MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — With car insurance, there are things you can control, like the kind of car you drive. But there are things you can’t, like your age or gender. So, WCCO-TV’s Jamie Yuccas found out what drives insurance companies to give better rates.

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It all starts at 16 and Lois Mahlberg is waiting to see if her son will be the newest driver on Minnesota roads.
It brings her to the next nerve-wracking event: Insurance premiums.

“I have no idea what it’s going to cost when we have a third driver on our policy,” says Mahlberg. “It would be really dangerous to go to the web or 800 number and say I want the lowest cost insurance what is the price going to be?”

University of Minnesota Carlson School of Business Professor Andrew Whitman is going to help guide us.

“The biggest asset people have, especially young people, is their future income,” said Whitman.

Whitman suggests paying more, about $18 a month, for an umbrella policy that will cover you up to a $1 million.

“In Minnesota, 10 to 40 percent of people on the road either have no insurance or their limits are so low that you won’t get compensated,” said Whitman.

Whitman says young people should stay away from juiced-up vehicles and luxury rides, which will jack up premiums.

Make sure you ask your agent about the good student discount.

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“We keep telling him his grades need to be above a B. They give better breaks for B’s,” said Mahlberg.
Another break is available to those over 55.

A four-hour defensive driving class might cost $100, but it will save you in the long run.

“The discounts vary from 5 to 20 percent,” says Whitman.

When you go on vacation, save your money when renting a car.

“Turns out your own insurance will pay for it just like it’s your own car, they’ll also pay if someone else sues you,” said Whitman.

Most insurance companies offer a discount to those who bundle a homeowners and car insurance policy, but Whitman says there’s another reason you might want to do that.

“Let’s say your car is damaged in your driveway, is that under the homeowners policy or your car policy? And you don’t want two insurance companies saying the other company has to pay.”

A couple other things Whitman says to keep in mind: Maintain a good credit score. It does affect your insurance rates. Also, drop collision or comprehensive coverage if you have a car more than 10 years old and be wary of shopping around.

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Often, you will get better rates the longer you stay with a company and you won’t be inundated with sales calls.