While you might want to finish shopping for car insurance as quickly as possible, it’s important to do your due diligence and find the right company. At the end of the day, car insurance is designed to protect and benefit you. If you were to be injured or have your car totaled in an accident, your insurer’s customer service and claims satisfaction would be vital.
Liability auto insurance protects you from that worst case scenario by providing a cushion between your assets and the amount you’re on the hook for. For this reason, choosing the right auto liability limits is the most important part of your car insurance quote comparison. NerdWallet typically recommends having at least as much liability coverage as your net worth.
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Know when to cut coverage. Don’t strip away coverage just for the sake of cheaper insurance. You’ll need full coverage car insurance to satisfy the terms of an auto loan, and you’ll want it as long as your car would be a financial burden to replace. But for older cars, you can drop comprehensive and collision coverage, which only pay out up to your car’s current value, minus the deductible.
Cash in on major life changes. Certain life events could translate to cheaper car insurance, so shop for quotes whenever something major changes in your life. For instance, many companies offer a lower rate for married couples or domestic partners. Or perhaps you moved to a suburb with lower accident and crime rates. If your risk for accidents goes down, your rates just might, too.
Additional living expenses, or loss-of-use coverage is typically a fixed amount – 20% of your dwelling coverage. However, if you live in an area prone to wildfires or hurricanes, it's worth checking with your insurer to see if they offer higher coverage limits in the event a catastrophe forces you from your home for an extended period. Additional living expenses can add up, so it may be worth the added peace of mind to increase this coverage component.
But according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, newly licensed drivers are about eight times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes in their first six months than more experienced drivers. The takeaway? Experience counts. The Center for Disease Control suggests that increased education programs and parental involvement in instruction are associated with reductions of as many as 40% of fatal and injury crashes among 16-year-olds.
USAA only sells policies to current and former members of the military and their families and is consistently rated at the top of its class by A.M. Best with an A++ financial strength rating. It doesn’t have an official customer service rating with J.D. Power, but USAA is noted by J.D. as providing “claims satisfaction and shopping satisfaction”. A perk of USAA is if your uniform is damaged or stolen in an event your policy covers and you are on active duty or deployed, USAA will reimburse you without you having to pay a deductible.
Location: Insurance companies have to pay out if your car is stolen so they will take into consideration where your vehicle sits every night. “Insurance companies are constantly looking at data to justify rates. Where you live can definitely have an impact on rates if there is a higher incidence of theft or vandalism near your home compared with other areas of town. Urban areas usually have a higher rate of accidents and theft than rural areas, so rates are higher,” says Biggert. “Each geographic area has its own set of risks, and the insurance carriers know what they are and how often they occur.”
Gender and age: Young (newly licensed drivers) will be the most expensive to insure and statistics show that young males are the worst of the young drivers. Once they have a few years of experience under their belts, rates should start to drop. Statistics show that women overall tend to be involved in fewer accidents so premiums are usually lower for female drivers until they hit middle age, then males and females are basically on par for the cost of car insurance
If your car is worth more than $3,000 and/or is less than 10 years old, we'd also suggest both collision and comprehensive coverage, too. Our estimates suggest drivers can buy comprehensive and collision insurance for an average of $600 to $700 per year (however, the cost may be higher for some cars), so you would spend $3,000 to $3,500 in premiums over five years. If your car is currently worth less than $3,000, you will have spent more on insurance than your car is worth. You can obtain the estimated value of your car from sites like Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds. Once you have both the value and a quote for coverage, you can determine whether collision insurance will be worth it.