We can help you figure out if you need rental car insurance. The short take: If you don't have auto insurance, yes, you most likely need coverage. If you have robust car insurance, you might simply need a collision damage waiver as it’s the only way to ensure you won’t pay the rental company any damages in case of an accident. Of course, it gets more complicated from there. For the long take on car rental insurance, head here.
Because most forms of insurance are regulated at the state level, state legislation influences car insurance premiums. For instance, in Michigan, a no-fault state, state law requires an unlimited amount of Personal Injury Protection coverage, a requirement that increases the cost of car insurance. Although each state legislates insurance differently, auto insurance prices may vary on a zip code-by-zip code basis. Below is an analysis of the cheapest and most expensive states for car insurance (from The Zebra's State of Insurance study).
The trade-off between large insurance companies and small ones typically involves giving up competitive rates for an improved customer experience. When using a small insurance company for your auto insurance, you’ll likely communicate exclusively with one insurance agent. While you generally lose a personal connection when selecting a large national insurance company, the large auto insurance companies tend to have more financial stability. In fact, the top insurance companies in the country underwrite and pay out billions of dollars per year. Additionally, the large insurance companies are able to leverage their resources to offer drivers lower insurance rates.
While you can buy a similar level of auto insurance coverage from multiple insurers, it might be wise to tailor your policy to your specific needs. The higher your coverage limits, the more you’ll generally pay for your premiums. However, having higher coverage limits also means more security in the event of a catastrophic accident. The same is true for your deductible as well; with a lower deductible, you’ll pay a lot less out-of-pocket if an accident should occur. On the flip side, you’ll pay higher premiums to have a lower annual deductible.
While liability coverage is required in most states, other coverage requirements vary from state to state. Some coverages may even be optional. You may want to familiarize yourself with your state's specific car insurance requirements. To accurately compare car insurances rates, make sure you've selected the same set of required and optional coverages for each quote you get.
One of the biggest differences between carrier’s rates can be attributed to the avaialable discounts. Most insurers reward safe drivers and bundlers. In additon, savings can be found for vehicles that have the most safety features. The most variable discounts can be found when a company is trying to reach a certain group of insurance consumers. For instance, some companies may offer discounts for switching before the expiration of a policy or from a certain competitor, while other may decide retirees shoulde get a discount.
Consumer Reports offers an extremely helpful guide that highlights the steps you can take to find the best policy for your needs. Even if you’re fairly happy with your policy, they suggest shopping around to compare rates at least every two or three years. That way, you have a good idea of where car insurance rates are headed and how much you could save if you switch. Plus, it never hurts to shop around. Based on your age, your driving record, and other factors, the policy you have now could be considerably cheaper if you switched firms.