While Americans may not be so happy with other types of insurance (i.e. ObamaCare), one type of insurance that they are happier about these days is their car insurance. A recent US Auto Insurance Study noted that on a 1000 point scale, Americans gave their auto insurance an average rating of 804 – 14 points higher than in 2011.

What makes this study even more interesting is the fact that almost 1/5 of all Americans had their premiums increase in 2011 but they were still happy with their insurance.

Jeremy Bowler, the senior director of insurance practices at JD power and Associates says that Americans are happier because of the variety of packages and prices they have to select from.

What led to the greatest amount of dissatisfaction seemed to be the difference of $50. The study showed that policyholders whose premiums increased by $50 or more had a satisfaction level drop of 8%.

The good news is, however, that this dissatisfaction can be greatly allayed if auto insurance companies take the time to advise policyholders of the rate increase before they receive their renewal notice, or if they’re presented with different package options.

Getting the best auto insurance policy has more to do with knowing what you want and need out of your policy more than just pricing, which is what this survey clearly shows. It’s not about being impulsive and buying the first policy that fits in your budget or about choosing the cheapest rates. To help you get the perfect policy so you can feel satisfied, here are a few tips that will help you choose the best auto policy.

Know your requirements.

  • If you have a loan on your car, your loan company will require you to carry Collision and Comprehensive.
  • If you buy a car with cash, you’ll still want to consider the cost of having Collision and Comprehensive on your policy depending on the value of your car. For example, if you bought a car from a family member who only charged you a minimal amount for the car, but yet it’s worth much more, you may want to consider carrying Collision and Comprehensive on it anyway.
  • On the other hand, don’t let an insurance agent talk you into full coverage if your car isn’t worth that much. If your car is worth around the same amount your premiums with comprehensive and collision are, than go with liability only.

Be Educated.

  • Don’t assume at all that your state’s minimum requirements will be adequate coverage. The state minimum is just the MINIMUM you need to legally register and drive in the state.
  • If you own a home or any other assets, you’ll want to have no less than $300,000 on your Bodily Injury Liability.
  • If you or any of your family members cause an accident, your assets can be at risk if you don’t have enough coverage or cash to pay out for the other party’s loss.
  • While you might be the safest driver in the world, you could be targeted for someone fraudulently claiming you caused injury or damage to his or her vehicle.
  • Your liability also covers legal representation. You also have no control on how other family members or roommates may drive if they use your car.
  • Make sure you have each coverage and any exclusions explained, that you understand them, and that you understand the implications of your choices—ie, if you choose state minimum liability of 20/25/50, and you cause an accident and someone is injured badly, resulting in $100K worth of medical bills, know that your policy is only going to pay up to $50K in bodily injury liability.

Check out organizational affinities.

  • Check with your employer to see if they partner with any insurance companies to provide employees with a discount.
  • Check any memberships like PTA, golf associations, banks, sporting clubs, etc. to see if any of those will give you discounts. Typically it’s a small amount like 3-5%, but it’s better having it your pocket than in the insurance company’s pocket!

Compare apples to apples.

  • If you’re shopping around and changing your mind about which car you might buy, don’t assume the company that provides you the best deal on one car is going to give you the best deal on any car.
  • You’ll still want to do a little shopping once you settle on the car you’re going to purchase. Every company rates vehicles differently.

Check on all discounts that apply to you.

  • Companies offer different discounts. If you’re shopping over the phone, direct agents will probably be in a rush and may not take the time to offer other ideas they may have for discounts.
  • Do some shopping online first where you can get multiple quotes and comparisons. Make sure you look into each insurer’s discount options.

Include all household members.

  • If someone has a driver’s license, you should be including the as a driver.
  • Some states allow exceptions, but you should disclose all possible drivers and find out if any exceptions are allowed if you think they’ll never drive your car.
  • If you make the mistake of not listing a driver and they borrow your car (with or without your knowledge) and cause an accident, the insurance company has the right to deny the claim.
  • In some states, they will allow an exception if that person carries their own liability insurance.
  • Be aware that ultimately, the registered owner is liable for any injury or damage.

Don’t fall for the trap of thinking the fastest or cheapest insurance is best. Know all your options and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Doing so will hopefully put you in the same position to feel like you’re super satisfied with your auto insurance!

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