1/25/2011 11:00 PM ET|
7 ways to overpay for car insurance
Overlooking discounts or failing to comparison shop could be costing you hundreds of dollars every year. Learn how to get the coverage you need for the lowest cost.
Are you wasting money on auto insurance? There's a good chance the answer is yes -- not because you are a bad or high-risk driver, but because you overlook some of the best ways to save.
Here are seven ways you may be wasting hundreds of dollars on car insurance.
1. Failing to comparison shop
You may be the type of driver who sticks with an insurance company year after year, through thick and thin. And in some cases, that's just fine, says Christie Hyde, a spokeswoman for the American Automobile Association. If you have a solid history with an insurance company, that could be your best option, she said.
However, it can't hurt to shop around. In some cases, you could save a lot of money by switching to a different provider. You may also gain new insights into possible holes in your coverage simply by having an outside agent provide "another set of eyes" to look over your insurance needs.
For that reason, Hyde says it's a good idea to take an annual look around at what's available.
"We recommend doing it once a year, when you have your policy come up for renewal," she says.
2. Not combining policies
Most insurance companies provide deep discounts if you have both your home insurance and auto insurance policies with the same provider, says Angela Preciado, the auto product management director at USAA in San Antonio.
"If you can combine multiple policies with the same company, you can save big," she says.
Many auto insurance companies, such as Allstate and Farm Bureau, advertise multipolicy discounts that can shave 10% or more off your premium.
Hyde also urges drivers to see if they can save by keeping multiple insurance policies with one provider.
"When you package it together, you can see some cost savings," she says.
3. Keeping car insurance deductibles too low
If your deductibles are small, your premiums may be too high.
Increasing your deductible from $200 to $500 could lower your premium by about 20%, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
However, if you do raise your deductible, make sure you have access to enough money to pay your deductible in case you need to make a claim, Preciado says.
Keep the money in an emergency savings account you won't touch unless you cause an accident, she says. If you never file a claim, you keep the savings. Either way, you won't waste money on higher premiums.
4. Not asking for discounts for which you are eligible
Teen drivers with good grades in school may receive discounts for auto insurance, Preciado says.
In addition, members of some organizations, such as AARP or a college alumni association, often receive discounts for auto insurance.
Hyde says there's no guarantee that membership in an organization like AAA will save you money on car insurance. But many members do find savings, plus emergency road assistance, discounts on shopping and other benefits, she says.
Talk to your insurance agent to see if you qualify for special car insurance discounts.
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