Is your long commute increasing your auto insurance rates?

The longer you drive, the more likely you are to get into a car accident, which means you are more of a risk to your auto insurance company. You can still lower your auto insurance costs despite your commute if you carpool or take public transport.

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Rachel Bodine graduated from college with a BA in English. She has since worked as a Feature Writer in the insurance industry and gained a deep knowledge of state and countrywide insurance laws and rates. Her research and writing focus on helping readers understand their insurance coverage and how to find savings. Her expert advice on insurance has been featured on sites like PhotoEnforced, All...

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Written by Rachel Bodine
Insurance Feature Writer Rachel Bodine

Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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Reviewed by Leslie Kasperowicz
Farmers CSR for 4 Years Leslie Kasperowicz

UPDATED: Jun 6, 2022

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Imagine moving with your family to your dream house in the suburbs. Gone is the hustle and bustle of city life! You’re now in the midst of what most people will call “peace”, where you actually know the names of your neighbors, where the pace of life seems to slow from a mad spring to the finish line to a leisurely walk in the park. Ah, this is life!

Everything appeared to be perfect…Except that during the weekdays, you will have to drive more than 10 miles back to the accursed city which you are trying to escape, and work in your office cubicle for 8 hours straight. For the sake of your family and your own sanity, you are prepared to take this bullet for the team. However, what you didn’t expect was the hike in insurance premiums when you next report your daily one-way commute distance.

Questions hover in your mind: Why does this happen? What’s the correlation between the distance you commute every day in your car, and the auto insurance rates you have to pay?

Why do long commutes increase auto insurance rates?

If you have been a “victim” of this hike, you will be wondering: I’m just driving for longer distances? Why is my insurer trying to take more money out of my pocket by hiking my premiums? Well, you will have to understand that if you drive long distances, the probability of you being in an accident is much higher than people who, say, drive less than a mile per day. It is very logical – the longer you are in contact with other road-users, the more chance you will have of getting into an accident. You might be a very safe driver, but if other motorists somehow slam their vehicles into you, you’re still in an accident. Traveling longer distances just gives these reckless drivers more chances to do so.

Hence, to protect their profits, auto insurance companies will raise your auto insurance rates according to the distance you commute on a one-way trip. The rates may vary, but most auto insurance companies will only increase your auto insurance premiums if you’re driving more than 3 miles on a one-way trip. At less than 3 miles, you’re considered to be a “pleasure commuter”, and no surcharges will be applied. This increase in auto insurance rate for long commutes will peak at 20 miles – no further hikes will be applied to your auto insurance premiums after 20 miles.

But still, it might be worth looking at these U.S. cities with short commutes. Many of them are great places to call home (with lower insurance rates).

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So, how do I save on auto insurance premiums for long commutes?

There is only one core concept for reducing auto insurance premiums for long commutes – drive less often! If you drive less often, the distance traveled through driving will logically be lower, thus reducing your auto insurance rates. Although auto insurance companies look at the distance of one-way trips to determine the increase in your auto insurance rates, your insurer may give you a bit of a leeway if you prove that you drive these ultra-long distances only once in a while.

In addition, you might want to carpool. Carpooling is an excellent method of saving on auto insurance premiums arising from long commutes. By carpooling, you’ll be able to also reduce the distance you drive. In addition, you’ll even be able to save on gas if you carpool!

There are people that advocate increasing the deductibles you pay for your comprehensive and collision coverage so that your auto insurance premiums will be lowered. As you know, the higher the deductibles you are willing to pay, the lower the premiums you have to fork out to maintain your auto insurance policy.  However, this move is not recommended. As a regular road-user, you will be in contact with many other motorists on the roads. Who knows when the driver on your right will decide to swerve in your direction, causing an accident? With you using the roads at such a high frequency, it is inevitable for an auto accident, no matter how minor it is, to occur. As such, it will be counter-intuitive to raise your deductibles, knowing that you already have a higher probability of getting into an accident.

What is pleasure vs. commuter insurance?

There’s technically no real difference between pleasure and commuting car insurance; you’ll always need a basic auto insurance plan. However, car usage is just one factor among many that determines your rate. Others include your driving history, type, and age. It’s important to tell your insurer the truth about how often you drive and where you go when you’re driving. Lying about these things can be considered car insurance failure.

Is your long commute increasing your auto insurance rates? Bottom Line

For many of us, these hikes in auto insurance premiums from long commutes are unavoidable. We may not be able to switch jobs to one which is nearer to our homes because we’re bound by our contract. This hike may seem unreasonable. However, these rates are for the insurance companies to decide. All you can really do is to sigh and pay the auto insurance premium.

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