How to lower your car insurance – no matter the insurance company

But the fun doesn’t stop when you buy your car. You can use the same power of negotiation to get amazing deals on your car insurance. And because you pay insurance monthly, the gains only compound over time. I’ll show you how.

The importance of good car insurance

When I first purchased car insurance, I ended up getting it from a company with fantastic insurance rates because I wanted to save money each year. But it was also the worst insurance company in the world.

The company lost my paperwork, “accidentally” overcharged me, and spammed my mailbox every week with letters. Eventually, I got fed up and decided to switch. After calling a bunch of places and negotiating with different insurers, I found a company that saved me nearly $200 every six months (almost $400 a year).

If I would have compared and negotiated from the start, I would have saved hundreds of dollars and lots of headaches.

My point? Insurance is not a commodity. If you go with the cheapest insurer and it turns out that they “accidentally” overcharge you — and worst case scenario — can’t even fulfill your claim, then it’s your fault.

That’s why you want to pick a reputable company even if that means paying $50 or so more each year. And negotiating a great rate with these companies isn’t that complicated either — as long as you follow the steps I outline below and use the right scripts.

How to negotiate car insurance

Step 1: Set a goal of how much coverage you need

Most US states — besides New Hampshire and Virginia — require you to get car insurance as well as a certain amount of liability coverage you need.

When it comes to the amount of liability that’s required, you’ll typically need to find coverage in three areas:

  1. Bodily injury (per person). This is the amount that is covered for each person who gets hurt during an accident.
  2. Bodily injury (total). The most an insurance company will cover for bodily injury per accident.
  3. Property damage (total). This does not include your own property. This amount only covers the damage sustained to the property of others.

Though every state requires you to get a certain amount of liability coverage, the full amount of the coverage varies.

Here’s a comprehensive list of car insurance coverage requirements for each state (ex: Alabama requires $25,000 for bodily injury per person).

Other coverage options

Aside from state requirements regarding liability, most car insurers will provide 5 other coverage options. Deciding which ones you want is a matter of personal preference and factors like how old your car is.

The coverages are:

  1. Uninsured motorists. Some states require you to be insured to protect against uninsured motorists. This coverage helps you in the event that you get into an accident with someone who isn’t insured and can’t pay for your car repair and/or medical bills.
  2. Medical costs. If you’re injured in an accident, the insurance company will pay some or all of your medical bills (depending on the coverage and how much the bill is).
  3. Personal injury protection. Like uninsured motorists coverage, some states require you to get this as a minimum. This pays for any medical expenses or lost wages you might encounter due to a collision.
  4. Collision. This coverage typically protects your vehicle against collisions with other motorists or objects. Good if you’re prone to accidentally backing up into the mailbox.
  5. Comprehensive. This coverage tends to cover the whole gamut of things that might happen to your car such as hail, water, and fire damage; if it gets stolen; vandalism; or total destruction. I wouldn’t suggest getting this coverage if your car is already pretty old or isn’t worth much.

Consider your options and decide what you want out of your insurance coverage. Once you do that, you’ll be ready for step 2.

Step 2: Figure out your current plan

If you don’t have your current plan in front of you, how can you hope to save?

That’s why you need to find out what your current policy looks like. Go digging through the glove compartment for it, check your files, or call your insurance company. This is important information you can leverage when negotiating with your current insurance provider.

At a very least, you need to know how much you’re paying and for what services.

Here are the numbers of the most popular car insurance providers that you can use to call to find out your policy now.

By now you should have your policy in front of you. This includes what type of coverage you have as well as your deductibles and how much you’re paying in premiums.

You’re now ready to begin comparing it with other car insurers.

Step 3: Shop around

To start, you can use a rate comparer tool such as this one to compare quotes from different insurers.

I prefer talking to a rep on the phone, though, because they always tell me about other deals that the websites don’t offer.

When consulting with a rep or looking up quotes online, be sure to find out how much exactly you’ll be paying in these two areas:

  • Premiums. This is the price you’ll pay for your plan. Typically, insurers offer 6-month and 12-month policies, and provide options for payment plans including paying for coverage all at once, quarterly, or month-by-month.
  • Deductibles. This is the portion you’ll pay out of pocket before your insurer pays the rest.

This is all a matter of personal preference though. If you’re a good driver and/or don’t typically drive your car often, opt for higher deductibles for lower premiums.

If you’re accident prone, drive a lot, or have kids that plan to learn how to drive soon, definitely opt for the lower deductible.

No matter the case, you should know exactly the coverage you want along with the limits for each. That way it makes everything much simpler to compare.

To help keep everything organized, you can use an Excel or Google Spreadsheet. Here’s a good template to leverage during your search.

Once you get a few solid quotes, compare them to what you’re currently paying. You’re going to be able to make a sound argument with your insurance rep as to why you should get a lower rate once you do.

Which brings us to…

Step 4: Lower your rates with this car insurance negotiation script

Now it’s finally time to call up insurance reps — including the one you currently have — and negotiate an awesome deal with scripts.

Before you do that, though, there are two things to keep in mind when speaking to a representative.

  1. Stay polite — but firm. Don’t just call up the rep and scream, “GIVE ME LOWER CAR INSURANCE!!!!” (I’ve tried, it doesn’t end well.) You need to handle the negotiation with finesse and civility — even if the representative is short with you. Nothing throws a wrench into negotiations quite like pissing off the one person who can help you.
  2. This is not a win/lose situation. You can’t just make a demand and expect the person to give it to you. However, insurance companies are willing to offer discounts to make or keep high-value customers. Prepare to make your case as to why you’re such a good customer and you’ll see results.

