The Garden State in 2021 continues to post among the highest auto-insurance rates in the country.

Experts say you have the ability to reduce your monthly payment by a significant amount — if you have the patience to try.

"People should take the opportunity to shop," said Christine O'Brien, president of the Insurance Council of New Jersey. "We are very fortunate to have well over 70 auto insurers selling insurance in New Jersey."

And your quote, from company to company, can vary greatly based on the type or amount of coverage you're seeking. According to personal finance website WalletHub, full coverage car insurance costs 133% more than minimum coverage in New Jersey, on average.

In its 2021 report, WalletHub ranks New Jersey as the 3rd most expensive state for car insurance.

Safe driving habits, according to O'Brien, hold the most power when one is looking to pay less for auto insurance. Accidents can drive up premiums, while a clean driving record is always looked favorably upon by an insurance company.

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"The safer the driver, the better the rate — that's guaranteed across the board," she said.

Select insurers offer motorists a chance to prove their attentiveness and behavior behind the wheel — user-based insurance utilizes a device on one's vehicle that can transmit information to an insurance company — if you speed or "hard brake," they'll know. Such devices also allow drivers to score discounts by driving less.

A more timely tip: If you're driving fewer miles due to the pandemic, you can notify your insurer and most likely receive a premium adjustment, O'Brien noted.

In New Jersey, insurers are required to offer some type of discount for motorists who take a voluntary defensive driving course, as long as it's a classroom or online course that's approved by the government. Good-student discounts exist for younger drivers.

According to WalletHub's report, 16-year-olds pay 341% more for car insurance than 55-year-olds in New Jersey, on average. A driver with a DUI, the report notes, will pay nearly double for car insurance compared to someone with a clean record.

O'Brien said the best insurance option for an individual may change over time, depending on life events. The company you've known and trusted for 15 years, for example, may not offer the most affordable rates once you add a young driver to your policy, buy a fancier vehicle model, or decide to bundle home and auto coverage.

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