Shopping for insurance can be tedious and frustrating. Every insurance company out there claims to offer the lowest prices and best customer service which makes deciding which insurer is the right one for you complicated.
While it may take a bit of time, researching the various insurance company options before buying a policy will be time well spent. While saving money is always a plus, if
have to sacrifice quality customer service and professionally handled claims, it’s not worth it.
Here are a few tips for deciding which is the right insurance quote for you.
Consult with Family and Friends
Current customers are a great way to get the lowdown on how an insurance company handles claims, customer service requests and how quickly they respond to their customers.
Ask friends, family and even co-workers about their experiences with their insurance company. Try to talk to people who have actually filed claims to hear about their experience with both the adjuster and the settlement amount.
Take note of anyone that raves about their insurance company and has been a long-time customer.
Check Out Your State’s Department of Insurance Site
Most states have a department of insurance and their website is a treasure trove of information about the companies selling insurance in your particular state.
The first thing you should check out is the “consumer complaint ratios” page. This ratio tells you exactly how many complaints a car insurance company received for every 1,000 claims they processed.
Check out the ratios for any insurance company that you are considering. Just because an insurer is big doesn’t mean they will get good ratings or have a low complaint ratio.
Avoid any insurer that has a complaint ratio that is too high, the last thing you need is poor customer service and an uncommunicative insurance company when it comes time to make a claim.
If your state doesn’t keep or publish complaint ratios, check out neighboring states. While complaint ratios can vary dramatically between states and one states experience is not necessarily indicative of what is happening in your state, if complaint ratios are high in a number of other states, keep looking for a new insurer.
Let J.D. Power Do the Legwork
Every year J.D. Power publishes the results of its annual Customer Satisfaction Survey about auto insurance companies. They rate them on a number of factors, including how they handle claims, communication and the claim settlement process.
While results vary every year, USAA almost always scores toward the top so if you are an active or ex-military you should certainly get a quote from USAA. Erie and Amica often score very highly as well.
Contact Local Body Shops
Body shop owners probably spend more time with insurance adjusters than most people and they know which insurance company handles claims quickly and gets things done the right way.
When your vehicle is being repaired you want an insurance company that will pay for OEM (original equipment manufacturer) parts instead of aftermarket parts, which tend to be less expensive but also less reliable.
Check the Financials
This step is probably not necessary if you are going with one of the major national car insurance companies like State Farm, Allstate or Progressive to name just a few. They are all financially sound and will have no issue paying even the largest of claims.
However, if you are shopping smaller, less well-known insurance companies, checking out their financial health is always a good idea. You can check ratings at A.M Best or Standard & Poor’s to see how any insurance company you are considering stacks up.
A.M Best uses letter grades that go from A++ all the way down to D. Never work with a company that rates lower than a B+. Being told your claim will not be paid due to financial issues with your insurer can be truly devastating for your finances.
Standard & Poor’s ratings go from AAA down to CC. If the company is listed as NR it simply means its not rated. It’s best to stick with companies that are at least BBB.
Read Reviews With a Grain of Salt
The Internet can be a blessing and curse when it comes reviews. Data overload can make deciding on car insurance (or anything else for that matter) difficult and frustrating. While you will see tons of negative reviews this doesn’t always mean you should avoid that company, there are always going to be people who are unhappy with their settlement, we all like to think our vehicle is worth more than it’s actual true value.
Look for positive reviews regarding customer service and the claims experience but if you see consistently negative reviews about one particular aspect, for example, delayed responses, shoddy repair work or constantly rising rates, you may want to keep shopping.
Gather Your Quotes
Shopping for insurance is never a fun task but it’s a necessity. Before you can decide which insurance company is the best fit for you, it’s necessary to gather some quotes.
Shop a variety of insurance companies, get quotes from both large, national insurance companies and a few smaller players. If you have an agent, let them do the legwork for you, but also get a few quotes from insurers that quote online such as Esurance, Geico, and Progressive.
A few things to remember when shopping for car insurance:
- Decide what coverage levels you need before you start shopping. State minimums are almost never enough.
- Be sure that you are comparing apples to apples when it comes to coverage levels and deductibles.
- Make sure that you are getting every discount that you are qualified to receive.
- Bundling your coverages can save money.
- Look for replacement value coverage instead of actual cash value coverage.
- A higher deductible will lower your premium but make sure you can cover deductible in the event of a claim.
Agents Can Help
There is no denying that it is pretty easy to shop your insurance coverage online without the help of an agent these days but using an agent offers a variety of benefits.
- They can easily shop a variety of insurers for you so you don’t have to do the legwork.
- They can advise you about insurance products that you may not know about.
- They can verify that you are receiving all of the different discounts that you are qualified to receive.
- Agents can quickly and easily answer any questions you may have without having to deal with a person in a call center.
There are two different types of insurance agents:
Captive Agent: These agents only represent one insurance company. Large insurers like State Farm and Allstate use networks of captive agents to sell their products.
Independent Agent: These agents are also called brokers. They represent several insurance companies so they can shop a variety of insurance companies to find the best deal for you.
In most cases, an independent agent offers the most flexibility but if you are loyal to a single insurer, a captive agent may be the way to go.
Cheaper is Not Always Better
Like most things in life, you get what you pay for when it comes to car insurance. Cheaper is not always better, and going with the absolute lowest quote may be a mistake when it comes time to make a claim or get a question answered.
High quality customer service and claims that are handled quickly and professionally is definitely worth a slightly higher premium.
Compare prices as well as reviews and the complaint ratios to narrow down your choices. Look for the best combination of price and positive reviews when making your final decision.
Finally, read your entire policy before signing and ask questions about any portions that you do not understand.
Other Enhanced Insurance articles related to Car Insurance Premiums:
Enhanced Insurance is not written by attorneys. If you’re looking for legal advice, you need to contact a lawyer. Further, insurance practices and forms change constantly and are varied from state to state. For definitive answers in your area, contact a local agent.
While the majority of people want an agent involved in their purchase of insurance, many people want to see if they can save money by buying direct from the insurance company. Others want to try a direct quote to make sure the premium they’re now paying through their local agent is fair. If you want a quote for your coverage, click on the competitive quote button on the right side of this page.