The Best Car Insurance Companies in Florida

The search for the best car insurance company entails digging into such factors as price, coverage options and customer satisfaction. And things get more complicated when you are choosing auto insurance in Florida. That said, we break down how you can choose insurance you’ll afford while feeling comfortable with your choice in auto insurance carrier.

Florida has some of the highest car insurance rates in the nation due to factors like its weather, its no-fault insurance law and the high rate of uninsured drivers. In fact, the Insurance Information Institute reports that Florida had the sixth highest in uninsured drivers in 2019 at 20.4%, the year with the most recent data.

That said, you can still find an insurance company in Florida that provides excellent coverage within your budget. We took a look at the best insurance carriers that serve Florida and picked our five favorite ones, including the best overall auto insurance company in Florida. (Spoiler alert: It’s Geico.)

The factors that influence how much car insurance companies will charge you include your age, marital status, driving history and even ZIP code. Each insurer weighs those factors differently. The best strategy for finding cheap car insurance in Florida will always be to compare quotes. Just make sure the quotes you get are comparable in coverage, and of course, check out our reviews below.

In this article

Methodology

When comparing Florida auto insurance companies, we used our SimpleScore Methodology to consider factors such as discounts, coverage, support, customer satisfaction and accessibility.

We also looked at authoritative reviewers and gatherers of auto insurance statistics such as J.D. Power, Bankrate, Insurance Information Institute and Consumer Reports. Bottom line: We’ve worked to give you the best advice about car insurance in Florida.

The best car insurance companies in Florida

These insurers were ranked at the top of J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Auto Insurance Study in the Florida region. J.D. Power is a global leader in customer service surveys. These insurance providers also have excellent marks on our own SimpleScore and have gained the notice of Consumer Reports and the Insurance Information Institute.

  • Geico — Best overall for Florida auto insurance
  • State Farm — Best for Florida auto insurance claims customer service
  • Allstate — Best overall for Florida auto insurance customer service 
  • Progressive — Best for Florida auto insurance coverage options
  • Liberty Mutual — Best for Florida auto insurance discounts

Best overall for Florida car insurance – GEICO

When compared to other Florida auto insurance providers, Geico got top marks both from J.D. Power and Consumer Reports. Why? This carrier’s scores for claims and non-claims service were excellent. In fact, Geico is our favorite all-round Florida auto insurance carrier.

J.D. Power Rating

3/5

AM Best Rating

A++

Standard & Poor’s

AA+

SimpleScore

4.8 / 5.0

SimpleScore GEICO 4.8

Discounts 5

Coverage Options 5

Customer Satisfaction 4

Accessibility 5

Among the auto insurance carriers we track, Geico’s premiums were among the lowest for average minimum coverage, at $433 (per Bankrate’s 2020 data), which is actually also one of the lowest among the Florida providers we like best.

In addition to ranking among the best with J.D. Power for auto insurance companies in Florida (846 out of a score of 1,000) in 2020, we found that Geico was one of the largest auto insurance providers in 2019, according to the Insurance Information Institute, with almost 14% market share. We found that coverage options were robust, with 11, and discounts were quite plentiful, with 16.

Best for Florida car insurance claims customer service – State Farm

We consider State Farm to be the best in claims service satisfaction, an assertion backed up by its strong ratings with Consumer Reports.

J.D. Power Rating

4/5

AM Best Rating

A++

Standard & Poor’s

AA

SimpleScore

4.6 / 5.0

SimpleScore State Farm 4.6

Affordability 4

Coverage Options 5

Customer Satisfaction 4

Accessibility 5

State Farm’s wide reach can be a major attraction for some, with more than 19,000 independent agents and over 16% of the market share among auto insurance direct premiums written. This ensures that such benefits as the number of coverage options (we counted 13) is at your fingertips.

Over at Consumer Reports, we found that State Farm gets a 4 out of 5 for both claims and non-claims service satisfaction, although the company doesn’t rank as well for premiums and policy review satisfaction.

Best overall for Florida car insurance customer service – Allstate

When compared to other Florida auto insurance carriers for overall customer satisfaction, Allstate landed on top, with a J.D. Power score of 851 out of 1,000.

J.D. Power Rating

3/5

AM Best Rating

A+

Standard & Poor’s

A-

SimpleScore

4.4 / 5.0

SimpleScore Allstate 4.4

Discounts 3

Coverage Options 5

Customer Satisfaction 4

Accessibility 5

Allstate is a solid provider of car insurance, with good coverage options, customer support and accessibility. This carrier offers two apps: QuickTrip, which provides support for routing daily trips and maintenance reminders, as well as Allstate Mobile, which can be used for filing claims and other tasks.

This carrier is not a favorite for premium prices: Consumer Reports only gives Allstate a 1 out of 5 in that category, although the company ranks well with claims satisfaction, with 4 out of 5.

Best for Florida car insurance coverage options – Progressive

Progressive is the best in coverage options in our estimation, when compared to other Florida insurance providers, with 13 at our count.

J.D. Power Rating

3/5

AM Best Rating

A+

Standard & Poor’s

AA

SimpleScore

4.2 / 5.0

SimpleScore Progressive 4.2

Discounts 4

Coverage Options 5

Customer Satisfaction 4

Accessibility 4

When it comes to claims satisfaction, Progressive performs well, says Consumer Reports, with a 4 out of possible 5. The Progressive app is also robust, with the ability to get roadside assistance, file a claim and more.

Progressive is middle to top of the pack in premium costs for Florida auto insurance. Bankrate found that average minimum coverage was $1,356, near the top of the providers we follow, while full coverage was middle of the pack at $2,573. That said, Progressive has definite advantages as a large, established insurer.

Best for Florida car insurance discounts – Liberty Mutual

Of the Florida auto insurers we compared, Liberty Mutual won out with its insurance discounts (we counted 17). Options include such discounts as rewarding you for driving a hybrid or electric vehicle and even if you get a quote from this company before your policy runs out.

J.D. Power Rating

3/5

AM Best Rating

A

Standard & Poor’s

A

SimpleScore

4.8 / 5.0

SimpleScore Liberty Mutual 4.8

Discounts 5

Coverage Options 5

Customer Satisfaction 4

Accessibility 5

Liberty Mutual is also one of our strongest in coverage options, with 18 counted. One nice feature is that you can have the option for original manufacturer replacement parts, which means that if you have a Toyota Camry, you can get parts made by Toyota, not an after-market manufacturer.

Consumer Reports found that Liberty Mutual did not enjoy the satisfaction in premium prices that you might hope for, but satisfaction in claims processing was strong with 4 out of 5.

[ Read: Steps to Switch Car Insurance Companies ]

Choosing your Florida car insurance provider

One of the first decisions you’ll have to make when signing up for car insurance is whether to choose a local or national carrier. Both come with advantages and disadvantages.

Local carrier

Pros 

  • A personal relationship with your agent.
  • Services that are specific to your location.

Cons 

  • Fewer discounts.
  • Fewer digital tools.
  • Slower claims process.

National carrier

Pros

  • More discounts.
  • Faster claims process.
  • More money to invest in digital tools.

Cons 

  • May not have an individual agent.
  • Less of a personal touch.

Florida’s minimum insurance requirements

Florida’s minimum insurance requirements are the lowest in the U.S., with 10/20/10 in bodily injury liability and property damage liability. That’s as of March 2021.

What does that mean? Coverage must include up to $20,000 for everyone in an accident (middle number), subject to a limit of $10,000 for one person (the first number), and $10,000 for property damage (the last number). Also, instead of policy limits, policyholders can satisfy the requirement with a combined single limit policy. 

By comparison, Maine’s and Alaska’s minimum required coverages are at 50/100/25. (For Maine, policyholders must also carry coverage for medical payments.)

Property damage

Florida requires that all drivers carry a minimum of $10,000 in property damage liability insurance. This coverage will protect other drivers from financial loss in case you are at-fault for an accident and damage another vehicle. Failure to do so can result in the suspension of your registration or driver’s license.

Personal injury protection

Florida is one of a handful of no-fault auto insurance states. This means that regardless of a car accident, each driver is responsible for covering their own medical bills. As a result, the state requires that all drivers carry at least $10,000 in personal injury protection. This coverage will pay for 80% of medical expenses from a covered accident.

Taxi insurance

Florida requires that taxis carry extra car insurance to protect their passengers. Vehicles registered as taxis in the state must carry at least $125,000 bodily injury liability per person, $250,000 bodily injury liability per accident, and $50,000 property damage liability per accident.

How much does car insurance cost in Florida?

Drivers in Florida pay $2,364 annually for full coverage and $1,101 annually for minimum coverage, according to Bankrate records.

Florida car insurance can get high depending on the ZIP code, as much as $3,314 in Miami, the state’s largest metropolitan area. (Miami-Dade is one of the largest counties in population in the U.S., with almost 2.8 million in 2018, according to the U.S. Census.)

Meanwhile in North Florida, Tallahassee has some of the cheapest premiums for the state, according to Bankrate.

City Average annual premium for full coverage
Jacksonville $2,230
Miami $3,314
Orlando $2,405
Tampa $3,027
Tallahassee $2,043
St. Petersburg $2,662

Bankrate uses Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2021 rates for all ZIP codes and carriers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Quoted rates are based on a 40-year-old male and female driver with a clean driving record and good credit.

Car insurance FAQs

Florida drivers face a variety of unique circumstances that make car insurance rates more expensive. Factors that cause Florida car insurance rates to be high include:

  • The state’s no-fault insurance law.
  • A high rate of older drivers.
  • A high rate of uninsured drivers.
  • High rates of inclement weather.

Florida requires that drivers carry $10,000 of both property damage liability and personal injury protection coverage. But you can certainly choose to purchase more insurance, and you may want to. Florida’s minimum requirements don’t provide any protection for your vehicle, only for other drivers. If you want your car to be covered in an accident, increase your coverages.

