When it comes to selecting auto insurance, consumers want to know they have chosen the right coverage. Moreover, if an accident occurs, they need to know they will be properly covered and supported by the insurance company. There are many auto insurance agencies to choose from and a number of coverage options available. Here are 10 tips for choosing auto insurance.
1. Compare and Shop Around–By doing comparison shopping, consumers could save hundreds of dollars a year on insurance. Begin the process by obtaining a few basic coverage quotes and consider using a rate comparison service as well. In many cases, the premiums could vary anywhere from a few dollars to several hundreds of dollars. This situation can be much more common than many think, especially if consumers are paying excess overcharges to their current insurance company because of an out-of-date and/or unfavorable credit rating, accident claim, or some tickets on the driver’s record. Gathering some comparative quotes and shopping the policy around might pay off in a big way.
2. Review the Current Insurance Policy–Thoroughly review the current policy and/or contact the insurance company to obtain the specifics about the policy. Consumers should always know the amount of their coverage as well as their premiums. This includes the annual, semi-annual, quarterly, and monthly cost of their premiums since payment plans can vary greatly. In many cases, consumers could save a significant amount of money by changing their premiums to a semi-annual or annual basis. Thus, avoiding customer service fees often associated with more frequent billing practices
3. Determine Amount of Coverage Needed–In order to select the proper auto insurer, start off by figuring out the amount of coverage needed. It is important to note that this amount varies from state to state, so make sure to find out what coverage is required in the state of residence and area in which the consumer lives. For first-time drivers, it may be necessary to obtain a comprehensive overview of car insurance, which can be obtained from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
4. Be Aware of Driving Record–Hopefully, most drivers know their driving record and are aware of how many tickets they have. However, it is always best to do occasional spot checks on a driving record, especially prior to getting insurance quotes. Check with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in the driver’s state of residence. If a ticket or points are about to be removed from a driver’s record, it will improve the driving record. Thus, lowering the insurance quotes.
5. Gather Insurance Company Information and Quotes–While doing research on the various companies, consumers should take careful notes so they can make price and coverage comparisons. Compile a list of annual and monthly premiums for the different types of coverage. Consumers should keep the coverage limits consistent so they can make appropriate comparisons for coverage and cost. Consumers should have contact information for each insurance company, so they can contact them with any concerns or questions that are not addressed online. Moreover, consumers must be aware of each insurance company’s payment policy. When is the payment due? What kinds of payment plans are available? What happens if there are late payments?
6. Contact the Companies and Ask Questions–Essential among the 10 tips for choosing auto insurance is making contact and getting answers to questions. Once a consumer has gathered information online, it is always advised to reach out and make contact via phone, email, and/or in person. Consumers should contact any companies from which they have not been able to obtain an online quote, have any questions regarding coverage, and/or have concerns regarding policy details. In fact, researching these details in person or via phone can be more efficient and faster than doing it over the Internet, provided the necessary information is available (e.g. driver’s license info., social security, etc.). When doing such research over the phone, it is recommended that the consumer requests a hard copy of the information discussed via email and/or mail as a backup measure.
7. Look for Discounts–Especially when shopping and/or researching auto coverage online, consumers should explore all discount options available to them. Many companies offer reduced rates for factors such as a car’s security or safety features, good driving record, as well as certain professional or occupational affiliations. Moreover, many companies are reducing premiums for drivers who participate in pay-as-you-drive plans. Furthermore, certain insurers will provide significant discounts for young drivers who participate in family plans and maintain a good scholastic record. Additional rate reductions could also be obtained for using the same company for multiple policies (e.g. life, home, and auto policies).
8. Select the Right Deductible–Consumers need to select the right deductible. While a higher deductible reduces the premium, a consumer might have to pay a significant amount out-of-pocket in the event of a claim or accident. If a consumer has a good driving record and no history of accidents, it might be better to opt for a higher premium. This strategy could end up saving the consumer as much as 40 percent. However, if a driver has a poor driving record, multiple tickets, and an extensive accident history, this approach would not be advised.
9. Report Reduced Mileage–If a consumer has recently changed jobs, has become unemployed, or is now working from home, they should contact their insurer ASAP. By driving less, the consumer could qualify for a lower risk assessment and/or premium.
10. Beware of Scams–While drivers should not be paranoid, consumers should beware of possible scams. Con artists do exist and drivers could be conned with staged accidents, particularly in poor economic times. This could result in an insurance claim against the consumer. To avoid this scenario, drivers should follow good driving practices and if an accident occurs, always take photos of the crash scene and call the authorities to report the incident.
While choosing the right auto insurance can be quite an endeavor, consumers want to know they have chosen the right coverage for their needs. If an accident occurs, they need to know they will be properly covered and supported by the company they have selected. There are many companies to choose from and a number of coverage options available. Hopefully, this article will help readers in their research, save them money, and provide them with 10 tips for choosing auto insurance.
Opinion Written and Edited By Leigh Haugh
Consumer Reports–Top 10 Tips for Finding the Right Car Insurer
Edmunds–10 Steps to Buying Auto Insurance
HowStuffWorks–5 Car Insurance Tips