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Four things to consider before buying car insurance in California

Nearly 40 million Americans call California home. Living and working in the Golden State comes with its ups and downs. While residents enjoy (usually) great weather, world-class sports and entertainment, and a strong labor market, they often have to endure things like high gas prices, being stuck in traffic, and buying car insurance in California. Here are some tips to make the insurance process a little easier on you, and your wallet, come renewal time. Ask yourself:

1.      How much do you use your car?

The federal government estimates that California has nearly 400,000 miles of roads, making road trips an enjoyable activity.

But not everyone uses their car for long trips or commutes. If you work from home, are retired, and now drive less, or enjoy cycling or walking, you may not need insurance that covers you for unlimited miles.

This is where options like pay-per-mile auto insurance companies come in. They work by offering insurance for a flat monthly fee together with a cost for each mile you travel, with maximum limits to protect customers from big bills. For many low mileage users, this is an attractive option.

2.      Do you offer ridesharing services?

Some auto insurers specifically exclude Uber, Lyft, and other ridesharing service providers. Tell the insurers if you’re one of them so they can value your policy appropriately.

3.      What level of coverage do you need?

Car insurance coverage, like all insurance, varies depending on customer needs. When doing your research, try to compare like-with-like as far as possible.

Cost-conscious customers start with basic policies and work upwards. In California, the minimum coverage you need is:

·       $15,000 for injury/death to one person.

·       $30,000 for injury/death to more than one person.

·       $5,000 for damage to property.

Everything else is extra and depends on you. For example, if you want fully comprehensive cover with collision deductibles and roadside assistance, you can expect to pay more than someone who does not.

Also, if you lease your car, get the lease company to confirm what level of coverage they require. And, if you bought the car with a loan, be aware that some auto loan providers demand full coverage.

4.      What is the cancellation policy?

Car insurers who make it easy to cancel might be worth a closer look. Insurers know that some customers switch providers year-on-year. If they treat you fairly when they leave, they earn goodwill which might persuade you to come back in the future.

Check things like this:

·       all insurers expect you to give them notice, but how you do it varies. For example, some insurers expect it in writing. Others accept a phone call.

·       Some insurers use a run-off period and termination fee, which you must plan for if you decide to change. Others let you cancel immediately with no fees.

·       be careful with renewals. Most insurers will auto-renew policies unless you tell them otherwise.

Focusing on these things will save you both time and money when buying car insurance in California.

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