A helpful guide when selecting automobile insurance, including local rates and common questions.
Insurance companies use a variety of factors to determine a policyholder’s likelihood of experiencing an accident or loss. Some factors include but are not limited to: driving history; type of vehicle (including model, year and value); territory (where you garage and drive the vehicle); number of accidents; gender; age; and credit scores. Driving record history can only be used for three years.
Shop for the company or agent that offers the best service for the best price. If you have a clean driving record, avoid companies and agents that advertise to high-risk drivers. Their premiums often are higher. Get quotes from several companies before you buy. Make sure you understand what coverages are included and that you’re comparing equivalent policies.
While Oklahoma law prevents an insurer from raising your premiums for not-at-fault accidents, they may apply surcharges when filing at-fault accidents or other types of losses. Also, the surcharges are not calculated based on the dollar amount of the claims files. For example, the surcharge applied is the same whether you filed a $1,500 or a $100,000 claim. The surcharges are typically applied for a three-year period and the penalty severity varies.
- Am I in your lowest-priced company/tier? If not, why not?
- How can I get a better rate?
- What payment plans do you offer and what are the fees associated with each plan?
You can save money on your premiums by increasing your policy deductibles. However, you’ll have to pay more out of pocket if you have a claim. It is important to note that insurance is for catastrophic events and filing small claims may result in larger premiums due to applied surcharges.
You may qualify for discounts on your rates. A three-year discount is mandatory if you successfully complete an accident prevention course approved by the insurance company of the policyholder.
This discount does not apply if the course is taken for any court order in connection with a motor vehicle violation or an alcohol/drug-related offense.
Other optional discounts may be available including, but not limited to:
- Anti-theft devices
- Anti-lock brakes, air bags or daytime running lights
- Good student grades
- Continued policy renewals
- Drivers Education
- Claims—Free Discount
- Credit Score
- Placing another type of policy with the same insurer
If you are having problems finding auto insurance due to a high risk driver classification, you should contact Oklahoma’s Automobile Insurance Plan at (405) 842-0844. This program may be able to connect you with insurance agents that may be willing to cover your automobile. Contact the Oklahoma Automobile Insurance Plan between 8 am and 5 pm, Monday – Friday.
- The liability policy covers hit-and-run accidents and uninsured motorists.(Uninsured Motorists coverage is not included but can be added to the policy.
- The policy pays for a rental car. (not included in basic insurance, but can be added)
- The Uninsured Motorists policy covers property damage. (In Oklahoma it only covers Bodily Injury)
- Your medical expenses will be covered if you are involved in an accident. (Med Pay can be purchased to assist with minor medical expenses)
- The coverage follows the owner of the policy. (there is some coverage but you must meet the requirements to be covered. Look at your policy under Coverage for the Use of Other Cars)
- There is no liability coverage for trailers. (there is coverage for liability when it is attached to your insured vehicle only)
- Customization to the vehicle is covered. (You must buy an endorsement to cover customization, otherwise you will be reimbursed for the stock model vehicle. )
- Your vehicle is covered while you are participating in racing activities. (specifically excluded)
- The policy covers theft of all personal property inside the vehicle. (homeowners/renters insurance would pay for stolen contents)
- The collision or comprehensive coverage will pay off my car loan if the car is totaled. (It will only pay Actual Cash Value. You will need to buy a GAP policy to help pay off any additional money owed)
- The policy allows me to have my vehicle towed at no additional cost if it breaks down. ( you can buy a towing endorsement for your policy. There are limits and possibly a deductible of $50.00 check with your insurance company for more details)
- The policy will repair my windshield at no cost if it is damaged by debris. (this is not guaranteed as each company determines whether glass chipping is covered under their policy without deductible.)
While motorists have little control over escalating fuel prices, you may be able to save money by simply reviewing your auto insurance policies.
The policy you receive from an auto insurance company will have several parts:
- The declarations/information page includes the policy number, the effective dates, the details of the cars covered on the policy, the lienholder (if you have a loan on the car), the coverages, coverage limits, your premium, risk classifications and any discounts or surcharges. It is also going to list where the car is garaged and contact details for your company and agent, if you have one. The coverage names, limits and descriptions will vary depending on the state.
