toyota insurance

You can control your car insurance costs by adjusting your deductibles, but be careful not to save on premiums at the expense of appropriate coverage.

Do your homework, carefully assessing your needs and studying the nuances in car insurance jargon. First, calculate how much you really could afford to pay from your own assets if you had a serious accident. Do not set your deductibles any higher than you genuinely can spend. Then, study the language: Learn the difference, for example, between “fair market value” and “full replacement cost,” because the subtle difference in phrasing can mean thousands of dollars in a pay-out and hundreds of dollars in annual premiums. Similarly, if you insure teen-aged drivers, find out your company’s definition of “full-time student” and “good student.” Full-time students with B-averages typically pay less than their C-average classmates; and, yes, girls always pay less than boys. Then, follow the experts’ five strategic tips:

• Never leave yourself stranded. As you assess how much you should cut your premiums by raising your deductibles, observe the insurance industry’s cardinal rule: Do not set your deductible higher than you realistically could afford out-of-pocket to repair your car within a few days. A 2011 survey of American families revealed that more than 80% of households could not raise $1000 for an emergency expense within thirty days. If you number among the 80% and you absolutely depend on your car for transportation to school and work, then $1000 deductibles will leave you stranded and desperate. Find other ways to adjust your premiums: change the primary driver, join a carpool to cut your average commute, take a drivers’ training class, or add extra safety and anti-theft equipment.

• Learn the real cost of repairs for your car. Some of the world’s most dependable cars are, paradoxically, extremely expensive to repair because of their super-durable construction. At the other end of the scale, some of the world’s cheapest vehicles are also notorious for high repair costs. The more fiberglass replaces metal on your car, the more expensive your repairs may be. Make sure to find out about “uni-body” construction on many Asian and European imports, because one strategically placed dent in a “uni-body” can “total” an older Hyundai, Suzuki, or Kia. Also find out the cost of replacement parts, because so-called “small” items may carry shocking price tags. Common sense suggests tail-light lenses, for example, ought to cost only a few dollars—how expensive can red plastic be? Some, however, cost over $100 because of specially molded-in visibility features. Your deductible may not cover a significant proportion of you repair costs, and your premiums may rise as a result.

• Meet your lenders’ requirements. The finance company that granted your loan or lease naturally wants to protect its investment, and your lender knows your credit history and monthly expenses, so that your contract may include not only stipulations about the kind of overage you must carry but also limits on your deductibles. The average motorist sets his or her “comprehensive” and collision deductibles at $500; your lender may prohibit your going over the industry standard.

• Get uninsured motorist coverage. Because many cash-strapped families have battled their Great Recession woes by cutting their car insurance or skipping it altogether, you cannot afford to decline uninsured motorist coverage. You need it for your family’s protection against unexpected medical costs, and you need it for your own protection against catastrophic damage to your car. In fact, your need for uninsured motorist coverage is directly proportional to your family’s dependence on the car; how long could you go without your car if you had to pay for doctors and repairs out of your own pocket? If you must raise your deductibles to afford the extra coverage, do it.

• Cut frills. You do not need rental car coverage, because you can rent a car for less than the insurance company can provide one, and you can buy the rental company’s insurance for less than the price of extra coverage on your regular policy. You also may not need full-replacement insurance on the contents of your vehicle or the after-market accessories. Check to see what your homeowner’s coverage may replace, because your tools, laptop, and other workplace essentials may be covered by one of your other policies even if thieves take them from your car. As you cut frills, you also may save by adding security features to your car: GPS tracking devices and alarms substantially cut the cost of theft insurance.

If you’re a good driver with an unblemished record, you may sometimes feel as if you are throwing your money into a black hole as you pay for car insurance. The other guys, however, are not nearly as conscientious and trustworthy as you: On any given weekend, one in four drivers is over the legal limit for alcohol, one in seven is driving without insurance, and 30% of your fellow motorists are likely to hit and run. Protect yourself and your family accordingly.

Author Stephen Anderson is an insurance consultant who strongly sugggests that you search online to Compare Car Insurance quotes to make certain you get the best possible prices. Quotes are available by state or city, such as Birmingham Car Insurance.