Why the Cheapest Car Insurance Isn't Always the Best
Who doesn't love a great deal? And, when you're shopping for car insurance, it makes sense to compare prices.
What doesn't make sense is automatically choosing the cheapest option. Yes, you may save some money at first. But, if you have the wrong plan or lack adequate coverage, your policy could be a financial disaster.
Below are some of the problems you could face with extremely cheap auto insurance. Some of them are quite scary.
1. Costlier Accidents
A bargain-basement car insurance policy will probably give you less compensation after a crash. With a really low coverage limit, you might be responsible for huge costs.
You see, the minimum that state laws require of auto insurance companies is to cover the expenses of third-party, no-fault drivers involved in crashes. With that arrangement, you'd have no funds, other than your savings, to fix your own car or buy a new one!
Making matters worse, your low premiums could come with high deductibles. The deductible is the sum of money you must pay on your own before your insurance coverage kicks in. For some people, a high deductible is a killer, draining savings or driving them into debt.
2. No Coverage Beyond Accidents
Of course, an accident isn't the only bad thing that could happen to your car. It could get stolen or vandalized. A falling tree branch or a natural disaster could crush it. And wild animals, fires, and floods could all spell doom for your automobile.
In any of those circumstances, cheap auto insurance is unlikely to be any help at all. Instead, you'd need an optional comprehensive policy in addition to your basic collision policy.
Another option is personal injury protection, but if you already have good health and disability insurance, you may not need it. Your health plan should cover your collision-related medical costs and pay most of your lost wages. Still, it's worth considering, as a personal injury protection plan can sometimes protect you from hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical costs.
Do you currently have an auto insurance plan with terms you like? Are you just looking for a lower rate? If so, you could send your declaration page to other insurance companies. Make it clear that you want a similar level of coverage from each of them.
3. Somebody's Watching You
These days, some insurance companies will give you a discount — maybe even half off — if you'll let them do one thing. They want to track your driving.
Here's how it works: You'll download a smartphone app, and they'll digitally scrutinize every move you make behind the wheel. They can collect data on how fast you go, whether or not you stop at stop signs, and so forth. In short, an insurance company will verify that you're a low-risk driver.
Under this plan, you could have an insurer track your driving for just a little while, maybe two weeks. If it deems you a safe motorist during that period, it'll adjust your premiums accordingly. Or you could let the company track you all the time so you could earn even more discounts.
However, this system raises major privacy concerns. Do you really want your insurance company to always know where you are? Do you want it judging your driving all the time? Do you trust it not to sell your location data? Could that data get breached?
On top of that, the app might not be flawless. It could mistakenly report that you're a bad driver, which could unfairly raise your premiums. For instance, if you got in a taxi one night and the driver was reckless, the app could tell your insurance company that you were doing some wild driving.
4. Lackluster Customer Service
A cheap insurance company might not invest much in customer service. Thus, its employees may not receive the training, the support, and the communications technologies they need to fully help customers.
When you contact your insurance company, you should expect certain things. Does a staff member get back to you right away? Do they answer your questions completely? If you file a claim, it should be processed promptly. And you should always be treated with respect — especially given the stress that comes with auto accidents!
5. The Worst-Case Scenario: It's a Scam
In the past, some super cheap insurance "companies" have turned out to be scam operations. They never gave their customers any money and never had any intention of doing so.
While that type of situation is rare, you should still be careful. Use the website of the Better Business Bureau or a similar watchdog group to make sure that an insurance company is trustworthy.
Like so many things in life, choosing the right auto insurance is a balancing act. If you want sufficient coverage but low premiums, you'll need to do a bit of homework and investigate what various companies provide. But the good news is that outstanding and affordable car insurance is definitely out there. With such a policy, you can feel totally protected every time you get behind the wheel.