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Auto Insurance: what you need to know

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Auto insurance varies widely from state to state and even from company to company. Companies compete aggressively to get your business, especially if you have an accident and citation free record. Here are some tips to help you get the best possible bargain without sacrificing coverage.

State requirements: Some states have minimum coverage limits for things like uninsured motorist, personal injury, and so forth. Check out your state.

Make comparisons: Autoinsurance companies have widely varying rates. These rates can change from one year to the next, so don't be afraid to switch if you have a clean driving record. When you compare rates, be sure you are making your comparison based on the same coverage amounts.

Be alert for discounts: When comparing the top 10 or 15 companies, ask about discounted premiums. The following items are some of the possibilities for an inexpensive, discounted premium.

  • Certain occupations, such as teaching, nursing, and others
  • The presence of anti-theft devices and safety devices such as anti-lock brakes and air bags
  • Students with above average grades
  • Insuring more than one vehicle with the same company.
  • Having your home owners and life insurance with the same company that insures your vehicles
  • Having a certificate for a driver’s training course.
  • Being accident and citation free for three or more years

Deductibles: The deductible is the amount you pay if you should have an accident. The larger your deductible, the smaller your premium will be. The average deductible is 500, but you can lower your premium even more if you can afford a $1000 deductible.

Collision: Collision coverage is the most expensive part of your insurance. If your car is ten or more years old, or is valued at less than $2000, collision is hardly worth paying for. A relatively minor accident could result in an adjuster declaring the car a "total loss," and then you will only get the value of the car, not the amount needed to repair the damage. Of course, if you have a loan on the car, most banks will require you to carry collision.

Liability: Liability coverage is the portion of your insurance that is required by law. It pays for the damage to another vehicle if you are responsible for the accident. Most states have required coverage limits, so you may not have much choice in coverage amount.
Check out the insurance before buying the car: People often purchase the car of their dreams only to find out that they have chosen a model that is costly to insure. Companies want the VIN number of a car to give you a quote, but if you give them the model and year, they should be able to give you a general idea regarding the premium.

Check out the company ratings: You can find the rating of a given company through A.M. Best or Standard and Poors. You can also check with your Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints have been filed against the company. Finally, talk to your friends. A company that has given them years of satisfaction will be more likely to do the same for you, especially if you tell the agent that one of their own clients recommended them.

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