Coverage requirements vary from state to state, so it's an important factor to consider. Many people are overly cautious when buying insurance, assuming the worst. As insurance companies are in the risk business, this is what they want. They have well-calculated formulas at their disposal to gauge your risk, whereas you will need to make a decision based on your comfort level.
Generally the most assets you have, the more coverage you need. In any situation, let your financial situation guide you. If you have no assets an attorney can seek, don't buy unnecessary coverage.
Your driving habits are also a good indicator of necessary coverage. If you have a lead foot you might want more coverage than a Sunday driver. No matter what it's important to analyze your situation entirely to see what coverage will best fit both your budget and lifestyle.
Review Your Current Policy
Going over your current policy will give you a figure to beat. Either sit down and read over your policy or simply call your insurance company. Jot down how much you are paying monthly and annually, along with what your coverage consists of.
Check Out Your Driving History
Most people know how many tickets they have, but probably not how long they've been around. If you have a ticket that's about to come off your record wait until it does to get quotes. Generally bad driving records create costly insurance prices.
Solicit Competitive Quotes
What you'll need: your current policy, your driver's license number, your vehicle registration.
To start you can get quotes from a one-stop-shop online tool. These use formulas to quickly assess your information and compare rates, but not every company participates. Not all companies will give you a direct quote online, some may email you or have a representative call you. Each form will take about 15 minutes to complete, but they are worth the time.
Alternatively, if a friend of family member recommended a company you can go directly to the website or call a representative from the company.
Gather Quotes and Company Information
Keep a list of annual and monthly rates for the different insurance companies. Keep the coverage limits the same so you can make apples-to-apples comparisons for cost and coverage.
The insurance company's 800 telephone number, so you can get answers to questions you couldn't find online.
Learn about the insurance company's payment policy: When is the payment due? What kinds of payment plans are available? What happens if you're late in making a payment?
Pick Up the Phone
After you've done your online research it's time to hit the phones. If you couldn't get a quote online call those companies first. You can also skip the internet and get all your quotes over the phone. Make sure to have the representative confirm the price and send you an email with the quote.
Ask About Discounts
Many insurance companies give discounts for things like a good driving record, professional affiliations, car safety features and more. Make sure to ask, because insurance companies generally will not volunteer this information. Also consider package deal policies that combine car and home insurance, this will usually give you a better price.
Assess the Insurance Companies Track Record
1. Use the National Association of Insurance Commissioners' Consumer Information Source to access information about insurance companies records. Also visit your state's department of insurance to check consumer complaint ratios and basic rate comparison surveys.
2. Consider contacting an independent insurance agent for additional information about a company.
3. Check out the financial strength ratings for an insurance company by referring to the ratings from A.M. Best and Standard & Poor's (registration may be required).
4. Review consumer satisfaction surveys from J.D. Power and Consumer Reports (subscription required).
5. Ask friends and family about their insurers and whether they're satisfied with them. Remember to get details.
Review the Policy BEFORE You Sign
Make sure everything you requested is included in the policy, but also be sure there isn't anything that shouldn't be there. Sometimes insurance companies include language that could affect your ability to make a claim if you're in an accident. Always know what you are signing.
Cancel Your Old Policy; Carry Proof
Last but not least you want to cancel your old policy. Make sure to keep a copy of your policy in your glove compartment, especially if your state requires it.