Any old financial company can offer auto coverage. The actuarial analysis in a consumer line like auto insurance is relatively easy — with almost paint-by-numbers underwriting — compared to some other more complex areas. So it only makes sense that there are so many firms offering coverage.
This is actually great for consumers. Competition among providers to win a larger segment of the massive U.S. driver pool keeps costs low and gives you a lot of options. The more insurers, the better.
But this leads to downsides for drivers. If it’s all a numbers game to some firms, they might not feel much obligation to their customers once they get a signature. If volume is their business model, they might be investing a lot more into marketing and customer acquisition rather than other areas.
Does this sound familiar? Are you sick of buying what seems like a fine policy only to be let down later? If so, it may be time to start paying a little more attention to the name on that policy.
So before you get your next coverage plan — or as you make a switch today — be sure to consider these often-overlooked traits about your next auto insurance provider.
1. Service Minded
Is your car insurer a volume-focused and marketing-first company? Does that put your experience dealing with them into a new light? Face it, these days, most of us just want the cheapest policy available as quickly as possible. That’s all great — until you actually need something from them. If you ever get into a significant accident or confront something of a strange, outside-the-norm case, you might find out just how hard it can be.
So it really will pay off to do some research and figure out which insurers actually offer real customer service and go out of their way to resolve your claims and issues. Even if it happens several years down the line, you will be happy you went with the right auto insurance provider rather than ignoring service in exchange for a few dollars each month.
2.Claim to Fame
The next consideration often aligns with the previous factor: How callous and combative is the company when it comes to claims? Once again, you need to know how difficult your provider will be to deal with when you actually need them.
Naturally, all insurers want to investigate claims thoroughly and make sure everything is on the up and up. There is fraud out there, and they operate on thinner margins than many realize. So a bit of time and some pushback should be expected when the paperwork or story is murky. But there’s a big difference between that and firms that go to unreasonable lengths to deny claims or delay payments.
You’ve been paying your premiums for years so that you’ll be protected once an accident happens. You need an insurer that is willing to hold up to to their end of the bargain and fulfill their obligations. Ideally, they’ll do it happily and quickly — with a human touch.
3. Rates vs Ratings
How can you actually know which companies have good customer service and pay their claims fairly? You likely don’t have first-hand experience with most providers. And asking your friends, while useful, only really yields anecdotes that may or may not represent reality.
To help, there are many third parties and industry observers who have worked to develop different ratings and scores for all the common providers. Consumer Reports and the Better Business Bureau are among the most established. But newer, digital-first resources, like BankRate and PolicyGenius, are great options too. While these ratings won’t tell you everything, they can help you make a better choice.
Picking the Best Auto Insurance Provider
Auto insurance isn’t all that complicated. There are various types, but once you select a form of coverage, most companies are capable of giving you a similar price. Faced with this, most people base their decision solely on price.
But there’s so much more to consider. Does your provider offer acceptable — or even excellent — customer service? Will they fight tooth and nail to deny your claims? Are their other members satisfied with their customer experience?
In the moment, it’s easy to think premiums are the only thing that matters. But you also want to know that the company protecting your car and your finances really does have your back.