5 On Your Side

Shopping around for auto insurance pays off

Posted September 15, 2010 1:57 p.m. EDT
Updated September 15, 2010 7:49 p.m. EDT

Good auto insurance coverage can be costly, and Consumer Reports found that it pays to shop around to find the right plan and price.

In advertisements, Progressive's super-perky Flo promises savings of up to hundreds of dollars on auto insurance, and Geico's cute gecko promises 15 percent or more in savings.

Consumer Reports, though, found that the same companies weren't always offering the best deals.

"We've not found that one company always delivers the lowest rates, so you want to get quotes from a bunch of companies," Greg Daugherty, with Consumer Reports, said.

AnswerFinancial.com and InsWeb.com are good websites for shopping around for auto insurance.

Other ways to save on auto insurance include dropping rental reimbursement if a consumer has another vehicle he or she can use while their's is being repaired. Dropping roadside assistance is another way if consumes can get a better deal from AAA or another auto club. And drop collision coverage on older cars.

"If the insurance costs more than 10 percent of your car's value, you'll pay more for insurance than you'll ever get back if your car is damaged or totaled," Daugherty said.

But one way where consumers shouldn't cut back is on liability coverage.

"You could face financial ruin if you're at fault in an accident and there are large damages. Stick with at least the standard coverage," Daugherty said.

Standard liability coverage pays bodily injury of up to $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident and property damage up to $100,000.

Consumers should let insurers know if they are driving less. That could help save.

Also, a healthy credit score can also keep insurance costs down. When a score drops , so does a consumer's credit-based insurance score. Insurers use those scores to set premiums.

Along with low rates, drivers also want an insurance company that is there when they need it and that pays claims promptly.

In a survey of 28,000 readers nationwide, Consumer Reports found two companies scored especially high: Amica Mutual Group and USAA.