What To Look For in the Cheapest Car Insurance
As you shop, you’ll figure out quickly that there’s a big difference between good cheap car insurance and cheap cheap insurance. If you buy the very cheapest car insurance you can find, you may find yourself the victim of dishonest policies and unjustly denied claims.
“An insurer can charge less in premiums but cost you more overall by lowballing loss estimates, hassling the repair shop to cut corners, and forcing you to pay extra for the manufacturer’s replacement parts if you choose them over cheaper knockoffs,” Consumer Reports explains.
However, low-cost policies from reputable companies can give you all the coverage you need. How can you separate the best cheap car insurance from the worst? We’ll tell you.
What the Best Cheap Car Insurance Includes
Remember that car insurance has an important purpose: It protects you, your passengers, your vehicle and other drivers. Even if your budget is limited, you’ll want to make sure your policy offers enough protection so that your life — and your finances — won’t be ruined by a car accident.
Here’s what to look for in good cheap car insurance policies.
- Coverage that meets your state minimum requirements. That’s a no-brainer. Just keep in mind that buying the minimum coverage may not fully protect you if you get into an accident. You should also get comprehensive and collision coverage, unless your old car’s just not worth it. We can help you figure out when it’s smart to drop collision coverage.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Some states require this; some don’t even offer it. But opt for this coverage if you can! Nearly one in eight drivers is uninsured, and if one hits you, this coverage can be a lifesaver.
- A deductible you can actually afford. Opting for the $1,000 deductible to get the cheapest car insurance seems like a smart idea — until smack! You back into a tree and have to pony up $1,000 to get your car repaired. Don’t be lured into a high-deductible auto insurance policy if you don’t have the cash to actually pay the deductible. If you’re having trouble deciding on a high or low deductible, weight the pros and cons of each.
- Accessible customer service. One way for companies to offer cheaper auto insurance is to encourage customers to conduct transactions online. That’s all well and good — until you need a customer support rep’s help and can’t get anyone on the phone. Read online reviews to get a sense of how responsive the company is.
- Acceptable customer satisfaction scores. The best source is the annual J.D. Power U.S. Auto Insurance Satisfaction Study, which ranks various insurers by region. While you may not expect stellar service from the cheapest auto insurance companies, make sure the one you choose isn’t at the bottom of the rankings.
- A solid financial rating. A company called A.M. Best rates insurance companies’ financial strength. You shouldn’t worry too much about how many millions your insurer has in the bank, but be wary of companies graded a C or below. That means they may not be able to meet their insurance obligations.
- An online presence that’s friendly and engaged. Check the company’s Facebook, Twitter and other social pages. It’s normal for irate customers to air complaints on social media — but does the company respond, or simply let them vent? And are the complaints balanced by praise from other customers?
What might good cheap car insurance not include?
If you pay less, you’ll get less. The cheapest car insurance policies may exclude:
- Personal injury protection (PIP). PIP coverage pays your medical expenses if you’re hurt in a crash — but if you have solid health insurance, you probably don’t need it (unless it’s required in your state).
- Perks like roadside assistance or free towing. You don’t really need your insurer to provide these services; you can get them from a company like AAA, or you may even get free roadside assistance through your credit card.
- Rental-car reimbursement. It’s nice to get a free rental while your car’s in the shop, but it’s not a must-have. Could you figure out a way to get to work and other obligations if you didn’t have a car for a few days? If yes, then skip rental-car reimbursement.
- Your choice of repair shop. Instead, they’ll make you choose a “preferred” shop. Parts will probably be aftermarket, meaning they weren’t made by your car’s original manufacturer.
- Full glass coverage. Without full glass coverage, you’ll have to pay a deductible to get cracked or broken windows repaired.
Where to find good cheap car insurance
Keep in mind that you might not find the best priced car insurance from the larger auto insurance companies. Wait, what?! By this we mean that insurers that advertise low-cost, stripped-down policies might actually give you a higher rate than conventional auto insurers. If you have decent credit and a clean driving record, you can get affordable quotes from several different companies. The only way to find out is to compare! Get free quotes in minutes from compare.com.