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It was another envelope with a familiar logo in the corner. Great, time to pay my auto insurance. Not an unexpected expense, but not welcome, either.

The corners of my lips took a downward turn as I read the contents. My auto insurance increased almost 10%.

Seriously?! I hadn’t filed any claims, gotten any tickets, moved, or had any problems with the insurance company, and this was the thanks I got?

Time to fight back.

Disgusted, I did what any good capitalist does—I comparison-shopped.

Maybe you don’t think much about insurance. Maybe you bargain hunt as much as I do. Or perhaps you’ve had the same auto insurance provider since high school. Whatever the case, stop and think about whether or not it’s time to do a little research. You may save hundreds of dollars on your auto insurance policy.

Let me preface these tips by saying I haven’t had an auto accident or ticket since the Clinton administration *furiously knocks on wood so as to not tempt fate*. I also have good credit, I own my sensible Toyota outright, and I live in a very cheap part of the country (I pay about one-sixth of what my ex-roommate who lives in New York City does). There is no perfect solution when comparison-shopping, but these are three good tips to get you on your way:

Call around to get price quotes. Call me old-fashioned, but this is how I prefer to do it. About once a year, I pour a glass of wine and call three or four different insurance companies to compare. It takes about 30-45 minutes, and I get a good idea where I can get the best deal on insurance. I have an Excel spreadsheet (see below) and I can keep track of who charges how much. I like that visual comparison right in front of me. I also like being able to speak with CSRs (customer service representatives) to investigate what types of discounts I qualify for.

  Company A Company B Company C
Body Injury Liability      
Medical Payments      
Underinsured Motorist      
Uninsured Motorist      
Property Damage Liability      
Comprehensive      
Collision      
Roadside Assistance      
Vehicle Rental      
Other      
Total

 Get quotes online. This is probably the easiest way to check out different price points. There are dozen of websites who will compare policies for you across many providers. I tried a couple of the big ones, Progressive and Esurance, and was surprised that the quotes I got were pretty close in price to the human I talked to. But it was still 5% cheaper to make a few calls and talk to actual human beings.

 Hire an insurance broker. If you don’t have the time or energy to do your own comparison-shopping, you can always have an auto insurance broker do the work for you. While I have never done this myself, there are definitely some benefits, the most important being you have a honest-to-God person who knows your name and zip code. And if you ever get involved in an accident, you have someone in your corner. This might be the most expensive way to go—their commissions usually run about 10%—but if you place high value on that personal touch, that’s something you cannot put a price tag on.

Whether you prefer the phone, online, or an insurance broker, it is a really smart idea to price out your auto insurance. I’m glad I did, because not only did I avoid a 10% increase, I actually saved 5% on what my soon-to-expire policy had been. It may go up in the next six months, but so long as I know I have freedom of choice, I will never hesitate to shop around for the best rate!

When was the last time you compared auto insurance policies? Comment below and tell us your story!

 

*Meme credit: https://www.tumblr.com/search/insurance%20humor.