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The Questions that Motorists Should Be Asking Their Insurers

Question mark speech bubbleMost people need auto insurance to legally drive, and many motorists buy the first policy they find and only interact with their insurer if they’re involved in an accident. The problem with this method is that it can lead to unnecessarily high premiums and complications after filing a claim. Taking the time to periodically ask your insurer a few questions about your policy can have some significant benefits. Here are just a few that can be answered in a matter of minutes:

Could I Be Getting Cheaper Coverage?

Over time, driving records, coverage needs, and vehicle values change. Depending on the situation, these changes can sometimes amount to significantly cheaper premiums. The DUI conviction or the at-fault accident on your driving record from three years ago may no longer be applicable, and that expensive new car that you purchased at the same time as your insurance policy has seen better days. People who annually contact their insurer to update their plans often have a better chance of avoiding unnecessary coverages and other expenses that may no longer be applicable.

Sometimes insurers’ pricing structures change without notice, and some insurers put the burden on the policyholder to call and get re-rated, according to the story of one man published in The New York Times. In that report, an Arizona driver, Thomas Mitchell, had his premiums cut in half after his insurer changed its underwriting guidelines. But the only reason Mitchell saw the premium decrease was that he called his insurer to ask about pricing when he got a better offer from another company. If he hadn’t taken the initiative to ask whether cheaper coverage was available from his insurance provider, he’d still be paying $2,500 a year instead of $1,207, his new premium.

How High Will My Insurance Rates Go Up After an Accident?

After being involved in an accident, policyholders can usually count on their premiums to go up, but by how much? Taking the time to ask auto insurance claims questions can help drivers avoid being blindsided by charges after filing a claim. When buying a policy, it may be good to get a ballpark estimate on possible surcharges for citations, moving violations, and automobile accidents. Companies often will have unique charges that are applied after specific events, while others may be more forgiving.

In some states, however, charges are mandated by law. Motorists who get into accidents in North Carolina, for example, are subject to increases outlined in the Safe Driver Incentive Plan (SDIP), which is designed to institute uniform increases after accidents and traffic violations. For example, with the SDIP, a driver who causes an accident that results in $1,800 or less in total damages will get one point on his or her record, which brings with it a 30 percent increase. If he or she were to get a ticket for aggressive driving, an 8-point violation, premiums would increase by 195 percent from the original rate. The SDIP point and rate-increase schedule can be found in the state’s consumer guide to automobile insurance.

What Discounts Can You Offer Me?

Discounts can be one of the best ways for drivers to save on auto insurance, but people often need to ask about these savings. Because vehicle coverage is a competitive market, insurers are constantly on the lookout for new ways to attract customers, making special offers a common commodity. In states like Connecticut, some savings are mandated. For example, drivers in that state who are age 60 or older are entitled to a minimum 5 percent premium reduction if they complete a DMV-approved accident prevention course. Other states may have mandated discounts for equipping the insured car with antitheft devices. If a driver has any of these devices active on the car, it’s on him or her to let the insurer know about it so that the appropriate discount will be applied.

Source: http://www.onlineautoinsurance.com/learn/