HOW CAN I LOWER MY AUTO INSURANCE COSTS?
If you're trying to lower your auto insurance premiums, try using the following tactics:
Back to TopWHAT COVERAGE SHOULD MY AUTO POLICY INCLUDE?
- Comparison shop
- Take a higher deductible
- Drop collision damage on older cars
- Buy a low-profile car
- Check insurance costs by community when you are planning a move
- Do not duplicate medical coverage
- Pay premiums annually
- Inquire about discounts
Everyone should have liability coverage for bodily injury and for property damage. These options will protect you if you injure someone else or damage property with your car. One thing to keep in mind is if you're in an accident and your costs exceed your coverage limits, you are responsible for the additional amount. That's why many motorists opt for more coverage than their state's minimum requirements.
Most insurers recommend that you buy at least $100,000 per person with a $300,000 maximum for each accident to pay medical costs, loss of earnings, and pain and suffering. In addition, you should have at least $50,000 in coverage for property damage. Collision and comprehensive are essential for new cars but often can be dropped with an older car. They cover repairs to your car after an accident or in case of fire, theft, or vandalism.
Uninsured motorist coverage, which protects against you against hit and run and people without enough insurance, is required in some states. If your life, health, and disability policies already protect your family, you might want to pass, given the choice. The same is true of medical payments coverage, which pays you in case of injury and disability. For people with substantial assets, umbrella insurance is a good idea. It will protect you against liability judgments in excess of $1 million.
Auto insurance is mandatory in every state, but coverage amounts vary among policies. At a minimum however, the following areas should be covered:
- Medical: This protects you against medical costs for injuries to you and other riders in the car.
- Liability: This covers physical injuries to other people and compensation for expenses that might arise from such injuries. It also covers damage to other people's property.
- Comprehensive and collision: This covers damage to your car due to collisions or overturning, fire, flooding, and theft. There is usually a deductible.
- Uninsured (or underinsured) motorist: If there is an accident and the other driver has insufficient insurance, this covers the expenses of the accident.
Your policy will show the total amounts of bodily injury, liability, and property damage coverage. For instance, a policy of $25/$50/$20 means that, in a single accident, you are covered for $25,000 for an individual injured, $50,000 for all persons injured, and $20,000 of property damage. Back to TopHOW SHOULD I HANDLE AN AUTO INSURANCE CLAIM?
The amount of coverage you choose will depend on the state's minimum requirements, the replacement cost of your vehicle, and how much medical coverage you already have under other policies.
Here are some tips for making sure that you obtain a fair settlement and obtain payment on a claim as quickly as possible.
Back to TopHOW MUCH OF A DEDUCTIBLE SHOULD I TAKE ON MY AUTO INSURANCE?
- Start a file on the accident immediately after it occurs and put hospital bills, police accident reports, and copies of claims you have submitted into the folder.
- Each time you speak to an insurance company representative by phone, write a follow up letter or email summarizing what was said. Include the date of the conversation and the name of the person spoken to. Put a copy of the letter or email into the file.
- If it is taking a long time to obtain your settlement, check your policy to see whether interim rental car expenses are covered. If so, rent a car. The insurer will be motivated to speed things along to avoid incurring this cost.
- If you feel the company is being unreasonable and is delaying or not acting in good faith, then make a complaint to your state's insurance regulator.
- If you're getting nowhere, consult an attorney.
It may pay to absorb the cost of fender-benders yourself. In other words, get the highest deductible you can afford. The deductible is the dollar amount you agree to pay out-of-pocket before insurance kicks in. If you cover the cost of small claims and the insurance company covers the large ones, it makes a huge difference: raise your deductible from $100 to $500, for example, and you'll reduce your premiums by 10% to 20%. Raise the deductible to $1,000 and you can save 25% to 30%.
Don't file a claim for a minor accident when the cost to repair your vehicle is only a couple of hundred dollars. Picking up the cost yourself will more than offset the rise in your insurance rates that occurs when you file a claim.Back to TopIS IT WORTHWHILE TO MAINTAIN COLLISION COVERAGE ON OLDER CARS?
Collision coverage takes care of the cost of repairing your car if you're in an accident, regardless of who's at fault; comprehensive pays if your car is stolen or damaged by fire, flood, hail or wind. If your car isn't worth much, why pay a premium for repairs on a vehicle you'll probably replace if it's badly damaged? Collision damage for an older car can cost more than the car is worth.
If your car is worth a few thousand dollars it may not be cost effective to pay for this coverage.
The rule of thumb -- from the Consumer Federation of American group: Drop collision if your premium is equal to 10% or more of the value of your car. But remember that you generally can't drop collision until your auto loan is paid off.
Check the value of your old car in the "National Automobile Dealers Association Official Used Car Guide", known as "The Blue Book". Auto dealers, banks and libraries have copies.Back to TopDOES THE KIND OF CAR I BUY AFFECT MY INSURANCE?
Before you buy a new or used car, check into insurance costs. Cars that are expensive to repair, or that are favorite targets for thieves, have much higher insurance costs.
