Tag Archives: deductibles

How to Get Free Auto Insurance Quotes and Purchase Online

Every six months you can find me surfing the web for auto insurance. Call me weird, but I always need to know I am getting the best price. If I had to guess, I would say that I have changed my auto insurance carrier seven times over the past nine years. Is that bad or am I just a good shopper? Anyway, I thought I would share with you my routine for shopping for auto insurance and things to look for. Currently, I am with Progressive and I have been pleased so far. Please keep in mind that none of these companies paid me to write about this. I also do not receive anything if you visit their site, so please feel free to visit them!

Check Your Current Policy

When six months rolls around (sometimes sooner), I will double-check to make sure that the coverage is still what I would like it to be. If for some reason the company lowered my limits, I make sure to get a new quote for the coverage amounts that I like. Here are the coverage amounts that I currently carry:

Bodily Injury Protection: $100,000 per person / $300,000 per accident

Property Damage: $100,000 per accident

Uninsured Motorist: Same limits as personal protection

Medical: $2,500

Comprehensive: $50 deductible

Collision: $500 deductible

I keep the bodily injury quite high because the cost of medical care is high. It’s that plain and simple. I will never buy less than $100,000 in property damage due to the high costs of vehicles today. For example, if I were in an at-fault accident with two other SUV vehicles, I would have caused damages (considering both were totaled) of around $50,000 if I am lucky. I really do not want to have to pay for any additional amounts out of pocket. I just keep the uninsured motorist coverage the same as my personal coverage due to the same reasons above.

In regards to deductibles, I keep my comprehensive very low because it just does not cost that much more to have it close to $0. Also, why have a $500 comprehensive deductible when you will use it for mostly inexpensive things? In terms of the collision deductible, I would like to have the deductible at $1000 because I could save around 15% on my policy. However, my credit union forces me to have at-the-most a $500 deductible. Anyone else have that problem?

Before you move onto the next section, make sure you obtain a new insurance quote from your current carrier. Their pricing structures may have changed.

Time to Start the Quotes

I typically have several sites that I check every few months for auto insurance. In this section I will list the sites that I visit and my general experience (price, obtaining a quote) with them.

Progressive

As I mentioned before, Progressive is my current carrier. So, far I have had a good experience with them. They were my carrier several years ago as well but of course, they were outbid a few months later so I switched. Obtaining a quote from Progressive is very easy. All you have to do is enter a few bits of information and you are all set for an accurate quote. They even offer to show you the prices of some of their competitors. However, I have never gone off of what they said. Can you really trust another insurance company to give you a quote for another company? I would rather do the digging myself. One of the main reasons I decided to go with Progressive is their MyRate Program. This program is for conservative drivers like myself. You basically install a tracker in your car that measures your distance and time traveled as well as your braking and acceleration. It then compares your driving to others in your rate class and gives you a discount accordingly (that is if you are below the average). My discount so far is about 5% at renewal (I have only been using it for a few weeks). All in all, I would recommend Progressive to anyone.

Geico

Before Progressive, my auto insurance carrier was Geico. They are well known for their commercials with the gecko. When I first purchased a policy from them it was very easy. Their quote system is very similar to Progressive. I only switched from them because Progressive’s quote was about $100 cheaper for six months and I also wanted to try the MyRate program. If you happen to find a cheaper quote with another company, make sure you call your current company first and see if they can negotiate with you on the price. Most companies will be willing to do this with you rather than see you go.

Esurance

Esurance is a fairly new auto insurance company. They are the ones with the animated (which I think are a little corny) commercials. Since the commercials are animated, I guess it allows them to produce cheaper insurance. I used Esurance for a few months and their quotes were quite low compared to some others. However, when I moved to Texas, their rates became more expensive and I could no longer use them. I would encourage you to check them out. They are very competitive right now and it does not hurt to get a quote.

