Advertiser Disclosure

5 Questions to Ask About Your Auto Insurance Quotes  

March 23, 2015
Auto Insurance, Insurance
Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

Getting auto insurance quotes online may seem much easier than calling an agent or going into an insurance company’s local office. But one advantage of talking with a real live agent is the ability to get information you can’t get from a computer program. You can use a one-on-one chat to better understand your coverage and make sure you’re not paying too much for it.

Want to make the most out of your meeting? Start with these questions.

Do I have the right coverage amounts? Generally speaking, your auto insurance should not cover expenses you can easily afford — this helps determine your deductible — and should cover your assets. If you have a home or a substantial amount in savings, you’ll need higher liability limits. Ask your agent if life events, such as a new job or new home, have affected your coverage needs.

Am I getting all my discounts? Your agent probably knows you well enough to recommend appropriate discounts, but you can still help. At renewal time, ask if a new professional membership, auto safety upgrades or a personal milestone can help you save on car insurance.

Who needs to be covered? Auto insurance companies often prefer everyone in a household to be on the same policy — it’s also typically cheaper — but in some cases, this isn’t your best option. If you live in anything other than a nuclear family household — say your aging parents have moved in or you have roommates — your agent might be able to recommend alternatives.

Can I afford to drop any coverages? Some optional coverages — like rental car insurance — can be useful for the life of your vehicle. Others, like comprehensive and collision coverage, begin to cost more than they’re worth as your car ages. If your vehicle is older than 5 or 6 years, ask your agent if you’re carrying too much coverage.

What are my payment options? If you can afford it, it’s almost always less expensive to pay your annual insurance premium in one lump sum. Most insurers provide discounts for those who do, or tack a surcharge onto monthly payments. But if a single, annual payment stresses your budget, find out if you can pay monthly, or a few times a year — and what it’ll cost you.

It’s true you can get car insurance quotes online whenever you like; there’s no need to make an appointment during business hours. Still, an annual check-in with your insurance agent can be a good tradition to begin. Not only does it keep the lines of communication open, so your agent can help you pick the right policies, but it ensures you’ll reconsider your coverage at least once a year — which can help you stay protected and save money.

Alice Holbrook is a staff writer covering insurance and investing for NerdWallet. Follow her on Google+.

Image via iStock.