Not surprisingly, the more expensive the car, the more expensive the insurance. Cars that thieves love --Porsches, Jaguars, BMWs and sports models in general, are more costly to insure. The latest study shows that it costs three to four times as much to insure a Porsche as a Buick or a Ford.
Call your insurance company or agent before buying a car and ask what the costs are for several different models.
If you buy a used car, insurance will be significantly lower.Back to TopDOES MY ADDRESS AFFECT MY AUTO INSURANCE?
Costs tend to be lowest in rural communities and highest in cities.Additionally, rates vary within cities based upon the incidence of auto thefts and damage within particular areas. Very often zip codes or common streets are used to denote where rates change. If you are planning a move to a new city, call your agent to find out what car insurance costs in different neighborhoods or suburbs. While differences in cost will not likely sway your decision as to which house to rent or buy, doing this may give you an idea which areas you should consider or avoid.Back to TopHOW CAN I GET THE BEST HOMEOWNER'S INSURANCE AT THE BEST PRICE?
The price you pay for homeowner's insurance can vary by hundreds of dollars, depending on the insurance company you buy your policy from. One tip is to ask your insurance agent or company representative about discounts available to you, but there are many others, some of which are listed below.
Back to TopHOW MUCH HOMEOWNER'S INSURANCE SHOULD I BUY?
- Shop around
- Raise your deductibles
- Buy home and auto policies from the same company
- Check a home's insurance cost prior to purchase
- Don't insure land
- Increase home security
- Stop smoking
- Check your policy once a year
Insure For 100% of Rebuilding Costs
The amount of insurance you buy should be based on the cost of rebuilding, and not on the price of your home. The cost of rebuilding your house may be higher (or lower) than the price you paid for it or the price you could sell it for today.
Look at your policy to see what the maximum amount is that your insurance company would pay if your house was damaged and had to be rebuilt. The limits of the policy usually appear on the Declarations Page under Section 1, Coverage, Dwelling. Your insurance company will pay up to this amount to rebuild your home.
Do You Have a Replacement Cost Policy?
Most policies cover replacement cost for structural damage, but check with your insurance agent to make sure your policy does this. A replacement cost policy will pay for the repair or replacement of damaged property with materials of similar kind and quality. The insurance company won't deduct for depreciation-the decrease in value due to age, wear and tear, and other factors.
Make a List of All Your Personal Possessions This includes everything you and your household own in your home and in other buildings on the property, except your car and certain boats, which must be insured separately. Among the things you should include are indoor and outdoor furniture; appliances, stereos, computers and other electronic equipment; hobby materials and recreational equipment; china, linens, silverware and kitchen equipment; and jewelry, clothing and other personal belongings.
Check Your Policy and Keep Your Agent Informed
Make sure your agent knows about any improvements or additions to your house that have been made since you last discussed your insurance policy.Back to TopHOW MUCH OF A HOMEOWNER'S DEDECTIBLE SHOULD I HAVE?
Deductibles on homeowners' policies typically start at $250. Increasing your deductible saves you money.Back to TopSHOULD INSURANCE COSTS BE A FACTOR IN THE HOME PURCHASE DECISION?
A new home's electrical system and plumbing, as well as its structure, are usually in better shape than those of an older house, so insurers may offer you a discount of 8 to 15 % for a new home. Check the home's construction. Brick houses may result in less costly premiums in the East; frame houses are less costly in the West. Choosing wisely could cut your premium by 5 to 15 %. Avoiding areas that are prone to floods can save you money as well.
Does your town have full-time or volunteer fire service? Is the home close to a hydrant or fire station? The closer it is to either of these, the lower your premium will be. Back to TopDOES HOME SECURITY REDUCE INSURANCE COST?
You can usually get discounts of at least 5 percent for a smoke detector, burglar alarm, or dead-bolt locks. Some companies offer to cut your premium by as much as 15 or 20 percent if you install a sophisticated sprinkler system and a fire and burglar alarm that rings at the police station or other monitoring facility. These systems are not inexpensive, and you should also be aware that not every system qualifies for the discount.
Before you buy an alarm system, find out what kind your insurer recommends and how much you'd save on premiums.Back to TopDO HOME INSURERS OFFER DISCOUNTS FOR NON-SMOKERS?
Some insurers offer to reduce premiums if all the residents in a house don't smoke. Ask your insurer if this discount is available.Back to TopHOW OFTEN SHOULD I REVIEW MY HOMEOWNER'S POLICY?
Compare the limits in your policy with the value of your possessions at least once a year, to make sure your policy covers major purchases or additions to your home.
On the other hand, you don't want to spend money for coverage you don't need. If your five-year-old fur coat is no longer worth the $20,000 you paid for it, reduce your floater and pocket the differenceBack to TopSHOULD I BUY HOME AND AUTO POLICIES FROM THE SAME COMPANY?
Some companies that sell homeowner's, auto, and liability coverage will take 5 to 15 percent off your premium if you buy two or more policies from them. Back to Top