Both collision and comprehensive coverage protect you in case of damage to your vehicle, but they apply to very different situations. Collision coverage protects you in case of a car accident. Comprehensive applies to situations where your car is damaged for a reason other than an accident, such as vandalism, theft or inclement weather.

We welcome your feedback on this article and would love to hear about your experience with the insurers we recommend. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

Source: thesimpledollar.com

20 Cheap and Easy Meals That Cost Under $10

The average American household spends more than $6,600 per year on food, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Expenditure Survey. That makes up roughly 10% of the median household income in America.

This is particularly noteworthy from a personal finance perspective because food is one of the major household expenses for which frugal choices can make a huge difference. Committing to preparing most meals at home, coupled with a smart and sensible grocery store strategy, can significantly cut the amount of money spent annually on food. Even cutting your food spending by 30% can save $2,000 per year.

The challenge, of course, is time and effort. For busy families, food preparation is a task that is often relegated to others simply by grabbing takeout, getting delivery, or buying premade meals. The solution isn’t to abandon them entirely, but to move toward a greater reliance on very inexpensive and easy to prepare meals. The easiest way to do this is to center your meals on low cost and easy to prepare ingredients, such as beans, rice, eggs, chicken, pasta and oatmeal, and accentuate them with a wide variety of flavorings and ingredients. If the core of your meal is inexpensive, then your whole meal will be!

Prices listed in this article were taken from Walmart.com at the time of writing, in order to approximately standardize nationwide pricing. The recipes themselves are ones used in our own family kitchen, mostly from handwritten notes.

In this article

Breakfast meals

Breakfast meals are inexpensive and fast meals our family uses that work well for family breakfasts, centered on using eggs, oatmeal, yogurt and other inexpensive ingredients. These can be used for other meals as well, but these often come out at the start of a school day, as the children are getting up and ready for their day.

Scrambled eggs

Simply crack several eggs into a bowl (three per person is a good number) and rapidly stir them with a fork until the yolk is well combined with the egg white. Add a small amount of salt: just a pinch. Put a tablespoon of butter in a skillet over medium heat until the butter is melted, then pour in the eggs. Every minute or so, gently scrape the bottom of the skillet with a spatula to pull the cooking eggs off of the bottom (so they don’t burn). When the eggs appear to be moist but solid, serve them. You can sprinkle some cheese or other flavorings on at the end, as per your choice.

1 dozen eggs – $1.99
1 tablespoon butter – $0.12
1 cup shredded cheese – $0.80
Total cost to serve four – $2.91

Slow cooker steel cut oats

This uses a small slow cooker. Just put 1 1/2 cups steel cut oats, 2 cups of milk and 4 cups of water into a slow cooker just before bed. To that, add whatever flavorings you like. We often add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, 2 or 3 overripe mashed bananas, and 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, as our family loves peanut butter-banana oatmeal. Aside from the oats, milk and water, you can add pretty much anything you like. Just set the slow cooker on low just before you go to bed and you’ll wake up to perfect oatmeal.

1 1/2 cups steel cut oats – $0.26
2 cups milk – $0.30
Flavorings of choice – $1.00 (est.)
Total cost to serve four – $1.56

Egg and bean burritos

Make the scrambled eggs in advance, as described above. Along with them, set out a package of flour tortillas, some heated beans, some shredded cheese, and some salsa, and allow people to assemble their own egg and bean burritos. These are very portable for a grab-and-go breakfast.

Scrambled eggs with cheese – $2.91
15 oz. black beans – $0.58
Salsa – $0.94
8 flour tortillas – $1.63
1 cup shredded cheese – $0.80
Total cost to serve four – $6.86

Overnight oats

This is another extremely simple overnight breakfast that’s great during the summer, since it’s a cool breakfast. Pull out a large drinking cup or a jar, add 1/2 cup rolled oats, then add whatever ingredients you like, followed by 1/4 cup yogurt and 1/2 cup milk. Cover the cup and put it in the fridge overnight. In the morning, it’s delicious. For flavoring, any and all fruits, nuts, and nut butters will work – again, we often use peanut butter and bananas with a bit of vanilla flavoring.

2 cups rolled oats – $0.52
2 cups milk – $0.30
1 cup yogurt – $0.85
Flavorings of choice – $1.00 (est.)
Total cost to serve four – $2.67

Getting hungry? Make that quick trip to the grocery store with the money you saved on your new and frugal auto insurance premium! Compare auto insurance prices below.

Soups and stews

Soups and stews usually take advantage of our family’s trusty slow cooker, as you can dump in the ingredients for a soup early in the day, turn the slow cooker on low, and enjoy a nice soup in the evening. The recipes here that include beans utilize dry beans, which, if soaked overnight in water the night before and cooked with additional liquid as per the bean package directions, turn out incredibly well.

Lentil stew

Note that dry lentils do not require soaking like other beans! You use dry ones right off the bat with this recipe. Just mix these ingredients into the slow cooker and cook on low for six hours. It’ll produce a fairly thick stew.

3 carrots, cut into discs – $0.43
3 celery stalks, sliced – $0.46
1 yellow onion, diced – $0.70
2 tablespoons olive oil – $0.06
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning – $0.10
1/2 teaspoon paprika – $0.06
1 1/2 cups dry green or brown lentils – $0.80
4 cups water – $0.00
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes – $0.87
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes – $0.72
1 tablespoon salt – $0.01
Total cost to serve four, with lots of leftovers – $4.21

Chili

Chili without meat is an incredibly inexpensive and simple meal to make, whether in a slow cooker or on a stovetop. Chili con carne (chili with meat) adds to the price, but not unbearably so. There are lots of variants to chili, but almost none of them are pricy. Here’s the one we use, which cooks in a slow cooker for about six hours after the beans soak overnight. If you don’t want to do that, use 2 cans of cooked beans to replace 1 cup dry beans. If you want extras to serve with the chili, like crackers or cheese, that will add a bit to the cost, but it’s still a great low-cost meal.

1 cup dry black beans – $0.54
1 cup dry pinto beans – $0.54
2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes – $1.44
1 15 oz can tomato sauce – $0.72
1 yellow onion, diced – $0.70
1 packet chili seasoning – $0.50
2 cups water – $0.00
4 cups additional water (if using dry beans) – $0.00
Total cost to serve four, with lots of leftovers – $4.44
Optional – 1 lb. cooked ground beef – $2.67

Ham and beans

This is the best use of leftover ham after the holidays, and a great reason to cut up any leftover ham and freeze it for the future. You can buy a single pound of ham and cube it yourself for $3-$4, which is still cheap, but using leftover ham is the real trick to making this cheap. Just soak the beans overnight, drain them, then cook this recipe in a slow cooker on low for six hours.

1 lb leftover ham, cubed – $0.00 (or $2.98)
1 yellow onion, diced – $0.70
1/2 tablespoon garlic powder – $0.11
1/2 teaspoon salt – $0.01
1/2 teaspoon black pepper – $0.01
1 lb dried great northern beans – $1.89
6 cups water – $0.00 (optionally, use vegetable broth)
Total cost to serve four generously – $2.72 (or $5.70)

Grilled cheese and tomato soup

Making your own tomato soup is simple. Just take an onion and chop it to size (I like to cut it into wedges, because I like big pieces of onion — the smaller you cut it, the better). Get out a large pot, put it over medium heat, and melt a whole stick of butter in there. When the butter is melted, add the onions and cook over medium heat for 4 minutes. Then, add the crushed tomatoes, raise heat to high until it’s bubbling, then drop it to medium-low so that it’s just barely bubbling, and leave it for 40 minutes. While that’s going, make sandwiches. Just butter one side of eight pieces of bread, assemble cheese sandwiches with the butter side outwards, and cook them each over medium heat in a skillet, flipping halfway through when the bottom is golden.

For the soup:
1 stick butter – $0.74
1 yellow onion, cut up – $0.70
2 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes – $1.74
Dash of salt to taste – $0.01
3 cups water – $0.00
Total cost to serve four very generously – $3.19

For the sandwiches:
8 slices bread of choice – $0.57
2 tablespoons butter – $0.21
8 slices cheese of choice – $1.40
Total cost to serve four – $2.18

Pasta meals

These are very simple and quick weeknight meals that my family frequently enjoys. These are almost always very cheap, and always accompanied with a side or two, which you can read about at the bottom of the article.

Three-ingredient mac and cheese

This is based on J. Kenzi Lopez-Alt’s amazing three-ingredient mac and cheese recipe. Our home version is slightly tweaked, but it makes enough for the five of us with leftovers for lunch the next day if served with a couple of sides. It’s so easy and so much better than boxed mac and cheese. Get out a large saucepan or small pot, add the mac, add water until the macaroni is just covered, then bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Stir constantly while boiling for six minutes, then add the evaporated milk, then stir constantly for three more minutes. Stir in the shredded cheese and serve. This stuff is amazing.

1 16 oz box elbow macaroni – $0.78
1 12 oz can evaporated milk – $0.70
4 cups shredded cheese of choice – $3.50 (can vary depending on cheese choice)
Total cost to generously serve four – $4.98

Spaghetti with marinara sauce

This is as simple as it gets. Boil a box of pasta according to package directions. Drain the water. Add a jar of marinara sauce of your choosing. Serve. My family loves this and it’s simple enough that my children often prepare it for dinner (we have our children fully take charge of some meal preparation in its entirety as a teaching tool).

1 16 oz. box spaghetti – $1.28
1 20–27 oz. jar marinara sauce – $1.28
Total cost to serve four – $2.56

Chickpea pasta

This is a pasta meal that’s a bit more complex than the spaghetti with marinara sauce, but follows the same idea. You’ll need a blender and a saucepan in addition to the pot for cooking pasta. Just cook a package of angel hair pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, put two cans of chickpeas, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 teaspoons cumin, a dash of salt and pepper, and the juice of a lemon into a saucepan and cook over medium heat for five minutes. Put half of the chickpeas and all of the liquid into a blender and puree it, then mix the chickpeas, liquid and pasta all together and serve.

