Advertising
Advertising

Things to Remember When Shopping for Car Insurance

Things to Remember When Shopping for Car Insurance

Like your real neighbor, State Farm is there to make money. All those shiny geckos, cavemen, jokes, and jingles are in your head because Warren Buffet’s Geico pays a LOT of their hard-earned money to put them there. When you buy a car, the law requires certain levels of insurance, and, depending on who, how, when, what, and where you are, you will pay different amounts for this insurance. It’s all so confusing and annoying–can’t we just pay someone to figure that out for us?

You actually do, and that’s all rolled into the price of your insurance (along with marketing money, operations, etc). A lot goes into determining your insurance premium, and, lucky for you, I spent the majority of my 20s working in at insurance tracking company, and I’m happy to teach you all the ins and outs they don’t want you to know behind the curtains of Oz. Here are a few things to remember when shopping for car insurance.

Advertising

We all live in a yellow submarine. A yellow submarine? A yellow submarine...

    We all live in a yellow submarine. A yellow submarine? A yellow submarine…

    If You Have a Loan, You Need Insurance

    Anytime you take out a collateral loan (house, car, RV, boat, motorcycle, etc), you have to buy insurance on it. It’s called Collateral Protection Insurance, and it’s not much different than a store or phone warranty. If you don’t voluntarily purchase insurance, you’ll be saddled with the bank’s inflated Force-Placed Insurance. Assurant (a company also owned by Warren Buffet) ironically has subsidiaries that underwrite both Force-Placed Insurance and cell phone insurance (which is why you’ve never heard of them, despite probably paying money to them).

    Liability insurance is usually standard (meaning the accident’s your fault) for any vehicle. If you don’t own the vehicle, the banks will require certain levels of collateral and collision insurance. Some states are beginning to pull this market-share from the banks, so who’s forcing you to pay varies by state, but you’re paying it either way.

    Advertising

    Force-Placed Insurance Ruins Lives

    While we’re speaking of the dark underbelly of insurance, it’s important to know that the high price of force-placed insurance is largely responsible for the majority of repossessions and foreclosures nationwide. Basically what happens when you run into financial trouble is you stop paying on your insurance to keep up your rent/mortgage/car/utility/food payments.

    When you avoid that $100-$1000 bill, your bank punishes you by backdating a more expensive policy (4-10x more expensive), and forcing you to prepay the next year’s premium as well. In addition, an analysis will be performed on your loan, and your car or mortgage payments will double or triple. That’s all it takes to push many honest and hardworking people to lose their home and their car within a year. Even if you recover, it’ll take years, as your credit will be ruined, and it’ll take more and more money to get back above water.

    Avoid all of this by keeping up on your insurance, and, when the banks erroneously accuse you of not having insurance, just because you were price-shopping online and the insurance company mailed them a letter to let them know, be vigilant and stern in correcting their mistake immediately. Hold them accountable. Speaking of which—

    Advertising

    Insurance Agents Are Everywhere–Price Shop

    There’s no reason not to price shop. If you’ve ever travelled on an airline, you know you can use aggregate services like Priceline or Hotwire to get basic prices, but the best deals are always on the airline’s actual site. This works the same way in insurance—no matter how honest a company seems, they really want you to use their service. They may sometimes show a competitor is cheaper, but they’re there to make money as well, and you’re not a part of their family. The very least you can do for yourself is check every company’s website, no matter how many times you’re forced to enter all your info again.

    You May Already Have Insurance

    A lot of insurance companies, such as Erie, Traveler’s, Lloyd’s of London, etc. offer umbrella policies, which can cover your home, vehicles, recreational vehicles, and more. When looking for insurance, check with the company you already have. It doesn’t even have to be a full umbrella policy, car insurance sometimes covers the driver, so you can drive other cars you don’t own without paying extra. Some provide car rentals in case of an accident and/or cover damage to the rental car itself. See what you have before you buy more.

    Advertising

    Whenever you don't trust a cop, take a picture...

      Whenever you don’t trust a cop, take a picture…

      Extreme Couponing

      Every insurance company has discounts that can be obtained in different ways. Remember your agent is just a sales person. No matter how local they seem, their policies are underwritten by someone bigger than they are, who in turn is underwritten by someone bigger until you get to one of the big guys. If you’re not insured by that structure, you’re borrowing from a legitimate loan shark/bookie/drug dealer, and you’ll probably be brutally killed for not making your payments.

      Because they’re salespeople, agents offer discounts for good grades, reaching a certain age, being born a certain sex, and things like that. They’re not offering these discounts—a billion dollar research project analyzed consumer data and determined how much to charge you to make as much profit as possible while still undercutting the competition. The real deals your agent is offering you are discounts for watching a video, taking a class, or some other menial task—they do that because they’re good sales people, and know it’s subsidized by the government to make the streets safer. Since the government is run by taxes, ultimately, you’re always footing the bill.

