Aside from a home and a vehicle, the most important purchase you will make in your lifetime is your California auto insurance policy. When you start shopping for insurance that first time, it will probably be a bit challenging and even frustrating when you see how many options that is available. For instance, a simple Google search using the keyword phrase “California auto insurance” will yield well over 100 million results. At 10 results per page, you wouldn’t have enough time to go through all of them. So what do you do? The following is a list of helpful tips that will make your search a little easier: Check your state requirements – if you are not familiar with California law and do not know the legal minimum insurance coverage, any insurance agent will be able to tell you about minimum liability requirements. This is the only coverage that is required by law. All of the other available coverages are optional and up to you. You can visit the California Department of Insurance website for more information regarding the different companies that are licensed to sell vehicle insurance in the state. There’s no point in researching an insurance company if they aren’t allowed to sell California auto insurance. So this could save you a lot of time in the process. If by some chance, they do not have a list of the insurance providers in your local area online at their website, you can always go to the “Contact Us” page and get the information needed. There is also a “Request Assistance” button on the navigation bar that will redirect you to a page containing information for complaints or general inquiries. Decide if you want to deal with a local insurer or a national company – despite the fact that your local insurance providers are affiliated with the major companies, there may not be any national company offices located in your community. Fortunately, all of the major national chains have websites. You should probably check out several California auto insurance companies offline and online at both the local and national level before you make your final decision. This typically depends on your comfort level with how you like to shop when making a major purchase of this nature. That comfort level will ultimately play a significant role in your final decision. So if you insist on meeting with an agent face-to-face, then you should visit their office so you can discuss your needs in person. Otherwise, you will probably find it more convenient to do your comparison shopping online and then contact an agent through that company’s website. Make a list of at least 6 California auto insurance companies – you cannot make a well-informed decision without doing some comparison shopping. After all, the goal is to get the right coverage at the best possible value. However, it is advisable that you never make price the determining factor. Granted, regardless of how poorly or well the economy is doing, price is important. However, no one is going to pay more for the same insurance coverage with one company when it is cheaper with another. Just keep in mind that price shouldn’t be the most important issue that factors into your decision. You do want to interview with at least a half dozen agents (in-person or online) to see who can offer you the best rates. There are other issues that will need to be factored into your decision which we will cover in the other tips that follow, such as the discounts that you may qualify for (see next). However, when you are finished, you will most likely be trying to decide between several companies anyway. Ask about discounts – although the type of discounts being offered may vary from one company to the next, every major insurance company offers them. Many companies will offer discounts in order to gain your business. If so, be sure you ask if there are limits on any of the ones they offer. You should still ask every agent your interview with about this. Although they may offer different discounts, they’re not always quick to mention them. You should make a list of the ones you think you would qualify for and inquire about them.
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