Ways Auto Insurance Companies Find Out About A Driving Record

When applying for auto insurance, there are always the looming questions of how and when auto insurance companies find out about a driver’s record. This is also why it is important not to budget future auto insurance expenses based upon a generic auto insurance quote generated online because such quotes may not take into account the rating system a particular company uses to calculate auto insurance premiums.

To further complicate matters, not all auto insurance companies check with the same frequency or using the same criteria. Some companies will check only the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) before issuing an auto insurance quote. Other companies may also evaluate the credit score of the insurance applicant. Some companies check only when issuing a new quote or making a change to an existing policy. Other companies will do random spot checks to identify recent changes to a policy holder’s driving record. However, all insurance companies will use the DMV records in the applicant’s state of residence as a baseline for issuing a quote and setting auto insurance premiums. Companies will set the estimated risk level of an applicant from determining the number of points on a driver’s record at the time an application for insurance coverage is filed. Here is where a low score really works to the applicant’s advantage – no or low points indicates low risk, and these drivers are rewarded with lower premiums.

This is why understanding how a driving record is set is equally critical to managing auto insurance premium expenses. A driving record is not unlike a set of test results except in reverse – the lower the score, the better the driver. High scores on driving records indicate high risk to insurance companies with correspondingly high auto insurance quotes soon to follow. Speeding tickets, illegal lane changes, parking violations, collisions, running red lights or stop signs, unsafe driving practices and more will be subject to increased driver record scores.

While it can seem puzzling that agents have access to a driver’s record with the DMV, the act of applying for an auto insurance quote is what gives the auto insurance company the right to gain access to the applicant’s DMV records. Auto insurance companies can also conduct an online search and approach federal agencies for these records, but the DMV is the source most often and easily accessed. The best way to apply for auto insurance quotes is to be knowledgeable about personal driving record data before beginning to gather quotes. Additionally, for high risk drivers there are also memberships available for a nominal fee that can notify a driver of changes to driving record that may increase or decrease premiums.


Top Insurance Companies to Consider for Auto Insurance in 2010

Anyone who watches television even a little must be aware of how heavily auto insurance companies advertise for your business. Obviously they must be having success running non-stop commercials, or they wouldn’t keep doing it. If you are in the market for a new motor vehicle policy, you might be tempted simply to call one of the firms that you see on TV. Usually they will be happy to give you an auto insurance quote. That’s one way to make your decision, and not necessarily a bad way, either. However, because this is such a competitive industry, there exists a wealth of data to assist the careful consumer. A little research can yield valuable insights about the top auto insurance companies. Here are several choices for your consideration in 2010.

One important factor is the overall financial strength of the company. Make sure to examine the “letter grade” awarded by an Independent Ratings firm. If you register with A.M Best, for example, you will gain instant access to their huge members-only credit rating database. Using the search function you can quickly pull up the file on any of the major auto insurance carriers. Some highlights: Travelers Auto Insurance Co., GEICO, and Progressive all receive A or A+ marks or better for financial strength rating. AAA Auto Clubs has many different franchises organized by state or region; their ratings vary from B++ to A+.

Customer service is also a critical factor for most drivers. If you focus exclusively on price, and only look at the auto insurance quotes, you may be frustrated and disappointed if you are in an accident and need to file a claim. This is where consumer advocacy groups can be helpful. Visit the websites of the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org), Consumer Reports (www.consumerreports.org), and Public Citizen (www.citizen.org) for lots of independent reviews and exposes.

Finally, consider the many “Top Ten” lists that are available online. While the criteria and bias of the different websites can always be debated, it is a good place to start. Reading reviews and comments from other consumers can be very revealing. Usually the rankings are a combination of elements, like affordability, value of services, and responsiveness, in addition to price, of course. The following twenty companies seem to be highly regarded by large and varied segments of the critical press. They are listed alphabetically: AAA, AARP, Allstate, American Family, Ameriprise, Cotton States, Esurance, Farmers Insurance, Geico, GMAC Insurance, Liberty Mutual, Nationwide, OML, Progressive, Safeco, Seminole Casualty Insurance, State Farm, Travelers, 21st Century Insurance, and USAA. Somewhere in that group is a coverage plan that will fit your needs. The “top” choice will depend on you; as the saying goes, “your mileage may vary.”


Why Do Auto Insurance Companies Offer Discounts To Policyholders

When purchasing any sort of insurance, whether it be auto, home or life insurance, the ultimate goal is to find the cheapest premiums combined with the best coverage. This can mean shopping around and investing the time to determine exactly what is available. In the world of auto insurance, one effective way of lowering premiums is to find a company that offers discounts to its policyholders.

