Throughout the years in Portland, Ore, I have been asked just about every insurance question known to man. I often hear questions like, “ Why are my rates so high compared to people I know,” or “We have the same car, so why are our rates different?” As an agent, I find it critical that my clients are educated on how their insurance is priced. I have listed three questions that you, the client, should ask your insurance provider.
1. Should I turn in that claim?
I have seen various types of auto insurance claims during my time in the insurance world. I make it clear to my clients there are great repercussions for turning in claims on dents and scratches. One thing I recommend doing before turning in that claim is having a honest conversation with your agent on whether or not it is worth getting your car repaired based on what you will pay over the next three to five years in premiums.
Example: Let’s say you get a ½ inch scratch on your car door. You decide to turn it in as a claim. You consider the fact that the scratch will cost $1,000 to fix, but you cover half of that with a $500 deductible. Short-term saving in this scenario are beneficial. However, over the next five years, this person could spend upward of $3,000 extra in premiums because they have a claim on their record. This is the power of a good agent!
2. What factors go into pricing my premium?
A response I hear from time to time is, “ my rates shouldn’t be different from my neighbors, we drive the same car.” There are a number of factors that go into deciding the price of your insurance. One critical factor is your credit score. Building your credit will have a direct impact on decreasing your premiums. Second, be aware of driver discounts offered by your insurance provider. This is another reason why giving your agent a call periodically to keep them up-to-date is important. Those who are single or rent will often have different rates than a married couple or homeowner.
3. How often should I shop/move my coverage?
I suggest checking your rates every three years. This time period is a benchmark for other companies looking at you as a potential new customer. Clients should understand that there are benefits in the longevity of of policy. Being a so-called “hopper,” which indicates you change providers every six months to a year, doesn’t qualify you for great rates in the long run. Call your company/agent and request a copy of your declarations page and request two or three quotes. If you have an agent, schedule an appointment with them to review your coverage together, and have them cross-check their carriers for you.
Having a solid relationship with your agent can save you a considerable amount of money over time. So give your agent a call, and let them know what’s happening in your world, you might be pleasantly surprised!
Chamberlain Insurance is an independent agency that has been located in Southeast Portland for over 30 years.