Questions to Ask Your Car Insurance Agent and Why They’re Important

vehicle owner speaking to car insurance agent

What coverages do I need for my vehicle?

At a minimum you should have:

Damage to Other Person’s Vehicle – AKA Liability Coverage:

  • This protects the other person’s vehicle and covers bodily injury and property damage.

Damage to Your Vehicle – AKA Collision and Comprehensive Coverage:

  • Collision covers repairs to your vehicle when there is impact with another vehicle or object. It covers property damage and vehicle damage.
  • Comprehensive covers repairs to your vehicle when non-collision events occur like falling objects, fire, explosion, earthquake, windstorm, hail, flood, water, contact with a bird or animal, breakage of glass.

Medical Payment Coverage / Personal Injury Protection:

  • Covers a passenger’s lost wages and medical expenses if someone hits you. Also covers your medical bills if you’re injured as a passenger in someone else’s vehicle.

Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist Coverage:

  • Covers you if you are hit by an at-fault driver who is uninsured or underinsured. It can cover bodily injury and property damage. You may collect from your own insurance company if you have this coverage.

PRO tip: Ask your agent to explain and recommend coverages and limits needed to fully protect you.

 

Who can drive my car?

The insured, the insured’s spouse if living in the home and family members who hold valid driver’s licenses or driver’s permits.

What is a deductible and how does it affect my premium?

Deductibles are what you pay before the insurance company pays anything for a claim.  For vehicle insurance it typically ranges from $250, $500, $1000.  The lower your deductible, the higher the premium for an auto policy.

What discounts am I eligible for?

Some discounts include: clean driving record (i.e., no accidents, claims or violations), continuous insurance coverage, multi-policy, multi-car, hybrid or electric car, own a home, good student, vehicle safety features like airbags or car alarms.  

PRO tip: Ask your agent about discounts you may be eligible for.

 

What are my payment options?

Insurance companies offer multiple payment options like:  

  • Annual lump sum (there is usually a cost break for this option)
  • Quarterly payments
  • Monthly installments (there is usually a monthly fee added for this option)

How is my vehicle valued?

Insurance companies will ask the year, make and model of your vehicle.  

  • Certain makes/models result in higher premiums due to claims history and repair costs.
  • Usually the more expensive the vehicle, like luxury vehicles, the higher the premium.
  • Usually the newer the vehicle the higher the premium.
  • PRO tip:  Ask your agent for a quote before you buy a new vehicle.

What if I am in an accident in the evening or on the weekend?

Most insurance companies offer 24/7 claims centers to report claims.

What are the factors that affect my premium?

Violations: Insurance companies will look back 5-7 years at any violations you have had.

Accidents / Claims: Insurance companies will review all prior accidents/claims carefully.

Zip Code: Urban and Suburban zip codes have higher rates than Rural zip codes because they have more traffic, congestion and crime.

Primary Use: Driving your car daily has a different exposure than using it occasionally. Examples of primary use include: commuting to/from work or school; pleasure; business; farm.

How many miles each year: The greater the distance you drive, the higher the premium.

Who owns the vehicle: Is it paid for, financed or leased? Financed or leased vehicles may require specific coverages at specific limits dictated by lenders.

Drivers license status: Insurance companies want their insureds to have valid licenses.  If you have a suspended, revoked or expired license, it will be very difficult to get a policy.

Marital status: If you are married you may get a discount. Married people are statistically safer drivers.

Occupation: Some jobs are correlated with fewer claims, like teachers.

Here are some important PRO tips:

PRO tip 1:

Ask your agent if your Personal Umbrella Policy sets over your Auto Policy.  Umbrella insurance is a separate policy that can provide additional protection to help cover costs your car insurance policy leaves off. 

If you don’t have a Personal Umbrella Policy, ask your agent to provide a quote.  It’s an important addition to your insurance package to help protect your assets.

PRO tip 2:

At least once a year at renewal, look over these questions and review changes with your agent.

PRO tip 3:

Proactively throughout the year let your agent know immediately when there are changes that could affect your vehicle insurance like:

  • You purchase a new car.
  • You sell a car.
  • Your teenager gets a driver permit.
  • You move.