You're probably paying too much for car insurance.

Most consumers stay with the same company year after year, often concluding that steep discounts they get for their loyalty or not having any speeding tickets or accidents means they won’t find better pricing elsewhere. That’s usually untrue. Although you might be getting a price break from your current company, its competitors will also likely happily offer low prices to lure you away.

Our comparisons of prices charged by the Boston area’s largest auto insurers found that most area drivers will save $500 or more a year by making a better auto insurance choice. Many will save $1,000 or more. For example:

  • Our illustrative couple with two cars living in Cambridge with one speeding ticket in the last few years would pay $1,097 per year with Hanover or $1,128 with GEICO, compared to $2,245 per year with Commerce (the largest insurer in Massachusetts) and more than $4,000 per year with National General or Electric.
  • If you have a less-than-perfect driving record or (gulp!) a teenager on your policy, expect to pay a lot more—and to have bigger opportunities to save. For our illustrative couple with two cars living in Salem with a recent speeding ticket and a teenager, rates range from $1,948 with Hanover and $1,973 with USAA to $3,948 with Commerce and more than $6,000 with ACE, Ameriprise, Cincinnati, and The Hartford.

Note that you don’t have to wait until your current policy term expires to take advantage of the savings you’d get from a switch. If you change companies, your old insurance company will refund the unused share of your premium. You also don’t have to forsake good service for a better rate: Our ratings reveal that some highly rated companies offer low rates.

You want to buy enough coverage to protect yourself—but not so much that you’re wasting money. We advise on that, too. The highlights:

  • Maintain the highest deductible amount with which you’re comfortable.
  • Be vigilant that your coverage doesn’t lapse.
  • Consider dropping collision and comprehensive coverage when your car’s value drops below $3,000.
  • Carefully consider the extras. Some optional coverages aren’t worth much, but companies charge a lot for them.
  • For repairs, insist on using a repair shop you trust. Click here to go to our ratings of area auto body shops.