Whether you are adding a vehicle or a new driver, updating your address, or considering a new insurance provider entirely, the process of making changes to your auto policy can be intimidating. Read on for things to keep in mind when adjusting your auto policy.
1. Let Your Independent Agent Do the Work for You
As with any important decision, consider talking to a local expert who can help you navigate the decisions involved in switching to a new car insurance company. While paying the lowest possible rate may seem attractive at first glance, any responsible agent will explain that getting the coverage you need should be one of your top priorities.
For example, if you frequently drive with your dog in the backseat, you might ask your agent whether or not your dog is covered in the event you are in an accident. A professional independent agent can recommend an auto insurance policy that automatically covers any potential pet medical bills if you get into an accident. Not all insurance companies include this coverage. This is an example of how protecting what matters most to you is more important than the savings you get from buying insurance online. The foresight to look ahead and anticipate coverage needs is one of the many benefits of working with an independent agent.
2. Ask the Right Questions About Insurance Carriers
It’s important to balance between being price-conscious and making sure your insurance needs are met. To ensure you receive the correct coverage to meet the needs of you and your family, ask these questions when you speak with your local independent agent:
- Is the company well established? Companies that have been around for many generations and have experienced consistent growth are more likely to offer you insurance knowledge and a wide range of options.
- Is the carrier financially stable? Check the A.M. Best ratings to find out. A.M. Best is the industry standard for determining an insurance company’s financial strength and stability. An A++ Superior rating means you never have to be concerned about the financial stability of your insurance provider.
- Are you likely to receive personable and courteous customer service? As part of a service-driven industry, every car insurance company should make responsiveness a key focus, but that’s not always the case. Consider whether the company has received any consumer awards from a respected magazine or an industry research service like J.D. Power.
- Are claims handled locally? Look for convenience and communication in your quest for the best insurance provider. Local, accessible agents can be invaluable, especially when you’re navigating a claim. When your agent turns your claim over to a claims representative, it is more convenient if that person is local, too.
3. Mind the Policy Gap
Timing is everything as you don’t want to be without coverage between policies. Fees might be involved if you change insurance providers mid-policy term, or discounts may be offered if you shop for a renewal prior to your expiration date, so you’ll want to plan your insurance switchover accordingly.
Failure to avoid a gap in coverage can have serious legal and financial repercussions, especially if a disaster strikes when you’re between insurers. Additionally, a lapse could mean that insurance carriers will charge higher premiums in the future.
4. Follow Through
Once you’ve switched, make it a point to stay in contact with your local agent. Make sure that your previous policy has been canceled. Avoid billing mistakes and credit bureau issues by obtaining written confirmation from your previous insurer that your policy has been cancelled.
If you are moving to a new state, plan to visit with your insurance provider. Because insurance laws vary by state, you’ll want to complete changes prior to your move.
With the right insurance carrier watching out for you, making the switch should be a straightforward process. And, with over 44,000 agents working in more than 6,300 agencies, there’s sure to be an independent Auto-Owners Insurance agent near you.