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6 jobs that get car insurance discounts
The job that puts food on your table also might save you money on car insurance.
In poring through claims data, insurers find that people in certain fields tend to file fewer claims than in others. As a result, many car insurance companies take your education background and occupation into account to set car insurance rates.
Some companies consider those factors as part of the rating process, but don't advertise the fact. Others, such as Farmers Insurance and Country Financial, promote flat, percentage-rate discounts for customers with certain education degrees or occupations.
"People in these occupations represent a lower level of risk and the discount is designed to reflect this," says Jeff Muniz, a spokesperson for Country Financial, which gives discounts to first responders and teachers.
Car insurance discounts vary by company and by state. (See "A guide to car insurance discounts.") Some insurers offer discounts for particular occupations in some states, but not in other states. Some companies give discounts for a wide variety of occupations; other insurers offer discounts for just a handful. Size of the discount varies, too.
"It can be up to 18 percent, which is huge if you're paying $2,000 a year for auto insurance," says Pavel Levitanus, a Farmers Insurance agent in Laguna Hills, Calif.
Here are seven occupations that score car insurance discounts:
College professors and school teachers qualify for discounts with many companies.
Country Financial, for instance, offers up to a 10 percent discount for full-time K-12 teachers. The insurer rolled out the discounts in Illinois and Oregon in December 2011 and expanded them to 13 more states in October of this year.
Liberty Mutual Insurance offers special benefits for teachers in some states, including a zero deductible if a vehicle is vandalized on school property or during school events or in a collision while driving it on school business. It also provides up to $2,500 in coverage for personal teaching material or school-owned property that's stolen or damaged while in the car.
2. First responders
Police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians are on the roads serving and protecting us all day -- but not in their personal vehicles. They tend to live in the same communities where they work, so they don't commute long distances. And, because they don't necessarily work 9-to-5, they usually aren't commuting during rush hour, Muniz says.
Combined those factors mean fewer miles driven, and less time on the road during peak hours when accidents are likely to occur. Country Financial gives firefighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians and paramedics up to a 5 percent discount.
3. Medical professionals
All those years in school can add up to good deals on car insurance. Doctors and nurses qualify for discounts with a variety of companies. Farmers Insurance in California offers 15 percent discounts to licensed physicians, surgeons, dentists and veterinarians, and 10 percent discounts to licensed and practicing physical and occupational therapists, chiropractors, registered nurses and speech audiologists and pathologists.
If you've got the wits and temperament to get through college with a math or science degree, then there's a better-than-average chance you have what it takes to avoid accidents, at least according to insurance risk studies. A variety of insurers, including Mercury Insurance and Farmers, offer discounts if you have at least a bachelor's degree in science or math. Even if you now work as a cupcake baker, you can put that astronomy degree to good use.
Like science or math studies, engineering coursework pays off. A bachelor's or higher degree in engineering or a professional engineering license will qualify you for discounts with some companies. Mid-Century Insurance Co., a subsidiary of Farmers, offers 18 percent discounts in California.
6. Military members
USAA, which provides insurance and other financial products strictly to military members and their families, caters to the special needs of active and retired servicemen and women. In most states the company offers 15 percent discounts on comprehensive coverage for vehicles garaged on base and up to 90 percent discounts for stored vehicles that are not driven.
Geico offers up to 15 percent discounts to service men and women who are on active duty, retired from the military or are members of the National Guard or Reserves, and the company offers discounts to members of several military-related professional associations.
If your occupation or degree doesn't qualify you for a rate cut, you might get a discount through membership in a professional association, fraternity or sorority, university alumni group or even your employer. Geico, for instance, offers discounts to members of more than 275 groups and associations.
"I always tell people to ask about discounts," Levitanus, the Farmers agent, says. "Most people aren't aware of them, and sometimes an agent doesn't bring them up."