1 16 oz. box angel hair pasta – $1.28
2 15 oz. cans chickpeas – $1.76
1/4 cup olive oil – $0.38
1 lemon – $0.40
2 teaspoons dried cumin – $0.08
Dash of salt and pepper – $0.02
Total cost to serve four generously – $3.92

Cheese lasagna

We often assemble this in the morning, pop it in the fridge, and bake it in the evening. All you need is a box of no-boil lasagna noodles, a small container of ricotta or cottage cheese, 4 cups shredded mozzarella, and a large jar of marinara sauce. We’ll often add a layer of vegetables, too – I particularly like adding a layer of mushrooms.

Just pour 1/3 of the jar of sauce into the bottom of a 9″ by 13″ pan, put a layer of no-boil noodles on top, then 1/3 of the cottage or ricotta, then 1/3 of the vegetables if using, then 1/3 of the mozzarella. Just repeat those layers twice more — sauce, then noodles, then cheese, then vegetables, then ricotta. Bake at 350 F for 1 hour covered with aluminum foil, removing the foil for the last 15 minutes to brown the cheese a little.

1 16 oz. box no boil lasagna noodles – $1.97
1 20–27 oz. jar marinara sauce – $1.28
4 cups shredded mozzarella – $3.20
1 15 oz. container cottage or ricotta cheese – $1.17
8 oz. sliced mushrooms – $1.96 (or another vegetable)
Total cost to serve four generously with a full meal of leftovers – $9.58

Bean and rice meals

These meals rely on beans and rice, two of the most inexpensive staples in your kitchen. Dry beans and rice are easy to prepare (you mostly just add water, put them over low heat, and wait) and provide tons of nutrition for the dollar. We invested in a rice cooker because we cook rice so often; a good rice cooker makes rice incredibly simple to make.

Sticky rice, vegetables and soy sauce

This is incredibly simple, yet my whole family enjoys it. This often turns up as a quick lunch, one that my kids often prepare. Simply cook two cups of uncooked rice according to the package directions. Take a package of frozen vegetables and cook them according to package directions. Then, add three tablespoons of soy sauce to the cooked rice and mix in the steamed vegetables. It seems comically simple… but it’s tasty and fast and cheap!

2 cups uncooked rice – $0.52
1 bag frozen mixed vegetables – $1.19
Soy sauce – $1.99 (full bottle, you’ll have lots of leftovers)
Total cost to serve four – $3.70

Red beans and rice

There are some wonderful pre-made kits for this — basically a mix of seasoning, dry red beans and dry rice — and I highly recommend them, especially on sale. If you want to make your own any time, it’s easy.

Just bring two cups of water to a boil, add 1 cup uncooked rice, reduce heat to low, cover, and let it sit on low heat for 20 minutes. Get out a skillet, add 1 pound of sliced kielbasa, and cook over medium-high heat for five minutes. Add a chopped onion, chopped bell pepper, 2 15 oz. cans kidney beans, and a 15 oz. can diced tomatoes. Add a dash of oregano, salt, pepper and garlic powder and let this all simmer together for 15 minutes. When the rice is done, you can either mix it all together or serve the beans over rice.

1 cup uncooked rice – $0.26
14–16 oz kielbasa – $2.87
1 yellow onion, chopped – $0.70
1 green bell pepper – $0.88
2 15 oz. cans kidney beans – $1.76
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes – $0.88
Dash of oregano, salt, pepper, and garlic powder – $0.02
Total cost to serve four – $7.37

Cheesy risotto

This is an extremely kid-friendly recipe that we sometimes serve as the main course with a few sides. It also works as a side for something else, if you’d like.

Heat the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until melted. Add the onion and stir regularly for 8 minutes, seasoning with the salt and pepper. Add the rice and stir for 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of broth and stir regularly for 10 minutes, then add the rest of the broth and lower heat to a simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring once about halfway through. Stir in the grated Parmesan and serve!

3 tablespoons butter – $0.31
1 yellow onion finely chopped – $0.70
Salt and pepper – $0.02
1 cup uncooked rice – $0.26
4 cups chicken broth – $1.98
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese – $0.50
Total cost to serve four – $3.77

Fried rice

This is our family’s favorite use of leftover rice and why we don’t sweat it if we cook extra rice. Just take three tablespoons of butter and melt over medium-high heat in a skillet. When it’s melted, add four whisked eggs and cook until scrambled, and then remove the scrambled eggs to a separate plate. From there, add a bag of chopped frozen mixed vegetables right to the pan and cook for 6 minutes. Then, add four cups of leftover cold chilled rice and 4 tablespoons of soy sauce and cook for 3 more minutes. Mix the eggs back in and serve.

4 cups leftover cooked rice – $0.50
3 tablespoons butter – $0.31
4 eggs – $0.66
1 bag frozen mixed vegetables – $1.19
Soy sauce – $1.99 (full bottle, you’ll have lots of leftovers)
Total cost to serve four – $4.65

Chicken and tuna meals

These four meals are focused on chicken and tuna, which are the least expensive meat staples consistently found in grocery stores. If you want a bargain, canned tuna and whole chickens are the best deal. Tip: If you have a recipe that calls for cooked chicken, consider buying a whole rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and tear it apart. You can get cooked chicken for as little as $1 per pound doing this.

One-pot chicken, broccoli, and rice casserole

This is a comfort food that my parents made when I was younger and we now enjoy as a family. It’s also a great use for cooked rice. Just mix the following in a casserole dish and bake at 350F for 30 minutes.

4 cups leftover cooked rice – $0.50
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese – $3.20
1 lb. cooked chicken (rotisserie) – $1.25
2 cups chicken broth – $0.99
1 cup milk – $0.50
2 tablespoons melted butter – $0.20
Total cost to serve four – $6.64

Chicken noodle soup

Egg noodles, cooked in chicken broth, with some diced chicken added. It’s so simple and yet, so delicious. You can add diced vegetables as desired — carrots, celery and onions all work here. Just get a 16 oz. package of egg noodles and cook according to package directions using 6 cups of chicken broth as the liquid and adding the chicken and vegetables before cooking.

6 cups chicken broth – $2.97
1 lb. cooked rotisserie chicken – $1.25
1 16 oz. package egg noodles – $1.98
1 bag diced frozen mixed vegetables – $1.19
Total cost to serve four – $7.39

Tuna melts

This is one of my family’s favorite meals, and it’s super easy. OK, so this one goes a bit over $10, but it’s oh, so good. Just mix up tuna, mayonnaise, and pickle juice, then put a large teaspoon of the mix on each hamburger bun. Top with cheese, wrap each sandwich in aluminum foil, place the sandwiches on a baking sheet, and bake at 350F for 20 minutes. Delicious!

4 5-ounce cans tuna, drained – $5.43
4 tablespoons mayonnaise – $1.59 for the full bottle
2 teaspoons pickle juice – $0.05
8 hamburger buns – $1.59
8 slices cheese – $1.29
Aluminum foil – $0.15
Total cost for 8 sandwiches – $10.01

Tuna patties

These simple tuna patties fry very well in a skillet. Just add a tiny bit of oil and fry these in a skillet over medium heat until golden brown on both sides, 5–6 minutes per side. The patties are made by mixing the below ingredients and forming them into patties. You can serve them on the plate or on bread or buns as a sandwich (with a slice of cheese on top).

2 5-ounce cans tuna – $2.71
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard – $0.17
4 slices white bread torn into small pieces – $0.26
1 raw egg – $0.17
Dashes of salt, pepper, hot sauce, and lemon juice – $0.05
Total cost for four patties – $3.36

What about sides?

These 20 meals can each provide a main course, but what about side dishes? We usually pair our main dishes with two of the following items, depending on what pairs well and what’s on sale.

Flash frozen vegetables in a microwave steamed bag, which usually cost $1.29 and are often found on sale for $0.99. We usually cook them for about a minute less than the directions on the bag then season them extensively with salt, pepper, and other odds and ends.

Fresh fruit including apples, bananas, grapes, oranges — whatever’s on sale that week.

Fresh vegetables from our garden are almost always our side dishes during the summer months.

Baked potatoes just need to be wrapped in foil and baked in the oven at 350 F for up to an hour, depending on size. They’re cheap and are wonderful topped with butter or sour cream.

A side salad, usually a kit from the store when they’re on sale, is commonly on our table. Kits provide a side salad that’s adequate for our family for $2 when on sale.

Yogurt is often on sale, and we just buy whatever’s on sale. Containers of yogurt are an inexpensive finish to many meals.

We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

Source: thesimpledollar.com

Here are 5 Ways 2021 Will Try to Rip You Off, and 5 Ways to Fight Back

Wouldn’t it be useful to get an alert when you’re about to overpay? A polite little alert, not an obnoxious one. That’s exactly what this free service does. These free alerts can be added to your browser.
The pandemic has changed how we shop, and that’s expected to carry over into 2021. More of us are shopping online now — including nearly 70% of Americans, according to a new NPR poll. Of those, more than 90% have bought something from Amazon.
Prices don’t normally go down. But in 2020, car insurance companies cut their rates because the market demanded it. Customers who were quarantined in their homes figured that, because they were driving so much less, they should be paying less.
Source: thepennyhoarder.com

1. Watch Out for Car Insurance Rate Hikes

All you have to do is connect your current insurance, then Savvy will search hundreds of insurers for a better price on the same coverage. It’ll even help you cancel your old policy and get you a refund from your current insurer.
Before you check out on Amazon, Target or Best Buy, it’ll check other websites, including eBay, Walmart and others to see if your item is available for cheaper. It’ll even apply any available coupon codes to your order automatically.
It takes two minutes to see if you qualify for up to ,000.
The USDA predicts that grocery prices will rise by at least 1% to 2%, and restaurant prices will rise by 2% to 3%. That may not seem like a lot. But over a whole year, that’s really going to add up.
How about 2021? Is 2021 coming for us, too?
If you find a better deal, you can switch right away and don’t have to wait for your next renewal or even your next payment.

