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Auto Insurance Quote Basics

9 Tips on How to Lower Car Insurance Premiums
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Did you know the average Massachusetts driver will pay almost $1,100 a year in car insurance premiums? If you’re on the hunt for car insurance, this doesn’t mean you’ll have to pay this price. You can request a car insurance quote to know how much you’ll pay.

What are quotes for car insurance? You’ll have an idea of how much you’ll pay and what your policy includes. Getting a car insurance quote is easy. Most insurance companies allow customers to request a quote online or through an insurance agent, offering a safe and no-strings-attached shopping experience.

But should you only choose the cheapest car insurance premium? Many factors go into an auto insurance quote. Here’s what everyone should consider.

What a Typical Car Insurance Quote Includes

While all insurance companies are different, a quote usually consists of basic coverage.

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This usually includes policies such as property damage liability and bodily injuries. If you talk to an insurance agent, they will get a better idea of your needs, your vehicle, and personal information that can affect your car insurance quote.

As well as the premium (the monthly or yearly price you pay), you’ll also see the deductible (the threshold you need to meet before the insurance company pays) as well as the cash value.

Cash value signifies the amount the insurance company will pay you for car damages. There are two types of cash value: actual cash value (ACV) and replacement cost value (RCV). The ACV is the cost of the car’s value at the time of the incident, and RCV is the cost of your car’s same make and model that will serve as a replacement.

Things You Should Consider When Getting an Auto Insurance Quote

While most insurance agents offer car insurance quotes, not all of them explain what information determines your quote. It’s up to you to consider these individual factors when getting a car insurance quote.

Your Driving Record

Your driving record is one of the biggest factors that determine your car insurance quote. Insurance companies use this information to measure your risk. The riskiest drivers usually have the highest insurance premiums.

What is a risky driver? A negative driving record is the likeliest cause. Your insurance premiums might be higher than average if you have had numerous car accidents, DUIs, and other driving violations.

But you don’t have to have a negative driving record to be considered a risky driver. Insurance companies often think teen drivers to be risky. That’s because they’re inexperienced drivers and are more likely to be involved in a car accident.

Different states require car insurance companies to look at and not look at certain factors. For example, Massachusetts state law says insurance companies can’t determine insurance premium rates by age. They can, however, determine rates by driving experience.

Remember that every driver is different, and your insurance agent will look into specific factors to determine your unique quote.

For example, if you got into a few accidents, an insurance company will weigh out the at-fault accidents compared to the ones that weren’t your fault. You’re also found at-fault if the accident was at least 50% your fault or resulted in more than $500 in damages.

In addition, car insurance companies may only look back on your driving record for a limited number of years.

This depends on the severity of the violation. Minor violations, such as a speeding tickets, may only affect your premium after a couple of years, while serious car accidents may affect your premium after 10 years.

Uninsured or Underinsured Coverage

Did you know 6% of Massachusetts drivers have no car insurance? This can be problematic if you get into a car accident with an uninsured driver. Even though the odds are slim, you’ll have no way to pay for the damage to your car and medical bills if the other driver is uninsured.

This is why uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is integral when buying car insurance. Your insurance policy will cover your medical bills, vehicle damages, and any lost wages due to your injuries.

Not sure if your car insurance quote includes uninsured or underinsured coverage? Contact an insurance agent and ask.

Vehicle-Related Medical Expenses

What are accident-related injuries covered under your car insurance plan? This is a question that not many customers ask themselves. It’s important you know what’s covered in your insurance plan in case an accident arises.

For example, bodily injury liability coverage covers you and your passengers in an auto accident, regardless of who was at fault.

Roadside Assistance

Roadside assistance is an added-on coverage that helps you with emergency vehicle malfunctions. While you can get roadside assistance from a third-party company, most insurance companies offer their own program.

Roadside assistance can help you with the following:

  • Battery services and jumpstarters
  • Towing
  • Fuel delivery
  • Tire changes
  • On-site repairs
  • Lockout services

All you have to do is contact your insurance carrier’s roadside assistance program, and someone will drive to your location to assist you.

Roadside assistance is entirely optional, though it’s highly recommended. While most insurance companies charge a small fee for roadside assistance, this coverage option may not be in your quote.

In addition, insurance companies charge for roadside assistance differently. They may charge annually, semiannually, or even monthly. If you’re interested in roadside assistance, ask your insurance agent about the program cost and if it was included in your quote.

Rental Car Reimbursement Coverage

If you get in a car accident, you’ll still have to get around somehow. Most people rent a car while their car is being repaired. With the right insurance coverage, you don’t have to pay for this out of pocket.

Most rental car reimbursement coverage is a cheap add-on and can also cover other transportation fees, such as taxis and ridesharing. This is entirely optional, though and may come in handy.

What if the accident isn’t your fault? While the other driver’s insurance may cover your transportation cost, they may not cover 100% of the costs. That’s why rental car reimbursement coverage is worth it.

Keep in mind this coverage only pays transportation costs after an accident — not for routine maintenance work or for a vacation.

This type of coverage may not be included in your quote. If this coverage interests you, ask the insurance agent about their rental car reimbursement rates.

Gap Insurance

Gap insurance is a policy that may be required if you have a car loan or if you lease your car. If the car gets stolen or totaled while you still owe significant funds, the car insurance company will pay the rest of the cost of the car.

While gap insurance isn’t required in Massachusetts (though the car dealer may require or request it), it’s a beneficial add-on policy. That’s because you’ll have to pay the rest of the balance yourself in the event of a car accident.

Gap insurance is also beneficial if you fit one of these situations:

  • Your vehicle has or will decrease in value quickly
  • You rolled negative equity from your last car loan to your current loan
  • Your car loan lasts five years or longer
  • You made a small down payment on your car (less than 20%)

Keep in mind you’ll want to cancel your gap insurance when you paid more than half of your car loan or if you sell your car.

