According to recent data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), auto insurance rates are rising and the average cost of insuring a vehicle is inching up toward $900 per year. But the actual rate you pay for car insurance can vary greatly based on what kind of car you drive, where you live, your driving record, and, of course, whether you do any legwork to get the best coverage at the lowest rate possible. But how do you do that? To find out, we asked auto insurance industry experts for their tips on how to get the best deal on car insurance.

Use Online Comparison Tools

Always compare. Whether it's the first time you're buying a car insurance policy or the 15th year you'll be doing so, always compare what's on offer. This can save you hundreds in one instant and even thousands of dollars in the long run. Don't automatically just renew your existing policy.

Also, use online comparison tools. Very few people have time to call every insurance provider to compare quotes. To save time, use one of the many comparison tools online. They're free and will tell you who's offering the best deals in your area.

-Natasha Rachel Smith, Personal Finance Expert for TopCashback.com

Consider Usage-Based Insurance

Many companies like State Farm now offer [telematics-based insurance]. This is an app installed on your phone that monitors your driving tendencies. If it registers you accelerating or decelerating at a high rate, or other unsafe driving habits, your rates may go up, but safe drivers are rewarded with rate savings up to 15 %.

Another factor in determining your rates is the type of car you drive. A solid, safe used car will get you lower rates than a newer flashy ride.

-Josh Berman, Personal Injury Attorney specializing in car accident cases

Check for Special Discounts

Discounts can come from age, length of commute, and telematics. Ask your insurance company about any discounts, and see if participating in driver monitoring programs can help you find even small discounts. Some savings could go up 10, 15, or 20 percent. If you have a child who is getting behind the wheel, check with your insurance company about discounts for things like good grades. By sending in your child’s report card, you may save around 5 to 10 percent. If your child recently went to college, you may receive a discount because your child is driving your car less often.

-Andrew Rose, CEO and Founder of Compare.com

Be Transparent and Ask Questions

Do your homework and be transparent with the insurance company when you call them. Search around for different insurance websites, especially comparison sites, to see who is going to give you the best deal and coverage. Ask your friends and family who they use as this is often the best way to learn more about the field from people you trust. Most importantly, call up potential insurers or walk into a storefront and ask them questions. Explain your situation and budget and they may find you different options that are unavailable online.

-Zoe Meeken, Money Editor for Reviews.org

Work on That Credit Score

When you’ve recently paid off your credit cards, reduced the balances on your credit card, or paid down student loans by a substantial amount, it's an excellent time to shop for new auto insurance.

This is because paying down debts and paying off loans can raise your credit score by 100 points or more and your credit score is used to set your auto insurance rate. Drivers with higher credit scores get access to cheaper car insurance than drivers with low scores, but your insurer won't voluntarily lower your premiums—you'll have to force their hand.

When your credit score climbs, shop for better insurance and lower rates.

-Dan Green, CEO at Growella

Consider Working With an Independent Agent

A lot of factors go into auto insurance rating. It’s important to discuss your commute as you may qualify for a short mileage credit. Where you attended college, where you work, your level of education and profession could also be rating factors. Bundling insurance is typically more cost effective than carrying coverage with separate companies, so combine your auto and home with one carrier. Prior bodily injury limits are also a significant rating factor. The higher your prior limits, the more favorable your new quote may be. Work with an independent agent like myself who represents multiple companies and can shop around and find you the best deal today and at each renewal.

-Sierra Knight Magee, Owner of Knight Magee Insurance in Richmond, Virginia

Pay for Your Policy Upfront

One way you can save significant money is by paying your car insurance in full. Although this is a much larger amount to hand over in one go, it can add up to hundreds of dollars in savings over a policy’s period because of the charges that are added to monthly repayments. Don’t be fooled into thinking a monthly repayment is the year’s policy price split into 12 parts; it’s that plus, effectively, interest on top for the luxury of a payment plan. If you can’t afford such a big amount in one go, consider applying for a 0% spending credit card to pay the policy in full, then divide the total by the number of months you won’t be charged interest by the credit card provider to know how much you must repay it monthly. That will secure you the cheap "in full" rate, while allowing you to spread the cost.

-Natasha Rachel Smith, Personal Finance Expert for TopCashback.com