2. Don’t Get Ripped Off While Shopping Online

Privacy Policy
You don’t have to take that! That’s why 2021 will require you to shop around for car insurance like never before.
Credit card debt is the most expensive kind of debt because of the high interest rates. Unfortunately, the pandemic and its shutdowns and its job losses have forced more Americans to fall back on their credit cards to pay their bills and pay for necessities like food. That’s carrying over into 2021.
Ready to stop worrying about money?
If you’re looking to buy a home in 2021, do everything you can to save money on your mortgage. A good credit score will make a big difference in how much interest you’ll pay on a mortgage or car loan. That could easily add up to tens of thousands of dollars over the life of a mortgage.

3. Watch Out for Rising Food Prices

Get the Penny Hoarder Daily
So, 2020 was a really terrible year, am I right? This pandemic has stolen all kinds of things from us. It took millions of jobs, hundreds of thousands of American lives, and countless hours of in-classroom school instruction. It emptied our bank accounts and shredded our peace of mind.
Could you imagine waking up with no credit card debt? A free website called AmOne can help you wipe out your credit card debt even faster.
Some purchases are optional, but food isn’t one of them. Unfortunately, the price of food is expected to rise in 2021, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 
You can download the free Fetch Rewards app here to start getting free gift cards. Over a million people already have, so they must be onto something.

4. Don’t Overpay for a Mortgage

Here’s how it works: After you’ve downloaded the app, just look for products branded with the Unilever “U.” Then take a picture of your receipt showing you purchased an item from one of the participating brands. For your efforts, you’ll earn gift cards to places like Amazon or Walmart.
The median price of homes sold in January 2021 was nearly 4,000, a 14% increase compared to January 2020, according to the National Association of Realtors. That’s the highest January price that the Realtors have ever recorded.
So far, this free tool has saved users more than 0 million in the last year. You can get started in just a few minutes and see if you’re overpaying online.
Try using a free website called Credit Sesame. Within two minutes, you’ll get access to your credit score and personalized tips to improve it. You’ll even be able to spot any errors holding you back (one in five reports have one).
In summary: Hopefully 2021 will be better than 2020. At the very least, you’re likely to get a COVID-19 vaccination at some point.

5. Beware of Expensive Credit Card Debt

When it comes to money, we’re firm believers that it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Ah, but it’s a whole new year. And as Americans gravitate back to their old driving patterns, auto insurance rates are expected to climb back up, according to industry observers.
Here are five ways 2021 will try to rip you off — and five ways to fight back.

Want to check for yourself? It’s free and only takes about 90 seconds to sign up.
AmOne will match you with a low-interest loan to pay off all your credit cards at once. Its interest rates start at 3.99% — way lower than the 20% or more you’re probably paying your credit card company. That could save you thousands in the long run. Plus, you’ll be debt-free that much faster.
Just watch out for all the other ways that 2021 will try to rip you off.
We’ve got a way for you to get some of the money back. A free app called Fetch Rewards will reward you with gift cards just for any of hundreds of items at the grocery store. Right now, it’s even offering shoppers a gift card when they spend on dozens of Unilever products at the grocery store. You can do this five times, or up to . <!–

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Sure, it’ll be convenient to have boxes of stuff appear on your doorstep all through 2021. But no matter what you’re buying online, you may be paying too much for it. In many cases, there might be a better deal somewhere else. It just feels like a pain to look for it.

Solid Marks for Gabi Insurance Review

When it comes to my 401(k), daily alarm clock or, yes, even my rotisserie chicken, I’ve embraced the set-it-and-forget-it mantra. But for car insurance? You’re doing yourself a disservice if you aren’t shopping for better car insurance rates at least once a year.

That’s what makes tools like Gabi so helpful. In our Gabi insurance review, we’ll weigh the pros and cons of using an insurance comparison tool, instead of directly working with insurance agents, when shopping for new car insurance rates.

What Is Gabi Insurance?

Gabi Insurance is a newcomer to the insurance scene. The San Francisco insurance company was founded in 2016, four years after The Zebra (another car insurance comparison site that I had mixed feelings about; get the full scoop in my Zebra car insurance review). While Gabi is known primarily for its auto insurance quotes, users can also rely on Gabi to compare insurance providers for renters insurance, home insurance, condo insurance, landlord insurance and umbrella insurance. (I could not find an option for life insurance.)

Gabi is a fully licensed insurance broker in 50 states plus the District of Columbia, meaning they can underwrite, price and sell policies and handle claims. It also means that, when you generate quotes on the site, you can buy directly on the site. One of the issues with sites like The Zebra is that, after generating your auto insurance quote, you’d have to leave the site and go to the actual insurance company’s site to complete the process.

Gabi works with more than 40 top insurance agencies to help you find the best rate for your car(s), driving history and budget. Among those insurance companies are Nationwide, Travelers, Progressive, Clearcover and Safeco.

Gabi claims it saves drivers an average of $961 per year and can provide quotes in a matter of minutes. It’s time to test those promises.

How Gabi Works: A Review

Getting your Gabi insurance quotes can be relatively painless, depending on the route you take. You have three options:

  1. Don’t provide any of your current auto insurance information.
  2. Provide your car insurance login information.
  3. Upload a PDF of your current auto insurance policy.

Because I’m private by nature (and because I just had the pleasure of dealing with a fraudulent unemployment claim in my name), I was hesitant to provide any login information. I first tried to advance without providing any information, but as we’ll see, this doesn’t get you very far. Eventually, I uploaded a PDF of my policy.

To get a quote for Gabi insurance, you start here.
To get a quote, your journey to cheaper car insurance starts here.

Getting started is easy. First you’ll make your decision re: providing insurance information or not (more on that below). Then you’ll enter your name. (Like I did when reviewing The Zebra, I started the process with the very real, honest name of Joe Schmoe.)

This screenshot shows a portal where Gabi insurance asks what your email is. The reviewer typed in Joe Schmoe.
Mr. Schmoe as he signs up for car insurance quotes.

After providing your name, Gabi will ask for a handful of other contact info: birthday, address, whether you own or rent your home, email address and cell phone number. When asking for the email address, Gabi promises your information is never sold or shared. The Zebra says something similar, yet Geico conveniently sent an email to my inbox addressing me as Joe just minutes after I hit submit on The Zebra’s site.

Gabi Insurance asks for your email address in this screen shot.
Gabi says they won’t share or sell your info; thus far, they’ve held up their end of the bargain.

Contact update: As of two hours after creating my account, I have received one text and two emails from Gabi, but none from any third-party insurance providers. Could it be that Gabi is telling the truth when they say they won’t share or sell your data?

To Provide Insurance Info Or Not to Provide Insurance Info? That Is the Question

That’s what Hamlet said, right?

As I mentioned, in my first attempt at using Gabi’s car insurance comparison platform, I resisted their pleas for my personal info. “They don’t need to know anything about me to build a quote tailored to me,” I foolishly asserted.

But when I got to the magical part where Gabi was supposed to tell me I’m a schmuck who has been paying too much for auto insurance, I was instead given a list of common insurance companies, all with blue buttons that said “View My Quote.”

“Surely I must just click each and see a quote at the ready, despite the platform having no knowledge of my car, driving history or policy preferences,” I told myself. Oh, Joe Schmoe, what a fool you are.

Gabi Insurance shows various options that can help you save money in this screen shot.
When you don’t provide your current insurance policy to Gabi, this is the type of screen you can expect to see.

I quickly learned, upon clicking into Liberty Mutual, Allstate and Progressive, that giving Gabi such limited info meant the site would merely direct me to individual insurance companies to provide more detailed personal information to generate a quote.

That’s right: In that instance, Gabi serves no purpose, because you must start from scratch on every insurance company’s site to compare.

If you’re unwilling to provide either your login info for your current insurance company or a PDF of your auto insurance policy, then Gabi is not right for you.

In the name of research, I decided I was comfortable enough downloading a copy of my policy from Allstate and then uploading it into Gabi. While it does have some personal data within it, my email and password were still safe with me.

It took only a few seconds for the artificial intelligence on Gabi’s site to read my policy and tell me in intricate detail what those pages contained. (This is either really convenient for insurance shoppers or a warning sign that robots are just days away from taking over.)

From there, I was able to input more personal information about myself as a driver, my partner (who is also on my policy) and our car. I tried to remove my partner for a good five minutes just for kicks and eventually gave up. Later on, I learned if I had just waited a few more clicks, I would have had the option of toggling secondary drivers on and off. If Gabi had made that clear, it would have saved me time and frustration.

Actually generating my quotes did take about a minute, which is notably fast. However, I had just used The Zebra a few days before, and that experience was faster, so Gabi seemed slow by comparison.

The Car Insurance Quotes I Got from Gabi

I was pleasantly surprised to see a few insurance agencies whose names I recognized among my top results. And the savings were quite large.

Gabi provides more insurance companies that can help you save money.
My top auto insurance quotes from the Gabi insurance comparison platform.

My top quote came from Stillwater and would save me $622 a year. I was dubious upon seeing that, so I clicked into the “View Details” portion of the quote and did find some discrepancies. The largest: My property damage coverage dropped from $500,000 with my current policy to $100,000 with this potential new policy.

Still, the changes were so minor that it ultimately felt like a good deal. But buyer beware: You shouldn’t necessarily expect your current policy and quoted policy to be one-to-one. Go through and make sure all the coverages you want are still represented by the new policy.

Quotes two and three purported to save me $573 and $468 a year, respectively, but again, those quotes weren’t an apples-to-apples comparison with my current policy, as some of the coverages differed.

That said, all three quotes were large improvements over my current auto insurance. My current auto policy is bundled with my homeowners insurance and thus linked to my escrow, so I’ve got some calls to make, but I can safely say I will be using Gabi again soon to find a better bundled policy for auto insurance and home insurance.

