Dealing with auto insurance companies can be a tricky business. Knowing some of the car insurance industries best kept secrets can help level the playing field. Below are seven top car insurance secrets to help you plan and save:
1) Car Rental Insurance
We’ve all experienced the insurance pitch at the rental car counter. The agents enthusiastically encourage you to purchase car rental insurance, or what’s commonly referred to as a collision damage waiver (CDW). This damage waiver is regularly endorsed by rental car agents, who often receive incentives to push this oversold product. The good news is—you don’t need it. That’s assuming you have full coverage on your own car, which commonly includes collision and comprehensive. So, in most cases the coverage is unnecessary and declining it will save you some money.
Now, if you’re cruising around in a ’72 Ford Pinto with just liability or no insurance coverage at all, CDW may be just what you’re looking for. That’s assuming you don’t have one of the many credit cards that offer protection. Many credit card companies offer rental car insurance protection as long as the entire rental car transaction is charged to that specific card. Make sure to check with your credit card company or personal auto insurance company before denying CDW coverage.
2) Lend Your Car to A Friend
Lending your car to a friend could prove costly. If you lend your car to a friend and he or she has an accident, it’s your responsibility. You’ll have to file the claim with your insurance company, not your friend’s. To make matters worse, you’re also responsible for any deductible, and the accident could potentially leave a mark on your record, raising your rates, even if you weren’t in the car. So, think twice before handing those keys out.
3) Your Credit Score
Believe it or not, your credit score is reviewed by your auto insurance company. This can be done at time of application or prior to renewals. The thinking is that if you’re responsible with your credit, making payments regularly and over time, you’re less likely to make regular claims. Statistically speaking, you’re more likely to file claims based on a shaky credit history. And, thus, your credit score plays a major role in determining auto insurance coverage. Unfortunately, the utilization of this credit score method may result in higher premiums, even if you have a perfect driving record and no accidents.
4) Will You Get Your Cars True Value?
If you get in an accident and “total” your car, it’s your insurance company’s responsibility to provide you with an amount of money that would purchase an equivalent car. This doesn’t always happen, unfortunately. Most insurers don’t use the Kelley Blue Book or NADA standards to estimate values. They have their own formulas and will often consider quotes from various dealers that aren’t always that attainable, and this isn’t always a good indication of your specific vehicle’s true worth. Every car is different, with things like condition, mileage, and repairs playing vital roles. If they choose to use one of these methods, you may want to present them with some local quotes of your own. It’s recommended that you keep a documented vehicle history as well, so you can present repair and maintenance receipts if there’s a dispute. Make sure the amount you and your insurer settle on includes sales tax for the purchase of your replacement automobile. This is often left out by insurers, and replacing your car should not come with additional tax costs. If you have a classic car make sure you have classic car insurance that provides replacement value coverage, otherwise you’re putting your investment at risk.
If you get in a wreck and your car is deemed repairable, make sure to ask for diminished value compensation. Diminished value compensation pays you for the loss of market value that your vehicle incurs due to the accident and repairs. Once your car has been wrecked it is worth less, even if completely repaired to like new condition. Most people don’t want to risk purchasing a car that’s been in a major accident, and this substantially hurts your re-sale value. It’s always a good idea to check with the car insurance company to see if they offer diminished value before purchasing their coverage.
5) Marital Status
Your marital status affects your car insurance rates. Yes it’s true, if you are single, divorced, or even widowed, it can add to your auto insurance premium. It is not uncommon for many auto insurance companies to levy this marital status penalty. In fact, it’s perfectly legal in most states for insurers to practice this type of discrimination. However, insurance companies will argue that the actuarial tables back up their guidelines; much like younger drivers being more likely to be involved in an accident, the same statistics show that unmarried individuals are more accident prone than their counterparts.
If you’re single, you may want to try a little experiment next time you get an online car insurance quote. Get two quotes, keep all info identical except for the marital status, checking one as single and the other as married. This may shed some light on which insurers still utilize these practices. Fortunately, the very act of shopping around for the best car insurance company should eliminate these types of companies, leaving you with a combination of the highest quality and most competitive auto insurer.
6) Where You Live
Where you live is one of the major considerations your auto insurer looks at when determining your rates. Living in urban areas can greatly increase the rates you’ll pay for auto insurance. The chance of accident or auto theft are significantly lower in rural areas. Whereas, things like limited parking, traffic, and larger numbers of uninsured motorists are factors for individuals living in the inner city. Some areas may result in auto insurance rates that are more than double their rural counterparts. It’s unfortunate, but unless you’re planning on moving, avoiding this is difficult.
7) Your Occupation
You can bet that insurance companies have found a statistical relationship between your auto insurance risk and your occupation. According to Insurance.com’s 2006 Occupation Report, scientists, pilots/navigators and actors/performers/artists pay the lowest insurance rates of the occupations reported with an average of $935.76 per year. Whereas, attorneys/lawyers/judges, executives and business owners pay the highest insurance rates of the occupations reported with an average of $1,383.63 per year.
Why the high discrepancy, you ask? Well it comes down to a few factors. The group of attorneys/lawyers/judges, executives and business owners typically have more stressful jobs. They spend more time on the road and more time on their cell phones, which comes at a higher risk for the insurer. The group of scientists, pilots/navigators and actors/performers/artists are less risky to insure because their driving habits are a result of skills necessitated by their occupations. A good example would be the detail-oriented and meticulous nature inherit with scientists, resulting in safer driving and lower insurance rates.