Tips for selecting the Best California Auto Insurance Company

Tips for selecting the Best California Auto Insurance Company

Posted on: 31Mar,2016

Whenever it is time to renew your California auto insurance policy, this is the ideal time to review your coverages and do some price comparisons with other companies. You should already have a good of the coverages you need and how much you can afford. But how do you know whether or not another company is going to be as reliable your current insurer? An even more important question is how do you know that you will be satisfied should you have to file a claim in the future.

With all of the choices for California auto insurance (Google lists on 60.5 million results for those keywords), you’re probably overwhelmed and wondering how you will know which is the right company for your needs. The following is our guide for taking the confusion and frustration out of trying to find the right California auto insurance company:

• Start by visiting the California Department of Insurance website – every state has a state government run Department of Insurance although they all aren’t list under that name. Fortunately, the state of California Department of Insurance has a website that you can use as a research reference. They publish what is known as “consumer complaint ratios” for all of the different insurance companies in the state. This handy little online tool lets you know how many complaints per 1,000 claims filed that the company you are researching has had.

Consider the financial strength ratings of the companies you are comparing – there are two ratings companies that you can use to find out the financial strength rating of each California auto insurance company – A.M. Best or Standard & Poor’s. These companies measure an auto insurer’s financial strength as far as their ability to pay your claim should you have one. However, they do not have anything to do with the way in which you are treated by an insurer.

Determine what type of coverages are needed – this involves getting price quotes from several different California auto insurance companies (you should be comparing anywhere from 6 to 10 different companies). The most common types of coverages include:

• bodily injury liability
• collision
• comprehensive
• medical payments
• property damage
• uninsured/underinsured motorist

It is not only important to be aware of and understand these coverages, but how much of each that you need so you can compare the same amounts with each company you are considering.

Find the right type of provider – there are 3 primary types of insurers in the marketplace – brokers, captive agents, and direct providers. The broker represents several different companies whereas the captive agent is the exclusive representative of a single company. Finally, the direct provider sells by phone or online directly to the consumer via the customer service representative of the auto insurance company you are researching. You just have to decide which provider is right for you.

Talk to local body shops and find out what insurers they recommend – although this may seem unimportant, the different body shop managers will have opinions as to the insurance companies that they prefer to work with and the ones they try to avoid. Keep in mind that body shops are always dealing with claims adjusters and they know which ones offer the best claims services.

After you have followed all of the steps above, there is still the possibility that some confusion exists. If this is the case, you should consider consulting with an agent. At one time, talking to an agent was your only option, but that is no longer the case. Now you have different auto insurance companies such as Esurance, GEICO, and Progressive that you can purchase your insurance directly from them without needing the services of a live agent.

Granted, you can either order insurance online at these company’s websites or over the telephone. However, some individuals still prefer a more human element. So it is always better to sit down with an agent while comparing auto insurance companies. You have a choice of the captive agent (see above) or you can talk to a broker or an independent agent who does not have a vested interest in any one particular company. Talking to either of these professionals is still the recommended course of action.