Do You Regularly Shop Around for Insurance?

by Miranda Marquit · 10 comments

When you already have an insurance policy, it’s easy to become complacent about what you have. You pay the premiums, you have coverage. But, if you don’t look around for better deals, you might find yourself paying more than you should for your policy. Whether it’s home, health or auto insurance, it’s a good idea to comparison shop every so often.

Have Your Coverage Needs Changed?

The first thing you need to do is determine whether or not your coverage needs have changed. If you’ve owned your home for a long time, it might be worth more now than when you bought it. However, your home may only be covered for the old value. That could be a serious problem later on should something happen.

Your coverage needs might also change when you have a car. As your car gets older, and loses value, you might not need as much coverage. Once your car loan is paid off, you might not be required to maintain the same level of coverage. You can save on auto insurance by reducing your coverage. Your health insurance needs might change as well, so it’s always a good idea to revisit your insurance policies to make sure it’s up to date.

If you need to change your coverage, it’s time to shop around. Don’t just accept what your current company offers for the change; look around and see whether or not you could benefit from switching companies.

Shop Around at Least Once a Year

Perform an audit of your insurance policies. Check your homeowner’s policy, and your auto policy. Find out what coverage you have, and then compare it to what is being offered elsewhere. Look into your health insurance coverage, and look at ways you can save on health care costs while maintaining the needed coverage (this can include switching to a high deductible plan and opening a HSA).

At least once a year, compare what you are paying to what other companies are offering. Make sure that you compare apples to apples. You might find that another company offers a lower price, while your current company has been slowly raising premiums every year. Shopping around regularly ensures that you receive the best deal possible.

Talk To Your Own Agent

Of course, just because you find a better price elsewhere doesn’t mean that you automatically abandon ship. If you are generally happy with your insurance company, you can approach your agent and ask about price matches. Give your insurance company the chance to keep you as a customer. Tell your insurance agent what you have found, and ask if there is anyway for the company to match the premium price.

Even if it isn’t an exact match, if the agent can lower your premium to keep you, it might be worth staying if you are very satisfied with the customer service that you receive. However, if the company just won’t budge and refuses to negotiate with you at all, it might be time to move on. You do want to stick with a company that values you as a customer.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Gail E September 27, 2011 at 7:51 am

I have been with my car insurance company and agent since I was 16 years old…so about 28 years. I have only had a few minor claims over those 28 years. My fear in changing has always been that if something “big” happened and they were gonna cancel my policy, that I would at least be able to say “I have been with you and paying premiums for 28+ years” and that would somehow change their minds…or give me a little leverage. It may not be true but thats my mindset, and my fear of looking around and switching, therefore not having that “relationship” with my agent.

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russell September 27, 2011 at 8:23 am

i had been with nationwide for the entire time i owned my home (12 years). we had car, motorcycle, home and life insurance with them. my home insurance premium went up every year, finally reaching $2500 this year. finally this year i decided to look around. the first 3 companies i checked were significantly cheaper. i questioned nationwide about it, and they couldnt come close to matching. at the same time i increased my deductible (same coverage otherwise), and was able to reduce my annual premium to ~$700. nationwide also lost my all my other too.

in talking with friends i see others experience the same thing. my guess is that companies lure customers with low premiums initially and then gradually turn the screws on you and hope that inertia keeps people from looking around. with the internet, it’s too easy not to look for cheaper coverage. i saved a small fortune by doing a couple of hours of work.

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JP Adams September 27, 2011 at 8:44 pm

In my 3 years working in Corporate Strategy at an International Insurance Carrier the one piece of data that always shocked me was retention.

Roughly 85% of people don’t change their insurance each year (its higher if the individual has several products with one company.)

This leads you to ask why? While there are many reasons, one has to be that people hate insurance. Its seen as an expensive product that gives no value unless a crisis occurs (which is never fun anyway).

So in order to motivate people to change, start with the numbers.

– Insurance is one of the most expensive fixed costs next to your mortgage
– Save $100’s by shopping around
– Leverage aggregator networks like insurance.com for fast comparisons
– Save $100’s by bundling multiple products with one carrier
– Save $100’s on kids for good grades

Go straight to the hard cash benefits. Otherwise, most people won’t make a move (history says so).

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Choose Financial Freedom September 30, 2011 at 5:42 am

If you’re not reevaluating your insurance every year, you could be losing lots of cash.

Insurance needs and premiums change month to month, year to year. For example, as your car ages, you may not need total coverage anymore.

– Check your current coverages
– Contact an insurance broker
– Ask him/her to shop around for rates
– Reevaluate every year

So, go and collect your coverages and see if it’s time for you to start saving some money.

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Bart Lipscomb October 4, 2011 at 11:39 am

We often shop around and compare house and car insurance to find the right coverage for the right price. With some very handy tools available now, we should do the same when selecting health insurance. Make sure if you work with a broker, he or she has that mindset as well to get you the best fit and value.

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James July 20, 2012 at 10:41 am

The best idea is to find a good company and stick with them! Shopping around isn’t always the best option. If you are with the same insurance company for years, they tend to give you a long-term member discount. Even if they don’t, you might as well call them up and let them know you are shopping around for other policies because you think theirs is too expensive. If they value your business, they will hook you up with a price cut ;)

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John Egan September 4, 2012 at 3:51 pm

It can’t be stressed enough that you should shop around for insurance, particularly if you haven’t been with the same insurance company for that long. And make sure you ask about discounts; you may qualify for a discount that you — and your agent — weren’t even aware of.

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Mike Shepherd December 27, 2012 at 12:42 pm

All of the above is great advice, but some contradict each other.

To clarify,

– You should check annually to make sure that you are not paying too much for your insurance
– If you find that you are paying significantly more than you’ve been quoted elsewhere, contact your broker/agent to see if updating your info can lower it. They cannot waive a magic wand and lower your rates, but they can verify information is correct and check to see if you qualify for discounts. (Unlike your phone company who can apply a discount if they feel like it!)
-Staying with a company for a long time does generate a discount. Although, 99% of companies will honor that discount if you switch. For example if you’ve been with one company for say 5-10 years, and switch to a new company, they will usually honor that 5-10 year loyalty discount if they offer one.
-Staying with a company for a long time does NOT give you any leverage in the event of a claim/conviction. Companies have rules that they cannot change. If you have been with a company for 50 years, and in one year have a streak of bad luck and no longer ‘fit’ their underwriting rules, they will let you go.

All in all, find a broker/agent that looks after you, and helps you make sure you are properly covered, and proactively looks over your renewal to make sure that you are getting any/all discounts you deserve. Brokers also have the ability to shop your policy for you, as they deal with a number of different insurance companies, where agents only deal with one.

If anyone has any questions I encourage you to contact me! mhl.mc@live.ca
-An Insurance Broker

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red January 31, 2014 at 11:41 pm

I agree, shopping with a broker does make the whole process of finding a lower rate for insurance easier. When I was younger, I used a broker for my car insurance and I was able to safe a lot of money.

You should talk to your agent, if they offer discounts for taking traffic school/ driver safety course.

I usually do my annual shopping during the start of the year.
I also review my cable and internet bills and call the companies and ask for new promotions.

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Andrew June 2, 2014 at 1:09 pm

By all means request that your agent shop your insurance, but please realize that they don’t set the rates so a bit of patience is appreciated. If you are planning on shopping around, do it as soon as you get your renewal info from the insurance company. Waiting til the last minute is never a good idea. Some auto companies even give a discount if you get a quote in advance so that’s also something to think about.

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