On a list of life’s least exciting tasks, shopping for car insurance ranks between flossing and balancing your checkbook. But investing the effort to do it properly can save you time, money, and heartache. Here are some tips for taking on what you’ve been putting off.
- Learn the lingo Do you know the difference between comprehensive and collision coverage? Or what a no-fault state is—let alone whether you live in one? Find definitions at AAA.com/insurance. And remember: Don’t be afraid to ask your agent even the simplest questions.
- Assess your needs You must meet your state’s minimum car insurance requirement, but beyond that, choosing a plan is a personal decision based on your budget and how much risk you’re willing to take. A good rule of thumb: Get coverage that at least equals the total value of your assets.
- Study the fine print Compare policies, not just prices. Does the coverage include emergency room fees and ambulance trips? If you can’t be without a car, consider a policy that pays for a temporary one while your vehicle is in the shop. Travel a lot? Some plans cover damage to rentals.
- Dig deep Sure, your plan looks good on paper. But will your provider come through when you file a claim? Check to make sure the provider is financially stable with the credit agency A.M. Best Company (ambest.com). And seek personal attention so you don’t get passed between numerous adjusters or just sent to a website.
- Find savings If you have a good driving record, own a hybrid car, or belong to a group such as AAA, you may qualify for discounts. Consider saving by using one provider for home, life, and auto insurance.
- Consider the X factors Where you live, how much you drive per year, and what car you have—all these things influence how much you’ll pay. If you’re buying a new vehicle, opt for one with a good safety record.
This article was first published in March 2013. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.