Scraping up a payment for overpriced car insurance can empty your checking account and make it impossible to make ends meet. Comparison shopping is a great way to lower your monthly bill. Numerous insurers battle to insure your vehicles, so it’s not easy to compare every insurer and get the best coverage at the cheapest price
It is always a good idea to get comparison quotes before your policy renews because insurance rates are adjusted regularly by insurance companies. Just because you had the best deal on your last policy you can probably find a lower rate today. There is a lot of wrong information about car insurance on the web, but by reading this article, you’re going to learn some great ideas on how to save money.
If you have a policy now or are just looking to switch companies, you can learn to cut your premiums and still get good coverage. Choosing the best insurance company for you in Charleston is not that difficult. South Carolina drivers only need an understanding of the most effective way to get comparison quotes online.
How to Compare Charleston Car Insurance Rates
Finding a better price on car insurance doesn’t have to be difficult. You just have to take the time to compare rate quotes provided by online insurance companies. It is quite easy and can be accomplished in a couple of different ways.
- The first (and easiest) way to get quotes for comparison would be an industry-wide quote request form (click to open form in new window). This form saves time by eliminating multiple quote forms for every car insurance company. Taking the time to complete one form will get you rate comparisons .
- A more time consuming way to analyze rates is to manually visit the website of each company to complete a price quote. For instance, let’s say you want to compare Liberty Mutual, Esurance and State Farm. To find out each rate you need to spend time on each company’s site and enter your information, which is why the first method is more popular. For a list of links to companies insuring cars in Charleston, click here.
- The hardest method to compare rates is driving around to insurance agents’ offices. The internet can eliminate the need for a local agent unless you prefer the professional guidance that only a license agent can provide. You can, however, price shop your coverage online and get advice from an agent in your area. We’ll cover that shortly.
It doesn’t matter which method you choose, just make darn sure you compare exactly the same coverages and limits for each comparison quote. If your comparisons have higher or lower deductibles it will be impossible to decipher which rate is best in Charleston.
Are you getting all your discounts?
Insuring your fleet can be pricey, but discounts can save money and there are some available that can drop the cost substantially. Some discounts apply automatically at quote time, but lesser-known reductions have to be asked for before you get the savings. If they aren’t giving you every credit available, you’re paying more than you need to.
- Club Memberships – Affiliation with a qualifying organization could qualify you for a break on your policy.
- Lower Rates for Military – Being on active duty in the military can result in better rates.
- Multi-policy Discount – When you have multiple policies with the same insurance company you will save at least 10% off all policies.
- Seat Belt Usage – Drivers who require all occupants to wear their seat belts can save 10% or more off your PIP or medical payments premium.
- Life Insurance Discount – Select insurance companies reward you with lower rates if you buy life insurance from them.
- No Claims – Drivers with accident-free driving histories pay much less when compared to bad drivers.
- Passive Restraint Discount – Vehicles equipped with air bags or motorized seat belts may earn rate discounts of more than 20%.
- Defensive Driving Course – Successfully completing a driver safety course could cut 5% off your bill and easily recoup the cost of the course.
- Safe Driver Discount – Safe drivers may receive a discount up to 45% less than drivers with accidents.
- Federal Government Employee – Being employed by or retired from a federal job can earn a discount up to 10% with select insurance companies.
Consumers should know that some of the credits will not apply the the whole policy. Some only reduce individual premiums such as medical payments or collision. Just because you may think having all the discounts means you get insurance for free, car insurance companies aren’t that generous. Any amount of discount will help reduce your premiums.
To see a list of providers with the best car insurance discounts in South Carolina, click here to view.
Why you might pay higher rates in Charleston
Smart consumers have a good feel for the factors that play a part in calculating the rates you pay for car insurance. Having a good understanding of what impacts premium levels allows you to make educated decisions that can help you get lower car insurance prices.
Shown below are a few of the “ingredients” companies use to determine your rates.
- Teen drivers pay high rates – Older drivers tend to be more responsible, statistically cause fewer accidents and are safer drivers. Young drivers are statistically proven to be less responsible behind the wheel and because of this, their car insurance rates are much higher.
- Cautious drivers pay less – Your driving citation history has a big impact on rates. Just one citation can bump up the cost by twenty percent. Drivers who don’t get tickets have lower premiums than people who have multiple driving citations. Drivers who have severe citations like DUI or reckless driving may need to submit a SR-22 or proof of financial responsibility with their state DMV in order to drive a vehicle legally.
- Don’t cancel a policy without a new one in place – Having an insurance coverage lapse is a guaranteed way to trigger a rate increase. Not only will rates go up, but being ticketed for driving with no insurance will get you a hefty fine and possibly a revoked license.
- Men fork out a little more – Statistics show that men are more aggressive behind the wheel. Now that doesn’t mean men are worse drivers. They both have accidents at about the same rate, but the men tend to have more serious accidents. Men also statistically get cited for more serious violations like DUI and reckless driving.
- Proper usage rating affects rates – The more you drive in a year the higher your rates will be. Almost all companies rate vehicles based on how the vehicle is used. Cars not used for work or commuting receive lower rates compared to those used for work or business. Ask your agent if your car insurance policy is showing the correct driver usage, because improper ratings can cost you money.
- Performance level impacts rates – The performance level of the vehicle you drive makes a huge difference in how high your rates are. Economy passenger models receive the most favorable rates, but other factors influence the final cost greatly.
- An active claims history can cost you – Companies in South Carolina give cheaper rates to insureds who do not rely on their insurance for small claims. If you frequently file small claims, you can look forward to either higher rates or even cancellation. Insurance coverage is designed for the large, substantial claims.