State Farm

I have heard very good things about State Farm and their service. However, every time I get a quote there, they are always way more expensive than some of the others. I am talking about 25% higher. Maybe it is because I am in a strange rate class right now (young male). You may have more luck than me so be sure to check them out as well. Even though I never get a great quote from them, I still check. If you are someone who needs personal service, you may want to purchase from them even though they may be a fraction more expensive. They have many agents that you can see in your area.

Allstate

My first insurer was Allstate. Looking back, I could have probably saved quite a bit of money had I shopped around before I went with them. However, everyone in the family used them and I figured why not. I really did not know much about auto insurance back then. As soon as I went to college and became interested in personal finance, I started shopping around and got some pretty good deals. Allstate has quite a few good features such as accident forgiveness, deductible rewards, etc., but most of them are just a gimmick and add additional costs to the policy. Every time I quote with them now, they are even more expensive than State Farm. However, your circumstances may be different so be sure to at least get a quote from them.

Those are all of the companies that I get a quote from. I know there are probable plenty of other companies, but by the time I am done with quotes for these few, I have reached my maximum utility for auto insurance. There more than likely was a quote that I was comfortable paying for.

Time to Buy!

When you find a quote/company that you like, they make it very easy to purchase. Once you receive a quote, they automatically give you the option to purchase the insurance on the spot. Many companies even give you a discount for buying online.

Other Things to Consider

I figured I would give some additional brief tips to help you save some money on auto insurance.

1. Keep all of your policies with one company. If you have your homeowners, umbrella, renters and auto policy all at the same company, you will receive a discount on all of them.

2. Increase your deductibles. If you are allowed by your finance company (if you finance), raise your deductibles in order in increase your savings.

3. Find some discounts. Many auto insurance companies offer different types of discounts. They range from being a good student to belonging to a union. Make sure you ask your company if you are getting all of the discounts you are entitled to.

4. Drive a low-profile car. Drive a fast car? Chances are you are paying more due to that fact.

Anyone else have a company that they have used in the past? Did you get some good quotes from them?

Health Insurance: Part 3 – COBRA Coverage

This is Part 3 of a series on health insurance. Part 1 discussed deductibles. That post discusses  how they affect your plan and costs. Part 2 discussed stop-loss provisions and co-insurance.

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985 or COBRA, is a set of provisions that require some employers (those with 20 or more employees) to continue health insurance coverage for employees after termination of employment.

Termination of Employment

Under COBRA, the employer must offer continued health insurance coverage for 18 months from the date of termination or demotion to part-time.¬† If the employee was fired due to “gross misconduct”, COBRA benefits do not have to be offered. COBRA coverage can be terminated before the 18 month period if any of the following occur:

  • the employer terminates the health plan for all employees
  • the employee neglects to pay the required premium
  • the employee becomes covered under a new medical plan (however, if pre-existing conditions are excluded on the new plan, the employee must be allowed to continue COBRA)

The employer is allowed to require the employee to pay for some of the costs of COBRA coverage. However, they are not allowed to charge more than 102% of the cost of the insurance.

Disability

If termination is due to disability, coverage must be allowed to be continued for up to 29 months. All of the requirements set above are still applicable.

Other Options

There are several other events where an employer must offer 36 months of continued coverage to an employee or their beneficiaries. These events include:

  • death of employee
  • divorce or legal separation of the employee
  • employee’s entitlement to Medicare
  • bankruptcy

Recommendations

COBRA can be a very beneficial for many individuals, especially in these tough times. If you lose your job, check with your previous company about COBRA coverage. The coverage may be more expensive than you are accustomed to, but may be considerably less than if you were to purchase individual coverage. It also allows you to avoid the possibility of having pre-existing conditions placed on your new policy. For example, if you were recently treated for cancer, your new policy may not cover you for those related expenses. COBRA coverage may help ensure that those expenses are covered for a period of time.

Has anyone had a specific COBRA experience they would like to share?

Health Insurance: Part 2 – Co-insurance and Stop-loss Provisions

It’s been quite awhile since I wrote the post Health Insurance: Part 1 – Deductibles. In that post I discussed the general idea of deductibles and how they work. In this post, I will be discussing co-insurance and stop-loss provisions and what they mean to you and your wallet.

