How to Choose the Right Insurance CompanyBy David Thompson, UniversityHerald Reporter
Auto insurance is something that is legally required in most states in the U.S., and some people need a little bit of expert advice to help them shop for it. The specifics can be confusing if you're not familiar with the insurance industry.
It doesn't have to be that way, though. In fact, educating yourself on how to shop for auto insurance can teach you a lot about the industry at large and in turn, see you save a lot of money on your insurance. These skills can even be transferred to other insurance shopping experiences, such as homeowners and medical insurance.
We want to dig into the small insurance company vs. large discussion. Both options have their pros and cons, and we'll give a thorough analysis of both.
Picking the right agent can change your entire perception of how insurance works. A good agent makes shopping for insurance go from stressful to seamless. We'll cover this topic and many others to help you determine how to find the right insurance company for you and your family.
This is the biggest factor for most people. Getting the best price depends on finding a company and an agent that cares about finding discounts for your situation. For example, if you have a student on your policy, they may help you find discounts for good grades.
Other companies have put in specific programs that help give you discounts for good driving behavior by putting a smart device tracker in your vehicle. This can be downloaded on your phone or given to you by the insurance company. If you don't speed and follow the rules of the road this will reward you for these good behaviors.
Innovative policies like pay-per-mile insurance is also something more companies are starting to offer. This helps people save a lot of money on their insurance if they only drive periodically or for pleasure instead of for work commuting. Allstate and Metromile are two companies sepcializing in pay-per-mile policies, but the market is always expanding.
Shopping for insurance is not like going to the store to pick out apples. There are a lot of questions most people need to be answered, and the insurance agent is the person who does that for them. If you aren't comfortable with the agent an insurance company has put forward for you to speak to, move on to the next company.
Your agent is the person who tells you what discounts you can get. They inform you about the types of policies given to drivers depending on their age, gender, and model of car they drive.
Some insurance companies prioritize the agent-customer experience more than others. Think about those State Farm commercials claiming they are like a good neighbor, always there for their customers when they need them.
When you go through a niche insurance company, they may only have a few agents. This means they won't always have someone available for you to talk to at the drop of a hat. Larger companies have someone ready to talk to you every second of the day, but it doesn't mean they will have knowledge of your situation.
Sometimes, good service is worth waiting for. You just need to weigh whether the quality or quantity of customer service is more important to you when shopping for insurance. This relationship between customer and agent is the most vital part of getting a policy that works for you and your family.
Who else would be there for you when you have a question? Searching the internet for the answer is not the same as speaking to a real person.
Reputation and Access
You may not be able to find as much information on a small insurance company compared to a large one. It is important to be able to find as much information as possible on the insurance companies you're working with. Shopping for an insurance company is sometimes as much work as getting the right policy once you have chosen a company.
Make sure the insurer you are thinking of going through has a good reputation. Look at reviews online, see what the Better Business Bureau thinks of the company, and ask if any of your friends and family have worked with them. The number of people who have had personal experience with a certain company can help tell the story of how they operate.
You can find out more information this way about the potential prices you will pay and the types of vehicles that are covered by the company in question. There should be as much information as possible published about the company to verify you aren't going into business with a phony outfit.
This leads back to customer relations. If a big company like State Farm cares about its customers and has great agents to communicate their policies to the customers, that helps build a positive reputation. People know they can trust a large company with a long history of great customer service.
Because some insurance companies have so much funding to help advertise their business, sometimes they choose to get involved with the local community.
If the insurance company in your area helps contribute to food banks during the holidays, or they donate to childhood cancer treatments at the hospital, this is a good sign of their ethics and something not every insurance company may get involved in.
If they use green business practices, this is also a great indication of strong principles. We live in a society where people care more than ever about how the companies they associate with put money toward causes. Big companies might focus more on national issues, while smaller companies might hone in on their local communities. Both methods are effective in their own ways.
Variety of Vehicles Insured
The entire point of getting insurance is to protect your vehicle, right? Then you have to make sure the company you are looking at will take care of your car. This usually isn't a problem if you drive a common vehicle, but it could get more complicated if you have a unique car or truck.
Small companies are dedicated to finding any way they can to separate themselves from the competition. They should go the extra mile in this respect whereas larger companies sometimes have to focus on broader policies.
No matter what you decide to do for insurance, it is critical for you to consider all of these factors and more before making a final decision. Take your time and don't be afraid to switch up your insurer if you feel the relationship is getting stagnant.
(Photo : Shawn Laib)
Shawn Laib writes and researches for the car insurance company, CarInsuranceComparison.com. He wants to help people understand all of the factors that go into finding the right insurance for their vehicle.