When you’re considering auto insurance, here are the top 5 questions to ask your car insurance agent.
1. Am I getting all the available discounts my car insurer provides?
You probably are aware that car insurance providers offer a number of different discounts for qualified customers. The tricky part is to know which discounts are available and can you qualify for them. There is, of course, the good driver (also known as safe driver) discount for individuals with no points or accidents within the last 3-5 years. But there are quite a few others as well, and it pays to ask about them.
These include discounts if your car has certain safety features such as an anti-theft device or electronic vehicle locator, if you park your car in a garage, if you travel less than 10,000 miles in a year, or if you belong to certain professional organizations. There’s also a good student discount which can save drivers up to 20 percent. It generally applies to young people in late teens to age 25. If you insure your home with the same company, you can get a discount with bundled home and auto insurance. There are discounts for eco-friendly hybrids available from some car insurers as well.
Since you can’t be expected to know all the discounts available, be sure to ask your car insurance agent what is available that you can take advantage of.
2. Does my policy have comprehensive and collision coverage – and do I need it?
These are separate coverages. Collision pays for the damage to your car in the event of an accident, regardless of who caused it. Comprehensive covers other types of damage including that from hail, flood, theft, vandalism, or tree damage. Both types generally require you to pay a deductible first.
Is it worth the premiums for each? If you own a newer car, having such coverage is probably worth it. Once your car depreciates in value, however, you may wish to cancel collision and comprehensive and self-insure. If, on the other hand, your car is worth $50,000 or more, it’s probably a good idea to carry collision and comprehensive coverage.
3. What about underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage – do I have it?
Each state mandates a minimum amount of insurance coverage, so check with your state to see where you stand. Not every state requires uninsured motorist coverage. Ask your agent if you have to have it, but even if you aren’t required to purchase it, this may be coverage that is worth spending money for. Remember that if you have collision coverage, your insurance pays for damage to your car if someone who doesn’t have insurance, or is underinsured, crashes into you. If you don’t have collision, consider purchasing uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
4. How much does my insurance company pay if my car is totaled?
One of the top 5 questions to ask your car insurance agent is how much your insurance company will pay if your car is totaled. This is something you need to know before such a disaster occurs, not after. Some insurance companies pay actual cash value while others pay an agreed-upon value in the event of a total loss. Actual cash value is the depreciated value of your car at the time of the loss. Most car insurance companies use the NADA Guide to look up this figure. Agreed-upon value is the total loss value of your car (which is agreed upon annually at time of policy renewal), and it doesn’t drop during the term of your policy.
5. If I need parts to repair my car, does my insurance pay for original equipment manufacturer parts?
Some insurance companies will pay for original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts, while others only pay for aftermarket parts. As the name implies, OEM parts are those manufactured by the car companies. Aftermarket parts are typically less expensive and are commonly made by foreign manufacturers. If having genuine OEM parts is important to you – particularly in the case of performance or luxury cars – ask your car insurance agent for a policy that includes them in the coverage.
For more tips on car insurance, visit our section on car insurance where you can get additional tips and insurance quotes.