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 Delaware Valley 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 Montgomery County with clean driving records would pay $1,067 per year with GEICO, $1,123 with USAA, or $1,144 with Progressive, compared to more than $2,000 per year with Allstate and State Farm, and more than $3,300 per year with Donegal and Penn National.
  • If that couple lives in Burlington County, N.J., they’d pay $1,294 per year with Esurance, $1,307 with Palisades, or $1,334 with GEICO, compared to $3,162 with AAA and $4,300 with Farmers.
  • If they moved to Philadelphia and added a teenage son to their policy (gulp!), they’d pay $3,618 per year with Progressive, $4,142 with GEICO, $4,324 with AAA, or $4,522 with Liberty, compared to more than $8,400 per year with Electric and State Auto.

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.