What We Like About Gabi Insurance

Clearly, as someone who has just publicly stated he’ll be using Gabi to generate a real quote down the road, I’m a fan. Here’s some of what I liked about Gabi:

  • You don’t have to leave the site. If you find a quote you like, you are able to purchase the insurance on Gabi’s own platform, as long as you are in the United State, since Gabi is a fully licensed insurance broker.
  • It’s got an easy-to-read gauge during the process. It’s a small thing, but I can’t breeze past a good website UX when I see one. I found Gabi’s top-of-the-page tracker for percentage of completion to be a nice touch, especially for a site that is all about efficiency in generating a quote.
Gabi shows how far along you've made it in the process.
Gabi makes it easy to see how far along you are in the process.
  • Uploading my policy was easy. Assuming you want your new coverage at the same or similar levels you’re used to, you can get a quote in minutes by uploading your current policy.
  • You can bundle home insurance with auto insurance. I currently bundle my auto and home coverage, and I would like to continue. It’s convenient to have all my insurance policies in one app, and it earns me discounts.
  • I would legitimately save money. While I haven’t pulled the trigger yet, Gabi could deliver real savings over the course of a year from one of several different insurance companies. More than $600 for me; Gabi truly means it when they promise to find the best insurance company for your needs.

What We Don’t Like About Gabi Insurance

I may be a new Gabi fanboy, but that doesn’t mean I’m onboard with the entire experience. Here’s where I found the car insurance comparison platform fell short:

  • There isn’t an option to describe the policy you want. Gabi pushes you into a scenario where you have to hand over your current insurance account login information or uploading a copy of your policy. If you’re strict about who has access to your data, this could be problematic, as it’s the only way to get quotes to compare on the site.
  • It can sometimes take days. Though I did not provide my login information, some customers have complained that it could take up to two days (depending on the current insurance provider) for Gabi to get into the account and grab the relevant information. That takes the speed out of the process that is supposed to be a hallmark of Gabi.
  • The policies I was provided weren’t perfect matches for my current policy. And Gabi wasn’t upfront about this. I had to do some digging to realize that, by opting for the No. 1 policy choice, some of my coverages would be reduced.
  • They required my cell phone number. I understand needing my number if I decided to move forward with one of the policies, but for the general comparison purposes, I don’t think customers should have to input their numbers.

What Customers Are Saying About Gabi Insurance

Overall, I had favorable opinions of Gabi, but I wanted to see what other customers were saying about the company.

I started with Better Business Bureau and was actually shocked to see that, despite having a BBB rating of an A-, it has an average 1.77 out of 5 stars based on 22 customer reviews. Ouch.

Reviews on the Better Business Bureau website were largely around problems with the actual Gabi service, but some have said working with customer service is not a pleasant experience either, whether due to agent miscommunications or just generally slow customer service response time.

These poor customer reviews are notably absent on Gabi’s site, where it instead shows off its 4.8 out of 5 stars based on “third-party verified reviews” that are certainly not at all curated to paint a favorable picture.

Gabi does score well in terms of its mobile app. In the App Store, it currently has a 4.1 rating. I could not easily find it on Google Play.

The Bottom Line

So should you try Gabi? If you are actually ready to make the switch to a new car insurance provider and don’t mind a little leg work, absolutely. The Zebra is easier since you don’t have to relinquish your personal information, but I found The Zebra to be dishonest about its spam policy, frustrating to use and not really much of a money-saver. With Gabi, you’ll have to actually take the time to give the platform access to your current policy, but in doing so, big savings and an easy sign-up process could be on the horizon.

Timothy Moore is a market research editing and graphic design manager and a freelance writer and editor covering topics on personal finance, travel, careers, education, pet care and automotive. He has worked in the field since 2012 with publications like The Penny Hoarder, Debt.com, Ladders, WDW Magazine, Glassdoor and The News Wheel. 

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Zebra Insurance Review Reveals Good and Bad

Kids these days may never know the pain of spending hours pouring through web pages to generate various auto insurance quotes or (gasp!) having to actually call and talk to insurance agents about what kinds of premiums they could offer. That’s because of the advent of car insurance comparison sites like The Zebra. Our Zebra insurance review shows the site is a good place to start your search but it may not have all the answers you need.

How The Zebra Got Its Stripes

The Zebra was started nearly a decade ago, back in 2012, building off the astronomical success of Google and mirroring the structure of travel sites such as Priceline, Hotwire and Kayak. The difference? The Zebra allows users to compare rates for insurance. The company is headquartered in Austin, Texas, and as part of its “All Stripes Are Welcome” mantra, is very focused on diversity and inclusion.

Initially, The Zebra specialized exclusively in auto insurance (and this Zebra insurance review is primarily concerned with The Zebra’s performance in the realm of car insurance providers), but in recent years, the insurance comparison company has branched out to renters insurance, homeowners insurance and life insurance. And on the horizon: RV insurance, boat insurance and more.

Since its inception, The Zebra website has produced more than 6.5 million insurance quotes. Currently, The Zebra’s provider partnerships total more than 200 car insurance companies, including big names like USAA, Progressive, State Farm, Liberty Mutual, All State, Erie, Esurance, Nationwide and Metlife. The Zebra promises that it has no allegiances to any auto insurance providers, though my experience (detailed in the next section) suggests otherwise.

Fun Fact: Last year, The Zebra became the first U.S. employer to cover employees’ pet adoption fees. (No zebra adoptions permitted — yet.)

How The Zebra Works: A Review

Getting a car insurance quote from The Zebra takes fewer than five minutes. In fact, I was able to generate three sample auto insurance quotes in under 10.

Ready to see your personalized auto insurance rates? Here’s what you’ll need to input on the site:

  • Your ZIP code. To begin the process, The Zebra needs to know where you live. Car insurance laws and policies vary from state to state, so it’s important to choose the state in which you are actually licensed. (So if you’re going to school in Kentucky but still have Mom’s address in Ohio, you’ll technically need to use your mother’s ZIP code back home.)
  • The basics. After inputting your ZIP code, The Zebra will want some basic details. You’ll need to specify whether you have auto insurance, whether you own or rent (and type of home) and why you are shopping for car insurance.
  • Your vehicle details. Not only will you need to input your year, make and model, but you will also need the trim details. Depending on the manufacturer, you may also need to know which engine or drivetrain you have, as some automakers include those in trim distinctions. If you need to insure more than one vehicle on the policy, you have the option to add up to four more. Next, you need to input information about that vehicle: whether you own or lease the vehicle, how you use it and the number of miles you drive each year.
  • The drivers. To start, fill in the information about yourself: first and last name, birthdate and address. Then, you’ll need to specify gender (Note: Despite being a company that prides itself on diversity, The Zebra currently only has options for “male” and “female”), marital status, credit score range*, level of education, how long you have been continuously insured, current insurance provider, bodily injury limits of your current coverage and details about any accidents or tickets you’ve received in the last three years. If you indicate that you are married, you must include information about your spouse. You also have the option to add others to your auto insurance policy, such as domestic partners or children.

*Credit score options include Excellent (720+), Good (680 to 719), Average (580 to 679) and Poor (below 580). The Zebra prompts you to select “Good” if you don’t know your credit score, but you better believe that they will be pulling your credit score before actually letting you sign on the (digital) dotted line.

After inputting your information, The Zebra will take a few moments to calculate auto insurance quotes for you. Each time I generated a quote, I was shown results in ascending order of price, with the cheapest on top. (Each time, Progressive also had an unpriced quote at the very top of every fake quote I generated, which seemed to be a sketchy paid placement. So much for that no allegiance thing.)

A progressive ad appears.
This “ad” appeared at the top of every search that was conducted.

Once you have your auto insurance quotes, you can use the “Explore quotes at $XX/$XX bodily injury limits” link at the top to customize whether you view their Minimum, Basic, Better or Best coverage options. That’s helpful for those who like to be hands off, but if you want to customize your coverage beyond that (perhaps you want everything provided in Basic coverage but want to add roadside assistance, which doesn’t kick in unless you upgrade to Better), you’ll have to work with each insurance company directly.

This screen grab shows steps to building your policy.
Being able to select a level of coverage is nice as a starting point, but I wish you could then go in and further customize to your liking.

For each quote you are provided, you can see the name of the insurance company and the price in a big blue bubble. If you want more information, you can click the small “What’s covered” language, which I missed when creating my first two insurance quotes. The bright blue is definitely meant to draw your eyes so you immediately click into the quote without reading the fine print: a solid user experience decision or shady business practice? The jury’s out.

When you expand “What’s covered,” The Zebra does an excellent job of providing an overview on — what else? — the Overview tab. On the left is a paragraph about the auto insurance company for those who prefer their information that way while the right is for visual learners, with brief phrases about the benefits of the insurance policy and helpful iconography.

The “What’s covered” pop-out also has tabs on coverage and pricing. The coverage tab shows you whether this quote includes auto insurance options such as bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist bodily, uninsured motorist property, personal injury protection (PIP), collision (and its deductible), comprehensive (and its deductible), roadside assistance and rental reimbursement.

Here is where The Zebra could really be improved; I’d love to be able to see that the policy I’m looking at has, for example, a $1,000 deductible for collision and comprehensive and no coverage for rental reimbursement and then be able to edit to my liking. Then, the associated rate would dynamically update to reflect that change. Alas, that is not offered.

Finally, the pricing tab shows policy length, the first month price, how much you’ll pay in future months and the pay-in-full price.

Sample Quotes from The Zebra

To understand what the insurance comparison experience and pricing were like with The Zebra site, I created three auto insurance quotes: one for single 30-year-old Joe Schmoe, one for elderly married couple Johnny Tsunami and Daisy Duke and one for young college student Minerva McGonagall (because why not).

Quote #1

The first quote, for Joe Schmoe, was built off my own data:

  • Own a house
  • 30 years old
  • Owns a 2017 Subaru Crosstrek that is fully paid off
  • Unmarried
  • Excellent credit score
  • Male
  • 5,000 miles a year (I’ve been working from home for three years, and my odometer is happy with that decision)
  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Discounts: Employed full-time, paperless billing and auto-pay

Here were the top auto insurance quotes this profile generated:

One of the quotes generated from Zebra Insurance comparison.

