Saturday, July 9, 2011

AUTO INSURANCE CHECKLIST : a guide for saving money on auto insurance

Shopping for auto insurance? The price you pay for your auto insurance can vary by hundreds of dollars, depending on your driving record, the type of car you have and the insurance company you buy your policy from. Here is a list of things you can do to save money.


Shop Around

Get at least three price quotes. You can call companies directly or access information on the Internet. Your state insurance department (http://www.iii.org/media/companies/state_org/insur_departments/) may also provide a means to compare prices.

Get quotes from different types of insurance companies. Some sell through their own agents. Some sell through independent agents who offer policies from several insurance companies. Other companies sell directly to consumers over the phone or via the Internet. The price may vary depending on the sales method.

But don't shop by price alone. You want a company that answers your questions and handles claims fairly and efficiently. Sources for finding the right kind of company include: word of mouth, i.e. friends, relatives, co-workers; your state insurance department, where you can find consumer complaint ratios by company; and consumer magazines. You can also check the financial health of insurance companies through independent rating companies.

Before you buy a car, compare insurance costs

Your premium is based in part on the car’s sticker price, the cost to repair it, its overall safety record and the likelihood of theft. Many insurers offer discounts for features that reduce the risk of injuries or theft, such as air bags, anti-lock brakes, daytime running lights and anti-theft devices.

For more information on car safety, check the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Cars that are favorite targets for thieves cost more to insure. For more information on car theft, check the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).

Ask for a higher deductable

Your deductible is the amount of money you pay out-of-pocket before your insurance policy kicks in. By requesting higher deductibles, you can lower your costs substantially. For example, increasing your deductible from $200 to $500 could reduce your collision and comprehensive coverage premium by 15 to 30 percent. Going to a $1,000 deductible can save you 40 percent or more. However, keep in mind that you’ll need to have the amount of the deductible on hand should something happen to your car.

Reduce coverage in older cars

Consider dropping collision and/or comprehensive coverage on older cars. It may not be cost-effective to continue insuring cars worth less than 10 times the amount you would pay for coverage. Any claim payment you receive would not substantially exceed your premiums minus the deductible. Claims occur on average only once every 11 or 12 years. Auto dealers and banks can tell you the worth of a car, or you can look it up online at Kelley Blue Book.

Buy your homeowners and auto coverage from the same insurer

Many insurers will give you a discount if you buy two or more types of insurance from them. Also, you may get a reduction if you have more than one vehicle insured with the same company. Some insurers reduce premiums for long-time customers. But shop around carefully; you may still save more money buying from a different insurance company even with the multi-policy discount.

Take advantage of low-mileage discounts

Some companies offer discounts to motorists who drive a lower than average number of miles per year. Low mileage discounts can also apply to drivers who carpool to work.
Ask about group insurance

You may be eligible to get insurance through a group plan from your employer, or through professional, business and alumni groups or other associations. Group plans often provide substantial discounts. Ask your employer, or any groups or clubs of which you are a member, about this option.

Maintain good credit

Your credit rating may affect what you pay for insurance, so monitor it carefully. You can get this information directly from the three major credit-rating agencies (Equifax, Experian, Trans Union). There are also various Web sites that allow you to check your credit rating and provide tips on how to improve your score.

Seek out safe driver discounts

Most insurance companies offer discounts to policyholders who have not had any accidents or moving violations for a number of years. You may also qualify for a cut if you have recently taken a defensive driving course, if you are over 50 and retired, or if there is a young driver on the policy who is a good student, has taken a drivers education course or is away at a college, generally at least 100 miles away.

When you comparison shop, be sure to inquire about discounts for the following (availability will vary according to the state and company):

o No accidents in 3 years
o No moving violations in 3 years
o Drivers over 50 to 55 years of age
o Driver training course
o Defensive driving course
o Student drivers with good grades
o College students away from home
o $500 deductible
o $1,000 deductible
o Air bags
o Anti-lock brakes
o Daytime running lights
o Anti-theft device
o Low annual mileage
o Auto and homeowners coverage with the same company
o More than one car insured with the same company
o Long-time customer

But don’t forget that the key to savings is not the discounts but the final price. A company that offers few discounts may still have a lower overall price.

No comments:

Post a Comment