Two Car GarageAnything that lowers your car insurance premiums is worth looking into. Car insurance in some areas is so high that it costs more to ensure the vehicle than to make payments on it every month! However, some discounts are worth more than others and some are more universally accepted. Since every insurance company is slightly different in the discounts it allows, it pays to ask some serious questions about discounts your company offers and how you can qualify for them.

One example of a discount that your company may or may not offer is the “garage” discount. Whether this discount truly lowers your insurance bill will depend on several factors including where you live, how much your car is worth and other safety features on your car.

How Do Insurance Companies Determine Discounts?
Insurance companies determine their fees by one factor: the perceived risk they have that a customer will make a claim. This simple fact drives all insurance pricing including how the company offers discounts. If you can show a company that you are a lower risk, you will generally receive lower premium rates.

The most common types of discounts have to do with driving record. If you do not have an accident or claim in a certain amount of time, for example, you may qualify for much lower rates than someone who has had a recent crash. There are also discounts widely available for bundling your coverage; this does not mean you are a safer insurance risk but that the company is making more money by covering all of your insurance needs.

However, there are some possible discounts that are open to interpretation by companies. One of these is the garage discount. In some ways, a garage can be seen as an advantage, but in other ways it could raise the risk that a policy holder might file a claim. Whether your insurance company offers a discount will depend on whether the company sees the advantages of having a garage as outweighing the disadvantages.

Advantages of Having a Garage
A garage conveys many benefits to a car owner. A garage protects vehicles from the elements; the only way to protect your vehicle during a hailstorm, for example, is to have it under cover. Similarly, a garaged car is less likely to have a limb fall on it or have a baseball heaved through its windshield. A garage may also provide theft protection; when a car is locked in a garage, it is more difficult for a thief to access and remove the vehicle. Finally, a garage may also protect the driver; when a driver exits the car in a warm, dry garage, he or she is much less likely to slip and fall or suffer from a weather-related injury.

Overall, garages provide a great death of physical protection for a vehicle and its driver. However, it is also possible that a garage can actually increase the chances of other kinds of damage.

Disadvantages of Having a Garage
It might seem strange to think of having a garage as a disadvantage, but it actually can pose some problems for car owners to have their cars in indoor storage. One major danger of garages is the increased possibility of fire or asphyxiation accidents. Every year, a number of car fires or carbon monoxide fume accidents occur in enclosed garages. If you do have a garage, it is very important never to leave the car running in the enclosed space.

Another problem with garages has to do, oddly enough, with theft. A car parked in front of someone’s home is visible to everyone on the street, while a car in a garage is out
of sight. This may encourage breakins to begin with if thieves think no one is home.

Further, if a thief gains access to the garage and can start the car, he or she now has a perfect place to take the time to empty the house, load up the car and escape without detection.

How Are Garage Discounts Calculated?
If your company offers a garage discount, it will probably be highest if the following is true:

  • You live in a high-crime area. If cars are frequently stolen in your area, having yours locked up will probably lower your chances of being a victim
  • You live in a hurricane, tornado or flood danger zone. While a garage will not necessarily save your car from a flood, having one can definitely provide protection from high winds, hail, falling debris and other hazards associated with large storms
  • You live in an area with cold winters. The benefit of exiting a car in a warm, ice-free area is definitely a benefit, and your insurance company may agree
  • You include other safety features with your garage. A carbon monoxide detector and a security system may not only lower your homeowner coverage but may help convince your insurance company that your garage is a safer place for your car than outdoors.

This duality between the benefits and disadvantages of garages makes the question of discounts for garages a difficult one to answer. Some companies may see garages as a liability while others see it as an advantage. You will have to explore that question with your own insurance company to determine if you qualify for a garage discount.