TRENTON – As the New Year arrives, Department of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Tom Considine urged New Jersey consumers to make smart choices, carefully review their coverage and shop around as they renew their auto insurance policies. Many times consumers neglect to update their information when they renew their policy and can end up paying higher costs needlessly.
“As consumers renew their auto policies in the New Year, they should first look at any recent life changes, including a new job or relocation, and see how that impacts their insurance needs,” Commissioner Considine said. “Consumers should also review their policy line by line and determine if the coverage they had in 2011 is what they need in 2012.”
Commissioner Considine offered these tips to consumers:
Factors That Affect the Cost of Insurance
- Consumers who married within the last year should alert their auto insurers. Statistically, young married couples tend to have a lower incidence of accidents and claims than unmarried individuals. This may result in lower premiums.
- People who have changed jobs and are now working closer to home are traveling fewer miles and lowering their exposure to risk. Insurers will calculate premiums based on the average distance driven on an annual basis.
- Getting older could also mean a change in your rate. Younger drivers who are new behind the wheel may be considered riskier than older drivers with more experience. Consumers should check with their insurance agent to see if they have aged out of a younger bracket and are now considered a less risky driver.
Inquire About Discounts
- At renewal time a consumer may want to adjust the coverage from the previous year’s levels. Collision and comprehensive coverage are not required by the State but are strongly recommended, especially for newer cars. However for older cars, drivers may be able to save money be eliminating their collision insurance.
- To lower a rate, consumers can adjust the amount of their deductible. A higher deductible will mean paying more in the event of an accident, but it will also mean a lower premium.
- Married couples may want to insure all of their cars with the same company, as this may lower the cost of the premium.
- Consumers who pay their premium in one payment as opposed to in installments may pay less.
- Bundling insurance is another possible cost saver. Insuring your home and your car with the same company can highlight you as a loyal customer and may lower the premium.
- Consumers with teenage drivers with good grades could decrease the cost of insurance. Good grades help depict the driver as responsible and may mean they are less risky on the road.
- A new year may result in new offers or discounts that were previously unavailable. Consumers should contact their insurance agent to inquire about new updates or offers.
- Drivers with a few bad experiences on the road may want to start off the New Year by completing a defensive driver’s course. An approved course will help consumers behind the wheel and may also qualify them for a discount with their insurer.
- Consumers should always shop around and learn more about what each insurance company has to offer before purchasing a policy. Shopping around can be time consuming but it may lead to significant savings.
- Every insurer has its own rating system which will affect premium costs. Some may offer accident forgiveness policies while others may not. Accident forgiveness means an insurer agrees not to increase a premium after an insurer is involved in an accident. Since these policies come with higher protection they also come with higher premiums. Accident forgiveness policies will vary by insurer so it is important to get the details before choosing this option.
- Violations and accidents, which may increase your costs, eventually expire over time. When they do, rates may decrease. Consumers should keep tabs on these items to ensure they are removed in a timely manner. Each insurance company has their own method for determining how long it takes for a violation or accident to expire. Consumers should contact their individual insurance agent or company to learn more.
- The National Association of Insurance Commissioner’s also maintains a buyer’s guide on their web site that can help consumers with auto insurance questions. That guide can be found at: www.naic.org/documents/consumer_guide_auto.pdf.
“Auto insurance renewal gives consumers the annual opportunity to evaluate their costs and coverage and change their policy or their insurance company so that it is a better fit,” said Commissioner Considine. “I strongly urge consumers to take full advantage of this opportunity.”
For more information, consumers can visit the Department of Banking and Insurance web site at www.njdobi.org or an online shopping guide is available at.