Once your deductible has been met, many health insurance companies will pay for all of your medical expenses. On the other hand, many companies will pay for medical costs on a co-insurance basis. Many co-insurance provisions are stated in a percentage format such as 80/20, 70/30, etc. The first number is what the insurance company will pay after the deductible and the second number is what you will be responsible for. You will continue to pay that percentage (after the deductible) until you reach a stop-loss provision or out-of-pocket maximum.

The stop-loss provision is the point where the insurance company will begin to pay 100% of a claim. Once your out-of-pocket expenses reach that limit, the insurance company will pay the rest. Without a stop-loss provision, you could be responsible for the co-insurance of an indefinite amount. For example, if you have medical bills of $500,000, your co-insurance clause is 80/20 and you do not have a stop-loss provision, you would be responsible for $100,000 of that particular bill. Make sure that your health insurance has a stop-loss provision for this reason! The higher the stop-loss, the lower the premium.

Let’s look at a comprehensive example for clarification:

Assume that John has an insurance policy with a $1,000 deductible, 80/20 co-insurance and a $5,000 stop-loss provision. Let’s also assume he has a hospital bill for $2,000. How much is he responsible for?

He is responsible for the first $1,000 of the bill due to the deductible. He is then responsible for 20% of the remaining $1,000 bill or $200. His total out-of-pocket expenses for this bill are $1,200.

Now let’s assume he has another bill for $25,000 (due to a surgery) in the same year. Since he has already paid his deductible, he will go straight to the co-insurance. He will be responsible for 20% of the bill or $5,000. However, he has a stop-loss provision of $5,000. Since he already paid $1,200 from a previous bill, he will only be responsible for $3,800 of the surgery bill. This is due to having met his $5,000 stop-loss. The insurance company will now pay any additional bills that come in during the same calendar year. Keep in mind that these provisions and deductibles are on a yearly basis and reset each year. So in this example, if John has the same bills next year, he will have to pay the same amounts again.

Health Insurance: Part 1 – Deductibles

This is part 1 of a series on health insurance. I will be explaining several components of health insurance contracts in order to help you make a better decision on your purchase.

Deductibles are a part of health care plans that require you to pay an initial amount before you receive some type of reimbursement. In other words, if you have a $100 deductible, the first $100 is on you and after that your insurance company will reimburse you some or all of your covered payments. Typically, HMOs do not have a deductible although some are starting to have a small one. PPOs typically have some sort of deductible.

If you are considering a PPO, you more than likely have the option to choose your deductible. Typically, the higher the deductible, the lower the cost. This is because you are responsible for a greater amount before the insurance company will have to pay. You should consider your past medical history when choosing your deductible. If you are prone to injury and visit the doctor often, it may not be wise to choose a high deductible because you will have more out-of-pocket. The opposite is true for someone who is very healthy. You may be able to get away with the higher deductible in order to lower your costs.

If you are purchasing a family policy, you typically will also have a family deductible in addition to the individual deductibles. Let’s say for example that you have three family members on your plan. The plan has a $200 individual deductible and a $500 family deductible. If person #1 has an insurance bill of $300, the first $200 is paid in full by person #1 because of the deductible and then the insurance company will pay for part or all of the remaining $100. If person #2 has a $300 bill as well, the same payment structure will apply. If person #3 has a $300 bill, the family deductible applies. Since the already have paid $400 out-of-pocket, only the first $100 of person #3’s bill will be out-of-pocket. The final $200 of their bill will be covered by the insurance company at the appropriate rate.

If you get your health insurance through your employer, you may also have the option of a HSA. I will go over HSAs in a future post but I will give you a quick overview now. An HSA is a health savings account. It is a tax sheltered account that allows you to save pre-tax money for your healthcare bills. As long as you use the money for healthcare expenses, it is tax defered as well as tax-free. These accounts are paired with high-deductible health plans. These plans have higher than normal deductibles. Typically, you should only consider a HSA if you are in good health. Like I mentioned before, I will discuss these in a later post.