Having to pay for overpriced car insurance can take a big chunk out of your personal savings and put the squeeze on your family’s finances. Comparison shopping is free and is an excellent way to help make ends meet. Online insurance companies like State Farm, Allstate, GEICO and Progressive promote their brand names with catchy ads and consumers find it hard to ignore the flying pigs and cute green geckos and effectively compare rates to find the best deal.
It is always a good idea to compare rates before your policy renews because prices are rarely the same from one policy term to another. Just because you had the lowest price two years ago you can probably find a lower rate today. Starting right now, forget anything you know (or think you know) about car insurance because you’re about to learn the things you must know in order to remove unneeded coverages and save money.
These discounts can lower your rates
Properly insuring your vehicles can get expensive, but companies offer discounts to help bring down the price. Some trigger automatically at the time of purchase, but a few need to be inquired about before you get the savings. If they aren’t giving you every credit you deserve, you are throwing money away.
- Good Student – This discount can earn a discount of 20% or more. Earning this discount can benefit you until age 25.
- Government Employees – Active or retired federal employment can save as much as 8% with a few car insurance companies.
- Drivers Education – Have your child take driver’s ed class if offered at their school.
- Homeowners Savings – Owning a home in Palm Bay can help you save on car insurance because maintaining a house shows financial diligence.
- Sign Early and Save – Some companies give discounts for signing up before your current expiration date. It can save you around 10%.
- Distant Student – Kids in college living away from home attending college and do not have a car can receive lower rates.
- Air Bag Discount – Factory air bags and/or automatic seat belt systems can receive discounts up to 30%.
- Seat Belts Save – Requiring all passengers to use their safety belts can save 10% or more off the personal injury premium cost.
Drivers should understand that many deductions do not apply the the whole policy. Some only reduce the price of certain insurance coverages like liability, collision or medical payments. So even though they make it sound like it’s possible to get free car insurance, companies don’t profit that way. Any amount of discount will help reduce your overall premium however.
You have some control over your rates
An important part of buying insurance is that you know some of the elements that play a part in calculating the price you pay for car insurance. Knowing what influences your rates enables informed choices that can help you get much lower annual insurance costs.
Shown below are some of the items car insurance companies consider when setting your rates.
- Liability coverage is peace of mind – Your policy’s liability coverage provides coverage if a court rules you are at fault for causing damage or personal injury in an accident. It provides legal defense coverage up to the limits shown on your policy. Carrying liability coverage is mandatory and cheap as compared to coverage for physical damage, so do not skimp.
- Lower rates with optional equipment – Choosing a vehicle with anti-theft technology or alarm system can help bring down rates. Anti-theft devices like tamper alarm systems, vehicle immobilizer technology and General Motors OnStar can thwart car theft.
- Better crash test results mean better rates – Vehicles with good safety scores are cheaper to insure. The safest vehicles reduce injuries and lower injury rates means lower claim amounts and more competitive rates for policyholders.
- Being married can save on car insurance – Having a wife or husband helps lower the price when buying car insurance. It means you’re more responsible and it’s statistically proven that married drivers get in fewer accidents.
- Allowing your policy to lapse raises rates – Allowing your car insurance policy to lapse is a quick way to trigger a rate increase. And not only will your rates increase, failure to provide proof of insurance will get you a license revocation or jail time.You may then be required to file a SR-22 with the Florida motor vehicle department to get your license reinstated.
- Your car insurance rates can be influenced by your job – Jobs such as lawyers, executives and accountants tend to pay higher rates than average due to job stress and lengthy work days. On the flip side, occupations such as actors, athletes and the unemployed have the lowest average rates.
- Bad driving skills means higher rates – A bad driving record has a huge affect on how much you pay. Drivers with clean records receive lower rates than people who have multiple driving citations. Even one citation may increase your cost by twenty percent. If you have severe violations like hit and run, DWI or reckless driving convictions may find they need to file a SR-22 with their state motor vehicle department in order to drive a vehicle legally.
- Bundling policies can get discounts – The majority of insurers will award you with lower prices to policyholders who consolidate policies with them such as combining an auto and homeowners policy. Discounts can amount to five, ten or even twenty percent. Even though this discount sounds good, it’s in your best interest to compare rates to ensure the best deal.
How do I know if I need professional advice?
When choosing coverage for your vehicles, there really is not a perfect coverage plan. Every situation is different and a cookie cutter policy won’t apply. These are some specific questions can help discover if your situation would benefit from an agent’s advice.
- Am I covered if I crash into my own garage door?
- Does my personal auto insurance policy cover using my vehicle for business use?
- Can my teen driver be rated on a liability-only vehicle?
- Does having multiple vehicles earn me a discount?
- Do I have coverage when pulling a U-Haul trailer?
- Do I really need UM/UIM coverage?
- What should my uninsured motorist coverage limits be in Florida?
