There are times to shop and times not to shop.
1) Always shop for your 1st policy. This will get you you best starting rates.
2) Shop at the end of your first full year of insurance, many companies give lower rates to people who have had continuous insurance for a full year with no lapses or cancellations.
3) Shop when you hit the magic age 25 or if you get married before that. This is where young people can get major decreases in their rates and not all rate decreases are the same.
4) If you have a claim or ticket and your rates take a major increase shop around, different companies have different policies and some will even “forgive” a first claim or ticket.
5) If you did not make any changes to your policy or have a claim or get a ticket and you have a rate increase of 10% or more, it is time to shop around. Sometimes this happens because the company is having problems – if they are having problems you may need a more “secure” company.
6) When you reach the age of 55 – 75 and suddenly get an increase, it is time to shop around – companies have an age where they start charging seniors more because they start having more accidents as a group. This age varies with each company and you may be able to avoid it for a while or find a company with lower senior rates.
7) If you move to a new area, shop around because different areas have different rates and if a company wants more customers in an area you can get better rates with them.
The rest of the time, do not shop around. Many companies give discounts for staying with them long times. These discounts normally start after 3 years so if you change every year you are missing out on these discounts.
Never take a policy with a company just because they are the cheapest. I have seen the cheapest refuse to pay major claims. Go online and check them out! What type of rating do they have, do they have any complaints against them and what type service record do they have?
If you do not know a lot about insurance find a local agent and learn from them. If they won’t take the time to explain your coverages so you can understand them, find another agent. Later you can go with an on-line company and no they do not always have the best rates. I am an insurance agent and I beat those company’s rates at least 90% of the time.