Does car insurance boggle your mind? We’re not surprised. The various options and decisions regarding your car insurance could leave you confused and conflicted. With this article we shall attempt to clear up some of those dilemmas.
1. Getting insurance Vs. Driving uninsured
You’ve just bought your first car, don’t have a job and are already burdened by the weight of your college debt. Insurance doesn’t seem high on the priority list and you’re wondering if you should bother with it at all. After all what’s the worst that can happen? A lot actually. If you get caught driving uninsured, you could get fined heavily, have your license suspended and have your car impounded. And if you happen to get into an accident while you’re driving uninsured you’re in for a world of trouble. Chances are you’ll be responsible for damages to your own self and vehicle and will also have to bear the costs of any damages to the other party’s self and property if you are found at fault. So this one is actually easy. Get car insurance no matter what.
2. Full Coverage Vs. Minimum Liability
Now that we’ve convinced you to get car insurance, let’s deal with the next dilemma. How much? While it may be tempting to get just the minimum coverage stipulated by the state, we suggest you get more. If your state only requires you to get a certain amount of liability coverage, and that’s all you purchase, you will receive no support from your insurance provider in the event of theft, natural disasters, acts of God, accidents with uninsured motorists, etc. We suggest you get collision, comprehensive and Personal Injury Protection (PIP). Collision will take care of damages to your vehicle in the event of an accident with another party. Comprehensive covers theft, fire, flood, vandalism, random objects falling on / crashing into your car, etc. PIP (Personal Injury Protection) will take care of medical bills and in some cases loss of wages that occur as a result of the accident.
3. High Deductible and Low premiums Vs. Low Deductible and High premiums
The answer is simple. Settle on the highest deductible you can afford. Keeping a low deductible means that your insurance rates will be higher and vice-a versa, so raising your deductible could potentially mean huge accumulated savings. However keep the amount that is your deductible aside, put it under lock and key and forget about it because if you get into an accident and make a claim, you will need to fork it out.
4. 6 month policy Vs. 1 year policy
Generally people purchase 6 month policies, but you can also get 3 month and 12 month policies. If you plan to retain insurance coverage for the entire year, its best to go with a 12 month policy. By purchasing a 12 month policy, you have the security of knowing that your rates won’t rise and that you will be insured for that period of time. If you were to get a 6 month policy, you might see a hike in premiums at the end of that term, and if you made serious claims, your insurer may choose to non-renew you. Not only do you benefit from the lack of stress, but your insurance company may also give you a discount for purchasing their policy for a whole year.
5. Addition to parents’ policy Vs. Separate Policy
Young drivers tend to pay very high insurance rates, so many of them choose to get added to their parents’ policies. However, this presents its problems. A claim made by you or a driving violation will affect not just your own insurance records, but your parents’ as well. There is no single answer to this dilemma; the best thing to do is get an estimate from your parents’ company and compare this with free auto insurance quotes and discounts offered by other reputable providers.
6. Used Car Vs. New Car
When picking out your first car, in order to get the best car insurance rates, you need to strike a balance. An old broken down car is likely to require more repairs maintenance and hence is more expensive to insure. However, a shiny new sports car is more likely to get stolen, and people who drive them tend to speed, so your rates will probably be high if you buy one of those. The best option is to buy a second hand car that has only been driven for a year or two, is in mint condition and has safety features.
7. Paying in full VS. Paying in installments
While auto insurance companies generally give you the option of paying in installments, you should pay your premiums in full if you can afford it. You may get discounts for doing this and even if you don’t, you’ll save on the additional money that your provider would charge you for allowing you the luxury of paying in installments.
8. Switching Providers Vs. Staying with the same one
Now this varies from person to person and provider to provider. Some auto insurance companies offer loyalty discounts as incentive to stay, but yet others will give you a discount for switching to them. Often sticking with a company makes you eligible for a good driver’s discount, a disappearing deductible, first accident forgiveness, etc. However, other companies will offer you a lower quote outright. The only way to find out whether you should stay or switch is to get in there and get as many auto insurance quotes online as possible. No matter which decision you take, make sure the company you end up with is reputable.
9. Filing a claim Vs. paying for damages
The reason you pay premiums is so that you will be covered for any damages your car/person sustains during an accident. However, the unfortunate fact of the matter is that filing a claim can raise your premiums. When you get into an accident, you need to do the math and see what will be beneficial in the long run. Look at the amount of money that repairs/replacement will cost after your deductible is taken. If your car has sustained $1000 of damages and your deductible is $500, filing a claim and having to deal with the subsequent hikes in your premium may not be worth the compensation paid by your provider. However, if your $30,000 car is totaled, by all means, file that claim.
10. Being upfront with insurance company Vs. Conveniently omitting details/Fabrication
There are many cases in which people are tempted to conceal/fabricate facts when it comes to insurance. Say you want that hot performance modification. You know that informing your insurance company could mean them dropping you/raising your rates. Or that you’re really short on cash, need to pay rent and an easy way to make some bucks is to stage an accident/theft and claim compensation from your provider. Well we have one thing to say to you. Don’t do it! If you’re caught, the company will drop you, your friendly neighborhood police will pay you a visit, you will receive fines/prison time, and no auto insurance company will touch you with a barge-pole after that. And if a provider does agree to take you on as a client, trust us when we say your insurance premiums will bring you to tears (and these aren’t tears of joy we’re talking about). Besides, any company that does take you on is probably not reliable; the fact that they associate with those charged with insurance frauds only confirms that honesty and standards aren’t exactly a priority for them.
Auto insurance is a convoluted, complex subject, which is unfortunate considering the fact that anyone who drives a car has to deal with it. However, knowledge is power, and if you’re armed with the right information, you can make decisions that will benefit your sense of security and your wallet.