Most auto insurance quotes are for the basic’ plan – that is, they do not include any discounts the company may offer. In order to see if a company does in fact offer any kind of auto insurance discount, a good idea is to speak to a representative either in person or by querying the company via email. In many cases, auto insurance companies will provide discounts to their policyholders based on a number of factors: One important factor will be the client’s previous driving record. A clean driving record will likely lead to a far lower rate than if several accidents have been reported and claimed. Another factor is the age of the driver. Typically, anyone over the age of 25 receives a reasonably large discount on their insurance simply based on their age and the fact that they have had a significant amount of driving experience.

Other factors may be less clear-cut. The type of vehicle that a client owns can most definitely influence the price of an insurance policy. The color of the vehicle influences the price as well. Some studies have shown that red cars, as an example, are involved in more accidents than those of other colors. It is therefore possible to end up paying too much for auto insurance simply based on the hue of a car’s paint. Also, the type of driving the vehicle is going to be used for will also make a difference in premium price. If the vehicle is claimed as only being driven occasionally, the cost to insure it will be less than if it is a primary vehicle.

One other important way that discounts are given out is when a client has other insurance policies with the same company. Often times companies will offer two or three different types of insurance. In the same way that a phone, internet and TV package can be ‘bundled’, so too can insurance policies, which leads to a reduced rate. Every company will have different criteria which must be met to give out discounts, and it is worth a prospective client doing the research to determine which company’s discounts most favorably suit their needs. This will allow them to find the most cost effective way to insure their vehicle.


Studies Show Most Americans Pleased With Auto Insurance Companies

According to a new study by the Insurance Research Council, customer satisfaction with auto insurance companies has risen over the past year. Out of 91 percent of responses received in reference to a survey sent out by the group, 60 percent said that they were "satisfied" with their insurance company. The other 30 percent said that they were "fairly satisfied," indicating that a higher number of consumers are comfortable with their auto insurance company than ever before.

The high level of customer satisfaction with auto insurance companies is probably a direct result of the slumping economy. As consumers look for places to save money, they tend to raise their insurance deductibles or cancel coverage altogether. This causes a lack of demand for insurance as a service. In order to survive, auto insurance companies must keep demand levels high, so they cut auto insurance premium costs and offer more coverage at the same price for drivers. Experts note that while premiums are actually slightly higher than before the recession on average, they're falling quickly and steadily. Customer service is also improved, as the auto insurance companies want to keep consumers from switching insurance policies to competing companies. This leads to an overall improvement in satisfaction, which is reflected in the survey. The IRC's report also pointed out that there seems to be no correlation between customer satisfaction and the level of government intervention in a state's insurance laws. Regardless of how highly involved a state was in the insurance industry, customer satisfaction rates were approximately the same.

Auto insurance experts warn that customer satisfaction levels could potentially drop once the recession ends. It's possible auto insurance companies will rescind some of the offerings that they make during harsh economic times. However, as long as the recession persists, auto insurance customer satisfaction levels are likely to continue to improve while premiums continue to drop. This makes the current insurance market very favorable for consumers, whether a driver is buying new auto insurance or updating existing coverage.

Drivers should re-examine their auto insurance policies every few months, especially during a depression, to ensure that they're paying a low enough premium. Using price comparison websites can be very helpful, as can contacting an auto insurance agent to discuss how to lower a premium feasibly. Drivers who want more insurance coverage can also profit from a recession without paying higher rates, and of course all consumers benefit from better customer service.

The recession has certainly hit some industries hard, but in the case of auto insurance, it's created a buyer's market that favors consumers looking for a good rate and ample auto insurance coverage.


Oldest Auto Insurance Companies In The United States

Some of the oldest auto insurance companies in the U.S. include Allstate, GEICO, and Farmers Insurance. All three companies are still key players in the auto insurance market, and continue to service millions of U.S. customers. From autos to collective automobiles, they continue to provide auto insurance coverage in every state of the Union. Allstate, founded in 1931, is the second largest personal line insurer in the U.S. Based in Northbrook, Illinois, and led by CEO Thomas J. Wilson; Allstate remains a premier auto insurance provider in the country today. They are known for dependable service, prompt responses, and assisting their policy-holders in a fair and timely manner. They live by their company slogan, ‘You’re in good hands’, and have recently tackled a large amount of auto insurance claims from individuals who’ve incurred injuries from insured members. Due to a rise in falsified claims, Allstate has been vigilant in rooting out invalid claims, while securing the best possible outcome for all parties involved in legitimate incidents. Their ‘Your Choice Auto’ option is one of the most popular products they feature, as it offers lower deductibles and accident forgiveness plans.

The Government Employees Insurance Company, GEICO, is also a top American auto insurance company. Founded in 1936, the company is based out of Chevy Chase, Maryland, and is led by CEO Olza M. Nicely. They currently provide coverage for over 10 million motor vehicles, owned by more than 9 million policy holders. Like Allstate, GEICO remains a prominent player within the auto insurance spectrum, and services all 50 states and the District of Columbia. With 23,000 employees, they are a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, and are known the world over for their advertising mascot, a talking gecko. GEICO is considered a first rate auto insurance company, specializing in private passenger coverage at affordable rates. Their incentive plans help lower costly premiums, and they believe in offering real-time access and quotes to their patrons.

