Did you know that every year in the United States, there are 77,000 cars stolen? Car thefts are
one of the biggest reasons to make certain you have car insurance and that it is up to date, as well
as all of the legal dangers you could be in if you drive without insurance.
To get the best insurance policies, you need the best car insurance providers, but how can you be sure you choose correctly? Read on for tips on how to pick car insurance providers.
Pick Car Insurance Providers: Decide on the Insurance You Need
Before you can begin choosing the provider, you need to have a clear idea of the insurance policy you need. Different insurance policies have different coverage levels.
For people who live in the city, drive every day, and deal with traffic and parking in a city, you need coverage that is comprehensive. If, however, you live in the countryside and rural areas, the coverage you need may not be as extensive.
Let us look at some of the most useful car insurance options.
Collision and Comprehensive
Collision coverage will cover damage to your own vehicle in an accident. Since it is first-party insurance, it will not cover the other person’s vehicle.
If the damage goes over the cost of your car, the insurance company can declare it a total loss and give you the value of your car.
Comprehensive insurance is also first-party insurance but it can also cover damage not related to accidents. If your vehicle is stolen, for example, you can file a claim.
If you live in a state that has no-fault laws, you need third-party liability coverage. This type of insurance will cover you if you cause an accident and injure someone else or cause property damage. Liability insurance covers other passengers in your vehicle, those in other vehicles, and even pedestrians.
It also covers damage to other vehicles and property, like stop signs, fences, and more. It will not, however, apply to your own vehicle.
Medical Payment Coverage
Medical payment coverage or MedPay will cover some medical expenses for you and your passengers, no matter whose fault the accident was. It applies even if you have your own medical insurance.
Personal injury protection is similar to MedPay but has higher policy limits.
The minimum car insurance policy you have to have usually only covers liability and not any damage that occurs to your vehicle. This is known as “basic coverage.” For most people, purchasing higher limits on liability coverage can be enough to cover damage.
If you have financed your car, you will need to have full coverage insurance. This type of insurance covers collisions and more. If you own your car, you have the choice of insurance coverage, but to avoid having to pay for damage out of pocket, choose full coverage.
Learn more about your options for auto insurance here.
Type of Service Providers
There are different types of car insurance providers. Knowing a bit about the options can allow you to narrow down which would work best for you.
Captive agents offer insurance from one company. Most people tend to get their car insurance through a captive agent. A direct provider offers the same kind of services.
There are pros and cons to working with this type of agent. One of the benefits is that you can usually get customer service when you need it. A captive agent, however, will be limited in the coverage they can offer and that can mean gaps in your insurance.
These insurance providers do not work for any one insurance company but for many. They can offer more comprehensive coverage and will work with you to find the exact coverage you need at the most reasonable rates.
Brokers work similarly to independent agents except they do not represent many providers. They represent the customer and will work to find the rates and coverage that suits your need best.
These insurance providers do not have a physical office but instead do everything electronically. You will not have a specific agent you can call with questions but will have to correspond electronically and through the phone.
National providers offer coverage to every state in the country, adjusting policies to match laws and regulations. The biggest names in car insurance are in this category.
Local providers offer insurance coverage only in one state or even in one region.
Do Your Research
If you have been able to narrow down the providers you are considering, it is time to start looking into each option more in-depth. Here are some things to look for.
Licensed in Your State
The car insurance provider you choose has to be licensed in your state. If that is not the case, you should discard that option. If the company does not have a license in your state, your coverage will not be valid.
You can check the National Association of Insurance Commissioners to make certain the licenses are in order.
Many state insurance websites make it easy to find the complaint ratio for the past years of their top 50 companies. These ratios are calculated from the number of justified complaints to 100,000 earned exposures. In Massachusetts, you can find this information on the state’s insurance website.
Look for the company’s financial ratings on reputable third-party sites like J. D. Power or A. M. Best. Financial ratings range from AAA to R (which means regulatory action). The insurance company you choose should have at least an A rating to make certain they can cover your needs in case of damage.
Consumer reports are another excellent source of information when choosing a car insurance provider. Consumer reports can provide an accurate and honest assessment of the entire process of getting insurance from the company you are considering, filing a claim, and much more.
Ask For Recommendations
Ask friends and family for recommendations and to share the experience they have had with their car insurance provider. Ask how long they have been with their company, whether they are happy with their rates, and what the customer service is like.
You may also want to call your local mechanic. They deal directly with auto insurance companies, so they will have an inside look at how effective the company is. Reading online customer reviews is another helpful way of narrowing options.
You need to know what the entire experience will be like with a particular insurance company. If you need to speak with an agent, file a claim, or make changes to your policies, you want the process to be simple.
Look at the company’s accessibility. Can you speak with an agent when you need to? Do they offer digital tools to streamline procedures and offer transparency on the company’s functions?
The customer service hours make a difference, as well. If they are limited and require you to jump through hoops to speak with someone, it is not the right provider.
If you like to manage your accounts and policies online or with a smartphone, review the company’s site to see if it is mobile as well as online support. The company should also offer different modes through which you can submit a claim, like online, via phone, or through an app.
It is also a good idea to see how they interact through social media. If they are active and respond to issues or concerns, you will know they are engaged in helping their clients.
Quotes can vary depending on numerous factors, including zip code, driving history, the type of vehicle, and more. When comparing quotes from different car insurance providers, you need to compare the right rates based on your particular circumstances. Always compare the same policy type and coverage.
Always get quotes from at least three car insurance companies. You may also want to look for companies that offer good driver rewards and other discounts for drivers of a certain age or drivers with anti-theft devices.
You may also want to ask about bundling insurance policies, or multi-line coverage. There are companies that offer discounts if you purchase more than two or more lines of coverage.
Not only will calling the provider up and asking questions offer the answers you need but it will also give you an idea of what you can expect, communication-wise, from the provider. You have to be able to communicate easily with the insurance company. If you see they do not get back to you rapidly or they are evasive in their answers, choose another provider.
Make Sure You Have Coverage
If you drive a car, you need car insurance. Do your research so you can pick car insurance providers that can offer exactly the coverage you need.
Get more car guidance by turning to our Auto page!