Nobody likes to think about having a wreck in his or her car, but the reality is, it will probably happen. It may be your fault or someone else’s, but either way it is a hassle, especially if your insurance company gives you trouble. You want good insurance, but you don’t want to overpay for it, so doing your homework is always a good idea. Many people don’t take the time to shop around for the best price, but price is just one consideration.
For instance, if you have a lot of assets that are debt-free, check your limits of liability. If your assets are greater than your liability coverage, you can lose everything if a bulldog attorney sues you due to an accident. Inquire about coverage for uninsured motorists that might impact you. Do not just find out if you have this coverage, but find out the limits that are paid out should someone with no insurance hit you.
So you decide to shop around for the best quotes, the next decision is whether to go direct to an insurance company that sells online like Geico or Progressive. Your other option is to go with a company like State Farm that uses agents. Personally, I prefer to have an agent I can talk to should I run into an issue of some kind. I want someone who appreciates my business and with whom I have a relationship with, but that is a personal decision you should make. My agent shops multiple insurance companies to get me the best rate. You can often save money by having an agent shop all your insurance needs, including home, life, auto, and health.
Remember that the best price may not be the best deal. Every state has a department of insurance that has oversight power, and most keep stats on complaints. This is invaluable information to have. I would avoid insurance companies that have a poor record of policyholder satisfaction; this can save you time and money.
Make sure that you compare apples-to-apples if you are going to shop insurance companies for quotes. Do you have rental coverage if you have to put your car in the body shop? Can you use the body shop of your choice? Does the insurance company use original equipment parts, or do they use used or aftermarket parts?
Just to see what the differences can be in rates, I went on one of the websites that allows you to shop multiple insurance companies at one time. You only fill out one form, so all the companies get the same information, and I used my actual information. Within a couple of minutes, I had two immediate quotes by email. Both were name brand companies. One was $190.50 per month, the other $101 per month. That is an annual difference of $1086 per year. Many would just jump on the low quote and be done with it, but that is a mistake without knowing the full level of coverage. For instance, neither told me what deductible the rate was figured on.
One thing I recommend to save you grief down the road…if you have a dealership you have a relationship with, talk to their collision center manager and get their recommendation of an insurance carrier. They know the ones who allow them to repair cars properly, and they know the ones who want them to cut corners.
Last, don’t get too wrapped up with forums on the Internet. It is like trying to see what car owners say about their cars; only the unhappy customers take the time to make postings.
Be smart, compare not only rates but also coverage limits, and make an overall smart decision instead of just looking at prices.
Jerry Reynolds, The Car Pro