These insurance rates are in line with what I currently pay, so The Zebra seems right on the money here. But as far as its claim that it can save me money on my current auto insurance rate? Not so much.

Quote #2

For the second quote, I used happily married Johnny Tsunami and Daisy Duke:

  • Own a condo
  • Early 60s
  • Making payments on a 2020 BMW 7 Series (they have expensive tastes)
  • Married
  • Excellent credit score
  • Male and female
  • 12,000 miles a year
  • Master’s degree
  • Discounts: Employed full-time, paperless, auto-pay and pay in full upfront

This couple received the following auto insurance quotes:

One of the quotes generated from Zebra Insurance comparison.

Quote #3

Finally, Minerve McGonagall, who is putting herself through school, input the following details for her auto insurance quote:

  • Rents an apartment
  • 22 years old
  • Makes payments on a 2009 Chevy Cobalt
  • Unmarried
  • Average credit score
  • Female
  • 15,000 miles a year
  • One accident and two tickets on her record
  • Some college but no degree yet
  • Discounts: Employed full-time and paperless billing (is not comfortable with auto-pay)

The Zebra generated these quotes for this driver:

One of the quotes generated from Zebra Insurance comparison.

The Zebra claims it can save drivers up to $670 a year on auto insurance. That, I cannot verify. I can only share that what The Zebra quoted me is in line with my current insurance rate, so I wouldn’t get any savings.

What We Like About The Zebra

The Zebra’s insurance comparison is certainly an excellent tool to get a sense for what you will need to pay for insurance and compare quotes. At the least, you can use the information from The Zebra to make an informed decision when shopping for insurance directly with providers.

Here’s what I liked about The Zebra

  • It was fast and easy to get my quotes.
  • It detailed the discounts I was eligible for. Discounts include the following: paperless delivery, multi-vehicle, auto-pay, safe driver, pay in full, currently insured, currently employed, low mileage, excellent/good credit, and homeownership.
  • It provides a good foundation for your research.

What We Don’t Like About The Zebra

That said, there was a fair amount I didn’t like about The Zebra:

  • The Zebra works with over 200 auto insurance companies, but I probably couldn’t name more than 10 car insurance companies myself. Some of the companies suggested to me were brands I’d never heard of, and when it comes to something as important as car insurance, brand recognition is important to me as a shopper.
  • I couldn’t customize my coverage. If you are the type of savvy shopper who knows how much insurance you need and the exact deductibles and add-ons you’d like, this tool isn’t for you.
  • The Zebra patently lies about spam, and I have the receipts to prove it.

My Experience with The Zebra and Spam

I don’t like to give my email address out to just anybody (call me old-fashioned), so I was apprehensive when completing my fake quotes. But I’m a millennial consumer who knows the deal so I entered my email address.

Besides, The Zebra assured me they wouldn’t spam me. No, really:

A saying that says they won't send you spam.

But as soon as The Zebra had generated my quotes, my phone lit up with the sound of unwanted communication. It took just seconds for two emails to enter my inbox:

Spam from Geico.
It was at this moment that I realized I’d have to come clean about getting my first quote as Joe Schmoe in my review.

I did read online in a Better Business Bureau thread that, at one time, The Zebra used to require phone numbers for a quote and would immediately place spam phone calls (sometimes before users could read the quotes they were just provided), but The Zebra acknowledged that this was less than ideal and has since removed the phone number requirement in its auto insurance quote process.

What Customers Are Saying About The Zebra

So The Zebra’s insurance comparison site didn’t seem right for me, but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s not a great resource for others. At the least, I do maintain it’s a good tool for preliminary research. Perhaps I’m just old-school, but I want to do more digging and customization on my own to make sure I’m getting the best deal.

But all in all, The Zebra has wonderful customer reviews. It’s got a great score on BBB (an A, currently) and a 4.8 out of 5 overall satisfaction rating on Shopper Approved (with 1,683 5-star reviews out of 1,989 ratings total, at time of writing). Across the board, customer reviews on Shopper Approved highlight users’ satisfaction with The Zebra’s products, price and customer service.

With that said, it’s worth giving The Zebra a shot, if only to see what kinds of quotes you might get and then supplement with additional research. And if you’re worried about the spam, here’s a tip from a friend: You can still see the quotes even if you provide a fake email.

Timothy Moore is a market research editing and graphic design manager and a freelance writer and editor covering topics on personal finance, travel, careers, education, pet care and automotive. He has worked in the field since 2012 with publications like The Penny Hoarder, Debt.com, Ladders, WDW Magazine, Glassdoor and The News Wheel. 

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Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Do You Need Renters Insurance for Your Apartment? Pros & Cons

It’s increasingly common for landlords to require tenants to carry renters insurance coverage. That’s understandable, as renters insurance limits landlords’ liability for potentially costly mishaps, like a building visitor landing in the hospital after sustaining an injury on the premises. It may absolve them of any financial responsibility for tenant possessions damaged or lost to fire, water leaks, vandalism, and certain other events covered by the policy.

Even when it’s not mandatory, renters insurance has direct benefits for tenants. But it isn’t free. A starter policy with high deductibles and relatively low coverage limits costs in the neighborhood of $150 to $200 per year. Higher-end coverage costs $300 to $500 or more per year, according to Insurance.com. For frugal, careful renters whose landlords don’t demand coverage, that cost might be too much to bear.

Before rushing to purchase a policy you might not need or writing off renters insurance as unnecessary, take a few minutes to consider the benefits and drawbacks.

Pros of Renters Insurance

Renters insurance has some clear advantages, including possible protection from liability, discounts for bundling it with other types of insurance policies, and limited protection from negligent landlords.

1. It’s Not Limited to the Possessions in Your Apartment

When you hear the term “renters insurance,” you probably envision a policy that reimburses you for personal belongings that are lost, damaged, destroyed, or stolen within the confines of your apartment.

This is a key function of renters insurance, but it’s not all it entails. Renters insurance has three distinct components:

  1. Content Coverage. Virtually all renters who carry insurance hold a content insurance policy (also known as personal property coverage) that covers TVs, stereos, computers, furniture, and other valuable items that stay in the rental unit. Content insurance also covers items you keep in your car, provided the vehicle is registered in your name and at your address. If your car is burglarized overnight or while you’re out of town, your policy may reimburse you for the theft of any covered items within it.
  2. Liability Coverage. Renters insurance also protects you from liability issues that may arise in the course of your tenancy. If a guest sustains an injury during a fall or as a result of an accident at your home, your renters insurance policy’s liability coverage may cover the cost of a potential lawsuit, associated legal fees, and/or the guest’s medical bills. Likewise, your policy may cover the cost of fire or water damage sustained by other tenants in your building due to faulty plumbing, outdated wiring, leaky floorboards, and other hazards that originate in your unit.
  3. Loss of Use Coverage. Finally, your policy should cover (or at least provide you with the option to cover) temporary relocation and living expenses you may incur if your apartment becomes unlivable due to fire, flood, or structural damage. This is known as “loss of use” coverage.

Comprehensive renters insurance policies typically include all of these components, while lower-cost policies may exclude relocation coverage.

2. You Can Save by Bundling It With Other Insurance Policies

Your apartment likely isn’t the only thing you’d like to protect. For example, if you own a car, you’re legally obligated to carry auto insurance on it. These days, you’re also required to hold a health insurance policy. Depending on your age and family situation, you may have life insurance as well. And if you own particularly valuable items, like precious jewelry or original artwork, you may need customized policies to cover them.

The good news is that a renters insurance policy can be (and often is) bundled with other insurance types at a significant discount. Virtually every major insurer offers a multipolicy discount, or a premium discount for carrying more than one insurance policy with the same company. Since many renters also own cars, bundling rental and car insurance policies is common.

The discounts can be impressive. For instance, Liberty Mutual claims applicants can save upward of $800 when they bundle home and auto insurance policies. Other insurers offer similar discounts on a case-by-case basis.

3. It Protects You From Landlord Negligence

Imagine this: You head home from work, looking forward to a relaxing evening of eating takeout and binge-watching Netflix. But as you approach your apartment building, you realize something isn’t right. Fire trucks and cop cars surround the entrance, and a thin cloud of smoke rises from the roof.

Eventually, investigators determine that a decades-old circuit shorted out, triggering a chain reaction along some old faulty wiring that caused a fire on your floor. The building isn’t destroyed, but your apartment has been ruined by smoke and heat. Your electronics are useless, and your furniture is irreparably damaged.

Time to put your life on hold? Not if you have renters insurance. Even though this incident is clearly the fault of your landlord, you’d be on the hook for the cost of replacing your damaged possessions without sufficient renters insurance coverage. Your landlord’s insurance covers the unit’s structural components and appliances — and furniture if the place came furnished — but it doesn’t extend to anything you own.


Cons of Renters Insurance

Renters insurance has some notable drawbacks, including higher costs to cover valuable items and significant restrictions on coverage without purchasing add-ons (riders) at an additional expense.

1. Collections or Specific Valuables May Require Additional Coverage

Renters insurance covers the cost of replacing everyday personal property and equipment, but it always comes with a coverage limit. This limit may be as low as $5,000 or as high as $500,000, and it generally doesn’t cover novel or valuable possessions.

For example, if you store multiple pieces of jewelry in your apartment, your renters policy might not cover them (even a regular old engagement ring might not fit the bill). If you have extensive collections of records, stereo equipment, shoes, artwork, or even rare books, you might also be out of luck.

You can still cover these items, but it will cost you. You’ll need to purchase a rider — a supplementary policy covering specific items — or a separate, specialized property insurance policy for high-value items like jewelry. For instance, Allstate offers a scheduled personal property insurance rider that allows you to exceed its standard per-item coverage limit of $1,500 for specific named items with higher intrinsic or replacement value.

