The auto world is a big place. Fun, yes — but for some, it can be overwhelming. From new vs. used, American vs. German, and classics vs. modern, there’s a place for everyone to have some fun. But, a less glamorous side of the auto world must also be discussed because it’s something we’re all legally required to have alongside car ownership.
Yes, I’m talking about auto insurance. Believe us, it doesn’t have to be that bad!
What about it?
Car insurance can be tricky, but it can also be quite simple. There’s a lot of stereotypes out there that makes the auto insurance industry seem untrustworthy. Although there may be some truth to that, it’s important to remember that the whole point of insurance is to protect you in case something goes wrong. If you really think about it, your insurance is like a guardian angel. It’s always there for you. However, there are many different insurance agencies to choose from. There are so many that you’ll probably see a commercial for at least one auto insurance company every time you turn on your television. And, just like choosing which ice cream you’re going to eat for dessert tonight, not everyone is going to pick the same flavor. So, how do you know which insurance agency is right for you?
Understanding the basics
Before you dive right in, make sure you know what you’re looking for and that you understand some basic terminology. For example, be familiar with coverage limits, premiums, and deductibles. Your coverage limit is simply the maximum amount of money that your insurance would pay in the event of an accident.
A premium refers to the price you pay for your insurance coverage. A typical policy allows you to pay your premium monthly. Some insurance companies might even give you a discount if you pay your whole policy up front.
A deductible is the dollar amount of money you must pay out-of-pocket before your insurance agency will begin paying your vehicle’s damage. For example, you might get into a minor car accident and the cost to repair damaged headlights and your front bumper could be $1200. If your deductible is $500, then you must pay $500 of your own money before your insurance coverage kicks in and pays the remaining $700 balance. Most deductibles are either $500 or $1000, but can be as low as $0. It’s your decision how low or how high you want your deductible to be. Usually, the higher the deductible, the lower your monthly payment. It’s important to inquire about the difference in pricing because there is usually a sweet spot right in the middle — where your deductible is not too high, and that might be for only a few extra dollars per month.
Delving into some research
One of the most important parts of finding the right auto insurance is doing your own research. There are so many resources out there, so dive in! First, use the internet. With the vast amount of information online, it’s going to be a great resource for you. Pick your favorite search engine (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) and ask a bunch of questions. Type in whatever questions you have, and spend a couple hours looking around. You’ll be able to find a ton of information on the different insurance agencies by searching through pages and pages of links. Another thing that the internet gives you is customer ratings and reviews. You can learn a lot from what current or past customers are saying about their insurance carriers. So, let the internet help you!
Ask your friends and families what auto insurance companies they have and what they like and don’t like about them. This is just like reading online customer reviews, but even better because you can ask as many questions as you want. And, you’ll probably trust the opinion of your friends and family more than random reviews online. Being able to compare what each person says is a great way to narrow down the companies you like best and the type of coverage you may want.
Call the top contenders and tell them that you’re thinking of looking for a new auto insurance carrier. See what they have to say. The odds will be in your favor when you do this because they will likely begin to fight for your business. It’s a great way to get some friendly competition going. Major insurance companies will offer you competitive pricing, especially when they hear you’re talking to their biggest competitors. Speaking to a Geico representative about State Farm’s super cheap coverage is going to ruffle some feathers, and hopefully get you some fair pricing offers. Each carrier will offer you different incentives, so calling and asking about some general information will leave you in a better position to make an educated choice.
A few other things to keep in mind
There are a few key factors that insurance companies will look at when determining the price they offer you for auto insurance. Your driving history is a big one. If you’ve been in multiple accidents or have gotten multiple speeding tickets, your premium is likely to be higher. Some insurance agencies offer accident forgiveness incentives, where your rates won’t go up if you get into an accident. If you have a bad history of driving, going with a company that offers you that might be your best bet. Another few factors include where you live, the kind of car you drive, and your credit. Some zip codes are more expensive than others. And insuring a sports car is going to be much more expensive than insuring a fuel-efficient sedan. It’s important to take a few moments and go over some of these things so that when you’re looking around for a new carrier, you can make the best decision.
Everyone isn’t the same
Your top choice auto insurer may be someone else’s last choice. We all have different needs, and we will all be quoted according to our own set of variables. Do some good, old-fashioned research and you’ll end up with an affordable auto insurer that has everything you need.