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How to Get the Best Value from Auto Insurance

Auto insurance can add a lot to the cost of owning and maintaining a car, but there are several ways drivers can reduce their premiums and get the most value from their insurance.  

Shop around. Whether you’re buying your first car or you’ve had a car most of your life, it’s a good idea to check out a variety of insurers to see which ones have the best deals. Remember to compare similar offerings. Consider, for example, whether the deductibles, amounts and types of coverage are the same to really pick the best value. 

Research the companies you are considering. Are their customers happy with their claims service? Use information like the results of the J.D. Power U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study to evaluate who does the best job of paying customer claims. In addition, the Consumer Reports Car Insurance Buying Guide offers information on how to find the best value in insurance.  

Ask about discounts. Taking a defensive driving course or having anti-theft equipment are two ways to get an auto insurance discount. In addition, first-time drivers often receive discounts if they are students with grades above a certain level or if they’ve taken drivers training. Do you already have home or life insurance from the same company? You could get a price break for your auto insurance policy. Be sure to ask what kinds of discounts are available. However, even if the discount sounds appealing, carefully evaluate exactly what you’re getting in each case to determine the policy’s actual value to you.  

Consider a higher deductible. A deductible is the cost of the damages that you’re responsible for paying before your insurance kicks in. A larger deductible usually means lower premiums. It may be the right choice if you tend to make few claims, but be prepared for higher out-of-pocket costs if you do.    

Remember insurance costs when buying a car. Some car models are cheaper to insure than others, based on their safety ratings and records. Safety features—such as anti-collision features or anti-lock brakes—can also lower premiums. Your insurer should be able to give you insurance estimates for any type of car you are considering.  

Review policies as needed. It’s a good idea to compare rates about every two years to see if you qualify for a lower premium. For example, the insurer may be willing to cut the premium if you changed jobs and now have a shorter commute—or no commute at all if you have retired or begun working from home. If your teenage or adult child is no longer using your car, that could also mean a rate reduction.  

Drive safely. The more often you get a speeding tickets or are involved in an accident, the more likely it will be that your auto insurance costs will rise. Those who have established good driving records might also qualify for accident forgiveness, which allows you to have one accident without a rate increase. Adopting better driving habits is well worth it, since it can not only protect your safety but also reduce your insurance premiums.