Consumer’s Guide to Auto Insurance

So … What’s Stopping You from Shopping Around?

A state survey of the auto insurance market found that rates charged by different companies – for virtually the same coverage—varied by as much as 50%. This is not a new development. Still, studies say that a majority of consumers don’t shop around when buying or renewing an auto insurance policy. This suggests that many people aren’t taking advantage of a competitive market. Some consumers are probably happy with the policies they have. Or, they are quite satisfied with the usual people who advise them what policy to buy. But many people feel they just don’t know enough about auto insurance to compare the value of one policy to another. Is that what’s stopping you? If so, this guide should prove useful.

You Don’t Have to Be an Insurance Expert to Make Good Buying Decisions

If you can comparison shop for things lawrenceville like cars, or home computers, or washing machines, orseason ski passes or mountain bikes, you can handle auto insurance. Here are some things to know:

1. You can easily find a great deal of price information. You can contact different agents, and you can get price quotes directly from companies over the phone or on the Internet. Some companies offer lower rates, but some may look a little more favorably than others on an applicant’s insurability, or risk factors. Insurers base the rates they charge on the amount of risk they figure they are taking to insure you. (More on cost factors, further ahead.)

2. It’s important to have basic understanding of the coverages you need and want. That way when you compare prices, you are comparing apples to apples. (More on types of coverages, further ahead.)

3. Above all, don’t be afraid to ask for explanations of anything you don’t understand. Good agents and customer representatives should welcome your questions. If they don’t, you may want to do business elsewhere.

4. Finally, cost is never the only factor in choosing a policy. Quality and convenience of service make a difference, as well as the reputations of companies and agents. Not all insurers offer the same coverage options. You want to find the best combination of service, reliability and price.

Understanding the Important Parts of An Insurance Policy

To some degree, all the parts of a policy are important. It’s a legal contract, all parts of whichgovern your coverage. However, understanding the main components will give you a good basis to compare different policies.

Tip: If you do not read through your entire policy, the single most important thing you can do is to look over the “Declaration Page” carefully when you first receive it. That is the time to check for anything amiss. Did you get all the coverage you asked for? Did you get the right amount of coverage? Are all the drivers you designated on the policy? Most people don’t discover such misunderstandings or omissions until they have a claim, at which point they may lack the coverage they thought they had.

About the Declaration Page
Often spoken of as the Dec page (pronounced like deck), this is a summary showing your coverage at a glance. The section of your policy called Coverages spells out in more detail what you are insured for. The Declaration page states the name of the insured party (called the insured) and other drivers specifically covered. It lists the types of coverages you have, the limits for each (the most an insurer will pay if you have a claim), and the premium charged (the cost of a policy for the period covered.)


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