The Farmers Group of companies is the third largest insurance group in the U.S. Farmers continues to service over 10 million customers in 41 states. Founded in 1928, and led by CEO Bob Woudstra, Farmers is known for impeccable services. The company remains a key element in the national auto coverage scope. From motorcycles to automobiles, they believe in offering affordable coverage, while meeting the needs and concerns of their policy-holders. They are also highly ranked by Standard and Poor’s, Moody’s Investor Service, and A.M. Best Company.

Although several new multi-insurance companies have flooded the market, Allstate, GEICO, and Farmers remain the upper echelon of auto insurance companies. Along with State Farm, they are considered the cornerstones of the auto insurance industry.


How Switching Auto Insurance Providers Can Save You Money

Are you getting the best possible rate from your auto insurance provider, or are you paying too much? These days, all it takes to find out whether or not you can save money on auto insurance rates by switching auto insurance providers is a few minutes of your time. By comparing auto insurance quotes, you can find out whether your policy is worth holding onto, or whether your auto insurance rate is on the higher end of the spectrum. The bottom line is, by switching auto insurance providers, you can in fact save money.

Switching auto insurance providers can save you money in a number of ways. These range from lowering the total annual premium, to potentially adding additional coverage for the same amount you’re paying now or less, and by potentially adding flexibility in payment options and incentives to lower your payments.

The only way to truly measure auto insurance rates is by doing an apples to apples comparison. Not all auto insurance quotes provide the same coverage, and payment options and schedules vary from insurance company to insurance company. By searching the Internet for sites that compare an auto insurance quote, you can find out exactly how much you’d save. But the savings don’t just end by comparing premiums.

You can also save money by finding out what incentives an auto insurance provider can offer by being a good driver, being accident free in a required number of years. Your insurance quote can also be lowered by being part of an affiliation or group that has a special discount rate for its members, examples being AAA or an alumni association. Over time, these incentives can add up to potentially larger savings if you stay with the new auto insurance provider.

Saving money with auto insurance can also come in the form of payment flexibility. An auto insurance provider that allows you to pay the premium through a variety of means, including credit card offers, can be a convenient and an appealing money saving incentive. By paying your premium with a credit card that offers cash back, you can make money every time you pay your auto insurance. In addition, you’re not spending money on stamps, and you never have to worry again about forgetting to mail in your payment or it getting lost in the mail.

If you haven’t compared your policy to what other auto insurance providers are offering in the past six months, it may be time to do a quick search. Auto insurance providers may be offering new incentives or may have lowered their rates to be more competitive.


Auto Insurance: Should You Go With a Well-Known or Little-Known Company?

When getting auto insurance quotes online, you’re often given information for both large and small companies, companies that you know, and companies that you’ve never heard of before. It can be unnerving to get an auto insurance policy for some of those lesser known companies, but they can be a good resource if you want lower cost insurance and you’re confident in their operations. There are advantages to doing business with both prominent and smaller auto insurance companies.

Reputable auto insurance companies offer many benefits to the driver looking to switch auto insurance companies. First, they’re generally rather stable in their business, so you know they won’t be disappearing. In addition, prominent auto insurance companies generally offer policies that insure other products as well, such as homes, apartments, and recreational vehicles. Because you can use the well-known auto insurance companies for multiple insurances, you may be able to get a discount. Of course, with these companies, you also have a good idea of where to go if you have a problem.

Getting an auto insurance quote from a lesser known company can be intimidating because their names are not advertised daily. Some people choose to go with smaller companies, however, because they’re local, dealing with just one area or state. Some feel that by doing business with these companies, they are supporting local businesses. Others may think that these companies know them better, and are able to recommend better policies. With smaller companies, customers may not have long hold times when they call. They may also be able to take advantage of lower introductory rates, if a company is new.

There is one major concern when it comes to doing business with a little-known company, however. That concern is that the business is somehow operating in an illegitimate or unethical manner. Some scammers pretend to be smaller businesses, only to end up taking your money in the long run. Other little-known businesses are not operated in a responsible manner, and they end up failing, meaning that your policies are not upheld.

Of course, there are downfalls to going with reputable businesses as well. These companies have long lists of customers and it might be hard to get individualized attention. You may experience long wait times on the phone, and it could be difficult to get answers to your questions.

When it comes to getting auto insurance quotes online, the best word of warning is to be prepared. Whether you get a quote from a prominent or little-known business, you need to do your research. Talk to the company, look up reviews online, and converse with current customers. By doing this, you will cover all your bases and be on your way to reliable auto insurance.