Can there be a dryer subject than insurance? For many of us, the topic alone makes for a rush job when deciding whom to purchase it from. And once we do get it, we second-guess ourselves as to whether we really got a good rate. Who wants to spend hours negotiating with insurers over coverage? Forgetaboutit. So I’ve done some legwork for you. I’ve researched some very simple tips to help you save some serious money!
1. Comparison shop. Use information provided by your state’s insurance department. These guides tell you what coverage you need and show you sample rates, usually from the biggest companies. You can find this information by visiting the National Association of Insurance Commissioners Web site at www.naic.org. Then, get shopping. Get quotes from at least three insurers.
2. Consider higher deductibles. When you file a claim, a deductible is the amount of money you pay before your insurance company pays for the rest of the damage. Higher deductibles mean lower premiums. For example, increasing your deductible from $200 to $500 on collision coverage could reduce your premium by as much as 30% -- potentially saving you hundreds of dollars. Choose the highest deductible you can afford, then set aside that amount in a savings account so you’ll have the funds available if needed.
3. Drop collision and/or comprehensive coverages on older vehicles. If you own a sedan or limousine that’s older, you’ll probably pay more for the coverage than you would ever collect on a claim. Although insurance companies use their own criteria to determine fair market value for vehicles, you can find out how much your car is generally worth by using the NADA Appraisal Guide (nada-guides.com).
4. Have a solid chauffeur training and retraining program in place. An insurance agent once told me, "It’s not the gun but the person who pulls the trigger that is most dangerous." With vehicles, it’s almost always a driver who is at fault. Insurers like to see training programs that include videos for uniformity, written tests for proof/validity and, of course, a physical test with a master chauffeur or trainer. (By the way, LCT just happens to sell the Chauffeur Training video program produced by the Executive Chauffeuring School. See www.lctmag.com for details).
6. Check your credit history and correct inaccuracies. Many insurance companies use insurance credit scores in figuring rates. Your score is based on information contained in your credit report. If your credit report contains errors or inaccurate information, you may end up paying more for insurance than you need to.
7. Ask about discounts for anti-lock brakes, air bags and other safety features. Some states, including Florida and New York, require insurers to give discounts for cars equipped with anti-lock brakes. Some insurance companies give the discount no matter where you live. Most policies also give discounts for air bags. Your insurance agent should let you know about these discounts when you purchase your coverage.
8. Check on group insurance and corporate discounts. Members of the American Automobile Association (AAA) collectively save more than $27 million annually on their auto insurance just by providing their membership information when they purchase a policy. You may also be able to get a discount through your state trade associations who may either have a group-buy program or a captive.
9. Ask about other discounts. Some insurers offer discounts based on driver safety records and if vehicles have antitheft devices. Plus, many insurers tell me that the DriveCam Video System, which records erratic driving behavior AND accidents, is a huge attraction.
The truth is, the pendulum is swinging in your favor and today it’s more of a buyers market than it has been in more than four years. No matter what, it’s still a fixed expense and the number-one industry concern right now. Do what you can to play it safe with your vehicles and your checkbook!
Sincerely, Sara Eastwood