Just because a company offers you a cheap quote doesn’t mean you should let it insure your vehicle. Take a close look at the terms of your policy to ensure it matches your last auto insurance policy, and that you’re getting an equivalent amount of coverage (or at least the minimum amount required by law in your state). Examine the terms of the agreement to make sure the company don’t require the use of cheaper aftermarket materials for repairs instead of the original factory parts, which can pose safety hazards [source: Consumer Reports].
In addition to the complaint indexes maintained by state organizations, you can refer to consumer satisfaction databases on Web sites like ConsumerReports.org and JDPower.com [source: Reed]. You should also make sure that your insurance company is financially stable before purchasing your policy. In addition to checking with your state insurance department, ratings organizations like A.M. Best and Standard and Poor’s are good resources to determine a company’s financial state. And look to your friends and family for recommendations, as well.
Auto insurance is regulated on a state-by-state basis, and your state’s insurance department usually has a bunch of relevant information to your search in the consumer information section of its Web site. Search the National Association of Insurance Commissioners State Web Map to find a link to your state insurance department [source: NAIC].
The depth of information varies, but these Web sites often include profiles of the different insurance companies licensed within the state, sample price comparisons charged by competing agencies to cover common vehicles, and consumer guides to auto insurance. Many insurance departments also provide complaint indexes, which tally the number of consumer complaints upheld against a particular company versus the number of policies they have issued. This information can be valuable in determining which company to sign with.
You should take a look at your auto insurance policy every year to find out how much you’re paying in premiums and how much coverage you’re getting in return. The cost of the same policy can vary widely between companies based on factors like how much the company spends on advertising, commissions paid to the agent and the risk levels of the company’s pool of insured drivers.
To start comparing quotes, try logging on to an auto insurance aggregator Web site like NetQuote.com, Insure.com or InsWeb.com, where visitors submit information about their car and driving history in exchange for an array of quotes from different insurance companies. Typically, many of the quotes come via follow-up e-mails and phone calls from insurance agents. You can also try searching Web sites for companies like Progressive and Geico, which sell insurance directly to consumers and provide quotes immediately.