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Although there was a time when an insurance broker would be considered the best way to find an affordable car insurance premium, with the electronic age comes another way that you can just as easily find auto insurance that does not break the bank. Still, there are pros and cons to each of these ways of finding car insurance that you should be aware of so that you can decide which method will be best for you when you are ready to begin your search for affordable car insurance.
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When searching for a good deal on car insurance there are several things you must consider. You must be prepared to do your research whether it is with the assistance of a broker or agent or on your own through the Internet. The more you know about how car insurance rates are determined and what discounts are available, the better the chance you will find yourself with a lower car insurance annual rate.
Ways to Search for Car Insurance at Affordable Rates
There are multiple ways you can research car insurance rates from various companies. Meeting with an insurance agent is one method of beginning your search.
There are two types of car insurance agents. A captive agent is employed by one insurance company to sell their product.
While they are not going to be able to give you an unbiased comparison of companies and their rates, they can offer answers to very specific questions about the company or find deals for you within one company.
Another type of insurance agent is an independent agent. This type of agent works for the client and helps them compare policies and rates from several insurance providers. A broker is also an independent agent; however, an insurance broker is typically more knowledgeable because they have more training and experience allowing them to have earned their insurance broker’s license. Brokers may charge a fee or affix this fee to the annual premium.
If you are short of time or want to search for car insurance on your own without another individual to meet with, then researching cheap car insurance rates online may be the way to go for you. This method is best for those individuals who have some knowledge of car insurance and what to look for. By comparing rates from several providers online, you may be able to find the most affordable rate available to you.
Pros and Cons of an Insurance Agent
There are several pros to using an insurance agent to find an affordable car insurance rate. First, if the agent is a captive agent they can answer your questions about a particular company and give you detailed information about the policies available and possible discounts.
With an independent agent, they may not have as much detailed information about one company specifically, but they can provide you with an unbiased opinion when comparing several providers.
Some people like the personalized, face-to-face contact you get when using an agent.
For others it’s the fact that agents reside in the local area and can offer advice on auto body shops or glass repair companies should these be necessary. One final possible reason to use an insurance agent is the option to deliver your premium payments in cash for those who prefer this method of payment.
There is a down side as well to using an insurance agent. You are not free to shop for insurance any time you have a free moment. Instead, you must schedule a time to meet with the agent during their business hours. This can be difficult for some who work long hours themselves. Also, when using a captive agent you get information about one company only. This is not the best way to find an affordable rate because the agent is trying to sell you their company’s products.
Pros and Cons of an Insurance Broker
An insurance broker comes with all of the pros of an independent agent in addition to the extra knowledge that a broker can provide you with. Unlike agents, brokers are able to run an analysis of your insurance needs to help make sure you only get the amount of insurance you need and do not pay for unnecessary extras.
Aside from the cons associated with an agent, another con you must consider with a broker is the fact that many of them charge a fee for their services. This fee may be assessed separately or tacked onto your premium payments making them higher.
Pros and Cons of Buying Car Insurance Online
If you are pressed for time, buying car insurance online is by far the more convenient method. You can shop any time of the day or night and complete your search fairly quickly.Additionally, some companies offer discounts to customers who buy their policy online because they do not have to pay an agent’s commission.
If you choose to search for and buy car insurance online you need to have some understanding of car insurance, know what to look for, and know how to get the best deal possible. If you do not have this knowledge then you may want to work with an agent or broker who can assist you.
Ways to Save Money When Buying Car Insurance
If you opt to buy online instead of using an agent or broker, you need to be aware of ways to get the best deal possible. Here are some of the most common ways people can save money on car insurance without using a broker.
Make sure you do your research and compare the rates of several companies. You can begin by talking to friends and family to find out who they use for car insurance and if they would recommend their provider. If you have questions about companies you look at online do not be afraid to pick up the phone and call a company representative. While researching make sure you take detailed notes about insurance cost, policy options, and what discounts are available.
Living in certain areas can help you to save money on car insurance. Typically, these scenarios can lower your premium:
- Living and working in lower crime areas
- Living and working in areas with less traffic
- A short commute to work
- Parking off street or in a garage
Certain states are also statistically cheaper to live in where car insurance rates are concerned.
The most expensive states/regions to insure a vehicle are Washington D.C. and New Jersey. By contrast, you will find yourself with a much lower car insurance rate if you reside in North Dakota or Iowa.
Keep your driving record clean. If you have had some past infractions, consider taking a defensive driving course.
Consider possible discounts that may be available. These may include discounts based on your age, good student discounts, low mileage discounts, or retirement discounts.
Consider the vehicle you drive. Some vehicles cost more to insure than others. A small sportier car or luxury vehicle will cost more to insure than a conservative mini-van.
Consider increasing your deductible in exchange for a lower premium.
Try to improve your credit score by paying your bills on time, paying off loans and credit card debt, and requesting a copy of your credit report to make certain it is accurate. The Insurance Information Institute, reports that insurance companies generate your score based on information that includes your credit rating.
The worse the rating the lower the score and the lower the score the higher your quote will be for a premium.
Look into vehicle safety discounts. If your car is not equipped with an anti-theft device, consider adding one. Also buying a car with features such as rear and front airbags, automatic seatbelts, and anti-lock brakes will lower insurance costs.
Consider discounts that may be offered through groups you belong to such as where you work, where you went to college, military associations, or clubs.
If you can handle it financially, opt to pay your premiums in full each year, which could save you hundreds of dollars.
Other Things to Consider When Buying Car Insurance without a Broker
Besides discounts and ways to save on car insurance, you must also consider some additional factors when purchasing auto insurance without a broker or agent. First, make sure you are considering insurance providers licensed in the state you reside in. While you may stumble across some insurance providers online that sound good, they may only be licensed in a small region of the country. To help with this, the Insurance Information Institute offers a free tool where you can look up insurance providers in your state. You can also find this information by contacting your state insurance department.
You also want to make sure you are choosing an insurance company that is reputable and financially stable and has the means to protect you if you must file a claim. A.M. Best, rates insurance companies on their current financial stability. These ratings range from A++ to F. You can also consult the Better Business Bureau, to find out if the company you are considering has outstanding consumer complaints.
Begin your search for cheap car insurance now by entering your ZIP code into our FREE tool to get a list of quotes from providers in your area!