Monday, January 19, 2009

Method Madness Marathon!! Insurance!

Well, it only seemed appropriate that the Method we focus on today is getting our insurance lowered, since I just spoke about it in my last post.

What I think tends to happen with insurance is that everyone picks their company, begins paying their bills and just stick with the same company year after year after year.

ut, the problem is that companies are constantly competing for our business and it is possible to get better rates many years and many don't take advantage of this.

The first time I switched my auto insurance from State Farm to 21st Century, I saved my family hundreds of dollars. In fact, my new rate was what I used to pay for 1 car! Amazing!

Remember a few months ago when I called around for new home insurance quotes? Click here to read. I saved my family $303 for the year and got more coverage than I had before!

Today, when I ran my numbers for that $2 bonus thru Upromise ( read the post below ), I found out I can save myself another $200 every 6 months on Car Insurance. So, I think I am going to switch again tomorrow. I am going to call to verify everything tomorrow. But, I am basically going to be down to $200 some odd dollars for a Ford Taurus and a Honda Odyssey. A couple years ago, I was paying over $600!

What was I thinking?

So, what is your homework? Get different home and auto quotes and compare then switch ( if lower ). This takes a bit of time, BUT it has the potential to save your immensely in 2009!

Here are a few tips:

  • Pull your current policies and have them in front of you when you request quote.

  • Get your Auto and Home Quote separate ( a quote for each ). Then, ask them to also give you a third number if they combine. You want all quotes as you may find that it is cheapest to have auto with one company and home with another.

  • Get your quote with the Highest Deductible possible ( if you can afford it ). Especially for home, you want the highest deductible you can afford. Mine is set at $2,500. For auto, I usually advise $1,000, if you have that much in your emergency fund already. If you don't have enough, make this a goal for the enough so you can change your deductible next year!

  • Switch to your new provider and save!

I want to go back, quickly, to why I advise you have the highest deductible possible. First, obviously, it lowers your rate. Over the years, you will save immensely by having a higher deductible. Even if you pay the higher deductible if you ever get in an accident, you probably more than saved that amount already over the years. Over your lifetime, you will saved alot of money ( assuming you don't get in an accident tomorrow, that is ).

But, this is the reason for emergency funds. Keep enough money for your deductible in a High Interest Savings instead of paying it to the Insurance companies and earn money on your deductible year after year! Now, you are making money, too.

Also, with Home Insurance, it is can often be quite irresponsible to have a low deductible. Why? Insurance companies will drop you ( yes, drop you ) if you file a certain number of claims. It usually ranges from 2 to 3. Seriously, call your provider today and ask them how many claims you have to file before they drop you? And, remember, this is over your LIFETIME.

And, if you get dropped, it is HARD to get picked up by someone else. And, if you do find someone to insure you, it then costs alot of money!

What this means, you ONLY want to file a claim on your home for a major issue. If shingles on our roof blow off in a windstorm and it is going to cost $3,000 to fix it ( even if my deductible is $2,500...the max I could go ), I am going to pay the whole $3,000 out of pocket so I don't have to file a claim. I would rather not waste one of my claims. What happens if a tornado comes thru 15 years from now and damages my home? I need to file a 2nd claim and then I get dropped. Now, it is impossible for me to get insurance or affordable insurance.

It is a shame it is that way, but I do not want to use a claim when we are only 10 years into our marriage. We have our whole lives ahead of us, and hopefully nothing catastrophic ever happens...but I am saving my claims for the unthinkable.

My parents were a prime example. They were with State Farm for 30 plus years and got dropped after filing a claim during a windstorm. It was very stressful and unbelievable frankly!

Anyway, back to the topic of savings!

Here are some companies you can get quotes from online. I would recommend sitting down and giving yourself about an hour and going thru them to compare. Before you do, make sure to use your deals email account or set up a new email, just in case they sell your info. I am not sure they do, but better to be safe.

  • 21st Century/AIG ( this is who my auto and home is with now and saved me tons last year )

  • Net Quote - Will compare multiple Home Insurance Providers in your local area

  • Kanetix - Multiple Car Insurance comparisons

  • Insure Me - Compare Home, Auto, Health, Life, Long Term Care

So, tell me. Leave a comment. How much did you save today by calling around on your insurance! I hope it is hundreds, too!! And, if it is, make sure to use that extra money to reach one of your saving goals!


Traci said...

I'm not sure if this is the same in every state but I know in the state of CA annual mileage you put on your vehicle has an impact to the premium. So it is good to check and make sure that the amount of miles your auto policy shows that you drive is accurate because if they have you down for more than you actually drive, you end up paying more.

Carrie @ said...

I believe that is true in OH, too.

They always ask how many miles you drive to and from work and how many miles you drive a day.

There are other factors, too. Some give discounts if your car is housed in a garage, etc.

Good point! Thanks for reminding us all.

BeThisWay said...

