I ask a lot of questions. Whenever I visit the doctor, drop off an item at a repair shop, or discuss auto insurance with an agent, I come prepared with a list of questions to which I must obtain answers. And while I’m talking with said professional, I scribble down their answers in shorthand.
You should never switch your auto insurance policy without first asking questions. This means that you need to speak to an actual person rather than just obtaining impersonal quotes on the computer, but you’ll thank yourself later. Following are some of the questions that I ask when I’m shopping for car insurance.
1- What is the discount for paying in advance?
This is an important one because, in most cases, you can save money by paying for your auto insurance in advance rather than in installments. Find out exactly how much you’ll save and whether that savings will continue beyond the first policy period.
2- How do customers report claims?
Before you switch your auto insurance policy, always ask how claims are handled and processed. One company might be completely different from another, so don’t assume it will be the same when you switch. Find out if you need to call, if claims can be submitted online and how long it takes to receive a response.
3- When do loyalty discounts kick in?
Many auto insurance companies offer loyalty discounts. In other words, once you’ve been with them for a certain period of time (e.g., one year), you’ll receive a discount on your premium. Find out about their loyalty program and what you have to do to qualify.
4- What levels of insurance do you recommend I buy?
This question is sort of a test to give the agent when you switch your auto insurance policy. A scrupulous agent will give you an honest answer based on the make, model and year of your car, and other specifics about your driving habits. If they recommend the highest levels across the board, you’ll know you’re dealing with someone who just wants to line his or her pockets.
5- Can I manage my account online?
Believe it or not, this is something you need to ask before you switch auto insurance companies. Some still do not provide online access to your account, or if they do, the functionality is limited. If you like to manage your finances and bills online, this is something you should find out before you buy.
6- What discounts do I qualify for?
One auto insurance company might offer several discounts more than another, so make sure you ask this before switching. Learn which discount programs are available and, specifically, which you will qualify for. Make sure you get a quote in writing before you leave the office or get off the phone.
7- Will I save by switching other insurance policies to your company?
Find out if you can obtain bundle discounts when you switch auto insurance providers. For example, if you bring your homeowners, boat, motorcycle, life and other types of insurance to this company, will you save even more? Ask for literature describing this policy so you’ll have something to reference later.
Insurance agents are busy, and it will sometimes feel like they are trying to push you out of their office as fast as possible. Don’t let them. Bring your list of questions and resolve yourself to getting answers before you leave; if the agent isn’t willing to cover everything on your list, then he or she is probably not the agent for you.