Shopping your car insurance

When was the last time you shopped your car insurance?  I ask this question to every one of my clients.  Many act like I am asking them to break up with a spouse.  Others just do not have the knowledge and time to do it.  Saving money on this necessary item is an easy way to get ahead.

Since we are trying to make our money feel better, start by finding your current policies and look through your coverage.  The coverage you have may seem daunting to understand.  After all when was the last time you were chatting with a friend about the difference between Uninsured and Underinsured motorist coverage?

Your just-in-time training for this task is to get a better understanding of these terms before you do anything else. I found a website from my home state of Illinois Department of Insurance.  It is solid, unbiased information that you read to become better educated on insurance terms.

http://insurance.illinois.gov/AutoInsurance/autoinsurance.asp

Now that you have the policy in front of you and you have a good understanding of the terms, you are ready to shop.  There are three popular ways to shop your insurance:

  • Talk to a local agent – If you are like me, you receive mailings from local insurance agents all the time.  Save them up for a month. You may already know a local agent, so ask around.  You can also do an internet search for local agencies.
  • Online agent – There are quite a few national companies that do not have local agents.  Just watch TV for an hour and I am sure you will see 3 or 4 that have big advertising budgets that ask to you call or click to get a rate quote.
  • Online Quote site – There are also some online quote sites that take your information and pass them along to local agents.  It is free for you to use and the agents are willing to pay for the lead since they know they know you are in the market for insurance.

I recently took my own advice and shopped my insurance.  I started online with an offer via Costco and then used the online quote site insweb.com to work with local agents.

No matter how you start, you will end up talking to an agent.  They will ask for the coverage you have today and will then give you a quote.  Since they check your credit score, you will need to give them your social security numbers.  I forgot about that and had to dig to find my wife’s social security number with an agent on the phone, so track that down too before you start.

Bundle with homeowners — One of the biggest ways to save on insurance is to have all your policies with the same company.  So, if you are shopping your car insurance, be ready to change your homeowners as well.  The same rules apply – find your current policy to be able to answer the questions the agent will have for you.

Don’t forget to look at some unfamiliar names as not everyone has a budget to buy all the ads you see every day.  For us, we moved to AAA insurance many years ago as they offered a great discount though my wife’s employer.   One of her co-workers mentioned how much they save and it piqued our interest.  At that time I worked at the big bank and they too had a discount, but it was not as good as my wife’s.

Since we have been with AAA the rates keep going up.  Yet, I did not know if that was due to the company or if all rates were going up.  After soliciting a half-dozen bids, it turns out we had better coverage at a lower rate than the competition.  While I did not save any money going through the exercise, I am happy to know that I am getting the best deal.

One last tip – you do not have to wait until your current policy expires.  You can switch carriers at any time and get a refund for the balance of your coverage from your old carrier.  A good personal agent will even start the paperwork for you.

Alright.  Now you have the training to get started today.  Let me know in the comments section is you have any questions.  I can also personally coach you through the process – just let me know.  After all saving money on a needed item like insurance keeps your money feeling better.