The New Realities of Quoting Auto Insurance
Now, don’t get me wrong, my profession is providing and servicing personal lines insurance, including auto insurance, and I love my profession. Over three decades as an insurance agent and broker, I’ve come to realize, however, there are three main reasons I dislike quoting auto insurance for strangers calling on the phone who are just shopping around for the cheapest automobile insurance quote they can get.
Reason number 1:
Too many people are under the impression that just because they can fog up a mirror, they are entitled to buy good, cheap auto insurance whenever they want, no matter their driving history.
So what if they have moving violations, haven’t ever been insured to drive a car, have a suspended or revoked license, or just had same reinstated?
So what if their father once put several cars under their child’s name, and on their child’s auto insurance policy, cars driven by other people who collected accidents like leaches suck blood?
So what if there are three tombstones in the local cemetery directly attributable to their inability to control a vehicle?
So what if they have a DUI, DWI, or DWAI in the last ten (10) years?
You see, their cousin has insurance with your company, and they pay a low premium so you should give me a better rate.
They don’t realize their cousin has done all the right things throughout their driving career to earn that premium.
Reason number 2:
Now, providing anyone with a quote will, in the best of circumstances, take at least 20 to 30 minutes. So now I open with a series of qualifying questions, the same questions I will need answered to develop an automobile insurance quote. Some of them are;
What is your date of birth? Your Social Security number?
What kind of work do you do? How long have you done this type of work?
What is the name of your employer? How long have you worked there? What’s the address of the firm?
Have you ever had your driver’s license suspended or revoked? If so, which one, for how long, and when did you regain the privilege to drive? (Word to the wise, many companies will automatically disqualify you for these transgressions. Come on, be honest, would you loan your car to a friend with a lousy driving record? Yet you want insurance companies to insure you?)
How long have you been continuously licensed in the United States?
How long have you had auto insurance in your name, or been insured under someone else’s policy? (If you’ve neither owned a policy nor been insured under someone else for as little as one week you will pay a higher premium.)
How long have you been insured with the other auto insurance company? (If you’ve had a license for 15 years, but never owned a car, only rented when you had to, you will pay a higher premium.)
What is the company’s name? (Word to the wise, many auto insurance companies will not write a policy for someone coming out of an indemnity company. Think New York Automobile Insurance Plan, (NYAIP), with a fancy name attached. Another reason to always ask which company you’re being written in and whether or not this is an indemnity company. Better to pay an exorbitant premium for a year or two, and then, all things considered, move into a less expensive company within that company’s family of companies.)
How many and what kinds of accidents were you involved in during the last five (5) years? (Word to the wise, having two or more “incidents” involving either accidents or moving violations during the last two (2) to three (3) years will make you ineligible for insurance with many companies, forcing you to go into the NYAIP for what I call rehabilitation.)
While we’re on the topic, how many moving violations, and how many points have you accumulated during the last five (5) years?
Recently a young man from Baldwin, NY called my office for a quote.First, he called and didn’t leave a number, so I used my caller ID to call him back. He asked me if I was Travelers, and I informed him my agency is an independent insurance agency associated with Travelers. Then, came the dreaded request of “I want a quote.”
So I began to ask him my qualifying questions, and he hesitated (always a bad sign) when I asked him if his license had ever been suspended and/or revoked (it had been). To top it off, he hadn’t been insured for over 5 months, was under the age of 25, and unmarried.
So, informing him my main companies wouldn’t insure him, I prepared a New York Automobile Insurance Plan quote for him. He only asked for liability on a relatively new automobile, and simply hung up when I gave him the premium.
Not even so much as a goodbye.
He could afford to buy the car. Can’t afford to insure it.
You can click here to see a copy of my Auto Insurance Quote Worksheet.
Reason number 3:
You see, just because you can buy a car doesn’t mean you can afford to insure it.
You can buy a car with no money down, but you can’t buy auto insurance without making at least a minimum downpayment. Owning a car means you must maintain it, keep it insured, and avoid parking it on the wrong side of the street on alternate days. My clients usually call me before they buy a new car based on the year, make and model, so they will have a good idea of what their new budget will look like. That’s when I love to quote auto insurance, when it’s a client or a client referral on the phone. Those referred to me are usually fully compliant with all the questions, and it’s just a matter of getting the information into the computer.
So, you shouldn’t get mad at me because you now own, or are trying to pick up some beauty from the lot, and the insurance is too high for you.
Suggestion number 1:
If you don’t own a vehicle, buy a Non-Owned Automobile Insurance policy from say, me. Then when you do purchase a car, you will be able to answer “how long have you been continuously insured” question satisfactorily. Purchase your renters, condo, coop, or homeowners insurance from say, me, and you’ll not only realize discounts on both policies, you stand a better chance of a great rate when you are ready to own a car.
Suggestion number 2:
You can join a car-share program like Zipcar, and take advantage of being insured under their policy until you buy your own Non-Owned policy, or buy your own car.
Suggestion number 3:
Lastly, you can speak to a family member about being placed on their policy. WARNING! WARNING! Don’t take offense if they are hesitant to do this. Remember, should you cause or be involved in an accident, (see Reason number 1), this will affect their premium, and perhaps their own insurability for up to five (5) years. Get moving violations and this will affect their premium. And God forbid you get arrested for a DUI after causing an accident which leads to the death of the other driver or their passenger or the passenger in your car. Your family member could stand to lose everything they’ve worked for, just to help you out.
For my money, I’d use suggestions numbers one and two. Just safer that way.
So, in closing, be ready to establish a relationship with an independent agent, and do what you need to do today to guarantee a great automobile insurance rate tomorrow.
For 33 years, the last 20 of those operating his own financial services agency, Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF has enjoyed providing his clients with the personal lines insurance coverages, income tax services, and defensive driving workshops they need to better their financial lives.
Call him at 718-783-2722, or send him an email to [email protected] for a competitive quote for all of your insurance needs.
And please, don’t make fun of him if he groans when you say, “I’d like a quote.”