his insurance company, they said that everyone within a 5-mile radius is included, due to the extra risk of the intersection. This rule essentially includes every driver in a town of 86,000, most of whom are college students and blue-collar workers.
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