7 Car Insurance Secrets

Dealing with auto insurance companies can be a tricky business. Knowing some of the car insurance  industries best kept secrets can help level the playing field. Below are seven top car insurance secrets to  help you plan and save:

Car Rental Insurance
We've all experienced the insurance pitch at the rental car counter. The agents enthusiastically  encourage you to purchase car rental insurance, or what's commonly referred to as a collision damage  waiver (CDW). This damage waiver is regularly endorsed by rental car agents, who often receive  incentives to push this oversold product. The good news is—you don't need it. That's assuming you have  full coverage on your own car, which commonly includes collision and comprehensive. So, in most cases  the coverage is unnecessary and declining it will save you some money.

Now, if you're cruising around in a '72 Ford Pinto with just liability or no insurance coverage at all, CDW  may be just what you're looking for. That's assuming you don't have one of the many credit cards that  offer protection. Many credit card companies offer rental car insurance protection as long as the entire  rental car transaction is charged to that specific card. Make sure to check with your credit card company  or personal auto insurance company before denying CDW coverage.

Lend Your Car to A Friend
Lending your car to a friend could prove costly. If you lend your car to a friend and he or she has an  accident, it's your responsibility. You'll have to file the claim with your insurance company, not your  friend's. To make matters worse, you're also responsible for any deductible, and the accident could  potentially leave a mark on your record, raising your rates, even if you weren't in the car. So, think twice  before handing those keys out.

Your Credit Score
Believe it or not, your credit score is reviewed by your auto insurance company. This can be done at time  of application or prior to renewals. The thinking is that if you're responsible with your credit, making  payments regularly and over time, you're less likely to make regular claims. Statistically speaking, you're  more likely to file claims based on a shaky credit history. And, thus, your credit score plays a major role  in determing auto insurance coverage. Unfortunately, the utilization of this credit score method may result  in higher premiums, even if you have a perfect driving record and no accidents.

Will You Get Your Cars True Value?
If you get in an accident and "total" your car, it's your insurance company's responsibility to provide you with an amount of money that would purchase an equivalent car. This doesn't always happen, unfortunately. Most insurers don't use the Kelley Blue Book or NADA standards to estimate values. They have their own formulas and will often consider quotes from various dealers that aren't always that attainable, and this isn't always a good indication of your
specific vehicle's true worth. Every car is different, with things like condition, mileage, and repairs playing vital roles. If they choose to use one of these methods, you may want to present them with some local quotes of your own.

It's recommended that you keep a documented vehicle history as well, so you can present repair and maintenance receipts if there's a dispute. Make sure the amount you and your insurer settle on includes sales tax for the purchase
of your replacement automobile. This is often left out by insurers, and replacing your car should not come with additional tax costs. If you have a classic car make sure you have classic car insurance that provides replacement value coverage, otherwise you're putting your investment at risk.

If you get in a wreck and your car is deemed repairable, make sure to ask for diminished value compensation. Diminished value compensation pays you for the loss of market value that your vehicle incurs due to the accident and
repairs. Once your car has been wrecked it is worth less, even if completely repaired to like new condition. Most people don't want to risk purchasing a car that's been in a major accident, and this substantially hurts your re-sale value. It's always a good idea to check with the car insurance company to see if they offer diminished value before purchasing their coverage.

Marital Status
Your marital status affects your car insurance rates. Yes it's true, if you are single, divorced, or even widowed, it can add to your auto insurance premium. It is not uncommon for many auto insurance companies to levy this marital
status penalty. In fact, it's perfectly legal in most states for insurers to practice this type of discrimination. However, insurance companies will argue that the actuarial tables back up their guidelines; much like younger drivers being
more likely to be involved in an accident, the same statistics show that unmarried individuals are more accident prone than their counterparts.

If you're single, you may want to try a little experiment next time you get an online car insurance quote.  Get two quotes, keep all info identical except for the marital status, checking one as single and the other  as married. This may shed some light on which insurers still utilize these practices. Fortunately, the very  act of shopping around for the best car insurance company should eliminate these types of companies,  leaving you with a combination of the highest quality and most competitive auto insurer.

Where You Live
Where you live is one of the major considerations your auto insurer looks at when determining your rates.  Living in urban areas can greatly increase the rates you'll pay for auto insurance.  The chance of accident  or auto theft are significantly lower in rural areas. Whereas, things like limited parking, traffic, and larger  numbers of uninsured motorists are factors for individuals living in the inner city. Some areas may result  in auto insurance rates that are more than double their rural counterparts. It's unfortunate, but unless  you're planning on moving, avoiding this is difficult.

Your Occupation
You can bet that insurance companies have found a statistical relationship between your auto insurance  risk and your occupation. According to Insurance.com's 2006 Occupation Report, scientists,  pilots/navigators and actors/performers/artists pay the lowest insurance rates of the occupations  reported with an average of $935.76 per year. Whereas, attorneys/lawyers/judges, executives and  business owners pay the highest insurance rates of the occupations reported with an average of  $1,383.63 per year.

Why the high discrepancy, you ask? Well it comes down to a few factors. The group of  attorneys/lawyers/judges, executives and business owners typically have more stressful jobs. They spend  more time on the road and more time on their cell phones, which comes at a higher risk for the insurer.  The group of scientists, pilots/navigators and actors/performers/artists are less risky to insure because  their driving habits are a result of skills necessitated by their occupations. A good example would be the  detail-oriented and meticulous nature inherit with scientists, resulting in safer driving and lower insurance  rates.