Prices vary from company to company, so it pays to shop around. Get at least three price quotes. You can call companies directly or access information on the Internet. Your state's department of insurance may also provide comparisons of prices charged by major insurers.
You buy insurance to protect you financially and provide peace of mind. It's important to pick a company that is financially stable. Check the financial health of insurance companies with rating companies such as A.M. Best (http://www.ambest.com/) and Standard & Poor’s (http://www.standardandpoors.com/ratings) and consult consumer magazines.
Get quotes from different types of insurance companies. Some sell through their own agents. These agencies have the same name as the insurance company. Some sell through independent agents who offer policies from several insurance companies. Others do not use agents. They sell directly to consumers over the phone or via the Internet.
But don't shop by price alone. You want a company that answers your questions and handles claims fairly and efficiently. Ask friends and relatives for their recommendations. Contact your state insurance department to find out whether they make available consumer complaint ratios by company.
Select an agent or company representative that takes the time to answer your questions. Remember, you'll be dealing with this company if you have an accident or other emergency.
Before you buy a car, compare insurance costs.
Before you buy a new or used car, check into insurance costs. Your premium is based in part on the car’s sticker price, the cost to repair it, its overall safety record, and the likelihood of theft. Many insurers offer discounts for features that reduce the risk of injuries or theft. These include air bags, anti-lock brakes, daytime running lights and anti-theft devices. Some states require insurers to give discounts for cars equipped with air bags or anti-lock brakes.
Cars that are favorite targets for thieves cost more to insure. Information that can help you decide what car to buy is available from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (http://www.iihs.org/).
Ask for higher deductibles.
Deductibles represent the amount of money you pay before your insurance policy kicks in. By requesting higher deductibles, you can lower your costs substantially. For example, increasing your deductible from $200 to $500 could reduce your collision and comprehensive coverage cost by 15% to 30%. Going to a $1,000 deductible can save you 40% or more.
Reduce coverage on older cars.
Consider dropping collision and/or comprehensive coverages on older cars. It may not be cost effective to continue insuring cars worth less than 10 times the amount you would pay for coverage. Any claim payment you receive would not substantially exceed your premiums minus the deductible. Claims occur on average only once every 11 or 12 years. Auto dealers and banks can tell you the worth of cars. Or you can look it up online at Kelley Blue Book (http://www.kbb.com/). Review your coverage at renewal time to make sure your insurance needs haven’t changed.
Buy your homeowners and auto coverage from the same insurer.
Many insurers will give you a discount if you buy two or more types of insurance from them. Also you may get a reduction if you have more than one vehicle insured with the same company. Some insurers reduce premiums for long-time customers. But shop around; you may save money buying from different insurance companies despite the multi-policy discount.
Take advantage of low-mileage discounts.
Some companies offer discounts to motorists who drive a lower than average number of miles per year. Low mileage discounts can also apply to drivers who carpool to work.
Ask about group insurance.
Some companies offer reductions to drivers who get insurance through a group plan from their employers, through professional, business and alumni groups or other associations. Ask your employer and groups or clubs though which you belong.
Maintain good credit.
Your credit rating may affect what you pay for insurance. Credit makes insurance rates more accurate, fair and objective. While the use of insurance scoring varies from state to state and company to company, it is a fact that drivers with long, stable credit records have fewer accidents than drivers who don't. Most people have good credit histories, so most people benefit.
Seek out safe driver discounts.
Companies offer discounts to policyholders who have not had any accidents or moving violations for a number of years. You may also qualify for a cut if you have recently taken a defensive driving course.
Inquire about other discounts.
You may get a break on your insurance if you are over 50 or in some cases 55 and retired or if there is a young driver on the policy who is a good student, has taken a drivers education course or is at a college, generally at least 100 miles away.
When you comparison shop, inquire about discounts for:
- $500 deductible
- $1,000 deductible
- More than 1 car
- No accidents in 3 years
- No moving violations in 3 years
- Drivers over 50-55 years of age
- Driver training course
- Defensive driving course
- Anti-theft device
- Low annual mileage
- Air bag
- Anti-lock brakes
- Daytime running lights
- Student drivers with good grades
- Auto and homeowners coverage with the same company
- College students away from home
- Long-time customer
- Other discounts
* The discounts listed may not be available in all states or from all insurance companies.
But don’t forget that the key to savings is not the discounts but the final price. A company that offers few discounts may still have a lower overall price.