Author Topic: Let's Talk Auto Insurance  (Read 4001 times)

blinx7

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Let's Talk Auto Insurance
« on: September 30, 2013, 10:07:46 PM »

1) Would you choose a well-respected but more expensive company (e.g., USAA, Amica) or go with the cheapest policy from a reasonable company (e.g., GEICO, liberty mutual)?  I don't want to pay any more than I need to, but I also want a company that will pay out and not nickel-and-dime to my detriment if I need to make a claim. 

2) How much more would you pay for the well-respected brand?  10% more?  2x the price?

3) What is the best way to compare coverage from lots of companies?  Is an in-person agent best for this or should we use a website, and if so, what are some reputable ones that would be safe for us to put our personal information into?

unpolloloco

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Re: Let's Talk Auto Insurance
« Reply #1 on: October 01, 2013, 07:02:17 AM »
Don't have a good answer for you except to say that if you qualify for USAA, your rates there are probably cheaper than anywhere else (and they have better service).

nawhite

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Re: Let's Talk Auto Insurance
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2013, 10:02:12 AM »
I'd say it depends on how likely it is you think you will get in an accident. If you only drive 3000 miles a year, then I'd say go with price above all. If you drive 25,000 miles a year through neighborhoods where you think your car will be stolen or you drive like a drag racer, then having an in person insurance agent you can go to might be more worth it to you.

Think of it as "how much is my time worth?" If you expect to interact with an insurance agent 1 time per year and you expect paying for better service will save you 5 hours per interaction then how much is 5 hours of your time worth. I expect to interact with my insurance agent 1 time every 5 years and I bill my time at around $100/hour but I don't really think using one company vs Geico really will save me 5 hours per interaction. So if I'm saving $100/interaction/year then I'd be willing to spend less than $100 more each year in premiums for "service". No one comes within $200/year for premiums for my situation so I stick with Geico. I also doubt any other company could save 5 hours off interactions compared to the experience I've had with Geico so far anyway. The fact I can change my coverage on a website and never need to meet with a person or talk on the phone has alone saved me 10 hours of my life.

That being said, be sure you compare apples to apples. Amica for instance will give you a discount at the end of the year if there weren't many claims company wide. You are effectively a shareholder who gets paid some of their profits. So it may end up cheaper in the long run. USAA is also probably going to be cheapest if you qualify for them but I wouldn't feel bad going with Geico or one of the other "reasonable" companies.

Mr.Macinstache

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Re: Let's Talk Auto Insurance
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2013, 10:11:03 AM »
I tend to like Geico since I'm able to mange and change the policy myself on the fly. I love the fact I don't have to interact with another human being about car insurance.

bschwarz

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Re: Let's Talk Auto Insurance
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2013, 11:31:12 AM »
I've been struggling with this question myself.  I've been insured with Amica for a little over a year.  They are more expensive and at renewal they raised our premiums about 4%--despite our not making any claims, and despite no blemishes on our driving records.  We switched to Amica after a bad experience with Travelers--they balked at paying a wholly legitimate but potentially huge claim (exactly the occasion when you need insurance), and only caved in when I sent a very litigiously-worded letter.  My feeling is that we needed a really reliable and upright insurer.  We have substantial assets, and we want to make sure they are well protected.  We don't have collision insurance on our one car, but have a lot of liability insurance, including a large umbrella policy. We are paying more for Amica than we would for Geico or Liberty Mutual or Safeco.  My *feeling* is that it's worth it--but my intellect tells me that *all* insureres will try their hardest to reject (or at least nickel-and-dime) a potentially large claim.  As with everything involving your money, expect to put up a fight in order to protect it.

Jamesqf

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Re: Let's Talk Auto Insurance
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2013, 11:51:23 AM »
If you just carry liability, then claim service really isn't going to be your problem :-) 


Mr.Macinstache

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Re: Let's Talk Auto Insurance
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2013, 12:32:22 PM »
I've been struggling with this question myself.  I've been insured with Amica for a little over a year.  They are more expensive and at renewal they raised our premiums about 4%--despite our not making any claims, and despite no blemishes on our driving records.  We switched to Amica after a bad experience with Travelers--they balked at paying a wholly legitimate but potentially huge claim (exactly the occasion when you need insurance), and only caved in when I sent a very litigiously-worded letter.  My feeling is that we needed a really reliable and upright insurer.  We have substantial assets, and we want to make sure they are well protected.  We don't have collision insurance on our one car, but have a lot of liability insurance, including a large umbrella policy. We are paying more for Amica than we would for Geico or Liberty Mutual or Safeco.  My *feeling* is that it's worth it--but my intellect tells me that *all* insureres will try their hardest to reject (or at least nickel-and-dime) a potentially large claim.  As with everything involving your money, expect to put up a fight in order to protect it.

I would think that this would be true.

bschwarz

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Re: Let's Talk Auto Insurance
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2013, 01:20:56 AM »
I meant defend *against* a claim by a third party, but it amounts to the same issue.  That is, if someone slips and falls on your property, or if your dog bites someone, or if you you're biking and hit a pedestrian and the injured party sues you, you want to make sure that your insurer will pay the claim against you and/or defend the lawsuit.  MMM should make clear how important liability insurance (and umbrella policies) are for people with assets to protect.  But of course if the claim against you is large, the insurance company has the incentive *not* to protect you.  Read the many, many pages of exclusions in the typical homeowner's and/or umbrella policy.  And pay particular attention to exclusions involving business pursuits.  If the UPS man slips and falls on MMM's driveway while delivering a package related to his blogging, for instance, MMM's insurer may very well take the position that the injury was owing to MMM's pursuit of a business and therefore isn't covered by homeowner's insurance.  It's very dicey.

MissStache

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Re: Let's Talk Auto Insurance
« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2013, 06:20:34 AM »
I work for one of the major insurers named in this thread.  I do not work for USAA, but I would say that if you qualify for coverage with them, they are an excellent company with stellar customer service.  They regularly beat us on customer satisfaction (but we are very high on the list).  Their prices are generally competetive because they insure a group that is low risk.  I would switch to them in an instant if I qualified.

Other than that, I would say to go with one of the big guys, and not just because I work for them.  I was a claims adjuster for a while, and I will tell you that it was almost impossible to get anything done with one of the smaller, fly-by-night insurance companies.  Their agents are overwhelmed so it is hard to get them to return a call, their contracts allow them to disclaim coverage for what I think are totally ridiculous reasons, and generally their customer service leaves you wanting.

What you want out of your insurance company is really up to you.  Some people want to deal with an agent for everything, but you will pay more for that (generally).  I, like Mr. Macinstache, want to do everyone online and by myself and I don't want to talk to a human, so I prefer the direct marketers (GEICO, progressive, etc.) with robust websites.  They tend to cost less as well because their overhead is much lower.