So, you’re a college student who just bought your first car, and WHAM! You get into a collision or a fender bender. You call your parents to thank them for making sure you had decent car insurance, or at least, that’s how that scenario should occur. Car insurance is a necessity if you are on the road, but it is difficult to choose the best policy that fits your needs.
There are many companies to choose from and many plans on the market. If you’ve seen those cute lizard Geico commercials, congratulations, you don’t live under a bridge. Geico is one of the top car insurance companies, but State Farm, Allstate, Progressive, Nationwide, Esurance and Liberty Mutual are also top ranked. So how do you pick the right one?
“Make sure the shopping and purchasing environment is most comfortable to you. Look for an insurer that uses multiple ways to interact like phone, online or face-to-face,” said James Quade, director of field sales at Liberty Mutual Insurance. He also suggests checking their claims and customer service history. It’s easy to make a purchase decision solely on price, but you want to make sure that you’re going to receive the value that you want.
Once you’ve decided on a company, you must choose a plan that best fits your situation and needs. Liability insurance covers other people's bodily injuries or death for which you are responsible. According to the Insurance Information Institute, nearly every state requires you to have liability insurance. There is also personal injury protection, which covers your own potential injury or death. Generally, each person pays a different amount depending on age, type of car, place of residence, gender, marital status and driving record. According to Leah Knapp, Public Relations representative from Progressive, if you decide you want more than just Liability Insurance, expect to pay more for each additional coverage plan you select.
“The most important advice is to be a discerning, educated consumer. Research different product benefits … and seek the counsel of a licensed insurance professional before purchasing a policy,” Quade said.
Remember, an insurance policy is a legal agreement between the insurance company and the policyholder. It is important to understand fully the terms of the plan, Quade added. Don’t forget, many of these car insurance companies offer “student discounts” or other applicable discounts, which you can use even after you graduate. Always ask about potential money saving policies. Picking a car insurance company and plan shouldn’t cause you a headache, but not having any insurance at all, definitely will.