Let’s face it, no one wants to pay higher fees for their car insurance. I’ll be even more honest, my rates go up too. It annoys me too, but I have several ways to keep my insurance down and if you communicate with a GOOD agent they will be more than happy to help pass the savings along to you. If they’re not willing to help you, go find someone who is willing to sit down and explain everything you need to know. A GOOD agent cares and doesn’t just consider you another file in the cabinet. Besides, we really don’t want to get our hineys gnawed on when you’re unhappy with your coverage and have a claim.
Disclaimer: First things first. I am a licensed insurance agent in the state of Arkansas. Each state varies as far as law suits and actionable offense occur. It is ALWAYS best to check with a licensed agent in your state to make sure you are covered according to your laws. Any examples I give, are just examples-again check with your local licensed agent.
1. When it’s possible, put your home and your auto insurance with the same company and use an Independent Agent!
Companies want ALL of your business, so they give discounts for putting more than one type of business with them. Independent Agents are able to access many companies at once, so when you get a quote, you know you’re getting the BEST of several quotes in one shot! They also know what companies are BEST suited to YOUR needs.
2. Purchase higher liability limits!
Believe it or not, sometimes you can double your coverage for less money than you’re already paying or have a small increase. Either way your coverage is better, and better coverage protects your assets. Speaking of liability limits, here is a state by state listing of what is required by law. You guys, some of these are PATHETIC. If you look at the listing, the 3rd number is for property damage. That’s how much pays out if you damage another vehicle. Look at California…$5,000 is ALL their state minimum requires if you hit someone. So, if I am driving a Cadillac Escalade in California and you total my vehicle, I am going to sue you for $45,000 or more! Insurance is there to protect you and your assets. Please make sure you’re smart and buy proper coverage instead of the “cheapest” coverage out there. Liability is not about YOU. It covers who or what you damage!
3. Raise those deductibles!
I know no one wants to pay more out-of-pocket when there is an issue with your vehicle. However, many companies offer different ways to cover smaller expenses, like glass damage, without having a super low deductible. Call your agent and ASK!
4. Make sure you’re not doubling your coverage!
I have people who regularly call in and want “full coverage”. Ok, tell me what “full coverage means to you”? I ALWAYS ask, but there are many agents out there who are in such a hurry to quote you, that “full coverage” to them means everything they possibly offer.
Many times people have already purchased some of those coverages from the dealership when they bought a car. Do you REALLY need that extra $5,000 life insurance policy included in “full coverage” or do you have a better life insurance policy elsewhere? Do you already have roadside assistance from your cell phone plan or with another company? Do you need $50,000 worth of liability insurance or$500,000? Don’t use the term “full coverage”. Ask your agent what is available and then decide what you need!
5. Find a company that will sell you a year-long policy.
I have worked in insurance for 6 years. Not ONE time in SIX years have I seen a policy that is cheaper every 6 months than a year-long policy. The only exception to this is if you’re able to pay your policy IN FULL every 6 months and it’s not guaranteed to save money.
However, if you’re paying monthly, swap to a year-long policy and save some money. In addition to this, there are some companies out there who will consider you as paid in full if you pay 6 months at a time on a 1 year policy. You will also receive a discount for paying a year long policy in full.
6. Make sure your vehicle is rated by how often you drive it.
If you’re retired, disabled, work from home and/or generally do not drive that much make sure you give your agent an accurate reflection of your yearly mileage. Your bill will be lower if you drive less than 8,000 miles a year.
7. Do you really need a V6, V8 or a sports car?
There are a ton of factors that go into rating car insurance. However, big engines and sports model vehicles will always raise your rates. ALWAYS. When you’re car shopping if you’re considering a model that has Sport, S, SL or LS in the model you’re going to pay higher premiums. Also, please get a quote on your insurance before you buy a vehicle; your agent didn’t buy the vehicle, you did, so don’t take it out on us when you get a surprise! By the way, we don’t care what color your car is anymore, so if you like red, BUY IT!
8. Get a quote for GAP coverage, roadside assistance and those extras from your agent before you buy a car and add it onto your payment!
Your insurance agent will likely beat any car dealership for the same coverage, or better, than what you’re being offered. Don’t fall for those emotionally driven sales pitches from the dealer without talking to your agent. They won’t sell the car out from under you while you make a phone call, I promise!
9. Drive Safely!!!
There is nothing that will keep your car insurance premiums lower than driving with care and caution. Go hands free if you must talk while in the car, and whenever possible don’t use your phone. Do I even need to mention texting while driving? Most importantly, be aware of your surroundings.
I am not exaggerating when I say I avoid at least 5 accidents per year by paying attention to the other drivers around me. Leave safe distances between your vehicle and the one in front of you. Keep an eye out for people who pull out in front of you. I personally look at every other driver on the road and am prepared for them to be the one person who is going to cause an accident. Don’t speed and wear those seatbelts!
10. If you get a ticket, GO TO COURT!
I have received 3 tickets in my lifetime. I have never had ANY of them go on my Motor Vehicle Record. While it can be a hassle and cause you time off of work etc., to go to court once or twice to avoid a mark on your driving record, you will save money if you go to court and ask for probation. I have never been denied probation and if you’re generally a safe driver with no marks, it’s likely you will be given 6 months to 1 year of probation. In fact, I have had the Prosecuting lawyer pull me to the side before ever even seeing a judge and say “You’re record is perfect, how about 6 months probation?” I say “thank you” and skip back to my car knowing I am good to go! Don’t let fear keep you from saving yourself A LOT OF MONEY!
I hope this gives you a few insights into the insurance world. If you have any questions I am happy to try and answer them for you, although you should note my disclaimer. Also, if you missed it before, here is a post on how to save money on your homeowners insurance.