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Almost every country that has a highway requires those driving on it to carry some type of auto insurance. Most people have no understanding of the coverage they are buying and what can influence the cost.
- Know what is required by the locality in which you are buying coverage. In the U.S. alone there are 50 different states with 53 different requirements(includes District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands). A little bit of research as to just what is required can save you big money.
- Decide what coverage and limits are best for you and your situation. Do you own a home? Do you have other property that you could lose in a lawsuit if you don't have enough coverage? You will normally have coverage for injuries you cause (Bodily Injury Liability), damage you cause (Property Damage Liability), and you may also carry coverage for injuries you receive (Personal Injury Protection, Medical Payments, Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury) or damage to your property (Other Than Collision, sometimes referred to as OTC or Comprehensive, and Collision or Uninsured Motorist Property Damage).
- Decide whether you want to work face to face (or over the phone) with an agent or do you prefer to do everything yourself online. Policies through an agent are generally no more expensive than an online policy and can many times be less expensive since the agent is educated in what is and is not necessary. Some states in the U.S. allow agents or brokers to charge a fee for their services, discuss this with whomever you call to be aware of what fees (if any) may be charged.
- Find an agent. After your research into what coverage and limits would be best for you check prices. An independent agent or broker will often "shop" for you free of charge. He/she will take the information you provide and compare several companies to find you the best balance of coverage and cost. Some websites also offer their rate and the rates of what they consider to be their top competitors. Keep in mind, their top competitors may not offer the best balance as there are literally thousands of different companies and programs available in the U.S. alone. A "captive" agent, or an agent who is employed by the company they represent can usually only answer questions about that company.
- Gain a comfort level. If you are not comfortable with the agency or company you first find, find another. Just like there are thousands of different cars on the highways there are thousands of different agents, companies, brokers, programs, and ways of getting your needs fulfilled.
- Get as much of your information together as possible before calling or beginning an online search. Normal information needed may include your name, address, birthday, marital status, driving record, credit information, vehicle information (including the Vehicle Identification Number or VIN), finance information, any other drivers and their information.
- Bear in mind younger drivers and senior drivers can adversely effect the rate. (Since, statistically, inexperienced operators and senior operators are involved in accidents more often.) Insurance is based on large groups of people placing resources (premiums) into a pool that is used to pay claims. Even though you may never make a claim you insure yourself in case something happens and the monies you put forward help offset the costs of those who do make claims. After all, it's called an accident, not an on-purpose.
- Ask Questions. If you don't understand a coverage, ask your agent to explain it to you. If you want something covered that you're unsure of ask about it.
- Even if you do not have assets (home, stocks/bonds, other property) to protect it is always best to buy the most coverage you can afford. If your city/state/country only requires $10,000 of coverage for damage caused to someone else's property is that really enough coverage to keep you from being sued? Even if you have nothing to lose in a lawsuit do you have the time and money to defend yourself in that lawsuit? That's what the insurance is for.
- Be polite and honest. If you have numerous accidents and violations you will pay for it. Simply not telling the agent or not filling in the information on the website may initially get you a lower rate but it will eventually catch up and cost you. Being charged with insurance fraud is also a possibility in extreme situations. Keep in mind the person with whom you are speaking is providing you a service and it is not usually within his or her control to influence the premiums you pay by a great deal.
- an SR22 (State Required Filing Form) can sometimes be required if you have too many tickets or accidents
- Listen carefully to what the agent tells you or read the information carefully on a website to be sure you are getting the coverage you want.
- Keep in mind an insurance "quote" is an estimate only, not a firm price. A final price is not determined until information is verified by the insurance company.
Things You'll Need
- Drivers License or at least the number
- Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
- Other Driver Information
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