How to find good car insurance

How to find good car insurance
finding car insurance

When shopping for reliable auto insurance, highly rated agents say the cheapest insurance often isn’t the best insurance.

The key, they say, is finding the right balance between price and reliability.

“We get a couple calls every week from customers saying they’re paying $50 a month and they were quoted [by another company] for $20,” says Ken Henry, owner of highly rated Henry Insurance Agency in Cincinnati. “These companies may be providing their information in small print. There are a lot of variables. They can quote you based on the lowest possible scenario.”

A common sense approach is often best when looking for good auto insurance — whether you just received your driver’s license or you’re ditching your old, unreliable agent for a new one.

“If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is,” says Dan Kalm, owner of Dan Kalm State Farm in Tucson, Ariz.

Finding good auto insurance

Start your search by conducting background research. It should include checking trusted consumer reviews and asking friends or family members for recommendations, or companies to avoid. Customers’ experiences will give you the best sense of the quality.

Related: Will my insurance increase if I file a claim?

Once you’ve found some companies that fit your needs, contact your state’s department of insurance to verify whether they hold a valid license.

Contact the agencies directly to set up a face-to-face meeting to see if your personalities match. Good communication skills are a cornerstone to any good relationship with an agent, Henry says. “We like to educate the person who is starting their own policy,” Henry says. “They can come to us, and we can start with a blank sheet of paper. We can go over the differences in pricing and walk them through it.”

When interviewing agents, make sure they fully explain the difference in the coverage plans they offer, how much they cost and how the claim process works. Find out if they offer roadside service, rental-car reimbursement and gap insurance for leased cars.

Barely legal insurance

You’ve probably seen the ads for “legal for less” insurance, but being legal doesn’t automatically mean having good insurance.

Kalm says going “bare bones” has risks because states have their own requirements for minimum coverage.

In Ohio, for example, the minimum coverage for liability insurance is $12,500 for an injured person, $25,000 for any one event, and $7,500 for property damage.

“If there was a third person injured, there may not be any more money left, and they’re going to go after the person that created the damage,” Henry says. “They’ll go after your future earnings. And that doesn’t even cover whether or not you were injured. By going bare bones, you put yourself at risk.”