Ask an Agent: Why Should I Talk with an Agent About Car Insurance?
Published: February 2015
Q: Why should I take the time to talk with an agent about car insurance?
A: Some life stages can really benefit from a conversation, says Christine Angles, a Manassas, Virginia, Allstate insurance agent. An agent can help you think things through and give you information on policy choices that may help you save money, secure better protection and even meet legal requirements, she says. Here are a few situations that Angles says should prompt you to pick up the phone.
When you have a young driver
Reach out before you buy a car or decide what your teen is going to drive, says Angles. If you set a teen as an additional driver on your car instead of their own, for instance, "the premium is generally a lot, lot less," she says.
And, while it can be a struggle to identify a car that doesn't cost a lot to insure but that is still safe for your teen, don't just wing it. Start with the safety recommendations of experts, Angles says, and then compare costs with your agent.
This is also a time to review your policy, Angles says, because teens have a higher crash risk. Do you have accident forgiveness? What are your liability limits? Should you increase your coverage limits? An agent can help explain and adjust your coverage accordingly.
Some parents even bring teens to their insurance agent's office, to make sure they understand the implications of their driving, and what it means to their family expenses, Angles says.
When you're getting a divorce
An agent can help work out a plan for what's often a complicated situation, figuring out who'll leave the policy, whose insurance will take on the teen drivers (maybe both?) and how the person leaving the policy will get coverage of their own.
These types of situations can come with surprises. "People who've had multi-vehicle or other discounts are sometimes surprised to realize that, because of this new life stage, they're no longer eligible," says Angles.
Though, it can also work in the reverse. "We've seen spouses who hadn't been getting a safe driving discount because of their partner's history find out they're now eligible," she says.
When your child goes away to college
Your agent can offer an impartial voice to help settle the car/no car debate. "Your child definitely needs to be insured if they're driving at all, but it's a lot less expensive if they don't have access to a car on a regular basis," says Angles.
That said, don't make the mistake of dropping their coverage. "If they come home and have access to a car, they may legally need to be on a policy," Angles says. "You're also helping them establish insurance history, which could help with a lower rate when they ultimately get their own coverage."
When you go on sabbatical
You may have decided to live on a sailboat for a season, or do a three-month stint with a charity in a far corner of the globe. What does that mean for your car insurance?
"You might think it's saving you money to drop insurance for a couple of months," says Angles, "but, in general, one of the things companies look at when they set prices is whether you've had a lapse in coverage."
Instead, work with an agent to strategically reduce coverages for the period you'll be gone, Angles suggests.
When you're buying a car
Not everyone factors in insurance costs when buying a car, but it matters. And, sometimes the impact isn't so obvious.
"Someone buying a used car may think, 'Oh this car isn't worth much,'" Angles says, "but some cars are more likely to get in accidents, or just more expensive to repair." And those factors can affect your car insurance rates, according to the Insurance Information Institute. (You can research specific makes and models for their collision history, based on insurance losses, at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's website.)
Angles' suggestion: "Once you narrow it down to a few options, call your agent and see what the difference in cost will be, so there are no surprises."
If you're experiencing these or other life milestones, there's no need to fly solo. Odds are, you'll navigate the process, make your insurance decisions, and rest easier with the help of an agent.