When it Comes to Auto Insurance, Being Street Smart Helps

Posted on July 23, 2011.

Plenty of us believe that we have adequate amount of car insurance coverage, regularly renewing our policies as they come due without giving much though to what our insurance provides. It only is when we're in an accident or make the decision to switch to another carrier do we acquaint ourselves with what we have, with the former yielding unpleasant surprises for some drivers.

For one thing, liability, comprehensive, collision, uninsured motorist coverage, deductibles, and other language makes it difficult for some drivers to figure out what coverage they have. Include the limits of your coverage, $100K, $300K, $50K and how that coverage works and most of us have no clear understanding of what insurance coverage we have.

Frank N. Darras, who is known as America's top insurance lawyer, offers some practical advice about insurance, "Make sure you are covered for any accident that could put you and yours in the poor house. Raise your limits on all the coverage you can afford and lower your premiums by raising your deductibles. If your car is older, why carry a low deductible on comprehensive insurance which pays for fire, wind, hail and glass breakage?"

Darras says, "Carriers also look at your age, driving record and the make and model of your car. Where you live plays an important role in determining premium. If you live in a nice neighborhood, there generally is less congestion, which means fewer accidents and probably not as many thefts. Most carriers want a three year history of how many tickets you have had and the accidents you have been in as part of the premium equation. The kind of work you do also factors into the premium equation. Do boring safe work and you will pay lower premiums." "Finally, a high credit score can lower your premiums. Carriers believe the more responsible you are about staying current on your bills will translate into responsible driving."

Darras offers these money saving tips:

– If you get a ticket, fight them or go to traffic school so they don't stay on your record and cause your premiums to go through the roof

– Cover your teenagers on your policy so they are not the primary driver on an expensive car. By covering your kids on your policy you can take advantage of your insurance carrier's multi-car discount as well

– If you get in a minor accident and damage is less than $500, see if you can pay the other driver outside your insurance to prevent your rates from skyrocketing

– At renewal time, check your premiums against the market, make sure you are receiving all of your discounts, like the good student and customer loyalty discounts

– Pay your bills on time if you can, credit scores count big in the premium mix

– Timely premium payments will also lower your underwriting risks and future rates

– Boost your uninsured motorist coverage. For about $100 more a year, you can have uninsured motorist coverage of at least $100,000. Remember, uninsured motorist coverage is protecting you if the other driver has none. When was the last time you went to the emergency room and were out of work for a month when your losses weren't more than 25,000?

– If your car is older than 5 years, drop the comprehensive coverage, if it is older than 12 years, drop the collision

"Always keep a disposable camera in your glove compartment. If you are in an accident, make sure you take photos before any vehicles are moved. Minutes after the accident, the story will change, so make sure you have pictures," says Darras.

Clearly, in these days of financial pressures, following advice shared by Darras and others can save you a lot of money. Auto insurance isn't a water cooler topic but it is a conversation that needs to be started especially as we begin a new year.