Shopping for car insurance can be a brutal task. In addition to the mind-numbing array of insurance providers that you'll have at your disposal, you'll also need to worry about the dozens of disparate factors that may positively or negatively affect your annual insurance premiums. Most competitive insurance companies offer discounts for good students, safe drivers, military veterans and responsible credit users. Many also offer discounts to policyholders who make upfront payments and opt for electronic billing rather than old-fashioned paper statements. Some insurers even offer deep discounts for drivers willing to record their driving habits for several months at a time.
Of course, you'll still need to be deeply concerned about your previous driving record. No matter where you reside, all of the accidents in which you've been involved in the past three years will be a matter of public record and can be accessed by prospective insurance providers. Likewise, all of the citations that you've received during that period will factor into the cost of your insurance. In many states, this "look-back" period will extend for five years into the past.
If your recent driving history is free of blemishes, you may be looking for an insurance company that rewards such "good behavior." Although it may be time-consuming to do so, the best way for you to explore your low-cost insurance options is simply to procure quotes from as many different insurance providers as possible.
The reason for this is simple: In an increasingly competitive insurance industry, few providers are willing to discuss the means by which they calculate insurance costs for their customers. If you're looking for a quicker way to screen prospective insurers by the length of their look-back periods, you may be able to find a list of car insurance companies that adhere to a three-year look-back period on certain online car insurance forums.
Many insurance companies make exceptions to their standard look-back periods. For instance, it's standard practice for most insurers to take into account any impaired-driving convictions that occurred within five years of the present date. Some insurance companies may look back seven years or more. Few states have restrictions on look-back periods for serious vehicular crimes like DUIs and reckless driving.
In fact, many encourage insurance companies to look back even further: Massachusetts law permits insurance companies to take into account any DUIs that occurred within 10 years of the present date. If you live in a "strict" state, your insurance costs may remain elevated for many years after you're involved in such an incident.