I expect that we all know deep down that it's not possible for any auto insurance company - no matter what they claim in their ads - to offer the lowest price for every driver in every location. They may want you to think that, but it's just not true. Certainly, there are companies that are often among the lowest in most all cases. And there are companies that are usually among the highest. But no company has the lowest price for everybody.
* Clue. Your Insurance Agency should be routinely (at least once a year) checking to see that the company they have you placed with, is still the best deal for you.
* Clue. Also, be aware that prices fluctuate. Sometimes companies "buy the market" with low prices that are actually below cost, to gain new consumers...with the intention of gradually - or not so gradually - increasing the premium until they are profitable.
Every company has a slightly different appetite for the risks it wants to take on. Some insurers want only very good drivers who have no tickets and no accidents. Some companies, believe it or not, actually want bad drivers since the premiums are so high. In fact, these companies specialize in insuring people with poor driving records. The point is, if your situation has changed you may be paying too much.
Some companies target drivers who live in certain areas. There are insurers that really like to do business in big cities, and there are others that would prefer to stay away from highly populated areas.
* Clue. Remember that sometimes "you get what you pay for." The cheapest option may not provide you or your family with the best protection. The saying goes, "you don't need insurance until you have a claim." When you do have a claim - when something has gone wrong - that's a terrible time to discover you don't have adequate protection!
* Note. An amazing 37% of all unpaid claims are due to dangerous gaps in insurance coverage.
A person with a good driving record will pay two, three, even five times less than a driver with a couple of tickets, an accident or who has been cited for and convicted of driving under the influence.
How do you know that you are getting the best price from you insurance company? What do you need to know? There are several ways - at least 10 - that you can save money. Many of these money-saving ideas may apply to you. Your Auto Insurance Specialist may know still more ways to help you save money.
1. Good Driver, Good Price? - Everyone knows that the better your driving record, the less you will pay for auto insurance. But did you know that most people qualify as "good drivers" and are eligible for discounted premiums? Some good drivers pay a lot more than others do, however.
Most auto insurers are actually a collection of several insurance companies, each catering to a certain type of driver. The worst drivers go in one company, the best in another, with most people winding up in one of the middle companies.
These middle people pay less than the worst drivers, but more than the best. The thing is, many of these middle people have driving records that are just as good as those who are insured by the companies that offer the lowest rates. Yet these middle people are paying more. Why?
Many people have a good driving record when they buy auto insurance, but not perfect. Over time, their record often improves. But since no one ever explained what it would take to qualify for better prices, they end up staying at the same price level far too long. If you have a spotless driving record, and have had insurance continuously for at least three years - there is no reason you shouldn't be paying the lowest price a group of insurance companies has to offer.
* Clue. Ask your agent for a list of the requirements to get better rates. Then about two weeks before your policy renews (usually every six months), see if you now qualify for a better company or price. Your agent will be happy to help. Keep in mind that only you really know if your record has improved, so it is imperative that you notify your Agency when your situation has improved.
2. The Beauty of the Car Pooling. Do you drive ten miles or more to and from work? If you do, you are literally paying a premium to do so. Insurance companies charge you higher premiums if you drive to work. The longer your commute (usually they consider the total weekly mileage), the higher the premium you pay.
* Clue. If you and a co-worker car-pool, you will also reap an additional savings in gas and maintenance costs, as well as lowering the cost of your insurance.
3. Low Mileage, Low Price. - On average, people drive 1,000 to 1,250 miles a month. That is what insurance companies consider average use. * Clue. If you drive less than the average, you are eligible for low-mileage discounts, which some insurers offer. Most companies offer a discount for usage of less than 5000 - 7000 miles per year.
4. High-Profile, High-Cost. - The type of car you drive is a major factor in what you pay for insurance. Is your vehicle a magnet for thieves? Is it more expensive to repair or replace than most cars? If the answer to either of the last two questions is yes, you will pay significantly more than the average automobile owner will for your insurance.
* Note. To get detailed information on your vehicle - or a vehicle you're thinking of buying - write to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety at
5. Raise Your Deductible. - The deductible is the amount you pay before insurance kicks in, when you have a claim. The lower the deductible you choose, the more you pay. If you have reasonable assets, you can probably afford to absorb at least $250 to $500 if you have a claim.
* Clue. If it's been years since you've had an accident, you may be the type driver who would benefit from raising your deductible and paying less each year for insurance. Consumer advocates have estimated that the amount you raise your deductible -- will also be about the same amount you will save in premium over a period of three years. Note that if you have a claim in that three years, you would have been better off with a lower deductible. With any claim that happens after three years, you will already have saved the difference - and probably then some.
6. Drop Unnecessary Coverages. - Let's say you have an older car, one not worth very much. There's really little point in having collision and comprehensive coverages. You don't have much to protect. Remember, too, that you have to subtract your deductible from any potential payoff you might get.
* Clue. As a general rule, any car worth less than $1,000 shouldn't have collision and comprehensive coverage. Between the deductible and the extra expense of these coverages, the cost is probably greater than the benefit. How much is your car worth? An auto dealer can tell you, or there are plenty of books that have values of vehicles going back many, many years. There are exceptions to this, so ask your Agency Specialist.
* Note. A great source of data is the Kelly Blue Book. You can find the average value of your car for free, by visiting their website at www.kbb.com.
7. Discounts, Discounts, Discounts. - Auto insurance companies offer discounts for a variety of reasons. If your car has automatic seat belts, air bags, anti-lock brakes, anti-theft devices, passive restraints, etc. * Clue. For many companies, one of the largest single discounts they offer is for high school and college students with at least a 3.0 grade point average. Good students are statistically a much better risk, so preferred rate insurance companies work hard to attract and keep them.
8. Taking the Defensive. - Many insurance companies also offer discounts to those who have taken defensive driving courses recently. This is not a large discount, but every little bit helps.
9. Low-Cost and High-Cost Areas. - Are you planning to move? If you are, you should take into account the cost of insurance. Generally, the more urban the area, the higher the premium. The costs can vary even within a community.
* Fact. Rates can really vary from state to state. If you're living in
10. Credit Where Is (Or Is Not) Due. - Is your credit record better than your driving record? If you have a good credit record, you could be eligible for discounted premiums from several auto insurance companies.
* Fact. Some insurers now use your credit history as the primary factor in determining what to charge you for auto insurance. In some cases, you can save money by shifting your business to an insurer that uses credit as a primary rating factor - even if you have a so-so or poor driving record. The other side of the coin is that if you have a poor credit history, you could save money by moving your auto insurance to a company that does not use credit as a rating factor. Most insurers use your driving record as the primary underwriting factor.
* Clue. Regardless of your credit status, you should talk to your agent to make sure you have the best situation given your credit record, good or bad.
Whatever your driving record or coverage needs, you should shop around, or let an experienced insurance professional shop around, for the best deal for you. There are literally thousands and thousands of coverage options from hundreds and hundreds of insurance companies.
In addition, not only should you try to get the best deal you can, you also need to make sure you have all the coverage you want/need. Using a reputable Insurance Agent is usually your best bet to get the most value for your auto insurance dollar.
Protection for you and your family requires constant vigilance.... and a partnership between you and your professional agent.
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