      It’s About Who You Know

      If you work in the government, you can get a great deal with USAA. Like credit unions, many insurance companies started as coops. Even Geico stands for Government Employees Insurance Company. By the time you heard of them, they were already huge. That’s the thing about insurance companies—despite what you think from their public face, they hide in the shadows making money. If you’re a teacher, work for a non-profit or tech firm, you may be able to obtain cheap insurance from your occupation. Look into it.

      Long-time customers are valued in any business, so whoever you do pick to insure your car, stick with them as long as you can. They may experience ups and downs, but they’ll appreciate you sticking with them in the long run, and you’ll often be surprised at how much local agents will go out of their way to help long-term customers. Don’t shop for insurance by the flashy ads or from whoever’s offering the best deal up front. Look into their track record, check to see if loss ratios are in line with the competition. Ask friends and family how their company and agency treats them. With a little elbow grease, you can find the right car insurance for you.

      More by this author

      7 Ways To Make Exercise Fun For Everyone Say Goodbye to a Skinny Body: How to Gain Weight Fast 24 Easy Ways To Make Money On The Internet What 500 Calories Really Looks Like in Different Foods 20 Awesome Screensavers that Make your Desktop Delightful

      Trending in Money

      1 25 Easy Tips on How to Save Money Fast 2 What Is a Good Credit Score (And How to Get One) 3 9 Millionaire Success Habits That Will Inspire Your Life 4 10 Reasons Why Following Your Passion Is More Important Than Money 5 How to Pay off Debt Fast Using the Stack Method (A Step-By-Step Guide)

      Read Next

      Advertising
      Advertising
      Advertising

      Last Updated on June 26, 2020

      25 Easy Tips on How to Save Money Fast

      25 Easy Tips on How to Save Money Fast

      “How to save money fast?” This is the question asked by all of us not in the top 1% of rich people.

      If you are looking for ways to drastically reduce your expenses immediately, first look at what you need to spend money on every week. And I mean really need.

      You don’t really need to order in food. You don’t really need to buy expensive perfume.

      Building from that, you can work out how your regular expenses can be reduced.

      As for irregular expenses, they can also be deceptively costly in the long run. Once-off buys can also be tackled with some prudent planning and a little extra research.

      And remember: a budgeted lifestyle does not mean a bad or boring one!

      But first, understand what budget you can cut down on daily:

      • Regular expenses for the average adult (can be trimmed but not eliminated):
        • food
        • rent/mortgage
        • cell phone
        • insurance
        • socializing/entertainment
        • transportation
        • hygiene products
        • household bills
      • Irregular expenses for the average adult (can be eliminated or cut down a lot):
        • travel
        • clothing
        • medication (*depends)
        • grooming (hair, nails etc.)
        • gifts

      Now, let’s dive right into the 25 ways to save money fast:

      Save Money on Food

      1. Bring a stock of food to the office/work

      Instead of popping out for an overpriced salad and a smoothie, leave a set of basic utensils at the office as well as a stock of non-perishable goods such as tinned fruit, tuna, rice crackers and so on (try to avoid the junk food and this can turn into a pretty great diet!).

      Advertising

      Stocking up means you won’t forget or say “I didn’t have the time” when you rushed out to work in the morning.

      2. Buy the store-brand version

      Many basic foods, such as bread and milk, will taste exactly the same as their branded alternatives. Go for stuff with minimal additives and preservatives. Meat in a tube is probably insanely unhealthy!

      3. Eat cheaper cuts of meat

      Learn how to tenderize and flavour cheaper meat and fish, and save on the (typically) most expensive item on your grocery bill.

      4. Have group dinners

      If 10 friends put $5 each in the kitty, it’s pretty easy to make a giant lasagne and get refreshments, as well as hang out with your favourite people.

      Save Money in Transport

      5. Get a bicycle

      Save on gas money and bus/metro fares with this underrated mode of transport.

      6. Use public transport and/or don’t get taxis

      Some places can only be reached by car. But as a good practise, check your public transport website and see if any routes pass nearby where you need to get to. Walk as much as you can.

      7. Find the cheapest gas

      Regularly check out where the cheapest gas can be bought.

      Save Money in General Shopping

      8. Shop online

      Not only will you save on the gas or transport fares from going to the shopping mall but you will also find better deals

      9. Sell your old stuff

      Get your unwanted belongings up on eBay ASAP and earn a few dollars.