As a former insurance agent selling for State Farm for many years I can tell you that most of the advice you are giving is good. Of course you should switch if you're saving hundreds of dollars a year.

If, though, it's not a significant savings you may be better off staying where you are. Insurers reward longevity with things like Forgiven accidents (waiving any surcharge for a first accident) and Guaranteed Renewable options. My auto policy can only be cancelled by State Farm if I lose my license or don't pay my premiums. Period. That doesn't mean I wouldn't leave if I was saving $500 a year, but I wouldn't leave for $100...

I wrote a series of posts about buying auto insurance on my own blog. It's nice to see another perspective. Just make sure you're getting quotes from A rated company with a good reputation for claims service. You do want them to be able, and willing, to pay a claim if you have one!

As far as your parents policy getting cancelled after only 1 windstorm claim, I tend to think there is more to that story. Claims are never cancelled for catastrophe claims (hurricanes and the like), and if it was an unnamed storm your parents must have had other claims recently or a history of a claim every few years over a long period of time. Either that or they had a very inept agent!

Carrie @ said...

They weren't cancelled after only one claim ( although a girl on twitter just yesterday was complaining about Allstate dropping her due to one claim. The persons condo above her leaked and caused damage. For whatever reason, their insurance didn't cover it or they had none ) so hers did. Then, they dropped her. I don't know the full story, you may try and find her to discuss..she probably needs a new agent. :-) I can find her name for you, if you want it.

In regards to my parents. Over 30 years, they filed 3 claims. And, the other two were small claims.

But, a tornado went thru their general area and they caught the wind damage. They had to get a new roof and siding.

Then, State Farm drops them.

They had to go meet with the agent and beg to be kept on after 30 YEARS of being loyal customers. State Farm didn't even show them as customers but the past 10 years or so and said their was nothing they could do.

My mom keeps all her paperwork and had RENTERS insurance paperwork from when they were first married at 18. They are now in their 60s. So, they pleaded their case and showed their documentation. They decided to keep them on, BUT if they file another claim they will be cancelled. And, where was the history on my parents being members, but YET they had the documentation from the claims they filed years ago?

What is the point of having the insurance now? If they get dropped if something terrible happens?

No one ever tells people that they should't file claims if they have a $250 deductible. One of their other claims for a screen door that blew off.

They would have never filed this claim if they knew they shouldn't have and they would have had a $2,000 deductible instead ( why pay for a $250 if you shouldn't file claims for $500 damages? )

They were told by their agent the door, grill, patio furniture was covered.

Don't ever file claims for small damages like that! Save it for the big things.

Obviously, you can tell I am bit bitter about the whole experience, another reason we moved our home and auto out of State Farm after 10 years of marriage.

I know the other companies will do this, too, BUT it just left a bad taste in my mouth.

To hear my parents so upset, finding out how they wouldn't be able to get other insurance AND the price of the one they could ( I believe it was a State provided ) which was basically unaffordable.

Not sure how companies can do this to people who have paid them unbelievable amounts of money over 30 years to be their customers?

Carrie @ said...

Be This Way, can answer the question.

How many claims can you have before State Farm will drop you?

Anonymous said...

Be This Way,
This is Carrie's Dad. Just wanted to let you know. We had a total of two claims in 30 years and we were still canceled by Stae Farm. They admitted it was a mistake on their part and cleared up the mess and reinstated us. Also they send us a letter telling us we were cancelled prior to any other conversation with them. This made it impossible for us to find another carrier. We will be meeting with our agent next week to update our policys. Yes were still with Stae Farm haven't taken Carries advise yet but will look into it.

Carrie @ said...

Thanks for the update Dad.

I thought it was 3. Only 2. Need to get my facts straight! Hee, hee.

You do have the high deductible now, at least? You had better have switched that or I am going to be hounding you like crazy!!!

Nicole said...

We had homeowners with Met Life and were cancelled after two claims. They were two small claims. It was very hard to get homeowners after that. The only way we could get anyone to cover us was to combine our auto and home and pay way more. I always tell my friends not to make a claim on your homeowners if it is for something small. I would rather pay out of pocket than have to beg for ins.

Traci said...

Also, for anyone that may have young drivers (under 25) on their auto policy, if you have a policy with multiple vehicles and carry liability only on one or more, make sure that your teen is rated on a car without full coverage, this can save you hundreds. With companies like Allstate, any rated driver on your policy can drive any one of your vehicles that are insured and be covered. I hope that wasn't too confusing. Say, for example, you have 2 adults & 1 teen on your policy , & 2 cars w/ full coverage & 1 with liability only. Make sure the teen is rated on the liability only car otherwise you be paying tons more.

Carrie @ said...

Thanks Traci.

That does make sense and is helpful to know.

Carrie @ said...


You are another great example. This is a insurance wide issue...not just with one agent.

I am with you...I always tell my friends to have the high deductible and don't file small claims.

