Buying and owning a car comes with plenty of responsibilities. From regular maintenance to registration and fees, you have to continually invest money into your vehicle – especially when it comes to auto insurance.

Auto insurance is required for drivers, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. This is one expense you could save significantly on, but only if you know how to do so. Here are a few tips to make your auto insurance more affordable.

Pay Annually, Not Monthly

Monthly payments can make your big auto insurance bill a lot more manageable. Instead of paying upwards of $1,000 all at once when your policy is up for renewal, your insurance company likely gives you the option to pay monthly, reducing that big payment into more affordable chunks of cash.

However, if you choose to pay your premium monthly instead of annually, you’re actually spending more money. While it seems like the monthly payments are cheaper, you’re paying a few extra dollars every month. And those little extras can quickly add up.

That’s because car insurance companies give discounts for those who pay their policy premium up front each year. When you choose to pay monthly, your insurance company charges you interest on every payment, adding more money to your bill each month and in the long run.

When you pay your premium up front each year, you can save significantly. Here’s how much you could save from different companies:

  • Allstate: Up to 10% off your entire policy cost
  • Farmers Insurance: 8 to 10% on your annual premium
  • Geico: Up to 10% off your entire policy cost
  • Progressive: 8 to 10% on your annual premium

Improve Your Car’s Safety

Your insurance policy and rates can increase depending on how safe your car is – both while you’re behind the wheel and when you’re not. Little details like where you park your car and how secure it is when you aren’t driving can make a surprising difference in how much you’re paying for auto insurance.

One way to lower your insurance premium is to make sure your car has an alarm. New cars typically have alarms already installed, but check to see if you need to install one on your vehicle. An alarm deters burglars and thieves, and having an alarm makes an insurance company worry less about the possibility of the car getting stolen. According to Insurance Hotline, an alarm could save you a 5 percent discount on your premium.

Additionally, try to park your vehicle somewhere that’s as safe as possible. It’s very common to simply park your car on the street, but that can increase your auto insurance rate. The safer your car is at all times, the less you’ll spend to insure it. A garage is considered a safer parking place – and some insurance companies will give you a Preferred Parking discount if you’re able to park your car in a closed or locked garage.

Choose a Yearlong Policy, Not a 6-Month Policy

Here’s a tip that’s similar to paying annually for your insurance: avoid choosing a policy that renews every six months. Instead, opt for one that renews annually.

A yearlong policy is important because it locks in your rate and insurance coverage for a full year. This means that your premium price won’t change and you won’t have to worry about any price increases until the next year. And this could result in significant savings, as reports that auto insurance tends to increase when it’s revised – and the cost of auto insurance increased a whopping 13 percent from 2011 to 2017.

Additionally, when your policy comes up for renewal, insurance companies look at your driving record. If you have penalties like tickets, mandated traffic school, or points on your license, you’ll wind up paying a lot more for coverage. And if your policy renews every six months, you could be subject to a rate increase twice per year. With an annual policy, you won’t see any rate increases for an entire year.

Shop Around Before Buying

The most important step in saving money on your car insurance is to make sure you shop around. It’s so easy to keep signing up with the same insurance company and the same policy every time you’re ready to renew – but failing to shop around could cost you more money.

If you don’t know what rates other insurance companies are charging, how do you know you’re getting a good rate? Auto insurance prices are changing constantly, and the only way to get a true idea of the cost is to shop around. You should get free quotes online from insurance companies and see how much you could save. You should also compare different policies, coverage options, and insurance plans before choosing one.

Here’s another money-saving trick to use when you’re shopping around for insurance: make sure to get quotes when you’re within 60 days of renewing your current policy. That 60-day window will give you plenty of options and enough time to do your research before deciding on a cheaper, effective policy.