      Advertising

      Here’re more ideas for you: 25 Things to Sell to Make a Lot of Money

      10. Bulk buying stores

      For regular non-perishable/slow perishable purchases such as toilet paper, cat food, pasta, washing powder and so on, do an epic stocking-up trip to a co-op or equivalent (my mum used to go to a place that restaurants buy from).

      Be wary of supermarket “deals”, as some have been found to be fraudulent after working out a simple calculation.

      11. Become a flea market/car boot sale/street market guru

      You can find original gifts and develop good negotiation skills at these places.

      12. Generic brand medication

      More often than not, the generic version of paracetamol and other basics work the same as the branded version.

      13. Choose deodorant, not perfume

      It blows my mind when someone drops $70 on a bottle of spray. Stick with a nice deodorant, and not only will you smell just fine but you’ll be sweat-free as well!

      Cut Down on Household Expenses

      14. Printing

      Ink is one of the most expensive substances in the office and coloured ink is doubly so. B

      e more efficient and choose black and white, and if your printer doesn’t have a print-both-sides options, just print odd pages first, re-insert the paper and print even pages.

      Expand the margins of what you are printing as often as you can to save on paper.

      Advertising

      15. Minimize SMS and phone calls

      A combination of a free chat service such as WhatsApp and a free call service such as Skype can reduce your bill to nothing (so long as you have a decent Wifi connection).

      16. Shop around for insurance

      Most people don’t spend enough time searching for the best insurance deal.

      Keep a watchful eye out for deals and new competitors in the market.

      17. Try re-negotiating your rent/mortgage

      If you have built up a good credit history or a good rapport with your landlord, then chances are a frank chat about needing to tighten your spending could result in lowering your payments. You’ve nothing to lose from trying.

      18. Don’t get a TV

      Invest in a computer/laptop and an internet-only package. You can watch more (and often better) entertainment on the web, and skip the advertisements as well.

      19. Pool your internet bill with a neighbour

      My apartment building is basically a big old house split into three apartments. There are five of us in total. We pool the internet bill, making it crazy cheap.

      Save Money in Socializing, Entertainment And Travel

      20. Have house parties

      Instead of paying for overpriced drinks, set up a series of in-house get-togethers with your friends. Everyone takes a turn, so it’s not always your house that needs cleaning.

      For sound insulation, hang heavy drapes on the walls and windows. For music, invest in a good second-hand set of speakers which you can connect to your computer. Let Spotify or Grooveshark playlists do the rest.

      21. Open festivals, meetups and events

      It never fails to surprise me how much underground stuff goes on around me for free or for very cheap. Find out who runs the blogs and websites that list all the less well-known cultural activities.

      Advertising

      22. Volunteer

      If you can’t pay for a ticket, volunteer and get to be there anyway.

      23. Housesit

      There are multiple housesitting websites offering you the possibility to avoid paying hotels and skip the discomfort of crummy hostels.

      Save Money on Hygiene and Beauty

      24. DIY beauty

      French manicures, pedicures, waxing, eyebrows… pretty much all of these can be achieved at home (and done well) with some practise. There are plenty excellent blogs and YouTube tutorials to help.

      25. Fewer haircuts/volunteer at a trainee hairdresser

      If you can’t bear the risk of a trainee touching your locks, learn more ways to manipulate your hair as it grows and get haircuts sparingly. Women’s haircuts are outrageously priced in many cities.

      Bonus: Effective Money-Saving Tips for Everything

      Here’s a summary of what you can generally do to save more money:

      • Share/pool resources. Organize a neighbourhood sharing scheme, common resources for your apartment block or with your friends. Not everybody needs an individual lawnmower.
      • Buy energy-saving everything. The easiest way to lower your bills – replace those lightbulbs!
      • Buy in bulk. Be sensible about it (i.e. make sure you have space!), and drastically reduce weekly expenditure.
      • DIY. Skill up using YouTube tutorials on plumbing and many other essential services so you never have to pay for simple problems again.
      • Research a lot before making a decision. Most money-wasting is the result of poor preparation and planning. Don’t shirk this part just because you don’t like it!
      • Use your network. Your network is full of resources that can ease the pain of budgeting. Ask for help.
      • Stop and think. Do I really need it?

      Unfortunately, there are some things that require plain ol’ giving up for the time being. This can include high-cost sports such as skiing, the latest versions of some technologies, the finest brands of food/drinks, premier seats at the opera and most other indulgences.

      What is important to remember during lean times is that when you look back on your life, it will be the experiences that stand out, not the extra comforts.

      Living on a budget can teach you a lot about how much you can really get out of your paycheck. We only live one life, so make the most of every penny you earn!

      More Tips for Personal Finance Management

      Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

      Read Next