Between buying gifts and traveling to see friends and family, the holidays are a notoriously expensive time of year. Some people plan for it and save throughout in the months leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas, and then there’s the rest of us.
If you don’t have a nice chunk of cash sitting around to help cover the costs of presents and plane tickets, chances are you’re considering ways to save money this season. Cancel your gym membership? Stop going out to dinner? Switch your car insurance?
If that last option is something you’re seriously considering, it’s not necessarily a bad idea. That said, you should definitely do your research and consider the pros and cons before making a change this significant.
Below, Cate Deventer, insurance writer and editor at Bankrate.com, shares her top auto insurance tips, including how to save money and free up cash if you’re in a pinch.
Auto Insurance Tips
Request Multiple Quotes.
Whether you’re buying car insurance for the first time or looking to switch providers, Deventer says it’s extremely important to get multiple quotes and compare. She recommends obtaining at least three quotes before making a decision. “Every company has different coverage offerings, different discounts and a different rating system,” Deventer explains. “No two companies are exactly alike, so being able to compare is very helpful.”
Another reason having multiple quotes is important? It can help you establish a baseline for what you can expect to pay. Deventer says that while rates do vary, having numerous quotes can help you determine if one is particularly higher or lower than the others.
Last but not least, Deventer urges insurance seekers to check a company’s claim satisfaction score. Most older, more established companies will have them, but some newer app-based options may not.
Ensure Your Quotes Are Accurate.
When requesting quotes from new insurance providers, it goes without saying that they’re only really helpful if they’re accurate. That means you should do your due diligence when reviewing them.
First, ensure the new quotes also include coverage types and limits that you have with your current insurance. “Otherwise, you could be comparing a moderate policy with higher liability to a minimum coverage policy. The lower-priced company might not actually be lower; it’s that you’re buying less coverage,” Deventer explains.
Additionally, make sure the quote includes all the vehicles and all the drivers you requested. Sometimes quotes are given for only one driver and one car when you really need multiple drivers and multiple cars insured.
Finally, Deventer says you should ask the companies you’re comparing if they’ve pulled all the driving reports. The first is the CLUE report, which includes all of the insurance claims you’ve filed, and the second is your Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) which pulls your license status and tickets that you have. If you have an outstanding ticket that you didn’t report when you requested the original quote, that could definitely impact the quote price.
Scale Back On Endorsements Before Switching Insurance Providers
Now, when it comes to saving money on your auto insurance, it definitely doesn’t hurt to see what other options are out there. But Deventer warns against using this as a budgeting tactic. “Changing your auto insurance policy really isn’t the best way to free up room in your budget,” she says.
If you’re looking to save money, consider removing endorsements or extras in your policy that you don’t use instead. For example, “if you’re driving less or not traveling to and from work every day, maybe you don’t need roadside assistance,” Deventer says. Other endorsements to consider scaling back on are rental car coverage, gap insurance, new vehicle replacement and accident forgiveness.
There’s no denying that the cash crunch during the holiday season is real. If you do ultimately decide that you want to switch insurance providers, Deventer strongly warns against making the change online on your own. Instead, she says it’s best to do it with an agent who “understands your life experiences and what you need and can caution you against changing something that you really shouldn’t.”