What to look for in an auto insurance policy

Experts explain how to drive down your premiums

With the cost of living spiralling,
car owners have even more reason than ever to shop around for the best deals
possible when it comes to motor insurance.

Manager of Motor & General Bev
Banks says that securing the best car insurance policy is largely down to
owners determining what type of coverage they need. Senior Vice President – Property & Casualty
Sagicor General Insurance (Cayman) Ltd. Michael Gayle says that there are some
competitive policies out there if drivers are willing to do their homework.

“Car owners should
look for a company that has been in business a long time and has a proven track
record, offers prompt and fair handling of claims as well as efficient services,”
says Mrs. Banks.

“Ask people you know… about their motor insurance companies.
Determine the kind of service they receive and how much their motor insurance
premiums are,” Mr. Gayle suggests.

“It is important to get an idea of
the level of service [and a company’s] claims settlement practice. The cheapest
is not necessarily the best,” he
cautions.

 Mrs. Banks recommends owners ask providers
about discounts that may be available. She says reputable providers will advise
on how to go about getting the best policy you qualify for.

To this end,
she advises owners to provide no claims letters and all other pertinent
information from previous insurers.

Asked whether
it was easier to get a better deal through your existing insurer, Mrs. Banks
says that is not always a case: “Insurance costs are dependent
on factors like:  Is the vehicle very
expensive to repair?  Are parts easily
obtainable?  Are there qualified mechanics
on-island to do repairs?  Is the car more
likely to attract thieves?  Does the
vehicle have a good safety rating?”

Both the
Sagicor and Motor & General representatives said that the rate quoted will
largely depend on what car you drive, the vehicle’s age and value, the in-car
security systems, the age of the client and their driving record and what the
car is principally used for.

When researching the market she
says: “You may get a better quotation from a company like ours that specialises
in once class of insurance” adding that “Motor & General is the only company which has lowered its rate
rates during this financial crunch.”

Mr. Gayle advises that certain
discounts are available from some providers. He suggests asking if there are
applicable deals for female drivers, or if there are ones which involve no claims
discount protection and courtesy cars.

 Drivers should also be aware that there are
often restrictions on young or inexperienced drivers. Typically, these drivers may
find it more difficult and more expensive to get coverage for the obvious
reasons.

 Holding a clean driving licence (without
penalty points) will help get a lower premium as will an unblemished driving
history, which qualifies you for a no claims discount. Buying superior in-car
security can also help lower premiums, so it is worthwhile getting an immobiliser,
alarm, or tracker professionally fitted. Having a garage to park your car overnight
may also lower your rate.

Having secured
a good deal, owners should not automatically renew the policy when it expires. Comprehensive
insurance must be reviewed annually to make sure that it is still the best
coverage for you.

And lastly,
rather than paying your car insurance in monthly installments, stump up the
entire year’s premium in one advanced payment, as it may work out cheaper.

FEATcarSTORY

Getting a good deal on car insurance need not be a headache.
Photos.com