Insurance is all about peace of mind – it is an unique product because when you purchase it, the ideal situation would be that you never have to use it at all. Being that the case, you want to make sure that your insurance company will be there for you when you need them.
It is good to embrace new businesses in different aspects of the economy, but in insurance you really do not want to go with a brand new insurance company with no track record. In this article, we will give you some practical advice on how to find a reputable and reliable car insurance company.
Choose an insurance company you are already familiar with
The best place to start is to choose an insurance company that you already do business with, particularly one where you have already made a claim and had a good experience with the company paying out the claim.
Not only for this reason, but you should also consider that many insurance companies offer discounts for bundling products; therefore it usually makes sense to use the same company for auto and homeowner’s insurance (life insurance can frequently be with a different company).
Call their customer service
In today’s age many companies have fully online shopping experiences, and indeed that is really what consumers want. Gone are the days of having to talk to twenty people and wait a week just to get one quote – now you can get multiple quotes online quickly and with no obligation, and purchase your policy in less than 5 minutes.
Consider, however, that shopping for a car insurance policy is really only a small portion of the value of that policy, and that the most important part of the experience will come if you ever have to make a claim.
If you have the misfortune of being in an accident at 2AM, the last thing you want to be doing is fumbling with some chatbot on your insurance company’s website figuring out how you can get help or what you need to do next.
What you want is one simple phone number that you can call 24 hours a day and have an actual human being that can help you resolve whatever issue you have.
It is impossible to get a sense for this until you talk to an actual customer, but you can at least try calling the company and see what kind of response you get.
If you can’t get even their sales team on the phone, then run as far away as you can, as companies generally have better staffed sales than customer service departments.
Obtain references from friends and family
Another great place to get ideas and references for insurance companies is to ask your friends, family and coworkers for their experiences with different insurance companies.
You particularly want to take note of recommendations from folks who have been with their insurance company for a long time, and definitely from somebody who has had to make a claim and has gone through the company’s whole claim process.
The reason we mention you want somebody who has been with their company for a number of years is because many insruance companies are notorious by quoting very low rates for your initial 6 month policy, and then proceeding to dramatically increase prices as renewal time comes along.
Ask an insurance professional
Insurance is a complicated product, and really who is best equipped to answer your questions on this product is a licensed insurance professional – either an agent or a broker.
For the purposes of choosing one insurance company out of many, your best bet is to find an independent insurance agent you can trust and ask them for their best recommendations.
Check their rating with the Better Business Bureau
Once you have a specific company in mind and want to learn more about consumer experiences with that specific company, you should check their status with the Better Business Bureau at bbb.org. Here, many consumers post their experiences with the different companies.
Many times, consumers only post negative experiences here, so please take all the reviews you see with a grain of salt.
Nevertheless, it is good data and you should always consider the negative experiences other consumers have had with a company you are considering giving your business to.
Check their AM Best rating
AM Best is the gold standard for rating an insurance company’s creditworthiness, and it is always worthwhile to check their rating with them.
A less than excellent rating does not necessarily mean that the company won’t pay in the event of an accident, but you should consider it as a risk factor when making your decision about which company to choose.
Check their JD Power ratings
Continuing with the due diligence you are carrying out on a specific car insurance company, you should also undoubtedly check thier information on JD power. JD Power is generally considered the gold standard when it comes to objectively and systematically reviewing insurance companies.
They are somewhat similar to ConsumerReports, but JD Power focuses more on services whereas ConsumerReports tends to cover more the whole gamut of consumer products.
Check their review on ConsumerReports
Consumer Reports is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing unbiased reviews, objective product testing and investigative research on different products, including financial services and insurance products.
They are a very good place to check if you want to check an objective resource, as even the better business bureau ratings can sometimes be manipulated by paid reviews.
In the end, it is very important to do your research when choosing an insurance company. The last thing you want to happen is for you to have hundreds of thousands of dollars you are liable for after an accident and having an insurance company that won’t pay.
It is important for you to realize that in that case, the ultimate responsibility and liability lies with you – if the insurance company goes under it will not absolve you from the liabilities that come about from an auto accident.