Changed Your Commute to Save Gas? You May Save on Insurance, Too

With gasoline prices rocketing past $4 per gallon, record numbers of California commuters are turning to public transportation to ease the fuel crunch. But they may not realize that a change of commute may save more than just their gas budget.

By consistently reducing the number of miles driven each week, commuters might just lower their auto insurance premiums.

Auto insurance costs rely on a number of factors — from a driver’s safety record to the type of car being insured. The car’s annual mileage is one of several components that determine how much a driver spends on insurance, and some insurance companies offer discounts to motorists who drive less than a predetermined number of miles each year.

Ridership levels on rail and bus lines have climbed almost as rapidly as the cost of gas. On Monday, the American Public Transportation Association said that use of public transit has hit a 50-year high nationwide, and commuter rail systems in Northern and Southern California are reporting ridership increases of 4-to-6 percent over 2007 levels.

“As commuters turn to public transit to reduce their household fuel bills, they should report reduced annual automobile mileage to their insurer or insurance agent,” said Candysse Miller, executive director of the Insurance Information Network of California. “While the insurance savings may not completely offset the impact of sky-high gas prices on your household budget, the combined benefit of reduced fuel, maintenance and insurance costs could make public transportation a budget bonus for many commuters.”

Using the California Department of Insurance’s premium calculator, a typical California commuter with a clean driving record could save between $100 and $500 a year by reducing their annual mileage by 5,000 miles or more. Results may vary dramatically based on the driver’s personal circumstances and by company. Drivers should consult with their insurance company to see how reducing their mileage may impact their insurance costs and be able to verify changes in their driving habits.

Reducing annual mileage is one of several ways a driver can cut their auto insurance costs. For more information on how to save money on auto insurance and other related subjects, visit www.iinc.org. Consumer tips and advice are also available on the podcast, “IINC Spots” at www.iincspots.com.

IINC is non-profit, non-lobbying insurance communications association dedicated to helping the public understand insurance and risk management issues.