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When shopping for a deal with their auto insurance, consumers often find that not all discounts are created equal.
Certain discounts that you may have taken advantage of years ago might not be built into current policies. Thus, it’s best to read the fine print, and even get insurance agents on the phone to answer your specific questions.
If the agent doesn’t know the answers to your questions, it might be best to move on to the next company on the shopping list.
Because after all, isn’t it the small things in life, and insurance, that matter?
Dig Through the Hype
Auto insurance company websites are built to sell by highlighting key features. Most of them want prospects to fill out a quote request with the promise that details will follow.
Searching through individual insurance companies’ websites can be time consuming and confusing.
Filling out quote forms on a bunch of insurance company websites can be frustrating, and creates a lot of spam email and unsolicited calls from agents.
One way to avoid these hassles is to use an auto insurance quotes comparison website, which offer competitive quotes from several insurers after a short but thorough screen of information prompts.
Things can Be Different
Not all companies offer discounts in all categories, according to Lance Davis of Bankrate.
Out of 10 companies compared, only four offered a discount for anti-lock brakes.
Years ago, anti-lock brakes were an added feature to a car, now they are standard. However, most companies offer discounts for near-ubiquitous passive restraints known as air bags.
Other discounts, such as motorized seat belts and daytime running lights have fallen out of favour simply because automakers stopped offering them.
In general, it’s best to make a list of possible discounts before plugging information into a quote page.
If a discount does not show up during the process, then calling an agent to inquire could reveal the discount.
Popular discounts nowadays are available for low mileage and driving with a monitoring device such as Progressive’s Snapshot.
The percentage of a low-mileage discount can depend on the state of the driver’s residence, according to Laura Adams of the Huffington Post.
For example, low mileage in California is worth a 16.5 percent discount but only 2.8 percent in Connecticut.
Monitoring devices can be a good deal, but qualifying for the full discount can be difficult if not impossible in some cases.
Drivers who work at night, on weekends or commute in stop-and-go traffic probably will hear a lot of beeps from the Snapshot.
Not all insurers offer the same discount amount for the same safety feature or driver category either, according to Keith Naughton of Property Casualty 360.
Adding an alarm to a vehicle may cost more than the insurance discount in some cases. Some safety features are so new, insurers do not offer any discount for them, Naughton says.
Lane departure warnings and forward collision alerts may make driving safer, but insurers may not care.
Ask the right questions
Although discounts are a good selling point, some might not pull in as much business as others, so insurance agents may not mention them.
One not-so-well-known discount can come from switching insurance early, says Naughton. Another discount that can be mandated by the state is for drivers who take an accident-prevention course.
The online course can cost as little as $20 and save drivers 10 percent for three years in some states.
Auto insurance discounts that are less common nowadays are for homeowners and “green” car owners, says Davis.
As with other discounts, some become less popular with time, so it’s best to ask sooner rather than later.
Credit and Police
Credit scores are mysterious because credit bureaus like to keep their calculation methods secret. But auto insurance companies are not secretive about using credit scores in determining rates.
Esurance offers a fair amount of detail as to why it uses credit scores. Like the old homeownership assumption, those with high credit scores are statistically less likely to have auto accidents.
Although the year and model of a car factor into insurance rates, the colour of the vehicle does not, according to Progressive.
Also red cars do not get pulled over by police more than other cars, according to Snopes.
Little details that could result in being pulled over are cracks in the windshield, expired tags and dim lights, says Cherise LaPine of How Stuff Works.
Getting pulled over can lead to a moving violation, which can mean higher insurance rates and cancelled discounts at the next renewal.
Theory and Practicality
It is commonly recommended that drivers shop for low rates before every renewal. Once a year sounds great, as Alice Holbrook of NerdWallet reports.
Unfortunately, most people renew their auto insurance every six months. So an auto insurance quotes comparison website definitely can make adhering to expert advice more realistic.
With practice comes efficiency. Drivers can build on their previous research and save money with less legwork.