Below are seven steps to help you choose the right auto insurance company. Keep in mind the order of these steps aren’t set in stone?for example, you might find it’s more important for you to talk with an agent about discounts before researching the company?but each one does represent ground you should cover before deciding on a provider.
1) Check for State Licensure
Your state’s department of insurance is a good place to start, because it can provide you with a list of all insurance providers licensed to sell insurance in your state. After all, there’s no point in checking out a company further if that company can’t legally provide you with auto insurance coverage.
If your state’s department of insurance website doesn’t provide a list online, utilize the department’s contact information and request a list.
2) Decide Whether to Shop Locally or Nationally
Even though most?though certainly not all?local insurance agencies are branches of national chains, there are national insurance companies (think Progressive, Geico, and Esurance) for which you won’t find a local office.
Depending on your comfort level, you’ll want to look into each kind of insurance provider before making a decision; however, ultimately your decision should include that comfort level. Are you okay with never meeting your agent in person? Do you insist on being able to visit an actual brick-and-mortar office? These are questions to consider.
3) Compare Rates With Several Insurance Providers
You might be surprised to learn that, when choosing a car insurance company, finding the one with the lowest auto insurance rate isn’t the most important thing.
Oh, it’s definitely important?no matter what kind of economic times we’re facing, it’s never cool to pay more with one company than you would with another?but it’s not themost important factor to consider.
Talk with several insurance providers about the auto insurance rates they can offer. You’ll need to factor in matters covered in other steps (such as possible discounts), but in the end you’ll be left with a solid list of possible companies you might want to do business with.
4) Check Various Insurance Company Ratings
Get started with:
- J.D. Power and Associates, which gathers information from policyholders and rates companies based on factors like coverage options, cost, how claims are handled, customer satisfaction, and customers’ overall experiences.
- A.M Best and Standard & Poor’s, both of which provide the financial strength ratings of insurance providers.
5) Do Your Own Grassroots Research
Pick up where those professional agencies leave off by doing some of your own investigative work.
- Talk with family members, friends, and neighbors about the insurance providers they use and what kinds of experiences they’ve had.
- Talk with a few body shop managers about the experiences they’ve had with the insurance providers they’ve done business with.
- Check out the Better Business Bureau website, which provides lists of insurance companies in any area you choose as well as complaint reports and whether the company is BBB-accredited.
- Pay attention to customer service. When you contact agents from a particular company, take note of how you’re treated. Also ask about matters like business hours and after-hours availability.
6) Ask About All Auto Insurance Discounts
Car insurance providers offer discounts for a variety of reasons, and most are quick to tell you about these discounts because they know it will attract you as a customer.
However, don’t take for granted each agent will remember to mention them all to you. They’re busy people, after all. It’s definitely important to ask for information about all discounts you might be eligible for, but don’t speak with an agent until you have a list of some of the most common discounts that might work for you.
For example, ask about discounts for:
- Renewing your policy (often known as loyal customer discounts).
- Bundling or purchasing multi-lines of coverage.
- Your vehicle’s safety equipment and features.
- Taking a driver safety course.
- Have a stellar driving record.
- Paying your premiums in full.
7) Pay Close Attention During Your First Policy Period
The length of a car insurance policy period will depend on you and the provider, but once you’ve settled on a company and started receiving coverage, pay attention to everything from customer service to how stable your rates remain.
If you find you’re unsatisfied at the end of the policy period, consider looking for a new provider.