It is really important to understand the number, or quote, that you’re getting from a representative and what discounts, (reflective of underwriter’s assumptions) they offer and if those discounts are applied to your quote. You will need to ask about the base rate BEFORE discounts to determine whether, or not, a representative is trying to bait you into buying based on a low quote, only to discover after a period of time, that discounts were applied to your quote inappropriately.
This is a common practice used to help a representative make their quota and many reps will apply as many discounts as they can to show you the lowest rate, not caring that, when the underwriters examine your policy, they will raise your rate substantially; or in the event of a claim, the coverage you thought you had, just isn’t there. Many insurance salespeople care only about their quota, and that ALL have quotas.
If they can’t tell you what the rate would be without the discount or seem to be evasive or lacking in knowledge, you should ask for a manager. Their job is all about knowledge. If they don’t possess it, or worse, are abusing it, hoping that you won’t notice and switch to another company; then it’s time to move on.
The only true defense against this kind of behavior is understanding the product you’re buying and the true motivations of the person selling it to you. Are they trying to rush you into something to meet their quota? Are they respecting your power of choice? Are they addressing your areas concern with logical explanations that don’t insult your intelligence? Are they calm or do they seem angry, or nervous?
When it comes to discounts, get the details
What is the discount for? Why am I eligible? Is it a percentage or a flat amount? How long will it apply to my policy? Will it increase, decrease, or stay the same over time? Why? Will it apply to all my cars, or just one? By knowing the answers to these questions, you will get a good understanding of how that Loya auto insurance company is trying to compete in the marketplace. You will also get a good chance to test the patience of the salesperson you’re dealing with. Remember, you’re looking for a patient-educator.
Somebody who demonstrates frustration when a new question is asked, is not the person for you. You want somebody who answer with the same demeanor on the 31st question as the first question. But remember, don’t ask the exact same question over and over just to test them, developing your understanding is the goal, if you’re a novice, that will be test enough for them.
Some companies will put all of your cars on one policy. Somebody gets a ticket or accident; the whole household is hit with surcharges. Others will have a one care per policy system. Those companies have households that pay a surcharge on one car, but get an accident-free discount on other cars. Be sure to know how your cars are being treated if you have multiple vehicles.
What surcharges are being applied to my quote?
This question is about educating you; educating you to the representative you’re talking to and the depth of their knowledge, experience and capacity t0 educate you. If you have no tickets, accidents or major violations you must know how the underwriters will treat you if something happens to you while insured with that company. And if you have a ticket, accident or major violation, it will educate you as to the representative’s thoroughness, and possibly their honesty.
Great follow up questions here can include: “What if I rear end somebody?” “What if somebody rear-ends me?” “Does that factor in my speeding ticket from last year?” or, “Seriously, I got a DUI one night two years ago, after going out with my frat brothers, that will NOT happen again, but you’re saying there is no surcharge?”.
Poor or checkered driving history
In some ways, a person with a poor or checkered driving history will have an advantage when it comes to the tests of competency and honesty for the representative. Those advantages come with financial disadvantages and don’t make a DUI or the like worth it in the end. The goal here is also to determine the underwriter’s sensitivity to questionable driving history events.
Some States have barred policing agencies from instituting a quota system for their enforcement agents on tickets, or a competition system based on revenue. Other States understand the revenue potential of moving violation enforcement and have stick-and-carrot systems for officers to issue more than they otherwise might enforce, if they were looking strictly at the driver’s behavior in the context if the traffic around them.
Drivers certainly know that States with higher speed limits are going to have a no-nonsense attitude when it comes to enforcement. Other States or counties where speed limits are lower will often have frequent traffic flow well above the speed limit, but the enforcement agencies and the officers that work for them show discretion in whom they punish based on what they see and the context in which they see it.
The bottom line is that underwriters don’t care if you’re in Ohio doing 83 in an 80 mile per hour zone, or in Illinois, getting hit with 71 in a 55 mile per hour zone. The underwriters, either account for the ticket, or ignore the ticket as long as it is not conjoined with claims events, depending on that company’s sensitivity to moving violations. Bottom line, know what the next speeding ticket is likely to your rate.
The more debt and/or the more high-risk drivers a company has as a percentage of its total book of business, the more sensitive that company is likely to be to a moving violation. The cleaner a company’s balance sheet, the less debt, the more lower risk drivers they insure, the less sensitive it will be. The rise of the smartphone, and its ability to navigate, communicate and entertain, all at the same time, is pushing companies toward increased sensitivities to minor moving violations. The best thing, put that phone down, or give it to a passenger, and pay attention to the road!