So, you need to get auto insurance. You may be shopping to see what options are available, or this may be the first time you are purchasing auto coverage on your own. I want to take a few minutes to make sure you are prepared to get the right quote, as quickly as possible. If you are calling your local independent insurance agent, like The Bradshaw Agency, you are off to a good start.
More than likely your initial call will be answered by a customer service rep who will ask some questions to find out how they can best help you. Go ahead and let them know that you are shopping for auto insurance and you would like to receive a quote from one of their agents. Also, tell if you aren’t one of their current customers. This will save a little time since the rep will not have to search their client database. If you have been referred to a particular agent in the office, let the rep know that now. This way, you can be transferred directly to that agent immediately to proceed with the quote. The customer service rep will probably ask you a few questions, primarily just to get your contact info, before you’re sent to an agent. This will usually be limited to your name, address, phone number, and email address. If an agent is available, you will be sent directly to their line.
Usually the first question you will be asked is what company has your current coverage. This answer helps your agent out tremendously. Obviously, if you currently have Progressive and are looking to make a change, we don’t want to waste our time looking at that option. Also, most carriers want to see that you have had auto insurance for at least 6 months prior to providing you with new coverage. So, if you do not have prior coverage, our options may be very limited. We also want to know what liability limits you had on your previous policy and how long you were with that carrier. High liability limits and more terms with your prior company can help you get a better rate with many insurance providers.
The agent will collect the rest of your personal information, like your date of birth, license number, and marital status. All of this personal information will factor into determining your premium. They will also request information about your driving history. They will want to know if you have had any accidents, violations, or insurance claims in the last five years. And you guessed it, this will help determine your rate as well. The way this works is if you haven’t had claims, violations, or accidents, you are considered a safer driver. The cleaner your record, the lower your premium will be.
The next step will be collecting the same information for any other driving age household members. This means anyone in the home who has access to the automobile. If you have a 16-year-old son who is licensed, he must be listed on the policy. It doesn’t matter if he drives regularly or not, he has access to the vehicle and must be rated as a driver. You do get a break if he’s is an occasional driver. This means that you have more household drivers than vehicles on the policy and that young driver doesn’t rate as heavily since there is a real chance that they will not be on the road as often. Some carriers will allow you to exclude a driver if they are not licensed or have other insurance, but you would have to ask your agent about the specific carriers they are quoting.
After all driver info has been collected, your agent will start gather information about the automobiles on the policy. They will usually ask about the year, make, and model of the vehicles. They will also need the VIN in order to release the policy. It also makes quoting easier if you have the VIN available during your first call. Most carriers can access a database to automatically pull the safety features associated to the VIN. I bet you already know why we are asking this information. It’s because it helps determine your premium. Some vehicles are more expensive to repair than others, this makes their premium higher. Your newer truck may have better safety features than your old one, this might make the premium a little lower. Your agent will ask the garaging address for the vehicle. This simply means is the vehicle going to be kept at the mailing address. This is important because different zip codes have different rating factors. If there is an abnormally high number of auto thefts in your area, you are at more risk of having your car stolen. This means that its more likely that your insurance company will have to pay out due to a theft. This will make your premium higher. Finally, your agent will ask if there is any current damage to the vehicle because prior damage would not be covered under your new policy.
Once all this information has been collected, your agent can give you a quote. Once you have chosen the right policy for you, there are a couple more steps before you are on your way. The agent will run a report of your driving record. This will check to see if you have had any accidents or violations you did not disclose. As long as the report does not show any undisclosed violations, your premium will not change. At this point, you agent will list any lien holder for the vehicles, collect your down payment information and release your policy.