by guest writer Renee Pena
Auto insurance can be expensive, depending on various factors, so it takes some time to make sure you shop car insurance quotes. You will need to do some research and make some calls to get the best rates, but in the end, it will be well worth the effort.
Get Multiple Quotes
When you start searching for the best auto insurance quotes, you want to contact between three and five different companies. They will ask you for specific information like where you live, the make and model of your car, mileage, your VIN, and how many people need to be insured.
In reaching out to different companies, always get car insurance quotes for coverage comparison. Local companies might be more reasonable in their premiums but may not provide the same coverage as national companies. National companies may also offer more than what you need, and you’ll likely find a better rate with a local company.
Individual circumstances make a difference when getting quotes, which is why you need to get several. If you have multiple people who need to be insured, that information must be given to the companies. Teen drivers tend to be more expensive to cover, too. Whatever you do, always be honest with them because if you’re not and you have to file a claim later on, you could end up paying more on the backend than you planned.
Ask About Discounts
Many companies also have various discounts available, but you will need to ask about them when you call. Some offer good driver discounts, so you may qualify for lower rates if you haven’t had any accidents or violations for the past three years.
You can also get additional discounts if you’re insuring more than a single vehicle. Some companies like Progressive offer insurance bundles. You can include multiple cars, your home, boats, and other things to get the lowest rates for all of your coverage.
Discounts also exist for student drivers. If you have a student that is a full-time attendant in high school or college and they have excellent grades, you may qualify for a lower rate. In some instances, veterans or those in the military also receive discounts. Whenever you call a company, always ask them about what is available because you might find out you qualify for something you didn’t think of.
Enroll in a Defensive Driving Class
One of the discounts that insurance companies love can be found in defensive driving classes. Drivers tend to only think of them as a way to get out of paying for a speeding violation, but if you take one, you can qualify for additional discounts.
Before you sign up for a class, check with your insurance company to see what they allow. Specific courses may be permitted while others are not, so you want to find out what they will approve before spending the money on a class.
Also, compare the discount to the cost of the class. If the discount is less than the cost, it might not be worth it. On the other hand, if it’s worth the price, by all means, enroll in the course – your insurance company will appreciate it.
Ask each company if you can get a copy of the policies they’re offering so you can read through them before you agree to any terms. By comparing the policies, you’ll get a better idea of what each one includes, so always read the fine print.
For example, one might cover rentals through direct billing to your insurance. Another company may offer rental reimbursement, meaning you’ll have to pay for it and they will pay you back. Some companies may also provide towing, while others do not. There may also be options for adding temporary international coverage if you travel.
The bottom line is you want to get the most for your hard-earned money, so you need to have all of the information to make an informed decision. If portions of the policies don’t work for you or you think you might not need them, you can always contact the company and see if they can customize a policy.
Consider a Higher Deductible
Deductibles are the amount you’re responsible for paying for if you file a claim. A lower deductible is going to result in higher premiums or higher monthly payments. When you ask for a higher deductible, premiums go down. For example, if you request a $1000 deductible, your monthly payments will be much less than if you had a $0 deductible.
On the other hand, if you do have to file a claim, you need to make sure you have the amount in the bank to cover the deductible. If you go this route, you’ll want to put money aside regularly to have it on hand when you need it.
A good suggestion is to put away at least $25 per paycheck until you reach your deductible amount plus 10%. By doing so, you’ll have enough to cover unexpected and maintenance expenses as well as your deductible. At the same time, don’t request a higher deductible if it will put you in a financial bind later because that would not be a sound financial decision to make.
Review Existing Coverage
If you have multiple cars that are already covered, you should review your existing coverage. As your vehicles get older, they may qualify for lower premiums based on age alone. You may also consider changing the coverage you have and going forward with liability-only insurance.
When your car is worth less than the replacement covered by insurance, you should think about changing things around. You can also do some research on your own before agreeing to insurance terms by checking value on Kelley Blue Book or contacting auto dealers. By going in with knowledge ahead of time, you’re less likely to pay for coverage you don’t need.
Many companies also have multiple plans available that may be better suited to your needs. For example, you might consider a mileage-based plan because maybe you don’t drive as much as you did a year ago. If that’s the case, you may have more choices to choose from, depending on the insurance provider.
Check Your Credit Score
Insurance companies rely heavily on your credit score in giving you a quote for your coverage. If you have some issues with your credit, you can improve your chances for a lower premium if you take care of any issues that you might have on your credit report.
You can check your credit report for free to look for discrepancies before you start looking for quotes without hurting your credit. In many cases, people with solid credit scores tend to have fewer claims, so it’s worth it to improve your score if you can.
It’s also a good idea to check your credit regularly as part of regular management. If you don’t have excellent credit, you can take steps to improve it over time. You might even notice fraudulent activities that show identity theft, so it’s better to keep an eye on that to preserve your credit’s integrity.
Check Reviews and Get Recommendations
Getting reviews from real people is critical in getting good insurance coverage. Use social media to tap into experiences from other people. Don’t be afraid to post to your local community groups to get feedback. When people are happy with their choice, they’ll be the first to tell you. The same is true if they have a horrible time with a company.
You’ll also want to check reviews on Google and Yelp for more insight. People love to share the best and worst experiences, so you’ll see recurring themes. For example, if people have a hard time getting in touch with a company after a reasonable amount of time, you’ll see that happen repeatedly.
Alternatively, when customer service is excellent and claims are handled promptly, existing customers will rave about how amazing their insurance is for them. Look for patterns in reviews to get a good feel for the kind of experience you might have.
The Bottom Line
To get the best auto insurance quotes, you have to do the legwork. Call around to get multiple quotes. Don’t forget to ask about discounts and what they can offer you for bundling multiple policies. Make sure you compare policies, too, so you know exactly what you’re getting into with the insurance company. Think about asking for a higher deductible and weigh the pros and cons to decide.
Also, if you have existing coverage, take a look and see if there are some options you can do without. A defensive driving course can also lower your insurance quote if you take an approved course. Keeping track of your credit score can also significantly impact the quotes you get from the companies you contact. Before making a final decision, read reviews and get recommendations so you’ll be confident in making your choice.
Renee Pena is a writer and automotive public relations expert based out of Durham, NC. When she’s not working, she’s either hiking one of North Carolina’s beautiful state parks or working on restoring her 1977 Ford Maverick.