How Often Should You Shop for Better Auto Insurance?
by Andrea Norris-McKnight
You know you should occasionally shop around for auto insurance to make sure you’re getting the best coverage and rates, but how often should you compare carriers?
Unfortunately, if you want to ensure you always have the right amount of coverage for the best price, you can’t just “set it and forget it.” According to many money experts, unless you get a significant loyalty discount from your current insurer, you should comparison shop for auto insurance once yearly. This can help ensure you’re getting the best rate for the right amount of coverage.
There are some other times you may want to consider switching auto insurers, or at least check in with your current insurer about better rates or different coverage. Read on for five times you should shop around.
When To Consider Switching Auto Insurers
If you have no complaints about your current auto insurance coverage, shopping for new coverage is probably unnecessary. However, it can never hurt to get quotes. Unlike applying for credit, shopping around for auto insurance has no impact on your finances or credit, and you certainly aren’t obligated to accept any quote you receive.
However, sometimes it makes good financial sense to shop for new coverage based on your circumstances. According to Bankrate, you may want to look for a new auto insurance carrier or at least compare quotes from other carriers if you do any of the following:
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1. You Add Another Car or Driver to Your Household
Your insurer may have great rates for your current auto needs but might not offer the best rates or student discounts for teen drivers. Or maybe you’ve gotten married. Another insurer may offer a better multi-car discount.
2. You Experience a Significant Life Change
Getting divorced, changing jobs or buying a home can impact your auto insurance. A divorce may have you losing a multi-car discount, but if your ex-spouse’s driving record wasn’t so great, you might find much cheaper coverage on your own.
If a new job means more or less driving, it can impact your rates. And a new home may allow you to get a discount for bundling your home and auto insurance. At a minimum, you should update your current policy, but it can also pay to compare rates.
3. You Move
Whether you change cities, states or merely ZIP codes, you should see how competitive rates are in your new locale. Even neighboring ZIP codes can have different auto insurance rates.
4. You Improve Your Credit Score
If you live in a state other than California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Michigan, your credit score may play a part in determining your auto insurance premiums. If you’ve worked to increase a low score, it could help you save the next time you shop for better rates.
5. Get a Premium Increase From Your Current Carrier
When you receive notice that your auto insurance is about to renew, carefully review the new policy for any cost increases or removal of any discounts. If your premium jumps, you should compare rates from other carriers before your renewal date.
It is also an excellent time to review your coverage and ensure it still matches your current auto situation.
When You Shouldn’t Switch Auto Insurance Carriers
Bankrate advises you to stay with your current provider if you have recently filed a claim.
If you jump insurers hoping you can change before the claim becomes part of your record, you could experience a considerable premium increase come renewal time with that new insurer. Some will make the increase retroactive, so you really won’t save anything.
It is best to wait until your claim is completely wrapped up with your current insurer before getting quotes from a new carrier.
Saving Money Shouldn’t Be the Only Consideration When Comparing Auto Insurers
Make sure you’re comparing comparable coverage when shopping insurance quotes. A cheaper rate might result from less coverage or a much higher deductible and could leave you underinsured or unable to meet the deductible if you choose a company based on price alone.
Reviewed March 2023
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