5 Tips for Getting the Best Value on Car Insurance
1. Shop often. Check out several different insurance companies every two to three years. Maybe your situation has changed—say you’re driving fewer miles, which can lower your premium a little. Or maybe the carrier has adjusted its underwriting or rating in ways that help, or hurt, your bottom line. You get little benefit from sticking with the same insurer year in and year out; our research in the past has found that the “long-term customer discount” is mostly a myth .
2. Cast a wide net. Try shopping on TheZebra.com, which uses data from Quadrant, a private company that collects and analyzes rate filings supplied directly by insurers. (Quadrant is also the company we engaged for our price analyses.) The Zebra offers estimates from 18 to 35 insurers, depending on the state. That compares with just 3 to 10 quotes provided by other sites, including Insurance.com, NetQuote, and NerdWallet.
3. Consider raising collision and comprehensive deductibles. Collision insurance covers damage to your vehicle caused by impact with another car or object, regardless of who’s at fault. Comprehensive covers theft of your vehicle and damage from fire, flood, a falling branch, and the like. The average driver files a comprehensive or collision claim only once every 5 to 10 years, according to the Insurance Information Institute. The higher your deductible—the amount you pay before insurance kicks in—the lower your premium, especially for collision, as shown at right.
4. Protect yourself. Make sure you get enough liability coverage. We recommend 100/300/100 coverage, which pays for bodily injury up to $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident, and property damage up to $100,000. And buy uninsured/underinsured coverage at the same limits, in case you’re hit by a hit-and-run driver or someone without enough insurance. Finally, for added liability protection, consider an umbrella policy. A $1 million policy typically costs about $200 to $400 per year.
5. Check our ratings. They show CR subscribers’ overall satisfaction with auto insurance companies over the past two decades. An affordable policy won’t help much if the carrier provides subpar service or gives you a hard time about paying a claim. See our most current car insurance ratings .