Car insurance premiums are one of the most important expenses you pay. That’s because the average overall cost of a collision in 2020 ran from $4,700 per vehicle for damage up to $1.75 million if there was a death, according to the National Safety Council.
When you consider that the average annual cost for full coverage in Montana is $1,737, according to Bankrate, the potential savings are huge. Still, it’s important to ensure the money you spend serves you well when you need it.
“Choosing your car insurance is actually a very complex topic and decision, and people usually don’t know it’s a difficult decision,” said Pam Hansen Alfred, a 36-year veteran State Farm insurance agent. “Often, the only consideration they take into account is price. But choosing your car insurance should be about more than just price.”
One of the most important things to look for in an insurance company is the quality of its customer service.
“There are all kinds of different car insurance companies and all kinds of different agents, but you should make sure when you’re shopping that you find someone you’re comfortable to work with,” Alfred said.
At State Farm, for instance, every policy holder is assigned a personal agent, with live call center agents available when the agent isn’t. In a serious accident, a personal agent is notified right away.
Another factor to consider is the deductible you’re willing to pay for comprehensive and collision claims. Cheaper premiums generally mean higher deductibles.
“Some people will choose to have a higher deductible. They just save up the amount of their deductible and put it away in case they need to file a claim,” Alfred said. “Others are willing to pay more for a lower deductible. It’s an important discussion to have with your agent.”
You should also consider the maximum coverage you want.
“In the event you were sued for an accident you caused, would your liability coverage match your net worth?” Alfred said.
Unfortunately, not all insurance companies are transparent with their fee scales and systems for determining how much you should pay for a policy. The company may sign you up with a low introductory rate and fail to mention that the amount will increase in six months.
“I would tell people to ask, ‘Did you underwrite my account when you insured me, or does that happen at the next renewal?’” Alfred said.
Without that assurance, you may be hit with a high bill when it’s time to renew your coverage, and switching back to better insurance means starting over.
“When the customer wants to return to me six months later, they’ve lost their longevity discount,” Alfred said.
Some insurance companies will help you save on your premium, so you should ask about possible discounts when getting a quote.
“State Farm offers multiple line discounts, longevity discounts, home and renter discounts, multi-car discounts, vehicle safety discounts, and a Drive Safe & Save discount,” Alfred said.
If you opt for Drive Safe & Save, you carry a Bluetooth beacon in your car that syncs with an app on your phone. The beacon tracks your driving habits to calculate how much you can take off of your premium. Savings start at 10% and can exceed 30% for the safest drivers but are guaranteed to be at least 1%. Results from the beacon cannot cause a price increase.
For more information or to get a quote in person or online, call 406-453-6010 or visit State Farm agent Pam Hansen Alfred.