- Your car insurance rates can be influenced by your job – Careers like lawyers, business owners and stock brokers tend to pay the highest rates in part from stressful work requirements and lots of time spent at work. On the other hand, occupations like actors, students and retirees have the lowest average rates.
Are insurance agents obsolete?
A small number of people just want to get advice from a local agent and that is a personal choice. Insurance agents can help determine the best coverages and give you someone to call. The best thing about comparing rates online is that you can obtain the best rates and still choose a local agent. Supporting local businesses is definitely important in Charleston.
Upon completion of this simple form, your insurance coverage information gets sent to participating agents in Charleston who will battle for your insurance coverage. You never need to visit any agencies as quotes are delivered immediately to your email address. It doesn’t get any easier!
Captive or Independent: There is a difference
If you’re trying to find a reliable agent, you need to know there are two different agency structures from which to choose. Charleston agents are classified as either captive or independent (non-captive). Both types can insure your vehicles, but it’s important to know how they differ since it may influence your agent selection.
Independent Agencies or Brokers
Independent agents are not locked into one company but rather can write business with lots of companies and possibly get better coverage at lower prices. If you are not satisfied with one company, the agent simply finds a different carrier without you having to go to a different agency.
When searching for an agent, it’s recommended you include at least one independent agent for maximum quote selection.
Shown below are Charleston independent agents that may be able to provide competitive price quotes.
Taylor Agency Of Charleston – 147 Wappoo Creek Dr # 502 – Charleston, SC 29412 – (843) 762-1805
Ron Drolet Insurance Inc – 1529 Sam Rittenberg Blvd – Charleston, SC 29407 – (843) 571-6155
General Agency – 1527 Sam Rittenberg Blvd – Charleston, SC 29407 – (843) 766-9091
Direct General Ins Agency – 2080 Northbrook Blvd – Charleston, SC 29406 – (843) 553-9963
Bruce Weitz Insurance – 749 Saint Andrews Blvd – Charleston, SC 29407 – (843) 766-2956
Captive agencies have only one company to place business with such as Liberty Mutual, Allstate, Farmers Insurance or State Farm. Captives cannot give you multiple price quotes so they have to upsell other benefits. Captive agencies are very knowledgeable on their products and sales techniques and that can be a competitive advantage.
Listed below are captive insurance agencies in Charleston that can give you rate quotes.
Allstate Insurance – 2810 Ashley Phosphate Rd # A6 – Charleston, SC 29418 – (843) 569-0680
State Farm Insurance – 2000 Harrell Square Ctr # A – Charleston, SC 29407 – (843) 766-5533
Farm Bureau Insurance – 60 Markfield Dr # 6a – Charleston, SC 29407 – (843) 766-3794
To view a complete directory of captive agents in Charleston, view this link.
Choosing an auto insurance agent shouldn’t rely on just the price. Any agent should have no problem answering these questions:
- How much will you save each year by using a higher deductible?
- Does the agency support the community they serve?
- Can they provide you with a list of referrals?
- Do they review policy coverages at every renewal?
- Do they specialize in personal lines coverage?
- What is the agency’s Better Business Bureau rating?
After getting reasonable responses and locked in a price quote, you may have just found an insurance agency that will service your policy.
Will just any policy work for me?
When buying coverage, there really is no single plan that fits everyone. Everyone’s situation is a little different so this has to be addressed. For instance, these questions might point out if you will benefit from professional help.
- What can I do if my company won’t pay a claim?
- Does my insurance cover a custom paint job?
- Do I have coverage when using my vehicle for my home business?
- If my vehicle is totaled, can I afford another vehicle?
- Why does it cost so much to insure a teen driver in Charleston?
- What happens if I owe more than my vehicle is worth?
- Why am I required to buy high-risk coverage?
- Am I covered when driving someone else’s vehicle?
- Does medical payments coverage apply to all occupants?
- Can I afford to pay high deductible claims out of pocket?
If you’re not sure about those questions but a few of them apply, you might consider talking to an agent. If you want to speak to an agent in your area, take a second and complete this form or click here for a list of car insurance companies in your area. It’s fast, free and can provide invaluable advice.
Additional information can be read on the website for the South Carolina Department of Insurance located here. South Carolina drivers can read consumer alerts, view agent and company licensing information, read state legal mandates and laws, and view a list of available companies.
Can you really save $396 a year?
South Carolina consumers get pounded daily by advertisements that promise big savings from companies such as State Farm, GEICO and Progressive. All the companies make an identical promise of big savings if you change your policy.
How does each company make almost identical claims? It’s all in the numbers.
Insurance companies are able to cherry pick for the type of customer that earns them a profit. A good example of a driver they prefer might be profiled as over the age of 40, has no tickets, and has excellent credit. A driver who matches those parameters is entitled to the best price and as a result will probably cut their rates substantially.
Potential insureds who don’t measure up to the requirements will be charged higher premiums and this can result in the customer not buying. The ads state “customers that switch” not “people who quote” save money. That’s why companies can truthfully make those claims.
That is why drivers should get as many comparisons as possible. It’s just too difficult to predict which company will give you the biggest savings.
Summing up your car insurance search
Discount car insurance is possible online and with local Charleston insurance agents, and you need to price shop both in order to have the best price selection to choose from. There are still a few companies who do not offer you the ability to get quotes online and these small insurance companies work with independent agents.
Throughout this article, we presented many ways to save on car insurance. It’s most important to understand that the more rate quotes you have, the better chance you’ll have of finding lower rates. You may be surprised to find that the best prices are with an unexpected company. Smaller companies may have significantly lower rates on certain market segments compared to the large companies like Progressive and GEICO.