3 Questions to Ask Your Insurance Agent Before You Sign on the Dotted Line

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February 3, 2012 ‐ By P.S. Jones
While buying car insurance isn’t as painful as buying a car, at least when you buy a car you have something to show for all that money you just paid. Buying car insurance is just buying a promise to step in if something happens to your car. The transaction isn’t complete until you pay your down payment and sign the paperwork. But, before you do all that, make sure you ask your insurance agent some important questions about your new policy.
Who does my policy cover to drive my car?
Depending on the state you live in, your insurance policy may cover only the listed drivers, the people who live in your home, the occasional borrower, or any combination of these options. For example, Virginia insurance laws require that a policy cover everyone in your home as a driver, whether listed on the policy or not. Before you take out a policy, make sure your agent explains to you exactly who is covered and under what circumstances so you know whose car Junior will and WON’T be driving.
If my car is in an accident, will you use original manufacturer parts?
This is actually pretty important. There are two types of car parts: original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts, which are the exact part specified for your car from the company who made your car, and aftermarket parts, which are parts made by another company for a general range of models but not specifically for your car. Think of it as the difference between Kraft and the store brand cheese. Some state laws allow your insurance company to use whatever parts it likes when fixing your car. Ask your insurance agent what your insurer’s policy is on this so that if your car needs repair, you can possibly be supplied with parts that are meant for your make and model and not just any kind of car.

Did you already run my driving record and credit check?
Your insurance rate is based on many factors, including your driving record and your credit rating. Some companies don’t run these reports until after you’ve bought the policy and the underwriting department is setting up the account. Instead, the agent uses the information you gave him to calculate the rate he’s giving you. So if there’s more to the story than you’re telling him, you’re going to see a big increase in your rates when you get the initial paperwork in the mail. Know what you’re getting into and what you’ll be paying before you actually have to start.

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