Keep those two things in mind when you call up the representative and I promise you, you’ll find a great deal.

Calling to renegotiate your current policy

If you already have a car insurance policy but just want to negotiate for better rates, use the following script.

ACME INSURANCE: Hello, Acme Insurance. How may I help you today?

YOU: I’d like to negotiate a policy. [Other insurance company] is offering to insure me for $XXX less for [coverage]. I’d like to know if there’s a better deal from you, please.

Wait for their response. Negotiating with this technique is much harder to do with car insurance companies than banks — but it is possible. If they’re stubborn and try to shoot you down, keep pressing at it. Don’t make it easy for them to say no.

ACME INSURANCE: Sorry, but our rates are fixed at this time and we can’t change it due to [some BS excuse about why they can’t give you a lower rate].

YOU: Well, I’ve been a good driver for X years now and would love a lower rate. What else can you do to help me?

ACME INSURANCE: Hmm, one second sir. I see that you’re a really good customer. I’m going to check with my supervisor. Can you hold for a second?

[hold]

I was able to check with my supervisor and can lower that policy by X%. Does that work?

Getting a response like that is the best case scenario. However, there might be the chance that they deny you a discount based on this tactic alone. If this happens, I suggest you do the following:

  1. Don’t stop until you get a yes. Persistence is integral in negotiations. If you keep at it and make a strong case, they’ll be backed into a position where they’ll want to give you what you want.
  2. Try again later. Like the Magic 8 Ball says, sometimes you just have to try again later. If the first car insurance rep keeps shutting you down, thank them for their time, hang up, and dial again for a new rep. This one might be a little more amenable to your suggestions.
  3. Refocus your negotiations. If they won’t give you a discount because their competitors are offering better rates, don’t worry. There are still other ways to get fantastic deals — which I’ll go into in the next section.

This isn’t the only way to get a lower car insurance rate, though. By asking certain questions, you’ll be able to unlock deals you didn’t even know existed.

Calling to negotiate a new policy

You might be searching for your first car insurance policy ever. Or you might be looking to see what’s better than your current one.

No matter the case, it’s time to start digging deep and asking detailed questions to uncover the saving these companies have hidden from you. The majority of people won’t even ask questions like these, so reps will be caught off guard — giving you the advantage.

First, you’re going to want to start the same as above. Here it is again.

ACME INSURANCE: Hello, Acme Insurance. How may I help you today?

YOU: I’d like to negotiate a policy. [Other insurance company] is offering to insure me for $XXX less for [coverage]. I’d like to know if there’s a better deal from you, please.

If they shoot you down, remember you can always:

  1. Reiterate the fact that you want a better deal and keep persisting.
  2. Hang up the phone and call back to negotiate with a different rep.

If you get the lower rate — or even if you don’t — you can refocus the negotiations and start asking for the hidden deals that many car insurers don’t tell you about.

Here are a few good questions to ask to uncover those gems:

“How much would I save if I insure my car and house with you?” Some insurers will discount if you insure your house through them as well as your car.

“What about renewal discounts? What can you offer me as a discount for long-term membership?” Reminding them of the fact that you’re looking to be a longtime customer goes a long way in ingratiating yourself to them.

“Can I save money by prepaying my entire year up front?” Many insurers will offer huge policy discounts if you prepay for an entire year.

“Let’s check my car. I know other firms offer discounts for features like anti-lock brakes. What about you?” Not many people realize this, but many car insurance companies will offer better premiums if your car has safety features such as anti-lock brakes, airbags, and four wheel drive.

“What kind of low-mileage discounts do you offer?” If you find yourself taking the bus or biking to work more than you ever drive, you might qualify for a low-mileage discount with car insurance companies.

“If I enrolled in a defensive-driving course, what kind of discount would you offer? Oh, really? Which courses qualify?” Car insurance companies want you to be a safe driver. That’s why some are willing to discount you if you take a course aimed at making you one.

“What about discounts for my employer? (Tell them the specific name of your employer.)” Some employers partner with car insurance companies in order to get great rates for their employees. Check to see if your company does this.

“Some insurance companies offer discounts for low-risk occupations (engineers). What kind of competitive rates do you offer?” Insurance companies take a look at many things when it comes to determining your rate — including your employment. After all, a NASCAR driver is probably going to have higher rates than a CPA.

“Am I paying for roadside assistance? What other additional benefits am I paying for?” Many times, you don’t need certain benefits such as roadside assistance (if you’re in AAA, you already have it). In fact, many credit cards offer roadside assistance as well. Getting rid of these “benefits” could give you a good discount.

“Can you walk me through the deductible changes I could make to save money?” Deductibles are what you pay before your insurance policy kicks in. By requesting higher deductibles, you can lower your costs substantially. For example, increasing your deductible from $200 to $500 could reduce your collision and comprehensive coverage cost by 15 – 30%. Going to a $1,000 deductible can save you more than 40%. Before choosing a higher deductible, be sure you have enough money set aside to pay it if you have a claim.

It seems like a lot of work — and it is. But this is the work that 99.9999% of people out there won’t do, which means your returns can be substantial if you do them.

Check out this graph I made of different rates that insurance companies were offering me.

The difference between the lowest quote (USAA) and the highest (Liberty Mutual) is $602 per year. That’s a 50% savings for a few phone calls.

You can earn similarly low rates with just a few phone calls and scripts. Try some of these tactics out this week and let me know what you find in the comments.

Beyond car insurance negotiations

If you couldn’t tell already, I LOVE negotiations — mostly because I got it from my parents.

I remember my dad once dragged me with him as he spent an entire week negotiating at a dealership on the price of a car.

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