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How to Compare Insurance Companies

Buying the best car insurance means more than just finding the lowest rates. A good insurance company should be able to work closely with you, handle claims smoothly, be available and considerate of your needs and also provide the policy/coverage at a cost that is suitable to you.

Check your state's website; many publish "consumer complaint ratios" on insurance companies that sell policies within their state. This ratio compares complaints of the company received per 1,000 claims filed. The lower the complaints, the higher the score for that company.

Make two lists; one with your insurance quotes and one that lists the highest score (lowest complaint ratio) and see how they stack up together.

Talk with a local body shop that you trust. They work closely with the insurance adjusters and can recommend companies that have the smoothest claim process, or if they push aftermarket parts (which are sub par) to keep their costs down.

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The financial standing of an insurance company is a key factor when selecting a company as well. A few independent industry sources which rate a company's financial standing and abilities to pay claims are JD Power & Associates, AM Best and Standard & Poor. These web sites are a reliable collection of data on the companies you may be researching. The financial rating directly relates to the company's ability to pay claims should you need them.

Customer service is a key issue. What good is a bargain rate if you don't receive the quality help when it is needed? Be sure to call the company directly and ask questions. See how their knowledge and attentiveness to your questions are handled.

If after all your research still hasn't provided enough information or you're so overwhelmed; think about talking to an agent. There are two different types of agents. One who works directly within the company you're calling about (such as Allstate or State Farm). The other is an independent agent that works with many companies. Each should be knowledgeable of your coverage and specific needs. After speaking with either you should have an idea of what their service protocols are like.