2008 Insurance Guide
insurance
20 things to know about auto insurance

There's nothing sexy about auto insurance.

But a few tips, and the right outlook, can help you shop around, understand the value before you buy and maximize what you're getting for those premiums. Here's how:

Getting the most from auto premiums
1.Pinpoint your financial weak spots.11.Do the math before dropping collision.
2.Don't just consider your total liability.12.Shop service, as well as price.
3.Consider buying an umbrella policy.13.Understand the claims process before you buy.
4.Seek out good advice.14.Ask about 'diminished value.'
5.Keep a good credit rating.15.Call your agent soon after an accident.
6.Sign up for rental insurance.16.When you make a claim, start a file.
7.Shop around.17.Do your part in furthering the claims process.
8.Be specific when shopping rates.18.Include everything in your loss estimates.
9.Take advantage of every discount.19.Press for what you need.
10.If your teen is away, notify your insurance.20.If you switch, notify your old company.

1. Pinpoint your financial weak spots. While most people could cover a $500 deductible, a $500,000 lawsuit would be a different matter. So why do so many consumers pay extra for low deductibles and carry close to the minimum on liability coverage?

"Shift the money around to the things that could wipe you out," says Jack Hungelmann, author of "Insurance for Dummies" and an agent and consultant with Corporate 4 Insurance Agency of Edina, Minn.

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Raise your deductible (bank that amount for emergencies) and increase your liability coverage, he says. Your premiums should remain roughly the same.

Hungelmann's rule of thumb: In a society where critical care bills can easily cost six digits, "nobody should carry less than $500,000 per person" in liability coverage, he says. (To compare insurance policies and quotes, visit Insureme.com, a Bankrate company.)

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