Since this coverage may not be included in your quote, you can always inquire about the costs. In case your insurance company doesn’t offer gap insurance, ask the car dealer, a bank, or a credit union if they offer a policy.

Other Areas of Coverage

The amount of coverage you’ll get can affect your car insurance quote. The different types of coverage may or may not include:

  • Collision
  • Liability
  • Personal injury protection (PIP)
  • Comprehensive
  • Auto Medical Payments
  • Mechanical Breakdown Insurance

Many people also choose a personal umbrella policy (PUP). Commonly called a bundle, this policy includes other insurance products such as home and life insurance as well as auto insurance. This option is also beneficial if you have different vehicles, such as a motorcycle or a boat.

When you receive a quote, you should understand what coverage that quote includes and if that coverage will be enough for you. You’ll also want to consider your budget and shop around for the best deals (or if an insurance company can offer savings on your premium).

Other Factors That May Influence Your Premium

There are individual factors that make your auto insurance quote unique. We covered your personal driving record, but there are other personal factors that you should know. These include your location and vehicle information.

Fortunately, Massachusetts has some of the lowest car insurance premiums in the country. Even in a major city like Boston, you’ll still be paying lower insurance than most drivers in the U.S. Massachusetts does require some policies and coverage limits, which include:

  • Liability
  • Personal injury protection
  • Uninsured motorist

Your vehicle can also influence your quote. This includes your car’s make, model, mileage, and age. Certain cars carry a higher risk because they have high replacement costs and higher theft risks.

What Information Do You Need to Provide for a Free Quote?

While all insurance companies may require different information, you’ll at least need to provide this information:

  • Basic information (name, address, birthday, occupation)
  • Who all is on the policy (as well as their driver’s licenses)
  • Current auto insurance company (if you have one)
  • How often do you drive, and for what purpose
  • Current car mileage
  • Driving history for the past five years (be honest about any violations and accidents)
  • Vehicle information, which includes if you lease or are financing the car and any safety features the car possesses
  • How much coverage do you need

It’s recommended you gather this information in advance and have it on hand when you apply for quotes.

How to Compare Car Insurance Quotes

Now that you know how to get an insurance quote, it’s best to compare your quotes to know if you’re getting the best coverage while saving money. Here are some tips to follow.

Car Insurance Coverage and Deductible Amounts

While one car insurance company may offer a cheaper premium, their deductible may be significantly high. You’ll want to compare premium prices to deductible amounts and see which car insurance option is worth it.

It’s also beneficial to discover what policies are included in the quote. One car insurance company might have a higher quote because they offer more coverage than a competitor. It’s best to know what coverage you need — it may be more than the minimum state coverage.

Ideally, it would be best if you compared policies that offer the same deductible and coverage in their quote. If that’s not possible, keep your needs and your budget in mind.

Company Reputation

Before signing any contractors, research an insurance company’s reviews. You’ll only want to support a company with the best reputation. The policy should be high-quality, and the agency should have complete transparency and be reliable, especially if you need to file an insurance claim.

Does the Insurer Offer Discounts?

There are many ways an insurance company can offer discounts on your premium. Safe drivers, good students, and low mileage discounts are all common examples. Discover what discounts an insurance company offers and if you qualify for any of them.

Does It Meet Your State’s Minimum Coverage?

As stated previously, every state has minimum coverage requirements. While most insurance companies meet these requirements, you may be unsure if a national insurance company can truly meet these requirements.

That’s why it may be best to trust a local car insurance agency. They know state insurance requirements, so you have the peace of mind of knowing you have the best coverage.

Top 5 Questions to Ask When Seeking Auto Insurance Quotes

How can I compare auto insurance costs without a large time investment?

Visit an independent insurance agency like LoPriore for one-stop shopping that allows you to get multiple quotes in one place. Independent insurance agencies work with a variety of insurance companies to offer customers a portfolio of choices. This approach can help you find the insurance coverage that best fits your budget and lifestyle.

Should I have more than the minimum coverage required by the state?

The amount of coverage you get will likely depend on your needs, lifestyle, and the car you drive. If you’re making payments on your vehicle, your lender will likely require you to have collision and comprehensive coverage along with the state minimum. Even if your car is paid off, you could benefit from these policies if your vehicle retains a high level of value. A good rule of thumb is if your annual premiums cost more than the value of your vehicle, you likely have more coverage than you need.

What factors affect the cost of auto insurance premiums?

Several factors go into determining your monthly premiums. These include the amount of coverage you choose, the type of car you drive, your driving record, how long you’ve been driving, your deductible amount, and the company that provides your insurance coverage.

How can I lower my auto insurance premiums?

While there are some things you can’t change (like your driving history), there are many ways you can save money on car insurance. Begin by comparing quotes from various companies. Talk to your independent insurance agent to learn if you’re eligible for discounts. Take a defensive driving course to improve your driving habits and avoid infractions that can elevate your premiums. Get your auto, home, and other insurance policies in one place to apply for a multi-policy discount.

Can I get car insurance if I don’t own a car?

Yes. If you don’t own a car and lease a car, you can get an auto policy as leaseholder to make sure you’re protected in an accident. The policy may also include coverages like uninsured motorist coverage.

Get an Auto Insurance Quote Today

The first step of signing up for a new car insurance policy is getting a quote. But a lot of information goes into determining an auto insurance quote. It’s essential that drivers know what’s included in their quote in order to find the best insurance policy.

You can also seek help from an insurance agent who works with your needs. We’re a Massachusetts-based independent insurance company that can help you compare quotes from different insurance companies.

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