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How Downsizing to One Car Can Save on Car Insurance Quotes

April 28, 2015
Auto Insurance, Insurance
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You and your partner each had a car when you got together, and you probably still do. But if you think you could get by with just a single vehicle, you can save money, including on your car insurance quotes. NerdWallet found that car insurance for one car can be far cheaper than coverage for multiple vehicles.

Ways to survive with one car

There’s a whole menu of options for handling trips you used to take with your second car, including walking, biking, public transit, carpooling, taxis, ride sharing and car sharing. Here are some details on the latter two.

Ride-sharing services, such as Uber and Lyft, connect passengers with drivers willing to get them where they need to go, for a price.

Car-sharing services, such as Zipcar and Car2Go, allow you to pick up a car near you and pay for the amount you drive. The fees cover gas and insurance.

Some, like Zipcar, charge by the hour and require you to return the car to the place where you picked it up, making them good for round trips that might take an hour or two. They also offer a range of vehicles, including vans and pickup trucks.

Car2Go and similar services charge by the minute and allow you to leave the car at your destination, making them good for quicker, one-way trips, or when your return trip is many hours away, because you can pay for each leg of the trip separately.

How much will you save?

Trying to pinpoint how much your car insurance quotes will drop if you downsize to one car? Well, as is often the case, it depends.

Your family’s car insurance quote is based on a mix of factors, including where you live; the age, driving records and marital status of drivers; vehicle models; and how much you drive. If you go from two cars to one, you have the chance to impact those last two factors and save money. Bear in mind that expensive sports cars generally cost the most to insure, while crossover SUVs and minivans have the lowest rates.

Even if you put more miles annually on your remaining car, you could save serious money by eliminating the second one.

NerdWallet researched savings for a couple in New York state going from a Toyota Camry and a Ford Escape to only a Toyota Camry.

Insurance savings for becoming a one-car family in New York
Company Rate for a Toyota Camry and a Ford Escape Rate for a Toyota Camry only Savings
Travelers $3,753 $2,002 $1,751
Geico $5,023 $2,545 $2,478
New York Central Mutual Fire $7,983 $4,106 $3,877

Methodology: NerdWallet researched rates for a New York couple insuring a 2012 Toyota Camry and a 2012 Ford Escape and driving both 10,000 miles per year vs. the same couple insuring only a Toyota Camry and driving 15,000 miles a year. We ran rates for the largest 10 insurers in New York and used the three companies with the best rates. Premiums shown are for a policy with liability coverage for injuries up to $100,000 per person, $300,000 per accident, and property damage up to $50,000, plus comprehensive and collision coverage. Your own rates will differ.

Eliminating a car from your household means you can wave goodbye to the cost for registration and emissions (if your location requires this), fuel, maintenance and repairs. But you could quickly eat up this savings with lots of trips by taxi, ride sharing and car sharing.

For your situation, assess how much less your family would drive with one car and how much you would spend on other options. The city of Arlington, Virginia, has a useful car-free diet calculator, although it doesn’t consider costs for trips by taxi, ride sharing or car sharing.

Once you know how much you expect to drive with one vehicle, get car insurance quotes from several companies. The insurer that provided the best deal for your two-car family might not offer the lowest rate for your one-car lifestyle.

Aubrey Cohen is a staff writer covering insurance and investing for NerdWallet. Follow him on Twitter @aubreycohen and on Google+.

Image via iStock.