About a month ago, I received a text message from my daughter: “Dad — I was in an accident, but it wasn’t my fault.” Luckily, it was a minor accident with no injuries. It also provided her an invaluable lesson in how insurance claims are processed.
Auto insurance costs vary widely, depending on what vehicle you drive, where you live and work, and many other factors. Here’s what my daughter did after her accident that saved us thousands on our insurance costs, and steps you can take to make sure you’re getting the best auto insurance value, too.
Click to read more about how to file a car insurance claim to get the money you deserve.
The Money-Saving Move
After several phone calls, we learned that the driver of the other vehicle that caused the accident failed to contact her insurance company — which also happens to be my insurance company — to report the accident. She also failed to respond to seven phone calls and letters by our State Farm claims representative attempting to investigate our claim. Well, that’s great, I thought. This person nearly ran my daughter off the road and is now refusing to talk to our insurance company, putting our claim in limbo. I knew we could potentially be on the hook for the deductible, but I was more concerned about the accident surcharge we would be hit with if the insurance company found my daughter at fault, or the repair bill if they denied our claim entirely. We could have been looking at thousands of dollars owed.
So, what was it that my daughter did that saved us money in insurance premiums and repair costs? She called the police. Yes, shortly after I received that text message from her, she called the police to report the accident.
We didn’t know it at the time, but this simple action protected us from being the victims of insurance fraud. My daughter was given a copy of the police report showing that the other driver had been issued a citation and was therefore at fault. By emailing that to State Farm, the wheels started to turn and we were told the claim would be settled.
Though I’m relieved to have dodged that bullet, it was such a concerning experience that it really got me thinking about car insurance costs. I wanted to share my money-saving steps when it comes to insurance — ones that we took when getting my daughter’s policy — that could potentially help others, too.
How to Save Money on Car Insurance
1. Purchase a Safe Vehicle
The biggest factor impacting insurance rates is vehicle damage. So, after researching car safety ratings, I chose a 2009 Honda Civic for my daughter. She loves the sporty look of the car, and I love the reliability and safety record of Honda automobiles.
More on Car Choices: 20 Most Expensive Cars to Insure
2. Choose a Highly Rated Insurer
Insurance is only as good as the company that stands behind the policy. Choosing an insurance company solely on price can be a costly mistake, as most discount insurance policies lack coverage on certain items. Some insurers try to lowball repair shop estimates, which can ultimately lead to poor quality repairs. To make matters worse, discount insurers may increase your premiums or drop you altogether after an accident.
3. Take Advantage of Discounts
I love a good discount and, with the high cost of insurance, discounts can substantially lower your premium. Most insurance companies offer a variety of discounts for things such as completing a safe driver course, earning good grades in school, paying the full premium up front, being a loyal customer, paperless billing and more. I have insurance policies for two vehicles and a rental property which qualifies me for several discounts.
4. Teen Defensive Driver Training
One of the best investments we made, in addition to the Honda, was a defensive driving course for my daughter. The company we selected offered a program that involved classroom instruction as well as 30 hours of behind-the-wheel supervised instruction. Note that you will need to provide proof of course completion to your insurance company to qualify for the discount.
By taking these steps, we saved around 40 percent in premiums on my daughter’s auto insurance policy, according to State Farm. I can confidently say that without these discounts, my daughter would be taking public transportation to school and work. Fortunately, she’s happy (and safe) behind the wheel.
Click through to read more about how to get car insurance for the first time.