How to get low cost car insurance. Do some homework and don’t settle for the first deal.
If you lose your job, take a pay cut or encounter another kind of financial hardship, low car insurance quickly turns from nice to necessity. While it’s easy enough to find companies offering cut rate car insurance, is that the best way to go ?
Not really, according to consumer watchdogs and insurance experts. To find the lowest possible rates from an insurer that’ll be there when you need it, learn what type of coverage you must carry, research the reputations of insurance companies and take advantage of every possible discount for which you’re eligible, experts say. They also recommend checking out pay as you drive policies that peg premiums to how many miles you put on your car each year. Finally, if you’re eligible, look into low cost auto insurance programs that such states as California, Hawaii and New Jersey offer to people with very low incomes.
When it comes to buying low auto insurance, you’re your own best advocate. At the same time, it’s not always easy to take on that role, says J. Robert Hunter, a former Texas insurance commissioner and insurance director at the nonprofit Consumer federation of America in Washington. Don’t settle for the first insurance company or agent you find, Hunter says. Shop around. “That’s how big buyers of insurance do it”, he says. “They put it out for competitive bids. That’s what you should do, too”.
Here’s a step by step guide to finding low rate auto insurance without getting ripped off :
– start with the car. What you pay for comprehensive and collision coverage depends on the year, make and model of the car you drive. Generally speaking, the newer, more expensive the vehicle, the higher the premium. Rates for comprehensive and collision coverage don’t vary much, so if you can’t afford to pay a lot for insurance and you’re in the market for a car, buy one that’s inexpensive.
– know your limits. Most states have set minimums for liability insurance coverage, both for bodily injury and property damage. Look up coverage minimums on your state insurance commission’s web site. The National association of insurance commissioners lists insurance commissions in all 50 states and U.S. territories. If you’re taking out a loan to purchase a new or used car, the lender will likely require you to carry a certain level of comprehensive and collision coverage, according to the Naic.
– take the highest possible deductible. Want an easy way to lower your premium ? Take a high deductible. By opting for an annual deductible of $1,000 instead of $250, you’ll pay less up front, but should you be responsible for an accident, you’ll foot more of the bill before insurance payments kick in.
– check your credit score. Some states allow insurers to take your credit history into account when compiling what’s called an insurance credit score, which they use to calculate your premium. Bad credit because of overdue bills or a personal bankruptcy means you could end up paying more for auto coverage. To improve your insurance credit score, pay your bills on time, monitor your credit report and do anything you can to fix problems that could be lowering your score.
– narrow the field. Use the process of elimination to come up with three or four reputable insurance companies or agents to approach for quotes. Start at your state insurance commission’s web site, which usually lists several dozen of the area’s top insurers. Choose the half dozen or so companies with the lowest prices for coverage that’s closest to what you need. Next, check the reputations of insurers by going to the Naic’s consumer information source web site to find the “complaint ratios” for each. Complaint ratios show the number of complaints that consumers filed against a company in a given year and then compare this to the company’s share of all premiums for a specific type of auto policy during that period. The national median is 1.0, and highly rated companies can score well below that.
If a company’s ratio is substantially higher than the median, go back to your state insurance commission’s web site to see if regulators have taken action against them. With that information, whittle your list down to the three or four insurers with the lowest complaints. Then contact them directly. Consumers who are really financially strapped, to the extent of not having web access at home for this research, can ask a friend or relative with internet access for help, or use free internet service at a public library.
– find an agent. If the insurance companies you’ve identified as possibilities sell directly to customers, you can plug information into a form on their web sites, get a quote and have someone contact you. If the companies sell through an agent network, ask friends or family who they use, or go back to your state insurance commissioner’s web site to look up agents in your area. Give anyone you contact specific details about the coverage you want and let them know you’re comparison shopping. “Say, ‘I’ve talked to this company and got a quote for $480. Can you beat it ?” says Hunter, with the Consumer federation of America. “Then you’ve put them to the test”.
– grab those discounts. Insurers offer a multitude of discounts, including low auto insurance rates for drivers with short commutes, retirees, students with good grades or vehicles with safety devices such as car alarms or motorized seatbelts. If you’re over 55, you could lower your premium by 10 percent by passing a defensive driving course, according to the Insurance information institute. When you’re talking to agents, don’t forget to inquire about the group discounts that some insurers offer to members of professional organizations or other groups. Companies also have begun offering pay as you drive discounts, with premiums tied to your annual mileage, with a cap at approximately 19,000 miles. In many of these programs, you report your mileage online or to your agent when your policy’s up for renewal.
