Six Things Your Insurance Company Doesn’t Want You to Know

six insurance buying tipsInsurance coverage exists to protect you from costly repairs and replacement should an accident happen-at home or on the road; whether you’re at fault or not. But like all businesses, insurance companies are looking to turn profits. While there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s up to you, the consumer, to do your homework so you can ensure the best coverage at the lowest cost possible.

Insurance companies know that you’re busy and don’t often have time to research the best price on the coverage you need. So be smart about shopping around. Look for discounts, compare prices, and ask a lot of questions. Your insurance agent won’t thank you, but your savings account will.

Here are six things that your insurance company doesn’t want you to know but will get you on track for the right coverage at the right price.

You can probably lower your car insurance
New technology allows your auto insurance company to monitor your driving habits and to reward good driving with lower rates. A telematics device can track when and where you drive, how fast you’re traveling, as well as how you interact with the cars near yours. Insurance companies will reward those good habits with discounted rates.

According to Forbes, about 1.4 million drivers have tried out the program and those who opted-in have saved 10 to 15 percent over the course of their policy. If you’re a good driver, ask your insurance company about having a monitor installed in your vehicle.

But be warned: Up to now, there has been no penalty to those with less-than-perfect driving habits. That may change as companies look to subsidize the cost of the monitors and the discounts they provide.

Where you live matters
You chose your home for a reason, and location likely played a role into your decision to buy where you did. Just like you, your home insurer also feels more comfortable if you live in a gated community, near a local fire department, or if you have a home security system. When shopping for insurance coverage, be sure to mention any security or location information that may lower your overall insurance costs.

Unadvertised discounts are available
Just like the “secret” menus at trendy or popular restaurants, insurance companies also have discounts available that they don’t necessarily make public. For example, if your home security system includes gas-leak detection or cold-temperature monitoring, you could qualify for a discount. New wiring, roof upgrades, homeowners associations, and home renovations are just a few ways to earn discounts.

The premise is simple: Anything that lowers the risk of damage to or theft from your house will save the insurance company in claims; and at least some of that savings should be passed along to you, the consumer. So even if it’s not listed on the policy, ask if a discount is available.

Soften Your Bed
Your insurance company likely does not want you to know that state insurance departments publish insurance buyer’s guides. These guides include a list of companies and often sample rates so you can compare sample prices before ever having to pick up the phone or scour the Internet.

This allows you to quickly compare overall prices so you can see if your current coverage is in the ballpark of some of the other companies in your area. A simple online search for the insurance buyer’s guide in your state will get you started.

Try more than one agent
If you don’t have time to do your homework to find the best deal, working with an independent insurance agent might be the way to go. But each agent only works with a handful of companies, limiting the number of quotes you will receive. So call two agents and tell them you are shopping around-and that you’re working with another agent.

The agents will work hard to find the best possible coverage for you, because they don’t get paid until you sign up for coverage.

Ambiguity will work in your favor
Interpreting an insurance policy can be a difficult task, especially if you’re in the throes of a crisis or claim. Fortunately for you, as the policyholder, any ambiguity in the policy is interpreted in your favor. According to Fight Bad-faith Insurance Companies, insurance companies write policies that can be unclear because they believe they aren’t responsible for payout if the coverage isn’t crystal-clear. This simply isn’t true. If the coverage or exclusions aren’t clear, they are obligated to pay the claim.

Insurance is a non-negotiable expense, but with a little homework and research, you can come out ahead.

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