- The personal auto policy or policy form. This will be several pages long and will detail in specific language what is covered, how those coverages are defined, the conditions of the policy and if there are any exclusions. This may also include state exception pages that revise/change/modify the policy form. Some companies customize their policy forms to match the coverages in a specific policy, while others list all available coverages. Your declarations/information page details which coverages were purchased.
- At least one copy of an insurance card should be included as proof of coverage. Keep this in the car.
Visit this interactive web page to see an example declarations/information page
The above site explains the following:
- Personal Information – Verify the address listed on the policy is correct. Parking your car in a garage, or even parking it off the street can mean lower premiums. Notify your agent if there has been parking changes since the policy was written.
- Year, Make, Model, Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) – How much you pay is heavily based on the car you drive so make sure this information is accurate. If your declarations or information page is wrong, it could also cause problems if you file a claim. Do not get caught by increases when trading in your car. Call your agent for a quote before you buy.
- Lienholder Information – If you obtained a loan to purchase your car, the lienholder will likely require that it be listed on the policy. If you have paid off the loan, call your agent to have the lienholder removed. Your agent or insurance company may ask for a copy of the new title (without the lienholder listed) or other proof you paid off the loan.
- Coverages – For an overview of your coverage choices go to InsureUonline.org and click on your life situation. The auto tab includes explanations of the different coverages and some tips on evaluating your auto insurance needs. You can also download the NAIC Consumer’s Guide to Auto Insurance here
- Collision – The higher your deductible, the lower your premium. However, since this is the amount you have to pay if the car is damaged in an accident, make sure you will be comfortable paying the amount.
- Comprehensive – This is sometimes referred to as “Other Than Collision” coverage. It is possible that removing the comprehensive and/or collision coverage from a policy could save some money. Before you decide to cancel comprehensive coverage weigh the value of the car and the cost to replace or repair it against what you would save in premium costs.
- Premium – The amount of premium you are charged generally depends on a number of factors. You can find out more about the factors your company may use to determine your premium here. If you have questions about how your insurer determines your rates and what steps you can take to improve your risk profile, contact your insurance agent or insurer.
- Discounts – When looking at your declarations or information page, you may see discounts listed at the bottom of the page. Typically, the company has included any discounts in the premium amount listed. Check the list of discounts to see what was included in your overall premium. Check here for a list of discounts typically available. If you think you are eligible for a discount you are not receiving, review with your insurance agent or insurer.
- Agent Contact Details – If you have an agent, their name and contact information will likely be listed on your policy. You can always contact your insurance company directly if you have any questions.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage:
Uninsured Motorist coverage compensates you and your passengers for injuries sustained in an accident caused by a driver who has no insurance or by a hit-and-run driver.
Cost: $12 to $576 for $25,000/$50,000 coverage
Rental Reimbursement coverage pays expenses incurred for a rental car while your auto is being repaired due to an auto accident.
Cost: $3 to $83 for a limit of $30 per day
Towing & Labor:
Towing and Labor coverage pays toward the cost of towing or repairing your vehicle if you are stranded and your vehicle is not running. Some policies provide coverage for flat tire change, locksmith service and battery jumpstart.
Cost: $1 to $26 for this coverage
Medical Payments coverage pays for reasonable medical expenses if you or your passengers are injured in an automobile accident.
Cost: $3 to $633 for a $2,000 medical payments limit
Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP):
Guaranteed Asset Protection coverage pays the difference between the actual cash value of the car and the amount of the loan. This coverage is generally provided by a separate policy.
Cost: Depends on the auto loan
Excess Electronic Equipment
Excess Electronic Equipment coverage pays toward the cost to replace your electronic equipment or media when coverage is not provided for excess electronic equipment, tapes, records, discs and other media. It is offered for an additional charge.
Cost: $2 to $15 for $200 (higher limits are offered as well)