Avoiding Disaster: Choosing the Right Auto Insurance Company

A great deal is at stake when choosing an auto insurance carrier. In addition to the financial considerations, there are issues such as reliability, quality of service, and integrity. Luckily, there are certain steps you can follow to ensure that you select an auto insurance company that will meet your needs.

When choosing an insurance carrier, reputation carries a great deal of weight. For instance, Allstate, Nationwide, and State Farm are well-known companies that have managed to hold onto some clients for years. For additional guidance, you can consult your state’s department of insurance website. The website might offer consumer complaint ratios which indicate exactly how many complaints an auto insurance company has received for every 1,000 claims filed. This information can help you to better evaluate companies so that you have some idea how their customer service rates. You can then compare the list of companies with low complaint ratios with the list of companies with low premiums and see if you can come up with any matches. Those companies that combine stellar customer service with low rates offer you the best deal for your money.

If for some reason you cannot locate complaint ratios for your state, try looking at the complaint ratios for other states. While an insurance company’s operations may vary from state to state, if a company posts a high complaint ratio in a number of states, you should consider that to be a warning sign. It is best to simply cross off your list any insurance company with consistently high complaint ratios.

Another technique you can use when evaluating insurance carriers is to determine which insurers body shops in your area recommend. Because body shop managers must deal with a number of insurance adjusters, they can provide you with an inside look at insurance companies. The managers will know, for instance, which companies offer the most convenient claims procedures. They’ll also know which companies are particularly slow in processing claims.

Another important source of information is J.D. Power and Associates, which rates insurance companies in terms of variety of coverage, rates, claims processes, and customer service. In recent years, Amica and Erie have posted the best rankings with J.D. Power. These two companies have earned raves for finding ways to cover claims, when at all possible. You might also want to consider an insurer’s financial strength by checking out ratings from A.M. Best and Standard and Poor’s. These ratings determine an insurance company’s ability to pay claims. Still, you should be aware of the fact that most well-known carriers are considered to be financially sound.

Finally, you might select your insurance company based upon the professionalism of an individual agent. Since you will have to work closely with your agent, it is important to find one that you can trust. You might consider consulting a relative or friend to find out the names of some particularly efficient agents.

In the end, you may not find out just how responsive your insurance company is?until you are faced with an accident. However, if you conduct extensive research before selecting an insurance company and agent?if you pay close attention to complaint ratios?and you ask plenty of questions, chances are good you will find insurance coverage you will be happy with.

  • June 3, 2011
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