A little bit of shopping when you’re buying auto insurance can save you a ton of money and hassle when you need it. From responsive customer service to fulfilling claims promptly, you will be able to save time, have your car serviced, towed or even replaced if you’re dealing with a good insurance provider and you’ve the right coverage.
That is why it is important to make sure that you review the policy terms closely and make sure that you’re getting the best bang for your money, because in auto insurance a slightly higher payment could mean a lot more coverage. But you want to make sure that the price matches your expectations in terms of service and coverage.
As with any insurance plan, you should first know your requirements, and balance your coverage and monthly payment with the value of your car and potential needs in terms of repairs and liabilities. Here are a few points to keep in mind when you’re reviewing an auto policy.
Insurance companies will probably do the legwork in terms of evaluating your car status, taking into consideration any existing warranties or service packages. But that is mostly for newer cars. But if you’ve a somehow older car that doesn’t have warranty and probably has a higher potential for breaking down and repair needs, you must make a judgement call as to how to handle payments, deducible, etc.
If you’re concerned about having to come up with a big payment if the car breaks down, go with a lower deductible (that you’re comfortable with) and higher monthly payment. Still, be sure that you read the fine print as to the exceptions and exclusions — just as the case with any insurance policy.
Understand how insurance companies determine your rate. Although this may be different from one company to another, there are some common factors like: your driving record, length of holding a local driver’s license, age, gender, marital status, car uses, etc.
Some companies may dig even deeper asking to look at past insurance claims. These factors determine your rate not your coverage. In other words, you will be able to buy as much coverage as you want, but the question is: At what price?
Discounts and perks
Knowing the factors that determine your rate, you should be able to push for discounts if you fit the profile of a safe driver. For example, if you’re older than 25, have a clean driving record and you use your vehicle for relatively short, family commutes you should be eligible for a discount consideration. No guarantees, of course. But it never hurts to ask. If as a new customer and you are not able to secure this discount, ask if you will be able to get at the year-mark renewal.
Discounts aside, insurance companies also vary in terms of the perks that you get as a client, and shopping around can get you a better deal for more or less the same cost. For example, ask if roadside assistance is included in your rate, and how much it costs if not included. You also should check closely what happens if your car requires an extensive repair period. Will you get a loaner? For how long? Again, learn how much this may cost you.
Insurance policies are binding. But you need to make sure that your insurance company has a record of fulfilling claims in a timely manner. So read reviews and ask around before your sign the dotted line. In addition, if you’re working through a broker, call the company directly and verify the highlights of the policy.
Reading reviews online or asking other clients can be an eye-opener, as well. In many cases, insurance companies have consistent quality controls in place. So if you hear positive feedback from multiple independent sources, you are probably dealing with the right company — and vice versa.
By Rania Oteify
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