Recently Progressive Insurance has taken a tactic from Priceline and offered customers the option to “Name Your Price” for auto insurance. Now, it’s one thing to name your price for a hotel or an airline ticket, neither of which really make a huge difference in your life, but naming your own price for auto insurance could be a gamble with your financial future.
Advantages of Naming Your Price
Certainly I can see the advantages of naming your price for insurance. First, you can make sure that your policy fits your budget. If you’re in a tight financial situation, but don’t want to cancel your auto insurance, then a lower-priced policy may be just what you need. Cancelling your auto insurance is always a worse option than reducing your coverage. Insurance is required in most states, and not having it could result in big fines if you’re caught. You’ll also be on the hook for the full amount if you cause an accident, and possibly if someone hits you and they don’t have insurance.
Second, by choosing your own price, you can see all the options and decide which are best for you. Some insurance companies tack on a variety of additional fees and coverage options that you don’t really need in order to jack up the rate. By choosing your own price, you can avoid these unnecessary extras.
Disadvantages of Naming Your Price
The price shouldn’t be your primary concern when choosing auto insurance. First, you need to find the right coverage for your needs. Second, you need to find a reliable insurance company. Some companies are cheap, but the adage that you get what you pay for is definitely true with them.
Choosing your own price, which may result in a policy that offers less coverage than you need, could expose you to serious financial harm if you cause a major accident. While you might be able to get away with the minimum if you have no assets, make sure you’re fully protected if you do have assets. Even if you don’t have assets, you may want to choose more than the minimum because you can be sued and have future wages garnished if your insurance isn’t enough.
Progressive is the only company that currently lets you choose your price, and they are a reliable company. My fear is that shadier insurance companies will jump on the bandwagon, leaving people with cheap policies that provide little to no coverage, or that are nearly impossible to file claims for.
If you get into a serious accident and your insurance doesn’t adequately cover you, you could spend years recovering from the financial wreckage.
The Best Way to Shop for Auto Insurance
It’s a good idea to shop for new insurance every couple of years to make sure you’re still getting a fair price for the same level of coverage. Don’t start with price, though. First, research reliable insurance companies. Next, contact them to get quotes for your current coverage level. Choose the one that offers the best price for the coverage you need. If the best price is outside your budget, see if you can reduce the cost by increasing your deductibles – make sure you can afford the deductible if something happens. For example, we have a $1,000 deductible on our auto policy and a $2,500 deductible on our homeowner’s policy. By choosing high deductibles, we reduced the cost of each policy significantly.
If you’re going to choose high deductibles, make sure you have enough money in your emergency fund to cover them should something happen.
No one wants to buy insurance. It feels like a waste of money, but it’s necessary and worth it. So don’t skimp on coverage to save money. There are better ways to save money that won’t put your financial future at risk.