2. There Are Coverage Limits and Exclusions

If you’ve ever been in a car accident that wasn’t covered by your auto insurance policy, you know that simply carrying insurance doesn’t necessarily free you from financial or personal liability. Depending on your deductible size, you must make some out-of-pocket payments before your coverage kicks in.

Before you take out your renters insurance policy — and for as long as you keep it — you need to expend some effort to maximize the chance it will deliver when the time comes.

First, take a careful look at your coverage limits and exclusions. According to State Farm Insurance, the average renter owns personal property (property not covered by their landlord’s insurance policy) worth about $35,000. If you’re “average” in this regard, you’ll need at least this much coverage to insulate you against a total loss. It might also be a good idea to take on additional coverage if you anticipate making big purchases in the near future.

It’s crucial to mind coverage limits on specific product categories as well. You shouldn’t expect standard rental insurance policies to cover high-value items, such as $5,000 rings and $10,000 stereo systems. The cost of riders or scheduled property protection can add up quickly. To minimize the cost of a rider or supplemental policy, purchase it at the same time — and through the same insurer — as your main renters insurance policy to qualify for bundling discounts.

It’s also critical to understand what renters insurance doesn’t cover. Like homeowners insurance, rental insurance is stingy about paying for flood damage and sewer problems. If you live in an area that’s prone to flooding, ask your insurer whether you’d be covered in the event of a flood. If you won’t, look into supplemental flood insurance policies, which may be subsidized by state or federal programs.

For example, if you occupy a ground-floor or basement apartment that’s prone to flooding or damage from sewer backups, your renters policy may not cover associated cleanup costs. Your insurer should offer supplemental “sewer and drain” coverage. Ultimately, however, you’re reimbursed for a specific insurance claim may turn on events that aren’t wholly within your control.

3. “Replacement Value” Coverage Can Be Costly

When you take out your renters insurance policy, you must choose between a “replacement value” policy and an “actual cash value” policy. In the event of an accepted claim, a replacement value policy reimburses you for each lost or destroyed item’s value at the time of purchase (so be sure to save your receipts). An actual cash value policy, meanwhile, reimburses you for each item’s depreciated value.

Depreciation calculations are complex and difficult to generalize. But as a rule of thumb, electronics such as computers and TVs tend to lose most of their value within three to five years. More durable items like couches, tables, and jewelry may retain their value for longer.

4. Credit Issues Could Increase Your Insurance Costs

One of the lesser-known consequences of a bad credit score is the potential for higher rates for auto and property insurance. Renters who have solid credit scores (about 660 to 680 and up) generally pay less for comparable policies than those with suboptimal scores.

This can be a problem for renters required to carry property insurance or who seek the peace of mind that comes with coverage. Of course, you’re free to reapply for coverage as your credit score improves, but in the meantime, you’re stuck paying more.

5. Potential Caps on Reimbursements for Temporary Living Expenses

Many insurance companies place a dollar cap or time limit on reimbursements for temporary living expenses. Suppose it takes four months after a fire to restore your apartment to a livable condition, and your renters insurance policy only covers relocation expenses for two months. In that case, you’ll need to pay out of pocket for the other two months of living expenses.

In other words, it’s probably best to assume your renters insurance policy won’t cover every single expense that arises out of an unfortunate circumstance. Having a healthy emergency fund saved up is one way to keep unexpected costs like this from derailing your finances.


Final Word

Choosing to purchase or forgo renters insurance is not a decision to make lightly. Nor is it a decision to agonize over and blow out of all proportion. If your renters insurance cost-benefit analysis has you at an impasse, consider this: You stand to save far more each year by moving to a more affordable city for renters than by doing without renters insurance.

In the grand scheme of things, peace of mind is relatively inexpensive.

Source: moneycrashers.com

Car Repossession: What to Do Before, During and After

So what can you do if you know you’re in danger of having your car repossessed — or if it’s already been repossessed? Check out this guide to help you before, during and after car repossession to help you and your finances survive this bumpy ride.
If you’ve missed even one payment, here’s why now is the time to dig up the loan agreement you signed when you originally bought or leased the car:
“Act very quickly,” she said. “Because at that point, the loan has not been sent out to collections.”
“Communication is one of the best tools that you have in the earliest stages when you’re late making car payments,” he said. “The fewer unanswered questions that your lender has, the more likely they are to try to cooperate.”

Car Repossession: What Can You Do Before, During and After?

And if you think hiding the car will keep the repo company at bay, you’re likely only adding to the fees you’ll end up having to pay as the company expends resources — including paying someone to follow you — to locate the vehicle.
“I would put it on that scale of somewhere around bankruptcy or foreclosure,” McClary said. “You can climb out of this hole, but it will take some time.”
Ready to stop worrying about money? The effects of the coronavirus pandemic have been especially burdensome on auto loans borrowers. Unlike student loans and mortgages, there are no government-backed relief programs to cover a monthly auto payment.
That’s where you drive the car to your lending institution and hand over the keys. Doing so voluntarily still counts as a type of repossession, but you’ll avoid towing costs and other expenses the repossession company charges to locate your car.

What to Do if You Can’t Make Your Auto Loan Payments

But will a lender really take your car if you’re late on this month’s payment? It’s unlikely, according to Bruce McClary, vice president of communications for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling in Washington, D.C.
The result is most devastating for subprime borrowers — those with credit scores under 600. Serious delinquency levels within that group rose about 22% between the fourth quarters of 2019 and 2020.

Pro Tip
If the deficiency balance is small enough, McClary recommended trying to negotiate with the lender to settle the remaining balance so you aren’t still paying for a car you no longer own.

If you had enough money to pay off your loan in the first place, you probably should have done this before the repo company took your car. But if you pay off the loan and all fees, you get your car back free and clear of any loans.

  • Ask about forbearance programs. Call your lender to explain why you’re unable to make your monthly payment and request a forbearance. Be prepared to share details and documentation if it’s due to a job loss, illness or change in family status. Your lender may offer a delay in your payment or a revised schedule of payments, but you’ll still be responsible for the loan — and oftentimes the accruing interest. But if the situation is temporary, a forbearance could let you delay payments until you’re back on your financial feet.
  • Downsize to a cheaper car. If you can trade in your current set of wheels for a more economical version — think smaller and older — you could roll your old loan into a new, more manageable one. Be sure to get a pre-approved auto loan to give yourself some leverage when negotiating the interest rate.
  • Sell your car. If you don’t need the vehicle, you could potentially sell it for enough money to pay off the loan balance, which would free you from monthly payments entirely.
  • Refinance. This option may be the most difficult to successfully pursue for many borrowers, as lenders have tightened their standards due to the current economic situation. But if you have an excellent credit history and you have stable employment, you could qualify for refinancing your loan at a lower interest rate, thus reducing your monthly payment.

Tiffany Wendeln Connors is a staff writer/editor at The Penny Hoarder. Read her bio and other work here, then catch her on Twitter @TiffanyWendeln.
If you haven’t been paying your auto loan, there’s a good chance you haven’t been paying your auto insurance either, and some lenders require insurance as a condition of your loan. Even if you haven’t missed enough payments to have your car repossessed, the lender could potentially take your vehicle due to inadequate auto insurance.

What to Do if Your Car Is in Danger of Being Repossessed

After taking possession of your car, the lender begins the process for recouping the money you still owe on the car loan, plus any fees incurred — think towing, storage of the vehicle, re-keying the car and legal fees.
Although lenders may have the legal right to start the repossession process the day after a missed payment, most give customers a grace period of at least 10 days when they won’t even charge a late fee. If you’re in this situation, the time to act is now.

  1. Depending on where you are in the car repossession process, you do have options for keeping your car — and more of your money.
  2. Car repossession can remain on your credit report for seven years — making it more difficult to qualify for another loan, increasing the interest rate you’re charged on other loans and even potentially affecting your ability to get a job or a place to live.

And although a voluntary repossession will affect your credit score, your lender will technically report it to the credit reporting agencies as a “voluntary surrender” rather than an involuntary “repossession” — which could help as you recover.
How can your bank, credit union or leasing company possibly have the right to take back your vehicle? Read your loan agreement.
Avoid a Friday evening car repossession if possible: Repo companies are often closed over the weekend, but they’ll charge you storage fees for Saturday and Sunday.

Pro Tip
The lender will sell the car, typically at auction, to get some of its money back. It’s technically possible for you to buy back your car by bidding on it at auction, but you’ll still be responsible for paying your old loan, plus all those fees.

If you don’t have enough money to cover the missing payments, you should explain your situation and offer at least a partial amount — in cash — as a show of good faith, according to Davis.
“The efforts to repossess your car typically start after you’ve missed a couple of consecutive payments,” he said. “If you miss two payments, you should start getting a little bit concerned, and if you miss three payments and your car is still sitting in your driveway, you may not have much more time.”
By contacting your lender early in the process, you’ll not only create a record of your attempts to satisfy the loan, you’ll avoid additional fees that the lender may incur by hiring a third party to collect your vehicle.
The first rule of preventing a vehicle repossession: Communicate early and often.
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If the amount is too large to settle, though, the lender will contact you and, depending on the state where you live, can pursue the deficiency balance through collections.

Pro Tip
The repo company cannot “breach the peace” — aka break the law. If the collector uses physical force or destroys your property, you can potentially file a lawsuit. Keep notes of all interactions.

Related Posts
An auto loan contract states if you fail to make a payment — and the process can legally start after one missed payment — the lender has the right to take back your car.

What to Do if Your Car Has Been Repossessed

“They could take you to court over the money you owe, and try to garnish your wages,” he said. “There are all kinds of ways that they could legally pursue repayment of that debt, beyond the sale of the vehicle.”
“There’s no shame in saying… ‘I have a couple hundred bucks in my budget, can I throw this on the loan so that I don’t get it repoed?’” she said.
If you know that you’re already in danger of having the car repossessed, there is a way to mitigate the financial impact: voluntary repossession.
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  1. Reinstate your loan.

