This is a step in a different direction from my usual posts, I just thought a guide to choosing Auto Insurance might be usefull to some of my readers. Enjoy!
Even if you already have car insurance, it doesn’t hurt to shop around to make sure you’re getting the best deal. Just because you’ve been with an insurance company for a long time doesn’t always mean you’re paying the lowest car insurance rates possible. You could be stuck with an overpriced policy and not even know it. If you’re currently in the market for auto insurance, here are some things to consider as you choose your new policy:
Understand your current policy
The first thing to do when choosing auto insurance is to understand the policy you presently have. Look at how much you’re paying and why you’re paying it. Every year or six months (depending on your policy renewal schedule), your insurance company will send you a breakdown of your policy, showing exactly what your coverage entails.
Look at this breakdown so that you have a basis of comparison as you consider other auto insurance policies. Another reason to look over your current policy is so that you can pinpoint coverage you don’t need anymore. In some cases, it may no longer be necessary to have certain types of coverage. Many people have rental car insurance coverage included on their credit cards. If your credit card offers free rental car insurance, you might be able to drop it from your auto policy. Analyze your situation, and decide which coverage you can drop – and whether you might need more coverage in other areas.
Finally, understand the role your deductible plays in your insurance policy. The higher your deductible, the lower your car insurance rates. If you can afford to pay more out of pocket in the event of an accident, lowering your deductible will save your lots of money. (An emergency fund that can help you cover your deductible is often a good idea.)
What insurance companies look for
If you know what insurance companies look for in valued customers, you can take some steps to make yourself more attractive to insurers. It may mean that you have to wait a few months (or even a year or two) to become what insurers consider “lower risk” but it can save you money down the line. Here are some of things insurers look at when evaluating you:
• Your driving history: The fewer accidents and tickets you have on your driving history, the better. Some things will drop off your driving history after three years, and others can be fixed by attending special classes. However, the best policy is to drive defensively and obey traffic laws in order to avoid marks against you in terms of driving history.
• What type of car you drive: Some cars are more expensive to insure than others. A sports car is generally more expensive to insure than a minivan. Also, cars that have certain safety features and have a low-claims history will be cheaper to insure. If you’re in the market for a new car, ask your insurer.
• Credit rating: Insurers believe that responsible financial habits translate into better driving habits. Improve your credit score, and increase the chances of a lower premium.
Shopping around for car insurance
Once you have a good idea of what you already have, start shopping around. The first thing you should do is call your current auto insurance agent and talk about what you can do to lower your premiums. If you’re changing coverage or increasing your deductible, find out what your current insurance company is willing to offer and make a note of it. Give your current company a chance to provide you with a better deal.
After you have all the facts from current auto insurance company, look at what insures have to offer. Check out Web sites that offer online car insurance quotes and talk to other insurance companies. In addition to comparing coverage and prices, you should also ask about the following:
• Fees: Some insurance companies charge extra fees. If you write monthly checks, you may be charged a fee. You can avoid this by only writing paying in one lump sum. Other companies will arrange a monthly automatic debit of your premium for no fee. Decide which would work best for you.
• Discount programs: Insurance companies offer different discounts and incentives. Find out which may apply to you and how much of a discount you can get. For instance, AAA and AARP members might get a discount. If you have a teenager that gets good grades, you might be eligible for a good student discount. Other discounts might be available because of safety features your car has, multiple vehicles insured, or if you drive fewer miles than the average driver.
• Combined coverage: Another way to get a discount is to combine your auto insurance coverage with other types of coverage. You can usually get a discount on car and homeowners insurance if you buy from the same company.
• Other programs: Some insurance companies will refund a portion of your premiums paid if you go a certain amount of time without filing a claim. Others offer accident forgiveness – meaning they won’t increase your car insurance rates if you have an accident.
Once you have all of this information, you can compare coverage, prices and choose auto insurance that is likely to work best for your situation – and possibly save you some money.