If you’re like millions of American consumers, you tend to stick with the same car insurance company you’ve been with for years. That is not a bad thing, but there may come a time when you’d like to switch to another auto insurer, but are afraid to do so. The reasons you have for wanting to make a change may be quite valid, but you’re just too scared to take the next step.
Don’t be. Consider the following:
- You are the customer. – It’s your hard-earned money you’re talking about here. You’re not doing the car insurance company a favor– at least, you shouldn’t be—by rewarding your current insurer with your ongoing business if you’re less than completely satisfied with the service you’ve been getting, the rates, your coverage, or even the fact that the agent you’ve dealt with for years is leaving and you’ve been assigned to someone you don’t even know. Since you are the customer, you want and deserve to be satisfied with the service, rates, coverage and agent interaction. Don’t feel obligated to stick with your present insurer if you’ve begun to feel dissatisfied—for any reason.
- Shop around for a better deal. – Before you switch to another car insurance company, you have to first know what’s out there that may be a better deal for you. Perhaps you’ve really worked to clean up your credit report and now have excellent credit, whereas when you got your car insurance you may have had poor credit, putting you into a rate category where you had to pay more to insure your car. Maybe your current insurer has increased your rates, seemingly without reason. If you can’t get a satisfactory answer from your agent or the insurance company representative, it may be time to look elsewhere. But keep in mind that just rate quotes do not necessarily constitute a better deal. You have to compare the coverage from one insurer to another to make sure the next company is offering the coverage you want for the best price. This will ease your mind and make you less afraid to switch insurers.
- Check out other services. – Maybe you want to switch to an online-only car insurance company or go directly to corporate instead of dealing with a local agent. It could be the other way around as well. You might now want to have an agent near where you live that you can go see face to face and develop an ongoing business relationship with. Some people prefer this. Also check to see whether the insurance company you’re considering has other services that are important to you included in the cost of your policy. These may include accident forgiveness, roadside assistance, rental reimbursement, trip interruption, convenient bill-pay and other options online. Frankly, some of the biggest car insurance companies in the U.S. maintain their top-ranked customer satisfaction because of the comprehensive services they offer to their clients.
- Don’t make the switch until you have the new policy in hand. – Suppose something falls through and you don’t get the policy with your new company—but you’ve already canceled your old policy. This could put you at serious risk if you are involved in an at-fault accident and you are sued for damages and/or injury to other parties. Rule of thumb here is to keep your old policy intact until you’ve gotten the insurance certificate from your new company.
- Best time to switch is at renewal. – As for when it makes the most sense to make a switch, once you’ve decided this is what you want to do, is at renewal time. Of course, this means you’ll have to do all your research well before the renewal notice and payment due comes in the mail from your current insurer. Trying to get money back from your old car insurance after you’ve renewed it and then canceled it because you’ve switched insurance companies is often a real hassle. Some car insurance companies will charge you a penalty or may not refund what you’ve paid. It has happened, and it isn’t pleasant when it does.
- Don’t be afraid of the new insurer asking you questions. – A big reason why consumers worry about switching car insurers is that they don’t want to answer all the questions the new company is going to ask. This shouldn’t be a concern, because they have to ask about your driving record and insurance history, along with other things like your age, where you live, how many miles you drive annually, as well as the make, model and year of your car. If they didn’t, they couldn’t provide you with an accurate quote. It’s better to be honest and disclose information up-front rather than have it revealed later that you held something back.