    Your credit score will take a hit — a big one.

  2. Redeem your loan.

    If you can’t reach a deal with your lender, you should prepare to have the car repossessed by removing all personal items from your car, as repo companies can take your car at any time — whether the car is parked in front of your home, at work or at the grocery store.

  3. Give up your car, then buy it back.

    If you’re unable to come up with the money to get your car back, the lender will use the proceeds from the sale to pay off what you owe. If the sale price is less than your loan balance plus any fees, the difference is called the deficiency balance. That’s the amount you’ll be responsible for paying.

Pay the past-due amount, plus any late fees and repossession costs. You get your car back and resume paying your car loan.

Pro Tip
Your loan agreement should state how many payments you can miss before the lender can repossess your car.

But a car repossession isn’t the end of the world, so long as you commit to making smart money-management moves that raise your credit score and help get yourself back on the road to recovery.
Find your contract and contact your lender’s loss mitigation or collections department to explain your situation, advised Jenelle Davis, who worked in the credit union industry for seven years.
Your car has been repossessed. Now how do you get it back?

The Long-term Effects of Car Repossession

If you have the cash, paying off what you owe to make your loan current again may be the ideal solution, but there are other options if you’re struggling to make payments:
If you miss even one payment, and your lender technically can repossess your wheels.
“The difference between the two in terms of impact on your credit score is slight,” McClary said. “But if you’re thinking about trying to restore your good credit and how much effort it’s going to take, every little bit helps.”
You have a few options — some are less costly than others, but none are particularly easy:
Facing bankruptcy? You may be able to hold onto your car. Consult your bankruptcy attorney about whether your filing status allows you to retain property, including your vehicle.
Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Don’t destroy your car to get revenge. Your lender may not take the vehicle if it’s deemed worthless, but then they can’t sell the car to pay off your loan. You’ll end up owing more.

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The best way for the lender to get that money is to sell the car, often through an auction. So you’ll have to act fast if you want your car back.

What Is Collision Coverage – Do You Need It in Your Auto Insurance?

Nearly all states require car owners to carry auto insurance. In these states, drivers must carry liability policies that compensate victims for medical expenses and property damage caused by the policyholder’s actions behind the wheel.

No states require collision coverage or comprehensive coverage. But that doesn’t mean they have no value. On the contrary, both types of coverage can significantly reduce out-of-pocket repair costs on newer, higher-value vehicles.

Neither collision nor comprehensive coverage is free, of course. Adding either (or both) will increase your auto policy’s premiums. That makes it all the more important to understand whether they’re worth carrying.

To determine whether collision insurance makes sense for you, you first need to understand what it is, what it covers and excludes, and the factors that may affect its premium costs.

Collision Coverage: What It Is and What It Covers

Collision auto insurance coverage pays for vehicle repair and replacement costs caused by rollovers or collisions with other vehicles or stationary objects. Incidents that may result in damage covered by a collision policy include:

  • Collision With Another Vehicle. Your collision coverage should kick in after a crash involving another vehicle or vehicles. It doesn’t matter whether the other vehicle is stationary (for instance, parked or waiting at a light) or in motion. Collision coverage applies in either case.
  • Collision With a Stationary Object. Collision insurance covers damage resulting from run-ins with stationary nonvehicle objects, such as fences, buildings, trees, and embankments. Generally, your vehicle needs to be in motion for collision coverage to apply. Collision insurance doesn’t cover damage caused by a tree falling on a parked, vacant car, for instance.
  • Rollover or Fallover. Collision insurance covers damage resulting from single-vehicle crashes where the vehicle rolls or falls over. Collision coverage applies even if the vehicle comes to rest on its own, rather than as a result of hitting a stationary object.

What Collision Coverage Doesn’t Cover

Collision car insurance does not protect drivers against financial or legal liability for damage, injury, or liability resulting from:

  • Collision With an Animal. Collision insurance doesn’t cover expenses resulting from vehicle-on-animal collisions. If you hit a deer on the open road and no other vehicles are involved in the crash, you probably won’t be eligible for compensation under your collision policy. Instead, you’ll need to file a comprehensive claim — if you have comprehensive coverage, that is.
  • Other Animal-Related Damage. Collision insurance doesn’t cover animal damage to stationary vehicles either. That’s also the purview of comprehensive coverage.
  • Noncollision Damage Caused by Objects. Damage caused by falling or flying objects isn’t covered by collision insurance, even when it occurs while the vehicle is in motion. Common examples include windshield damage from a high-speed pebble kicked up by the vehicle ahead and body damage caused by unsecured highway debris.
  • Weather-Related Damage. Collision coverage does kick in after crashes in which weather plays a role, such as rollovers or multicar crashes on icy roads. But it doesn’t cover weather-related damage to stationary or moving vehicles — say, roof damage caused by wind-loosed tree branches or hail. Such damage is covered by comprehensive insurance.
  • Damage Caused by Fire or Explosion. Vehicle fires or explosions not directly caused by a collision or rollover are not covered by collision insurance. This rule may apply even if the vehicle fire subsequently causes a covered crash. Your insurer might cover the damage caused by the impact but not the fire damage to the engine compartment.
  • Theft and Vandalism. Collision coverage does not cover damage or injury resulting from theft or vandalism. This applies even if the damage is due to a collision, such as when a car thief crashes into an object or vehicle while fleeing.
  • Damage Caused by Negligence. Your claim may be denied if your negligence or inattentiveness was to blame, even if the damage would typically be covered by collision insurance. For example, if you park on a steep incline with the parking brake disengaged and your vehicle rolls down the hill, striking a lamppost, your insurer might not cover the resulting damage to your vehicle.
  • Damage Due to Your Own Participation in Criminal Activity. If you strike another vehicle or roll over while fleeing police, for example, the resulting damage won’t be covered by your collision policy.

Many drivers mistakenly assume collision coverage provides another layer of medical or liability coverage for incidents in which it also covers collision-related vehicle damage. Unfortunately, this is not true. Your collision policy won’t pay for a passenger’s medical bills after a car-on-tree crash, nor any civil damages you might incur if they subsequently sue you and win.


Collision Coverage Costs: Factors Affecting Collision Premiums

How much should you expect to pay for collision auto insurance coverage? Your collision premium will vary based on factors such as:

  • Your Vehicle’s Value. A more valuable vehicle can sustain more damage (in dollar terms) before being deemed a total loss. As a result, collision coverage is more expensive on higher-value vehicles, assuming all other factors remain constant. For the same reason, comprehensive coverage is also more expensive for high-value vehicles.
  • Your Vehicle’s Make and Model. Your vehicle’s make weighs heavily on the cost to repair it. Although actual costs vary, the general rule is that premium vehicles of all makes (foreign and domestic) and higher-end foreign vehicles (such as Lexus and BMW) cost more to repair than value-oriented domestic and foreign makes (such as Chevrolet and Honda).
  • How Much You Drive. The more you drive, the more likely you are to run into trouble on the road. Expect to pay more for collision coverage as a result.
  • Your Vehicle’s Vulnerability to Potential Hazards. Safety features that reduce crash risk and severity can reduce collision premiums. Such features include lane departure warnings and automated emergency braking.
  • Your Collision Policy’s Deductible. The surest way to reduce your collision policy’s premiums without trading down for a cheaper vehicle is to raise its deductible. That said, if you subsequently file a claim, you’ll pay higher out-of-pocket costs on your higher-deductible policy.
  • Your Auto Insurance Claim History. Many insurers now allow one “free” claim before factoring claim history into underwriting decisions. If you’ve filed multiple claims during a five-year rolling period, your collision premium will almost certainly be higher than if you were claim-free.

When It Makes Sense to Add Collision Coverage

Should you add collision insurance to your auto coverage policy? Is it worth the added premium expense to ensure you won’t pay more than your collision deductible for covered repair work? In these scenarios, the answer may be yes.

  • Your Auto Lender or Lessor Requires It. The most common reason to carry collision (and comprehensive) coverage is that the terms of your auto loan or lease require it. If you lease or finance the purchase of a new car, you’ll almost certainly be required to carry collision and comprehensive coverage until your loan or lease is paid in full, typically a span of five years. To make matters worse, you’ll probably need to keep your deductible low (no more than $500).
  • The Vehicle Is Relatively Valuable. In purely financial terms, it makes more sense to add collision coverage on a relatively valuable vehicle, even if you own it outright. Without collision coverage, a severe crash could result in thousands of dollars of out-of-pocket expenses. Your vehicle might not warrant collision coverage as long as you’d think. Cars depreciate rapidly during the first three to five years on the road and lose value more slowly after that.
  • Your Collision Risk Is Relatively High. If you drive 25,000 miles a year on treacherous roads, your risk of sustaining crash damage costly enough to warrant a collision claim is higher than your homebound neighbor’s. Your decision to carry collision coverage is more likely to pay off in the long run.
  • You’d Rather Pay Upfront to Avoid a Major Out-of-Pocket Expense. Collision coverage makes sense for drivers who’d prefer to pay higher monthly or annual auto insurance premiums to preclude a hefty out-of-pocket expense should the worst occur. Of course, this bet might never pay off — most cars never get into crashes serious enough to warrant collision claims. And collision coverage isn’t the only option available to risk-averse drivers. A robust emergency fund can serve the same purpose.

Final Word

Every budget-conscious driver wants to save money on car insurance. Adding collision coverage might not seem consistent with this goal. piling an optional type of auto insurance onto a policy that already passes legal muster is virtually sure to make that policy more expensive.

Then again, a bad crash early in a newer car’s life could cost more in repair or replacement costs than your total collision premium during the first part of its life. In this all-too-common scenario, your collision coverage will more than pay for itself. Also, if you borrowed money to buy the car, your lender might require collision coverage until the note is paid in full.

Bottom line: Don’t be so quick to write off collision coverage just because it’ll add to your total premium costs. Sometimes, paying more upfront pays off in the long run.

Source: moneycrashers.com