Buying a New Car: Insurance Tips

Beth Dame
by Beth Dame, Regional Sales Director, Main Street America Insurance •

Buying a car can be a stressful and exciting time – between setting budgets, navigating loan options and choosing the right insurance, there’s a lot to think about. The car you choose and the insurance and premiums you need go hand-in-hand. So, when buying car insurance for a new vehicle, the best thing you can do is research to know exactly what you’re looking for before you step foot on a car lot.

Here are some car buying insurance tips to help you get started:

Coverage Considerations for a New Car

The first step before buying auto insurance is to come up with a plan. Know which coverages you’ll need, whether your current insurance will be enough to protect your new vehicle and what proactive steps you can take to reduce your rates.

Liability Coverage

This is a base level of insurance coverage that helps cover medical costs, legal bills and more in the event that you cause an accident where another person is injured or their property is damaged. When setting up your policy, you’ll want to think about these two important factors:

The limits that are required by the state that you live in.

Make sure you have enough coverage in place to pay for the most common losses you could see and to protect the assets you have.

Personal Injury Protection

Unlike liability coverage, personal injury protects you in the event of an accident. Regardless of who is at fault, your personal injury coverage will pay for your medical expenses if you’re injured in an accident. Some states have minimum coverage amounts (usually around $10,000), but ultimately the level of coverage you choose depends on how protected you want to be. Ideally, you’ll want to make sure you have enough coverage in place to protect you from costly out-of-pocket expenses should you require surgery, hospitalization or need to take time off from work to heal.

Personal injury insurance may not be available in every state or may be written under a different name. As always, talk to an independent insurance agent to make sure this coverage is available in your state and what limits will protect you best.

Comprehensive and Collision

Comprehensive and collision are added coverages that protect from things like hail, theft and physical damage to your vehicle in the event of an accident. In some cases (especially if you finance a vehicle) you may be required to maintain comp and collision coverage when buying auto insurance.

New Car, New Coverage

One of the best car insurance tips we can give is to ensure your coverage matches your car and to consider how the car you choose could affect your insurance premium or payment. If you’re trading an old vehicle in for a newer, more expensive model, you’ll want to consider raising your coverage limits to ensure you’re fully protected. If you’re financing your vehicle, make sure you have all the coverages in place that are required by your lender and your local government.

Defensive Driving Saves

Before you start shopping, consider signing up for a defensive driving class. People usually think of defensive driving courses as something you do after you’ve been given a ticket, but it can actually be a great way to get proactive about reducing your car insurance rates. Nothing saves you money like showing the insurance company you’re a safe driver.

Research Vehicles

Now that you know what coverage you’ll need, it’s time to start shopping. If you’ve done this before, you may have an idea of which company you’d like to work with or how much you can expect to pay in premiums. However, a great tip for first time car insurance buyers is to explore all your options.

Compare Premiums

Whether you search quotes online or visit your local independent insurance agent, make sure you consider all your options when looking for the right company to work with. See who can provide you with the best coverages at the best price so you can ensure you’re fully protected without breaking the bank. If you’re still considering a few different cars, it pays to talk to your insurance agent before you purchase. They can give you quotes on the insurance premiums for each vehicle so you can have a full picture of how your car-related expenses may change.

In addition to premiums, another important factor in determining the best insurance for you is how well they handle claims if you ever needed it. A benefit of working with an independent agent is that they can provide feedback on a company’s claims handling practices to ensure they settle claims quickly and fairly.

Discounts

As part of your research, look into any discounts that might be available to you. Usually, you can save money upfront with things like multi-policy or multi-driver discounts, paying the policy premium in full or signing up for auto-pay. As you continue your relationship with the company, you may get added discounts for loyalty or safe driving. Ask your insurance agent for details about all the ways you can save.

Choosing the Right Car

If you’re on the fence about which car you want to get, another great thing to factor into your decision is the size of the vehicle and any safety features it has. Did you know in some cases smaller cars can be more expensive to insure? They can be more expensive on the liability premiums since you are statistically more likely to experience a greater injury in an accident than if you were driving a larger truck or SUV, which can lead to savings for you. That said, smaller cars are often less expensive for the physical damage in the event of a total loss.

Another great way to reduce your premium is to buy a car with an anti-theft device and other safety features that reduce your risk.

Buying Car Insurance

So you’ve found exactly what you want and you’re ready to buy — here are some insurance tips for car buyers who are ready to make the leap:

Do It Yourself

The dealership will handle a lot of paperwork on your behalf, but don’t assume they’ll take care of insurance too. Whether you set up your insurance before you buy the car or after, you’ll need to handle it yourself. If you’re updating an existing policy, it’s as simple as updating your policy online or reaching out to your agent to handle the details within the timeframe outlined by your insurance company.

If it’s a new policy, you’ll need to set everything up before you leave the dealership. Dealers require proof of insurance before you can drive off the lot.

Consider Gap

Gap insurance is an additional insurance policy that you’ll purchase either from the dealer or from your lender. Gap insurance guarantees that, in the event your car is totaled, your loan will be paid off. Given how quickly cars depreciate in value, and how affordable gap coverage is, it’s a great way to protect yourself from an unnecessary financial loss.

Higher Deductible, Lower Rates

If the price tag is running a little high on the insurance coverage you need, another great way to lower your payment is to consider a higher deductible. The deductible is the amount you’ll be asked to pay in the event that you file a claim that’s your fault or responsibility. For example, if you cause an accident and have a $500 deductible to cover physical damage, you’ll need to pay the body shop that $500 and your insurance company will cover the rest.

Having a higher deductible means more expenses when an accident occurs, but it could save you money on your policy premium. Talk to your independent insurance agent to decide what coverage and which deductible is right for you.

Find an independent agent today to learn more.