Getting married, moving, having a baby or upgrading your 20-year-old sedan to a brand new SUV can all mean changes to your car insurance policy. Many different factors will affect your coverage needs throughout your life and experts suggest shopping for a new policy every two to three years, according to Bankrate.com.
Although it sounds like a daunting task, switching car insurance companies isn’t as difficult as you may think. Here’s what you need to do before making the change:
Figure out what kind of coverage you’ll need
There are all sorts of different options and add-ons when it comes to purchasing an insurance policy, so do some research and figure out what your needs are before you begin comparing companies. Factors to consider include your state’s requirements, your age and driving record, the age, make and model of your car, and how much you can afford to pay out of pocket if you’re involved in an accident.
For example, you may choose to forgo comprehensive and collision coverage if you have an older car, but these coverages may be required if you’re financing a new vehicle.
As a rule of thumb, you should purchase as much coverage as you can comfortably afford.
Compare rates to find the best deal
According to Bankrate.com, you should compare at least three rate quotes. It’s also important to compare the different coverages offered under each policy side by side, because the cheapest policy may not offer the best protection. And don’t forget to inquire about discounts that might apply to you.
Research the company’s reputation
You’ll want to find out whether the insurers you’re considering are dependable and whether their customers are satisfied with the services they provide. According to Bankrate.com, most state insurance offices monitor customers’ complaint ratios against carriers. You can also use sites such as A.M. Best and the Better Business Bureau to check out companies’ reputations.
Esurance.com even recommends asking friends and family about their experiences with different companies.
Give yourself enough time to make the change
Don’t wait until your current policy expires to switch insurers. If you do, you’ll be left with a gap in coverage, leaving yourself open to unnecessary risk. Some states even require signing on with a new insurance company before leaving your old one.
Cancel your old policy
Be sure to contact your insurer to find out how to properly cancel your current coverage before moving on. Often times, your new insurer will help you do this. You should also be aware that ditching your old policy early might subject you to cancelation fees. To avoid this, make the switch once your term ends. You should also ask for some type of cancellation confirmation.
Print your new ID cards
Once you officially make the switch, print your new policy ID cards and keep one in your vehicle at all times. You insurance company will also report the change to the Department of Motor Vehicles.