Why buy insurance?

What is auto insurance and how does it work?

Auto insurance protects you against financial loss if you have an accident. It’s a contract where you pay a rate — commonly referred to as the ‘premium’ — and the insurance company covers losses listed in your policy.

Do I have to have auto insurance?

In every state but New Hampshire and Wisconsin, if you own or drive a vehicle, you must have Liability insurance coverage. If you lease a car or have a car loan, you’ll probably need Comprehensive and Collision coverage as required by your loan agreement.

Besides legal or loan requirements, why should I buy auto insurance?

The average new car costs close to $30,000, while some cost over $50,000. The relatively small insurance premium you pay covers you for much higher losses; without insurance you’re liable for every penny. Plus, insurance companies are a big help in getting your damaged vehicle repaired.

Where to buy

Why buy auto insurance from a local independent agent?

A local independent agent such as Crane Insurance Agency Inc. is a member of your community who understands your insurance needs and has the ability to find you the best rate by shopping with multiple insurance companies. Your independent agent is your neighborhood resource who can help you understand your insurance, can help manage your policy by making updates when your life changes and who can assist you with all insurance-related matters.

What to buy

How much coverage do I need?

Coverage is based on your individual situation:

  • Pick a deductible you can pay out-of-pocket in case of an accident
  • If you make payments or lease a car, you may need Comprehensive and Collision along with Liability coverage
  • How much in personal assets do you need to protect? You may need liability limits higher than your state requires
  • Do any drivers live in your house but never drive your vehicles? In many cases, you can exclude them from coverage on your policy to lower your rate

What is a deductible?

It’s the amount of money you agree to pay out-of-pocket for damage from an accident before the insurance company pays. For example, if you have Comprehensive coverage with a $250 deductible and your new car is stolen, the insurance company pays for the value of your car minus that $250. Going with a higher deductible lowers your premium, but increases what you owe out-of-pocket.

What is an Insurance Score?

An insurance score is based on your credit history, and it is used by insurance companies to predict the potential for future losses. Some insurance companies use your score, along with a number of other factors, to determine your rate. Generally speaking, customers who have high (good) insurance scores qualify for lower rates.

An insurance score can include:

  • Payment history
  • Bankruptcy, foreclosures and collection activity
  • Length of credit history
  • Amount of outstanding debt in relation to credit limits
  • Types of credit in use (i.e. mortgages, installment loans)
  • Number of new applications for credit

Ten tips to help you improve your insurance score:

1. Pay your bills on time. Timeliness in paying your bills improves your score.

2. Work with your creditors. Resolve outstanding balances before they are turned over to a debt collector.

3. Limit the amount of new debt you take on. Too many new loans or credit accounts opened in a short amount of time can negatively affect your credit rating.

4. Establish credit if you do not have a long track record. A longer credit history has a positive impact on your score.

5. Manage your outstanding balances. As a rule of thumb, maintain account balances at least 75 percent below your available credit.

6. Limit the number of credit accounts. Your access to excessive unused credit could result in too much debt.

7. Review your credit report regularly. Know what is on your credit report, and take necessary steps to dispute any inaccuracies.

8. Avoid 'quick' credit fixes. Good credit is built over time.

9. Manage your debt consolidation. Consider how to effectively pay down your debt without generating more credit activity.

10. Avoid excessive inquiries to your credit report. Too many inquiries may negatively impact your score.