– consider opting out of some, but not all, coverage. If you drive an older car and own it outright, consider dropping comprehensive and collision coverage. If the vehicle is really old, you could be paying more in insurance than what it’s worth. But hold onto that liability insurance. It’s illegal in most states to drive without it, and insurers in some states charge significantly higher premiums if you let coverage lapse, even if you haven’t been driving.
– investigate state run low income car insurance programs. If you live in California, Hawaii or New Jersey, and if your household income is close to or less than the poverty level, you may qualify for state run low cost or no cost insurance programs. Policies under the California low income auto insurance program, for example, cost less than $400 a year and cover about 12,000 low income drivers at any given time, according to Doug Heller, executive director of Consumer watchdog, an advocacy group in Santa Monica, California. He expects more people to sign up as a new state law takes effect that lets agents sell the program online for the first time. “That’s important not just for people who can get online from their homes low cost auto insurance quotes, but for agencies that provide resources for low income families”, Heller says. Lawmakers in Nevada and Michigan recently proposed or approved pilots for similar programs.
– assess insurance needs and premium costs annually. Life isn’t static, and your auto insurance premiums shouldn’t be either. Review your policy once a year, especially if you’ve moved or switched to a job that has you driving more or less. A review is also a good time to check on whether you’re eligible for additional discounts.
Asking for a higher deductible can also keep more money in your wallet. Your deductible is the amount of money you have to pay toward repairs before your insurance covers the rest. For example, if your deductible is $100 and your car suffers $1,000 of damage in an accident, you pay $100 and your insurer covers the remaining $900. By increasing your deductible, you may end up paying less on your policy.
Many drivers are not aware of the different ways they can make their auto insurance more affordable, so it is important to read through your entire policy. Make sure you understand exactly what is included in it. Double check to make sure you qualify for certain discounts, and if they are available to you, take advantage of them.
Get low price auto insurance with driver discounts
When you are shopping for car insurance, you should be aware of a number of possible car insurance discounts. Low auto insurance quotes, rates are possible if you are able to qualify for the discounts discussed below. See how to lower the average cost of car insurance by being a safe driver, paying your bill on time, avoiding claims, and more !
Virtually every person looking for quotes on cheap car insurance can find a discount, so take a thorough look at your options. As you shop for car insurance quotes online, be sure find all the available discounts, and how you can take advantage of them.
Although auto insurance companies differ in what discounts they offer, you need to be aware of the following when you get your car insurance quote online.
Car insurance discounts from your vehicle :
The type of vehicle you drive influences your car insurance rates. Several auto insurance companies will offer discounts on your car insurance if your vehicle has certain safety features that help reduce the likelihood of personal injury or serious damage to the car. Since your insurance company will pay for injuries or damages to the vehicle, anything that you can do to reduce those risks can result in a discount.
You can find car insurance discounts for features such as anti theft systems, anti lock brakes, additional airbags, and more. When getting your car insurance quote online, ask about available discounts for car safety features.
Things you can do for car insurance discounts :
Your actions as a driver and as an insurance customer can help you get low cost car insurance. Consider the following discounts offered by many auto insurance companies :
– multi policy discounts if you buy multiple policies (auto, home, life, etc) from the same company.
– pre payment discounts if you pay your entire premium in one payment.
– on time or electronic payment discounts if you show a good payment history, or arrange for automatic deductions from your bank account.
– safe driver discounts when you establish a record free of accidents or traffic violations. This is a common and potentially significant discount. Your driving record is a big factor in your car insurance rates. The best drivers get the lowest car insurance rates !
– defensive driver discounts are available if you complete a certified defensive driving course that is approved by your insurance company.
– mileage based discounts available if you drive under a certain number of miles.
Ask your car insurance provider how to lower the average cost of car insurance by requesting they provide you a list of the auto insurance discounts you qualify for.
In order to save money on car insurance, get a free car insurance quote online, ask what discounts you qualify for, and compare the available insurance rates before making a purchase.