Most people start considering their car insurance policy after they have bought a new car. Some have even taken the time to talk to a friend or family member about what type of insurance works for them. Unfortunately, asking someone you know or getting in touch with an insurer only after you’ve bought your car could leave you at a major disadvantage.
Getting the correct policy in place is essential, and it’s not a process that you just want to walk into blindly.
If you’re like most people and you’re not an expert on car insurance, it’s probably a good idea to have some question handy once you get in touch with a professional. Here are some questions you absolutely have to ask before buying a policy.
1. What type of coverage do I need?
Every state has their own minimum requirements for auto insurance. However, in 49 states you will be required to at least have liability insurance. This includes either bodily injury liability (BI) and property damage liability (PD). This will protect third parties who were injured in an accident and in some states, even medical expenses and wages lost as a result of injuries. It will also cover property damage caused to someone’s property, including not only their vehicle but damage to walls, fences, and more.
2. What is my risk assessment?
Insurance rates are based on several factors that comprise how much of “risk” you pose and how likely you are to make a claim. They will take a look at your age, sex, driving record, criminal record, where you live, and your credit record to assess the risk of insuring you. Insurers also look at driver statistics from national, state, and local databases to calculate their premiums. These statistics change so frequently that rates can change from one day to the next.
3. Can I qualify for any discounts?
There are several discounts to qualify for on your auto insurance, but most of them require that you take some action and discuss it with an agent. Types of car insurance discounts that you can qualify for include low-mileage discounts, discounts for membership to certain groups, good credit record discounts, good student discounts, good driving record discounts, low-risk occupation discounts, policy renewal discounts and more. Remember, insurance agents make their money from insurance premiums, so they won’t tell you if you don’t ask.
4. Do I need gap insurance?
Gap cover will be your only safety net if you have purchased a new car and end up totaling it. Remember, once you drive the car off the lot, it immediately depreciates in value. This policy will pay for the difference between what you still owe on your car loan and what your insurance company paid you as the value of your vehicle. Without gap cover, you might find yourself financially devastated without enough money to pay for the loan balance should you ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation of totally wrecking your newly bought car.
5. What are my payment options?
Auto insurance is a big financial commitment. It’s extremely important to discuss all your payment options with a potential insurer before you sign on the dotted line. Most auto insurance carriers will offer the option of paying an annual lump sum or paying half every six months. The most common payment, however, is a per month as this makes budgeting more practical. Paying monthly, however, could make your yearly costs more expensive, so you are able to make one yearly payment you could end up saving on your car insurance.