Car insurance is one of those necessary evils of modern life. Nobody likes to pay a monthly premium — but being in a wreck without insurance is far, far worse. How do you balance the cheapest rates with the best coverage? And, most importantly, where do you get the best deals on auto insurance?
How Much Coverage Should You Get?
Auto insurance coverage can be really confusing. There are multiple categories to consider, as well as your state’s minimum requirements. A knowledgeable insurance agent will help you figure out the best choice for your car, but here are the basics.
As with health insurance, the deductible on your policy is the amount you’ll have to pay in case of a wreck. However, you’ll usually have to pay that deductible every time you make a claim. The higher the deductible, the lower the overall premium–but you’ll be on the hook for a lot of money if something happens.
Liability coverage applies to an accident that’s your fault. It includes both property damage and bodily injury, so if you hit someone and they need medical attention, your insurer will help foot the bill. Without liability, you could end up being in serious financial trouble.
Comprehensive coverage deals with non-wreck damage such as a falling tree or a hail storm. It also covers you in the event of theft or damage from a rogue shopping cart.
Collision coverage is an extra safety net. If you’re at fault in an accident, it’ll help pay for your mechanic and medical bills. However, it also pays out if the other driver is at fault when they don’t have liability coverage of their own.
Never sign up for the first insurance company that gives you a quote. You may end up overpaying by hundreds of dollars a year!
Aim to get multiple quotes — and don’t rely on internet forms, either. Get on the phone and ask an actual agent to prepare a quote for you. They’ll be able to guide you through the process and find ways to help you get the best deal.
The best way to get cheaper insurance is to bundle your coverage. Most insurance companies offer multiple types of insurance, such as homeowners or renters coverage, and if you buy all your policies from one place, you’ll get lower rates across the board.
Ask your insurance company for information about bundled discounts.
Can You Get a Discount?
Who doesn’t love a discount? You may be leaving money on the table if you don’t explore all the possible discounts available. For example, if you’ve taken a defensive driving class in the last five years, you may be able to get cheaper insurance. The same goes for new cars with improved safety features.
In many cases, it’s cheaper to insure multiple cars in your household under one policy. However, there are some exceptions. Unfortunately, a bad driving record can make your rates skyrocket. Teenagers and young men face the highest premiums, so you may want to insure them separately.
Don’t Trust Those Commercials
We’ve all seen those funny, weird commercials featuring recognizable actors or small green lizards. We’re not naming specific companies here, but be aware that some of those big insurers don’t actually offer the best coverage.
Check out Consumer Reports for their annual ranking of the best auto insurance companies. They look beyond the cheapest rates to consider customer satisfaction and overall value. Many of the biggest brands are ranked lower than smaller, independent insurers.