Striking the balance between saving money and making sure you have solid car insurance can be a daunting task, especially when you have a limited budget. That’s why it’s important to find the right car insurance for your individual needs, as well as an extended warranty plan to cover any additional repairs not covered by most traditional car insurance plans. If you’re having a bit of trouble with sorting through insurance companies, this step-by-step guide can help you find and choose the best possible one for your situation. Here are six steps to help you get started:

1. Compare Rates

Before you commit to any car insurance company, compare the rates from similar companies to make sure you’re getting the best price. You can also perform an annual rate check by going online and finding insurance comparison tools. Comparison shopping can help you find the best deals around so remember to compare companies and rates before you buy. Come up with a list of your top picks and start narrowing it down from there. Don’t be fooled by companies that offer a discount on the first month or two of premiums because you’ll likely be paying higher premiums the following months to make up the difference. Try to find a quality company offering a decent price.

2. Check Your State’s Insurance Department Website

Every state has an insurance department that’s supposed to regulate auto insurers within that state. Get online and log onto your state’s insurance department website. On the site, you can see information like complaint filings and insurance rate filings, which means you can see how often each insurance provider requests to raise its rates and how often they’re actually given permission to do so. That can help you make a more informed decision because something like this can certainly affect your budget.

3. Check Each Company’s Financial Rating

Before you purchase car insurance, it helps to know what each company’s rating is so that you can better understand how secure it is. You want to be sure that they’re not overextending themselves, or taking on more insurers than they can afford to pay. Check one of two places to find your insurance company’s financial rating:

  • Standard & Poor’s (or S&P)
  • A.M. Best, a company that specifically rates insurance companies

4. Check Online Reviews

One of the most reliable resources when it comes to insurance company reviews is the customers themselves — past or present. Check out online reviews and see what other people are saying about the company. What do their customers say? How easy is it to file an insurance claim? How long does it take the company to settle an insurance claim? How easy is it to reach an agent or customer service representative? Those things matter because you’ll be in the same position if you decide to become a customer. So it helps to make sure you’re going to be a happy customer before you actually make the commitment. Check out what each company’s policy does and doesn’t cover before you purchase.

Oftentimes, smaller insurance companies have lower rates than larger companies because they have lower overhead costs. But when an accident occurs, and a claim is filed, sometimes the smaller companies give you a bit of trouble. Also, beware of local insurance companies that don’t cover out-of-state accidents.

5. Find an Extended Warranty Plan

When shopping around for auto insurance for your aftermarket car, it’s a good idea to keep an eye out for any multi-policy discounts that may or may not be available to you. These are discounts that reward you for bundling various insurance plans such as homeowners, renters, or auto insurance together. An extended warranty plan can give you an added layer of protection with three levels of extended vehicle protection that comprises 24/7 roadside assistance and coverage that includes the engine, transmission, drive axle, electrical, timing chain, cooling system, and air conditioning and heating systems. With flexible payment terms and a money back guarantee for many of these plans, you can’t really go wrong here.

6. Talk to an Insurance Agent

Once you’ve narrowed your list down to just one or two companies, call each insurance company to get any questions answered that you may have lingering in the back of your mind. Before you do this, however, it’s best to determine how much coverage you’ll need based on your situation instead of just going with whatever the agent suggests because you could end up with more coverage than you need. As a general rule, you don’t really need a high amount of coverage unless you have an expensive car or you regularly drive for long distances.

Now that you know how to find the right car insurance for your needs, it’s time to consider the options. Think about the cost and all of the information you learned throughout your search. Consider all factors before making a decision and don’t forget to find an extended warranty plan that suits your individual needs. You’re gonna be glad you did when the time comes for repairs or other issues that your car insurance won’t cover.

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