WASHINGTON — Picking the right car insurance is a daunting task. It’s difficult to know if you’re getting a fair rate or if you’re being rundown and taken advantage of. This includes the myth of the “long-term customer discount.”
A new analysis by Consumer Reports aims to help take the mystery out of the process.
The magazine, in its March edition, examined more than 2.7 billion premiums and identified factors that impact insurance rates about which some consumers might not even be aware. For example, while it’s obvious that age, driving history and car type might affect premiums, so do credit history and education.
Here are five tips from Consumer Reports for getting a better deal on car insurance:
- Check for new rates every two to three years. Any time your living situation changes, look around. Even driving fewer miles can impact your premium. Things can go the other way as well. Your insurance company’s underwriting could change in such a way that you end up paying more. According to the research, the “long-term customer discount” doesn’t exist.
- Consumer Reports recommends TheZebra.com for shopping around. The site uses data from Quadrant — which in turn collects and analyzes data from auto insurers themselves — and will get you estimates from 18 to 35 insurers, depending on your state.
- It’s possible to raise your collision and comprehensive deductibles to save on premiums. While collision covers accident damage from other vehicles and comprehensive covers damage from things such as falling tree branches or flooding, if you increase the amount you have to pay out of pocket, the less you pay in premiums.
- Consumer Reports recommends a 100/300/100 split for liability coverage. It covers bodily injury for up to $100,000 per person, $300,000 per accident and $100,000 in property damage. It also suggests buying uninsured/underinsured coverage at that same 100/300/100 split. A $1 million umbrella policy is worthy of consideration and should only cost between $200 and $400 per year.
- According to Consumer Reports readers, these are the top 10 most-satisfactory insurance companies and their ratings out of 100: Amica Mutual Insurance Company (94); USAA Group (92); NJM Insurance Group (91); Auto-Owners Insurance Group of Companies (90); Erie Insurance Group (88); Auto Club Enterprises Insurance Group (88); State Auto Insurance Companies (87); State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (87); The Hartford (87); and Auto Club Group (86).
Which insurance companies have the best rates in the D.C.-area?
Here are the recommendations from Consumer Reports:
- D.C.: For singles, couples and families with teens, Geico has the best deals.
- Maryland: Singles and couples are going to want to go with Erie or Progressive. Families with teens should look into Geico or Liberty Mutual.
- Virginia: For singles, couples and families with teens, the best option is The Hartford.