Tips for buying car insurance

By John North - Contributing columnist

Finding insurance and an agent to cover one of your most prized possessions — your vehicle — can be tricky. When you’re shopping for an insurance company for your auto needs, the Better Business Bureau can help. It’s important to take your time to find a trustworthy agent and reputable insurance company.

When looking for an insurance company, BBB suggests you:

• Ask companies how long they’ve been in business, as well as get references and check them.

• Request rates from at least three companies. Remember the lowest price isn’t always the best company. Find out what best fits your budget and need.

• Determine how much coverage is and what deductible amount you are willing to pay for coverage.

• When comparing policies, keep in mind the insurance cost, deductible cost, co-pay and the cost the insurance covers if there is an accident .

• Look for insurance companies that offer discounts and good-driver rewards programs. Also, ask about bundling insurance policies. Some companies provide discounts for purchasing two or more lines of coverage (such as car and homeowner insurance)

• Search the Internet to find reviews, websites, social media pages and other information about the agents and companies you are considering.

• Get recommendations from family and friends. If they’re happy with who they use, most likely you’ll be too. Check with local auto body shops. They can offer recommendations since they regularly interact with insurance adjusters. They know which companies have the smoothest claim processes.

• Talk with prospective agents. Explain your situation and ask for a quote. This is a chance for you to get a feel for how they work and if you’re comfortable with them.

• Find out if insurance companies are licensed as appropriate.

• Check out insurance companies with Ohio Department of Insurance and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

• Ask about professional affiliations, such as the American Insurance Association, which keeps members informed of new developments, training and regulations.

• Read the fine print. Insurance companies and policies differ in what they cover.

• Review the policy annually to ensure everything is still accurate and the policy is continuing to provide the necessary coverage.

• Don’t pay cash. Pay with a credit card for added protection.

• Don’t feel pressured into purchasing insurance. A reputable insurance company won’t do business that way.

Remember, insurance fraud can happen to anyone, anywhere. Protect yourself during the purchasing process: don’t give out any personal information like your Social Security numbers or bank information over the phone until you have verified the legitimacy of the insurance company; ask for copies of all the paperwork you sign and keep a copy of the payment receipt or check for the initial premium payment you gave the agent for the policy; call the insurance company if you don’t receive a copy of the insurance policy within 30 days of your purchase.

If you have any questions regarding insurance agents or companies, you can always get help from BBB, such as a list of BBB-accredited businesses and business profiles of ones you’re considering. Visit or call 800-776-5301.

By John North

Contributing columnist

The writer is the president/CEO of the Better Business Bureau in Dayton.

The writer is the president/CEO of the Better Business Bureau in Dayton.