Here are some tips from Michelle V. Rafter, Edmunds.com Contributor on how to find affordable car insurance.
How To Get Affordable Car Insurance
If you lose your job, take a pay cut or encounter another kind of financial hardship, affordable auto insurance quickly turns from nice to necessity. While it's easy enough to find companies offering cut-rate car insurance, is that the best way to go?
Not really, according to consumer watchdogs and insurance experts. To find the lowest possible rates from an insurer that'll be there when you need it, learn what type of coverage you must carry, research the reputations of insurance companies and take advantage of every possible discount for which you're eligible, experts say. They also recommend checking out pay-as-you-drive policies that peg premiums to how many miles you put on your car each year. Finally, if you're eligible, look into low-cost auto insurance programs that such states as California, Hawaii and New Jersey offer to people with very low incomes.
When it comes to buying affordable car insurance, you're your own best advocate. At the same time, it's not always easy to take on that role, says J. Robert Hunter, a former Texas insurance commissioner and insurance director at the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America in Washington. Don't settle for the first insurance company or agent you find, Hunter says. Shop around. "That's how big buyers of insurance do it," he says. "They put it out for competitive bids. That's what you should do, too."
Here's a step-by-step guide to finding the lowest rates without getting ripped off:
1. Start with the car. What you pay for comprehensive and collision coverage depends on the year, make and model of the car you drive. Generally speaking, the newer, more expensive the vehicle, the higher the premium. Rates for comprehensive and collision coverage don't vary much, so if you can't afford to pay a lot for insurance and you're in the market for a car, buy one that's inexpensive.