At least some level of car insurance is required in most U.S. states. This protects both the operators of these vehicles, as well as anyone who’s hurt or experiences property damage resulting from an accident.
But as with most types of insurance policies, car insurance is often out of sight, out of mind.
Aside from renewing their policy and paying the premiums (about $1,000 per year, on average), most drivers have little or no contact with their insurer at all. Though that may be due to a lack of accidents, some drivers — both new and experienced ones — might be unaware of when exactly an insurer should be looped in.
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When to contact your car insurance agency
Do you have car insurance, but haven’t actually contacted them for anything during the course of your policy? Here are five scenarios when you should be calling your insurance company, no matter what.
1. Your vehicle has been involved in an accident
This is the most obvious time to contact your insurance company. Whether you’re at fault in the incident or not, your insurer needs to know about it. They’ll likely want a statement, as well as descriptions of the damage to your car and other vehicles involved. They might also send out an adjuster to assess the damage and evaluate how much it will cost to fix it.
2. You want to add or remove drivers to the policy
There might come a time when you need to change the covered drivers on your car insurance policy. It could be when your child turns 16 and gets their driver’s license, or maybe it’s when they move out of the house and start supporting themselves. Divorce, marriage, adoption, and many other scenarios can also warrant a change in your covered drivers.
When these situations arise, you’ll need to contact your insurance agency to have the driver added. Keep in mind that it may change your premium, so if your policy is close to renewing, you might take the time to shop around for rates. A tool like Credible can help you get quotes from several car insurers at once.
3. Your contact or payment information has changed
If you get a new credit card, change your bank account or move homes, you’ll need to alert your car insurance company ASAP. For one, your insurer needs to be able to contact you if necessary, so having an accurate phone number and address on file is critical. (They also need this for billing purposes).
Additionally, your location can impact your premium. As some areas are riskier than others (higher rates of property crime, more street parking, etc.), your move might mean a lower (or higher) premium as a result.
4. You have questions about the bill — or want to lower it
Pay attention to your bills as they come in. If your premium suddenly jumps or you spot an extra fee you didn’t agree to, contact your insurer to discuss it. If they can’t remove the fee or reduce the premium, use tools like Credible to shop around for a new policy. You may qualify for lower rates with a different insurer.
You should also contact your insurance company if you think you may qualify for new discounts. Getting good grades, becoming a homeowner, reaching senior citizen age, or taking a defensive driving course may all qualify you for discounts on your premium (among other things). Be sure to check your insurer’s full list of discounts to see what you might be eligible for.
5. Your credit score has increased
Many car insurance companies use your credit score — at least in part — to set your rates. And the higher your score? The lower your rate may be.
If you recently paid off a debt or know your credit score has increased, then reach out to your car insurance company and ask them to re-run your premiums. The higher credit score may just reduce your costs considerably.
Credible's free financial tools will help you save on car insurance by allowing you to compare rates or other fees. Start checking out what else is out there today.
The bottom line
These aren’t the only times you should contact your car insurance company, but they are some of the most common (and most important). If you’re not sure if you should get in touch with your insurer regarding something, err on the side of caution and give them a call anyway. They can clarify any concerns or answer any questions you might be struggling with.
If you find yourself unhappy with the service your company provides or just want more coverage or a better rate, make sure to shop around the next time your car insurance policy comes up for renewal. A comparison-shopping site like Credible can help.