Having driver’s insurance is an important — and legally mandatory — investment and requirement. In the perfect world, your insurer will step up and have your back in the event of any car wreck or personal injury collision. Car insurance is a lucrative business with seemingly countless companies competing for your annual premium dollars. No two drivers are the same. How’s any particular driver to choose the right insurance and insurer? Here are eight factors to keep in mind.
1. Consider top-rated insurers
Many consumer associations, websites, and periodicals perform annual rankings of insurers based on dozens of criteria ranging from premiums to deductibles to claims processing to customer experience, discounts, and responsiveness. Research is important, and reviewing those rankings can be a useful shortcut.
2. As whether credit matters
If you have suboptimal credit, ask potential insurers what role a driver’s credit history has in their risk assessment and premium calculations. Credit history is a factor for almost every insurer, but not always to the same extent and in the same way.
3. Investigate available discounts
Most insurers offer discounts for a wide variety of drivers that can make the difference between a decent policy and an affordable great one.
Discounts may be available based on things like:
- installed safety equipment
- membership in certain clubs or associations
- graduating from particular schools
- safe driving records
- student status
- payment of annual premiums up front
- clustering auto policies with life
- tenant’s, or home insurance policies
- low mileage
- multi-car families
- environmental friendliness
- and even winter storage.
4. Your car matters
Keep in mind that driver’s insurance insures two things: you and your car. Therefore the kind of car you buy and drive can influence your insurance. Insurers will offer different policies for new, used, luxury, performance, exotic, and collector vehicles. What’s good for one may not be good for yours.
5. Compare apples and oranges
Insurance comes in a wide variety of formats, some mandatory and many optional. Ask each insurer to explain available mandatory and optional coverage: liability coverage for personal injury or damage; collision for vehicle damage in an accident; comprehensive for any vehicle damage even if not caused in an accident; uninsured and underinsured driver coverage; and medical costs protection.
6. Ask about accident forgiveness options
If you have any car accident history, ask potential insurers about their policies around accident forgiveness. Under what circumstances will they allow an accident not to impact your premiums and insurability. The availability and terms of accident forgiveness can distinguish one insurer from another depending on your personal history.
7. Report reduced mileage
Insurers’ risk assessments and premium calculations are based on a complicated formula that considers a lot of factors, including how far you expect to drive in any given year. If your job situation changed, you moved, or your personal circumstances and priorities shifted with the result that you drove less than you expected — or will in the year to come — let your insurer know. The costs of the same level of insurance may drop into your sweet spot.
8. Shop around every year
In the weeks leading up to a renewal, contact a broker or consult the insurer ratings online to see if new and even better options may have arisen in the prior year. Even if you’re content to maintain the status quo, let your insurer know that you’re interested in maximizing the value of your insurance investment. Ask them to put their best foot forward for you to consider when it comes to a renewal of your policy. Two easy things to ask? Are there any possible deductible adjustments or discounts that can be applied to your policy?
You don’t have a choice about getting driver’s insurance in the first place. It’s mandatory. Amongst policies, though, you have endless choices. Use these criteria to select a fit that meets your personal needs.