These days, just about everybody is looking for ways to save a buck or two. (Everybody, that is, except those who shout profanity or spew political rhetoric for a living.) And for many of us, that means cutting down on luxuries and trimming the cost of many necessities. Where do we cut? Insurance, of course. There is ALWAYS someone willing to sell us a policy that is just a little cheaper than the one we have, and with the right negotiation we can even save money without switching carriers.
Some people suggest playing fast and loose with the facts. Insurers look at risk, and although there’s nothing you can do about the implicit risk represented by your age, gender, level of education, and driving record, there are some points of data that insurers leave to your honor. Fudging the facts a little on those points can save some money.
An example? “How long is your commute?”
Every mile you drive represents risk to your car. If you commute 20 miles in heavy traffic, your car is at greater risk than if you commute 4 miles with no traffic. Telling your agent that your commute is four miles instead of twenty is a common “little white lie” that helps people save money.
The only problem is that it isn’t true. Sometimes during an accident investigation little lies like this can come to the surface, and that will change an insurer’s attitude toward your claim. (Another is saying your office has a locked parking garage when in fact you’re parking on the street of the ghetto.)
The best thing to do is to tell the truth. But you can craft the truth toward negotiating for a better deal.
If you’re with a major carrier, shop discounters. Find out what you’ll pay for a cheaper policy, then present the declarations page of that policy to your Farmers or State Farm agent. Tell them you want them to beat it. In many cases, they will. If they don’t, you’ll be able to choose between the rate they give you and the rate you are quoted by the discounter.
Call your existing insurance company while posing as a potential new client. Insurers tend to be more assertive about using discounts to attract new clients than they are about using them to keep existing clients. Ask about all the discounts that might apply to you. Then be sure that you get those discounts when your policy renews.
Finally, you can say the simplest and most obvious thing: “How do I save some money?” Most agents and brokers will be able to think of some ways. Most insurance companies have programs that enable their clients to lower premium costs by meeting behavioral targets.
Sometimes, all you have to do to get on track for a lower premium is to ask for it.