6 Steps to the Right Car InsurerAre you fed up with your current auto insurer? Want to get a new one? Switching from one insurance company to another is not as difficult as you might think -- and it could be well worth any aggravation, if you finally get the right insurer.
The issue is to get the right car insurance from the right car insurer.
With that in mind, I'm suggesting a "road map" that will direct you to where you want to go! If you follow these five steps, you should find a good insurer. Do keep in mind that a good insurer can become a bad insurer; you may have to follow these steps more than once, in order to continue to have the kind of relationship with your insurer that works for you.
1. Get multiple quotes.
The easiest way to do this is online! You can check out a number of insurers directly and through quote services by looking at some of the sponsors for this site. You may also want to make use of a trusted broker or agent for quotes. Get as many quotes as you like -- the more you get, the more information you have on what the market is charging.
2. Check out cost versus coverage.
Right now, you are looking at the major parts of your insurance, including deductible, amount of insurance on the car (including whether you will have collision, comprehensive, personal injury protection or other coverage), amount of liability insurance (which should be at least $1-2 million in today's world of multi-million dollar lawsuits) and any specific extras that you are looking for. Make a quick chart with the insurer's offered coverage in broad categories, and the cost. You'll quickly see which policies you are most interested in. Make a short list of the top 3 to 5 insurers.
3. Research your insurer!
Don't buy insurance without knowing whether the insurer is going to treat you right or not. Go to your state's Department of Insurance and find out if there are a lot of complaints lodged against the insurer. In Canada, check out Insurance Canada for consumer information. Check the company's rating with A.M. Best or other financial rating companies. Do an internet search on the company name and see if any consumer complaint sites come up. Then, rank your short list.
4. Call each insurer.
Now, you are looking for details. Are you entitled to any discounts? Is the customer service good at this point? Any special offers? Some car insurers now have a "forgive the first accident" policy. Is this important to you? Some insurers also promise a quick claim settlement. This could be a critical point when you have a claim. Whittle your short list with these details, until you have just one.
5. Sign up!
Sign up with your insurer and get your policy. But wait -- you aren't done yet! Be sure to read the fine print on your policy right away, so that if this policy isn't everything that you thought it was, you can cancel quickly. In most jurisdictions, there is a legal "cooling off" period in which you can actually cancel without penalty.
6. Now, cancel with your previous insurer.
NEVER cancel your current coverage before you have your new policy in hand! In fact, it's better to get insurance and negotiate for it to start in a week or so, giving you enough time to get things sorted out with a current insurer and have the policy cancelled for the same day that the new coverage starts.
If you follow these steps, you should reduce the chance of a negative surprise with your insurance -- especially when you need it the most.
Monique L. Attinger