Here's a smart new hack for lowering your car insurance

(Image credit: Stack Commerce)

There's a reason most car owners tend to stick with one car insurance company for years, and it isn't brand loyalty. Shopping for car insurance is a hassle – enough so that most of us want to avoid doing it more than once if at all possible.

And that's a shame. Research by The Zebra, an independent auto insurance comparison site, shows that rates have jumped in the U.S. by more than 29% since 2011. In any other market, you'd think this would lead to a lot more competition, with insurers looking to soothe that sticker shock with lower rates.

Sadly, that doesn't happen as often as it should. Insurance companies love to keep their rate structure opaque. Finding out what you'd pay means going through an often lengthy process of data collection. Whether you sign up or not at the end of all that paperwork, you've almost certainly opened yourself up for pestering emails or outright spam.

But things might be changing. It turns out that you can leverage the research done by The Zebra to make your decision easier – and far less sketchy. Just enter your zip code and a few facts about your home and car into their comparison site and they'll search for rates across providers in your area. With a network of partners that spans over 200 car insurance carriers, they've got a wide pool to draw from.

The best part? You won't get calls or email from those carriers. You decide based on the numbers who to sign up with, and The Zebra takes you directly to their site.

It's a long-overdue application of the Travelocity / Expedia aggregate search model to the car insurance industry, and it seems to be effective so far. The Zebra reports that those who end up finding a lower rate save an average of $368 per year. That's plenty of return for zero risk – and a lot of saved time.

See for yourself with a visit to The Zebra today.

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