Car insurance companies consider whether your driving is mainly for pleasure or commuting — essentially, whether you drive your car infrequently because you only get behind the wheel to drive for leisure, or whether you drive your car frequently because it is your primary mode of getting to and from your job. Read more to learn if you’re classifying your car correctly and getting the right price for auto insurance.
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What’s the Difference Between Pleasure and Commuting Car Insurance?
Auto insurance companies often will ask you to classify your car or truck as a commuter vehicle or a pleasure vehicle. Classification can affect your insurance premiums; if you drive your car primarily for pleasure, your car insurance rate could be lower than if you drive your car to commute.
However, where the distinction really lies is not in which option you select, but the number of miles you drive each year. The mileage you drive is essential because any driving has a greater risk of an accident than a parked car. This means the more you drive your car, the riskier your insurance company considers it to insure.
There are no special pleasure or commuter insurance policies, as no matter how you use your personal car, you would need standard auto insurance to cover it. But if you drive far under the national average mileage per year, such as if you own a pleasure use vehicle, there can be some discounts.
Pleasure vehicles are driven infrequently and are typically not the primary car. A classic automobile or a convertible that only comes out on beautiful weekends fits the pleasure vehicle description. You might still use it for driving to work or errands occasionally, but the main point is that the usage is infrequent. Most insurance companies consider 7,500 or fewer miles per year as the criteria for pleasure driving.
A commuter vehicle is one that’s used most frequently for work, errands, and driving the kids around. This vehicle racks up miles, meaning it’s the one you use most on the road. In fact, the average driver commutes 13,476 miles each year, which is almost twice as many miles as the pleasure usage criteria. Many times, people will use the same car for both pleasure and commuting. In those instances, it is best to consider your car a commuter car.
Commuter vs. Commercial Car Insurance
While commuter car insurance includes using your car to drive to and from your job, it does not cover usages where you must drive your car to do your job. For example, if you use your car to deliver goods, visit clients, or complete other business activities, you will need commercial car insurance instead of commuter car insurance.
Commercial auto insurance is specifically for vehicles used to conduct business. The business pays for the insurance rather than an individual, and it often covers more than one driver. If you own your own business, you will likely still need to purchase commercial car insurance for your vehicle if you regularly use it as part of your job.
Commercial vehicle coverage is more expensive than personal auto insurance because it covers the entire business and not just the individual driver, and the policy limits are usually higher. However, before considering skipping this coverage, keep in mind that if you get into an accident while using your car for work, your personal auto insurance will likely not provide coverage. In contrast, your commercial car insurance may cover personal usage of the car too.
Average Cost of Car Insurance for Pleasure vs. Commute
Those who drive their car infrequently, or have a pleasure use vehicle, generally save between $11 to $100 a year than those who drive their car regularly. However, the cost of your insurance relies on far more than whether your car is used for pleasure or commuting. An auto policy typically factors in:
- Your personal details: As the driver, your auto insurance company will assess your age, sex, and where you live to help determine your risk profile. Some states also allow auto insurance companies to factor in your credit score and credit history.
- Your driving details: Auto insurers will also heavily weigh your driving record, as those who have been at fault in collisions or have been cited for speeding and other violations are riskier to insure.
- Your insurance history: Lapses in coverage as well as excessive claims are also weighed to determine your insurance risk profile.
- Your car details: Your car’s make, model, age, and repair history are all taken into consideration when insurance companies calculate how likely it is that they will need to pay for repairs.
- And finally, your car usage details: This includes how frequently and how long you drive your car. Those who use their car more often and to cover longer distances are riskier to insure than those who rarely use their car or only drive short distances.
One thing to note is that your insurance company will not just take your word on it if you are looking for a pleasure use low mileage discount. They may ask you for an annual odometer reading, or may require that your odometer is read at a third-party establishment. Some low mileage plans also require installing devices in your car to track your mileage or driving habits, such as how quickly you accelerate and how hard you brake.
How to Save Money On Your Commuter Insurance
If you rely on your car as your primary mode of transportation and drive regularly, you are a commuter driver. But even though you will not be eligible for the special types of discounts and auto policies offered to low-mileage drivers, you can still take steps to save on your insurance:
- Check for discounts: Insurance companies often offer multiple ways for policyholders to get discounts, including rewards for those who drive without traffic violations for a set number of years, those who bundle their auto and home or renters insurance together, and those who install additional safety and anti-theft features into their cars. Check with your insurer to see if you are eligible for any discounts.
- Consider telematics discounts or insurance: With telematics insurance or discounts, your insurance rates are affected by how you drive. A small device called a telematics box is installed in your car, which tracks things like your speed, braking, and acceleration. Insurers may also implement telematics using a mobile app as well. Regardless of the mechanism, the better you drive, the lower your insurance rates will be, or the greater the discount you receive.
- Shop around for better rates on a regular basis: Every year or every other year, reassess whether you are still getting the best coverage for the best price. Get quotes from different insurance companies to see what rates they offer, while also considering coverage limits, deductibles, and overall reputation of the company for customer satisfaction.
- Improve your driving record: If your state allows you to reduce the number of points on your license or remove a minor violation from your record, look into how you can achieve this. Oftentimes, you could take a defensive driving course to remove a speeding ticket from your record, for example.
- Use your vehicle less: If you live close to work or there is public transportation option that could get you there, you might be able to reduce the number of miles you drive. Even if you cannot curb your driving to pleasure-use levels, you can still see some savings by reducing your time on the road in general.
- Purchase a safer car: When it comes time for you to buy a new car, check with your insurance company to see if they offer a discount for vehicles with a superior safety rating. These cars ultimately save insurance companies money because they’re a lower risk.
How to Save Money On Insuring Your Pleasure Vehicle
You may be eligible for specialty auto insurance if you drive significantly less than the average driver. Consider looking into the following types of car insurance policies that reward low-mileage drivers:
- Pay-per-mile auto insurance: With pay-per-mile insurance, you pay for the miles you drive. Your monthly bill is calculated using a base rate plus a per-mile rate, and these types of policies often require a mileage tracking device to be installed into your vehicle. However, if you drive infrequently, it can be significantly less costly than standard auto insurance.
- Storage insurance: If you have a car that you’re not using at all, like a car that you only use during certain seasons, storage car insurance can protect your vehicle at a far lower rate than standard auto insurance. With storage car insurance, your car is protected against damage, theft, and other risks. However, it should be noted that once you decide to take your car out again to drive — such as when the summertime returns — you will need to switch back to another form of auto insurance.
- Telematics insurance for low-mileage drivers: Telematics car insurance can work for commuter drivers as well as low-mileage drivers. In fact, some auto insurance companies may only offer the telematics option to those who also drive far less than average. This type of car insurance looks at your acceleration, braking, and other driving habits to reward those who practice safe defensive driving.
What This Means For You
Car insurance companies consider whether you drive your car primarily for pleasure or commuting, as the mileage you drive is essential in determining how risky it is to insure. Pleasure vehicles are driven infrequently, while commuter vehicles are used most frequently for work, errands, and general daily needs. However, the cost of your insurance depends on various factors in addition to how you use your car, including your personal details, driving details, insurance history, car details, and car usage details.