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Insurance Shopping Tips

Buying Auto Insurance for the First Time

It may seem a bit overwhelming at first, but buying auto insurance is an essential part of your life as a driver. Even though you hope you'll never need to use it, you want to have the coverage you need, from a reliable company, at a great price. Fortunately, this is all possible.

How much insurance do you need?
You can't stop bad things from happening. But you can protect yourself financially by purchasing insurance. How much insurance you need depends on a lot of factors including how much you owe and own, how much your assets are worth, whether you have dependents, and how much out-of-pocket cost you could afford to bear. You can estimate your coverage needs using calculators or worksheets available on-line, but it's a good idea to sit down with an insurance agent or broker who can thoroughly evaluate your needs.

Comparison shop
Once you've decided what type of insurance and how much coverage you need, you can begin getting quotes from different companies. ComparisonMarket.com offers an easy way to compare multiple rates, because you just answer one set of questions and get multiple rates instead of answer the same questions over and over with different agents.

But compare the coverage offered, too. A policy might cost less because it offers fewer, or different, features and benefits. And make sure the company you've settled on is reputable, with good customer service and claims-paying ability. All insurance companies are rated by major rating agencies (e.g. Standard & Poor's, Moody's, A.M. Best) on their ability to pay claims. You can access these ratings online, through public libraries, or through car insurance company literature.

Understand what you're buying An insurance policy is a legal contract that may be loaded with technical terms that are hard to understand. But read it anyway before you sign on the dotted line to find out about the coverage you're buying. For instance, the policy will tell you:

  • Who or what is covered
  • What coverage exclusions and limitations apply
  • When coverage begins and ends
  • How much coverage is provided
  • How much you'll pay for coverage (the premium)
  • How you report a loss or file a claim

You can ask an insurance professional to explain any terms, conditions, or benefits that you don't understand.

Evaluate your insurance needs periodically
As your life changes, your insurance needs change, too. So every once in a while (annually, some experts suggest), review your insurance to see if you need more (or less) coverage or an additional type of coverage. Here are some times in your life when you'll definitely want to re-evaluate your insurance needs:

  • Getting married or divorced
  • Starting a family
  • Renting an apartment
  • Buying a house or a car, or making a major purchase
  • Child is going off to college
  • Starting a new job or becoming self-employed
  • Buying or selling a business
  • Your income increases or decreases substantially
  • Taking care of an aging parent
  • Retirement

Make your insurance policies work for you by taking the time to periodically review your needs and coverages.

Please note that this description/explanation is intended only as a guideline.