If you can’t answer these questions but one or more may apply to you then you might want to talk to a licensed insurance agent. If you want to speak to an agent in your area, simply complete this short form or you can go here for a list of companies in your area. It’s fast, doesn’t cost anything and can provide invaluable advice.
What if I want to buy from a local Palm Bay agent?
Some people would rather buy from a local agent and that is just fine! Agents can help determine the best coverages and help in the event of a claim. One of the great benefits of price shopping on the web is the fact that you can find better rates but also keep your business local. Buying from small agencies is important especially in Palm Bay.
To help locate an agent, after submitting this form (opens in new window), your information is transmitted to companies in Palm Bay who will return price quotes to get your business. You never need to leave your house as quotes are delivered straight to your inbox. How cool is that?!
Two types of insurance agencies
When searching for an insurance agent, you need to know there are two different agency structures from which to choose. Agents are either captive or independent. Both types can properly insure your vehicles, but it’s worth learning how they are different since it can impact the selection process.
Independent Insurance Agents
Independent insurance agents are not required to write business for one company but rather can write business with lots of companies and possibly get better coverage at lower prices. To transfer your coverage to a different company, an independent agent can move your coverage and that require little work on your part.
When shopping rates, it’s a good idea to include multiple independent agents for maximum quote selection.
Below is a list of independent agents in Palm Bay that are able to give comparison quotes.
Harbor Insurance Agency Inc – 5270 Babcock St NE # 7 – Palm Bay, FL 32905 – (321) 952-0136
Harbor Insurance Agency Inc – 5270 Babcock St NE # 7 – Palm Bay, FL 32905 – (321) 952-0136
Wayne W Eden Insurance Inc – 3240 Dixie Hwy NE – Palm Bay, FL 32905 – (321) 723-4263
Captive Insurance Agents
This type of agents write business for a single company such as Farmers Insurance, American Family, State Farm and Allstate. They usually cannot shop your coverage around so they have to upsell other benefits. Captive agents receive extensive training in insurance sales which can be an advantage.
Below are captive agents in Palm Bay that can give you comparison quotes.
State Farm Insurance – 2197 Julian Ave NE – Palm Bay, FL 32905 – (321) 723-1444
Allstate Insurance – 1340 Palm Bay Rd NE # C – Palm Bay, FL 32905 – (321) 724-8851
To view a full list of captive insurance agents in Palm Bay, please click here.
Picking a car insurance agent requires more thought than just a low price. Here are some questions to ask:
- Do they regularly work with personal auto policies?
- Do you have coverage for a rental car if your vehicle is in the repair shop?
- Who are their largest clients?
- Which company do they place the most coverage with?
- Can they give you a list of client referrals?
- How long has their agency been in business in Palm Bay?
- Does the agency provide any after hours assistance?
- If you have an accident, will your rates go up?
Once you have positive feedback for all questions you ask and locked in a price quote, most likely you have located a car insurance agent that meets your needs to provide car insurance coverage.
Don’t listen to company ads
Consumers in Florida constantly see and hear ads for the lowest price auto insurance by companies like 21st Century, Allstate and State Farm. All the companies make an identical promise that you can save if you change to them.
But how can every company claim to save you money?
Different companies have a certain “appetite” for the type of customer that makes them money. A good example of a preferred risk could be between the ages of 30 and 50, a clean driving record, and drives less than 7,500 miles a year. A customer who meets those qualifications will qualify for the lowest rates and is almost guaranteed to save quite a bit of money when switching.
Consumers who don’t qualify for these standards will be charged higher rates which usually ends up with the driver buying from a lower-cost company. The ads state “customers who switch” not “people who quote” save that much. That is how insurance companies can make the claims of big savings.
That is why it’s extremely important to compare as many rates as you can. Because you never know which insurance companies will have the lowest rates.
More Florida car insurance information
Much more information about car insurance in Florida is available on the website for the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation found here. Visitors are able to get help finding coverage, read enforcement actions against agents and companies, file complaints about a company, and learn about specific coverages.
These articles may also be worth reading.
More effort can pay off
We covered many tips how you can save on car insurance. It’s most important to understand that the more providers you compare, the better your chances of lowering your rates. You may be surprised to find that the biggest savings come from a company that doesn’t do a lot of advertising. These companies can often provide lower rates in certain areas than the large multi-state companies such as Allstate or State Farm.
As you shop your coverage around, it’s very important that you do not buy less coverage just to save a little money. There have been many cases where someone sacrificed liability coverage limits only to discover later that it was a big error on their part. Your aim should be to get the best coverage possible at the best price, not the least amount of coverage.
Low-cost car insurance can be found on the web as well as from independent agents in Palm Bay, and you should compare price quotes from both to have the best selection. Some insurance companies don’t offer online price quotes and many times these small, regional companies only sell through independent insurance agents.