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Answer Financial's Top 10 Checklist For Lower Auto Insurance

Consumers are countering rising gasoline prices and other vehicle operating costs by capitalizing on lower rates, according to Answer Financial Inc., ( the nation's leading independent insurance agency. With more than 100,000 in-force policies across all 50 states, the Los Angeles-based company has observed an increase in consumers shopping online for policies and pricing across its own and its competitors' rate cards. Answer Financial's "Top 10 Rate-Saver Checklist" reveals several points often overlooked by individuals and families in shopping for lower cost and better quality auto policies. "In the face of soaring gas prices, consumers may feel powerless, but they can lessen the pain by shopping for better priced insurance, which remains a large expense of vehicle ownership," says Alan Snyder, CEO and founder of Answer Financial Inc. "Shopping for car insurance slashes costs.

Drivers generally are unaware of the myriad factors that determine rates, particularly with auto policies. In today's market, thanks to the Internet and to competition, it's easier than ever to get more value at a lower cost." Auto policy costs and regulations vary significantly from state to state, but there are a number of areas that consumers are able to control and adjust to optimize prices and quality, Snyder notes. Answer Financial's Top 10 Rate-Saver Checklist1. Check Credit Rating In all states except California and Georgia, an individual's credit rating is a key factor that affects auto insurances rates. Good credit will be interpreted by insurers as less risky.

Thus, it's important for consumers to order copies of their credit report from all major credit agencies to ensure accuracy and to correct any inaccurate derogatory points, such as late or missed payments, maxed-out credit lines, bankruptcy, foreclosure, etc.2. Check Motor Vehicle Report Like credit reports, state driving records may include inaccurate data on personal driving records, which are strongly considered when issuing respective individual and family auto rates. In addition, tickets, traffic school credit, and accident fault are sometimes not accurately reflected in state data, costing consumers hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Drivers should report errors to both their state motor vehicle department as well as their insurance carrier. 3.

Double Check Accident Reports Local law enforcement and insurance accident reports occasionally include mistakes that will result in a higher rate. Accident reports are separate from motor vehicle records. Accident reports affect insurers' decisions and rates on a cumulative basis particularly if the driver has tickets or accidents down the road. 4. Never Let Coverage Lapse and Review Deductibles Maintaining coverage without lapse makes a significant difference in rates.

Separately, while deductible amounts initially save drivers in the event of a quick claim, they cost consumers more in the long run due to higher premiums. Drivers almost always save on premiums with higher deductibles of $500 or $1,000. 5. Look for Package Rates In addition to multiple-vehicle discounts, consumers often save substantially by packaging all their insurance policies including auto, home, and personal liability together with one company. 6.

Don't Miss Good Student and Mature Driver Discounts Most consumers know that safe drivers are rewarded by insurers, but it's important to make sure your policy gives you a good driver discount. Most insurers lower rates for mature drivers (55 years and over) and for students who carry a 3.0 grade point average or better. Some carriers give more credit for these points than others, so shop around. 7. Take a Driving Safety Course Many insurers will cut rates for drivers who take an approved driving safety course.

Make sure that you've registered for a course recognized by your carrier, which will not only cut your rates but likely save in ticket fines and reduce your risk of bodily injury on the road. 8. Don't Forget Car Pool Credit Many auto carriers drop premiums if you car pool to the office, especially if you drive more than 10 miles roundtrip. In addition, you'll save considerably on the rising prices at the pump and lend a hand to Mother Nature. 9.

Check Rates Before Buying a New Car Insurance rates vary considerably from car to car. Often expensive vehicles can add $50 - $100 per month in premiums. The type of vehicle, engine size (you'll pay for that turbo), parts costs and safety tests are all factored into insurance premiums. Sport cars and SUVs generally are more expensive to insure. Buyers often do not realize the big rate differences until after they drive off the lot.

10. Take Credit for Safety/Security Features Drivers should make sure they are receiving lower rates for safety features such as air bags and anti-lock brakes. Devices that deter theft, such as alarm systems or devices that disable or track vehicles (such as LoJack), may also qualify for discounts. Some companies even waive deductibles if the car has been damaged when it was stolen but is recovered using a tracking device. About Answer FinancialAnswer Financial Inc., ( rated #1 by multiple independent Web rating authorities, features auto, home, life, health, dental and long-term care insurance as well as annuity products, prepaid legal services, home warranty, vision and prescription discount plans, commercial insurance, online banking, travel protection, pet insurance and more.

The company offers the products of more than 230 top-rated national providers through intranets, the Internet and by toll-free phone access to experienced, licensed agents. Answer Financial Inc. distributes its products as a voluntary benefit to hundreds of large employers and affinity groups, as well as acts as a private labeled customer product for leading financial institutions. Note to EditorsThe following are suggested online resources for consumers to check and update key records: Driving Record: Access DMV.ORG guide for records needed from the local Department of Motor Vehicles office. Information on driving records, drivers licenses, and vehicle history reports, as well as links to forms for vehicle registration, title transfer, bill of sale, and smog check are all available here. Online MVR (DUIs, Major Violations, At Fault Accidents, etc.) verification is available in 39 states.

The price range is $14-$32. Most reports are available same day, but some may take up to 6 days. Online, by mail or phone MVR check costs $19.95 (most states).Property: Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, consumers can request a copy of their loss history information from ChoicePoint Consumer Disclosure, PO Box 105108, Atlanta, Georgia 30348-5108, or call toll-free (866) 527-2600. Insurance Records:If consumers want to challenge the accuracy of specific information an insurance company provided, or would like to enter a statement explaining the loss more fully, contact ChoicePoint's Consumer Center at (866) 718-7684. It will verify your information with the reporting insurance company and notify you of the results within 30 days..

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