Looking after your own safety by taking care of your car is about more than just getting regular oil changes and rotating the tires once in a while; you also need to pick the right insurance policy. If you’re ever involved in a traffic accident, car insurance could save you thousands in repairs or hospital bills – plus it’s legally required anyway.
The question is, how do you find the insurance policy that works best for you? According to car insurance agent Brad Siok, it’s recommended to do your homework beforehand. If you simply walked into the nearest auto insurance agency and told them you were in need of a policy for your car, you could walk out with twice as much coverage as you really needed – and pay a bill twice as big as it should have been.
To keep that from happening, there are a few tips to keep in mind while you shop around for auto insurance – just keep reading to find out more.
1. Avoid insurance scams
You’re probably familiar with “insurance scams” in which motorists, cyclists, or pedestrians fake accidents so they can file fraudulent insurance claims. However, you should be aware of the insurance scams that can happen before your policy even takes effect.
It all comes down to reading the fine print. An insurance company will lure you in with an unbelievable deal, only to offer lower coverage, higher deductibles, or multiple exclusions. The insurance agency might be pulling a fast one over on you, but they’re legally in the clear as long as the microscopic letters at the very end of the contract specify that the policy you’re signing up for isn’t the policy you’ll end up with.
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Fortunately, these bait-and-switch scams aren’t hard to identify; all you have to do is make sure you read the entire contract before signing, and only go to insurance agencies that are highly rated by their customers.
2. See if you can get a multi-policy discount
If you only have one vehicle, this won’t be possible. If you have more than one, however, you might be able to use that to your advantage. Some insurance agencies offer a discount if you get two or more policies with them, so that’s something you should definitely ask about.
While you’re asking, you might as well check with several companies at once. It’s a fairly common discount to get, but any given insurance company will set their own multi-policy discounts, and you want to make sure you’re getting the best one. It’ll take more time than just settling for the first option that sounds good, but it could save you thousands of dollars over just a few years if you take your time in the beginning.
3. Don’t let them sell you too much coverage
Just like the car dealerships that try to add all kinds of extras to your new car, an auto insurance agent might try to sell you all kinds of optional insurance coverage that you really don’t need.
For example, they might try to convince you that extended warranties belong on your policy when the items that would cover are still under the manufacturer’s warranty. The same goes for medical coverage – if your health insurance already covers accident-related medical bills, you don’t need to pay for it a second time on your auto insurance policy.
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Tire and wheel coverage is another unnecessary extra; you may decide that you want it anyway, but you shouldn’t get it just because the insurance agent tells you to.
4. Know what you need before committing to a policy
Along the same lines, it’ll work out best if you know how much coverage you want before you even start asking for quotes. The minimum amount of coverage will depend on the state you’re living in, but you are legally obligated to have certain items on the policy; collision and liability insurance are standard in many states.
Like with many other companies, insurance agencies are skilled in the art of the upsell; you’ll probably find yourself declining plenty of offers and options. Even if you want to go well beyond basic coverage, the agent who’s making a commission from your policy probably isn’t the best person to advise you on what you need.
5. Get multiple quotes
This might be one of the most important steps to take while shopping for auto insurance. After all, how can you be sure that you’re getting a fair deal if you only visit one agency? When an insurance company is formulating a quote, they take several factors into account.
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However, they may all have different opinions on what those factors would mean for your policy. One of them might give you a break because you have a high credit score, while another might not like the fact that you own a red car (yes, the color of your vehicle can influence your car insurance bill). This is why you should get quotes from at least three or four insurance agencies, just to be sure you aren’t missing out on a better deal.
6. Ask about discounts
As it turns out, multi-policy discounts aren’t the only ones offered by auto insurance agencies. While you’re asking for quotes at different agencies, ask about discounts too – you never know when you’ll get lucky. It could be a promotional offer, a seasonal discount, or even a “lowest price guaranteed” discount; as long as you’re getting money off your car insurance bill, the type of discount doesn’t really matter.
That being said, make sure you read the fine print for discounts too; an introductory discount won’t do you much good if you’re just getting suckered into paying higher prices after the first six to 12 months.
There are certainly a few pitfalls to avoid while shopping around for a car insurance policy, whether you’re looking for basic coverage, or you want to go all-out. The good news is, that all of them can all be avoided with some common sense and a little extra effort.