Beat the Gas Price Crunch by Lowering Car Insurance Costs

With gas prices hovering around record highs, what are you willing to do to save money? Half of the people responding to a recent survey said they're rethinking how much, where and what they drive.

Of the 1,000 drivers surveyed, 50 percent said they would change their driving habits as a result of increased costs at the fuel pump. Ninety-two percent said they would drive out of their way to buy gas that was 20 cents less a gallon and 19 percent plan on vacationing closer to home.

One thing they're not doing, however, that could save them more money than curtailing their driving or penny-pinching at the pump is shopping around for auto insurance. The survey, conducted by the Progressive group of insurance companies, found that when given the choice, consumers were over three times more likely to buy a cheaper grade of gas (18 percent) than to shop around for auto insurance (five percent).

Assuming you fill your 20-gallon gas tank about once a week and are paying 30 cents more a gallon than you were a year ago, you can expect your fuel costs to increase $156 in a six-month period. A lot of people could save that much and more by shopping around for auto insurance because rates can vary by hundreds of dollars among companies.

There are also some other steps you can take to lower the cost of your auto insurance.

Before you buy a new car, research the affect it will have on your auto insurance: Generally speaking, smaller, less expensive cars with lower horsepower engines are less expensive to insure than larger, more expensive cars with higher horsepower engines.

Manage your credit: Most auto insurance companies use information about your credit history along with other information about you and your vehicle, to determine the amount you pay for insurance. Generally speaking, if you pay your bills on time and only apply for the credit you need, you'll increase your chances of getting a better insurance rate.

Make sure your policy is up to date: If you've moved or gotten married or if it has been at least three years since your last violation, check with your insurance company-you may be eligible for a rate reduction.

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