Why go thru what you went thru? And, now you are paying more.

Thanks for your example.

The Ackers said...

Well, Carrie, I trusted you after the cable post and I was not disappointed! I did some online quotes and found that I would save a little elsewhere but not enough to change everything over. I realized it was because of the deductables being raised.
So, I just called up my Nationwide agent and asked him to raise our deductables and he did. He also told me that my policy was uncancellable(is this a word?) meaning that they cannot cancel me no matter how many claims and that you can't get that kind of policy anymore. We get it because my husband's grandparents started with Nationwide and all of his family down to us is with them so we get some perks there. Anyways, my premium went down $92.30 for a five minute phone call! We pay monthly, so that's around $15 a month. I'm slowly wittling down monthly expenses, thanks to you!!


Carrie @ said...


Congrats!!! I am so thrilled for you! That is nice extra money to have around, PLUS you have an AWESOME policy.

Now that you realize hardly anyone has know how valuable it is!!!

Evelyn said...

How is your service with your new insurance? I love going down to my insurance agent and asking questions. Who do you talk to? If you had a wreck or hail damage say, who would come?

Jenny said...

I switched over the summer and it saved us a lot of money for car insurance and mortgage insurance!

Carrie @ said...


I have absolutely loved it.

Just like any other business, you have a phone number and if you have call and talk to a customer service rep.

They have always answered any questions I have.

Plus, I have more coverage than I did before, in case of an accident and 24 Assistance ( towing, etc ) is included free. Love it. Have the card in my glove box for the 24 assistance hotline.

As with even your local office, usually an adjuster comes out, at least that is my understanding ( my old agent never came, don't think )

But, if you find a company that is much cheaper and you are going to switch, make sure to ask them these questions, too.

Bridgett said...

Hey! I did everything you said yesterday while my youngest was napping. Looks like I've got the cheapest for us in our area by almost $600/year! I looked @ my info on my policy declaration & who I'm w/takes $240 off a year in reductions for Multiple Line, Multicar, & Good Driving. I couldn't get a hold of them yesterday to ask how many claims b4 I'm dropped. But thanks for the work & awareness. It was good to know for sure.

Connie said...

Not all insurance companies will drop you after 2 claims. It totally depends on the circumstances. Be sure that the company you switch to is a good, A rated company. Claims service is something to be concerned with. It's good to have inexpensive premiums, but it's also good to have superior service when you do have a claim. I have dealt with two companies and had HORRIBLE service with one and excellent service with another. I prefer to pay slightly more for great service. There is nothing more upsetting than dealing with jerks after an auto accident where you were injured or when your home has been damaged by a fire or windstorm.

I am pretty sure Consumer Reports ranks claims service. If you are a member of their online service or if you get the magazines, it might be good to just check out the companies you are thinking about using.

I do think high deductibles are the way to go! That will definitely save you a ton of money. Also, if you have a really old car, you might consider dropping the physical damage coverage. This will save you a ton. Plus, if you have $1,000 deductible and your car is only worth $1500, then it makes sense to just self insure the physical damage and only have liability on your vehicle. (Just make sure you have the money in an emergency fund to replace it if needed.)

Great advice, Carrie!

Sherri H. said...

HI Carrie,

I shopped for new home and auto insurance the week I got such great cable savings. I was able to save $232/year on auto and 177/year on home-total of $409/year. This is so great. Coupled with my $600/yr in cable savings, I am up to over $1000/year in savings because of your wonderful advice.
We are also refinancing our house tomorrow, from a 6% loan to a 5% 30 year fixed rate. :) We got a great deal with no closing costs or points thru the lender we closed with before. This will save us another $230/month or $2,760/yr. I'm a woman on a mission.

Carrie @ said...


So great! Congrats.

In regards to refinancing, the only thing you want to make sure before you sign the papers is that your interest overall won't add up to more.

I am sure it isn't, and you looked into it.

But, just as an example.

If you currently had a 30 year fixed at 6% and you have paid 10 years of it already, you would need to do the math to see if 5% starting the clock over to 30 years ( instead of the 20 you have left ) is truly cheaper than staying where you are.

Hope that makes sense.


Sherri H. said...

Thanks for bringing that up b/c it is very important for everyone to know when thinking of refinancing.

Fortunately for us, we have only been in our house for 3 years and we plan on being here for a long, long time....unless I win the lottery, then I'm headed back down South:). And we were able to get a no closing cost, no points loan. So nothing to pay out or finance into the mortgage. When we did our numbers, it was definitely beneficial for us since our rate was changing by a whole percentage point.
For what it's worth, I was told by a lender years ago that if you can't get at least 3/4% to 1% lower rate than you currently have then it might not be best to refi.

Melissa said...

Thanks for the reminder on this! I called our Allstate agent and will save $240 this year alone and that's with raising all our deductibles and our limits!!!! YAY! Thank you, thank you!