Sticker shock is coming for your car insurance bill

You may be in for sticker shock when your car insurance bill comes due. Rates statewide have shot up, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution examination found. Typical premiums for metro Atlanta drivers often exceed $2,000 a year, according to prices listed on the Georgia Department of Insurance website. You can look up how much your insurer raised rates here.

What to do? Shop around every year, says J. Robert Hunter, director of Insurance at the Consumer Federation of America. First, you may want to go to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners' website to research complaints about insurers. Then, have your policy in front of you and call five or six companies to get a quote for the exact same coverage.

Other strategies:

  • Choose a higher deductible. Usually, that means a lower premium. While additional coverage may give you added financial protection, it can add to your bill.
  • Drive safe. Generally, says State Farm spokesman Justin Tomczak, drivers who cause accidents pay more than those who are accident-free for several years. Traffic tickets also can bring an insurance penalty.
  • Drive less. The more miles you drive, the higher the chances of an accident, Tomczak said. Consider alternatives like ride-sharing.
  • Ask about discounts. You may qualify by taking a defensive driving course, having a car with security equipment, insuring more than one vehicle, being a member of the military or paying the entire bill upfront. Students may get a break by having good grades.
  • Voting may be another strategy for the long-term. The AJC examination found that last time Georgians saw big spikes in car insurance rates, at least one politician's head rolled.