Choosing the right car insurance company for your particular circumstances isn’t always a cut and dry choice. It can be a huge decision as the company you pick will be who you deal with in the event you need to file a claim in the future. Most auto insurance companies offer the same basic coverage options and really only differ in the premium they charge you over the term of the policy. Some companies are known to charge exorbitant rates while others are much more reasonable and affordable for most drivers. How then to know which auto insurance company is the right one to choose for your next vehicle?
Complaints to Auto Insurance Claims Ratio Research
A reliable car insurance company is best judged by their reputation for fairness in the claims process. They should have the ability to respond to and close your claim as fast as possible and also pay out the proper amount. If your unfortunate accident results in the total loss of your vehicle, you don’t want to be stuck with an insurance company that only pays a small portion of what your car is actually worth. To check up on the various insurance companies you may be considering, your first stop should be your particular state’s department of insurance website. For the most part, every state insurance department has their own website where you can look up the number of consumer complaints made against any one of the automobile insurance companies licensed to do business in that particular state. The ratio provided will give you an indication of how many complaints were received against each insurance company per one thousand claims filed by the company customer base. This complaint to claim ratio can be used as decent gauge as to the reliability of each of the car insurance companies under your consideration. Based on this information, you can than narrow down your list further by figuring which of these companies is offering you the lowest premiums. Definitely make sure to choose a company with an excellent (lower) complaints to claims ration. An insurance company that meets both criteria, excellent ratio and low rates, obviously should merit strong consideration on your behalf.
Accredited Auto Body Shops
Your next step should be to see which auto body repair shops have been recommended by the car insurance company you’ve chosen. Make note of the locations of these accredited body shops to see if there is one in your local area. If so, great, but make sure to visit the body shop to make sure it is a well-run business with up-to-date equipment and a pleasant staff. They should be able to answer all of your questions and meet all of your repair needs in the future. There is another very good reason to research the accredited auto body shops in your local area. They have a personal experience in dealing with the insurance company you may be considering albeit from a slightly different perspective. By asking them about their dealings with your car insurance company, you can get a pretty good idea, based on their answers, whether or not the company is easy to work with throughout the claims process. Positive feedback from the body shop owner or manager is a definite plus but there are still other factors to consider.
Consumer Watchdog Groups
Another source of information to consider is the ratings provided some of the various consumer watchdog groups usually available on their websites. One of the more well-known consumer ratings companies is J.D. Power & Associates and they do have their own website where you can view the data they’ve collected. Policyholders nationwide are polled to collect this date and the auto insurance companies are then graded on coverage options, insurance premiums, claims handling, customer service satisfaction and the overall experience in dealing with said company. Visit the website for J.D. Power & Associates to learn more.
Before laying out premium payments to any insurance company, another very important factor to consider is the overall financial strength of the company itself. How is the auto insurance company viewed by Wall Street and the financial industry? A couple of the more well-known resources for checking up on the financial ratings are A.M Best and Standard & Poor’s. These two companies in particular are relied upon throughout the industry for well-researched and reliable indicators that can be used to assign a favorable or non-favorable financial strength rating. In general the financial strength of any insurance company can be used to determine its capacity to pay or settle claims. Obviously companies with a low rating should be disregarded as there may be a problem in receiving payment for a claim in the future.
These are some of the steps you should undertake before deciding on one particular insurance company over another. You need to choose a financially stable company with a low complaints to claims ratio that meets all of your coverage needs and one that also offers affordable premiums.