Looking to switch home/auto insurance carriers.
May 9, 2016 11:15 AM   Subscribe

Looking to switch home & auto insurance carriers. Where to start?

We've been with the same company (Safeco) for a few years now but I'd like to shop around to compare rates. How do people do this? I don't want to end up on a billion mailing lists or called all the time by insurance reps.

Insurance is a super complicated wilderness for me and I am literally kind of stranded in terms of how to start.

Complication factor: our house is a 3-unit and we rent out the first two (we live in the third). I know that at least some insurers won't cover multi-unit homes.

We live in Pennsylvania.

posted by amicamentis to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Call an insurance broker for your unit.
Call Progressive for your cars.
posted by the Real Dan at 11:22 AM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

I do this every couple years, to make sure I'm getting the best rate.

Really, it is just as simple as contacting a few insurance agents (not the national websites, find the contact info of your local agents -- try to get one independent insurance agent in there as well as big-name reps), tell them what you're looking for and they will ask you a bunch of questions and give you a quote, which you can accept or not. It's that simple.

Have your current policies handy to make sure you're comparing apples to apples w/r/t limits, deductibles, and coverage.

Also, if you don't have an umbrella policy, as a landlord, you should.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 11:23 AM on May 9, 2016

One other thing: add up the total amount you're spending on premiums right now for everything, and when you evaluate your quotes, do the same thing for those. Don't just compare auto to auto, home to home etc. Frequently a better deal will come in the form of a higher cost for one type of coverage so to get the full picture you'll need to evaluate all the policies that one agent offers to you as a whole package.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 11:40 AM on May 9, 2016

I live in PA (Pittsburgh) and just saved ~$600 a year by switching both our auto and home policies to Progressive. The home policy was a little higher, but the auto policy was a lot lower for the same coverage. One thing to be aware of is the fact that you often can't get the best rates without doing the bundled services / multi-line discount thing, same as how you usually pay a lot more if you get internet from one company and TV service from another.

I also looked at prices for State Farm, Allstate, and GEICO, but in all of those cases, the total of both premiums was higher than going with Progressive. YMMV. I did the entire signup process online, so no waiting on hold / answering dozens of questions over the phone.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:41 AM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Find a local agent. There are two kinds of agents: captive and independent. Independent agents write with multiple companies, so one agent can give you several quotes. (Captive agents are shackled in a dungeon just write with one single company, e.g. State Farm.) Then compare the prices (for everything combined, as others have said). Keep in mind that cheaper insurance is often lousier insurance. Even if the coverage is the same, you'll generally get crappy customer service and more hassle with cheaper places (not naming names, but ahem the one with 100 TV commercials an hour with an annoying spokeswoman and the naming rights to the baseball stadium in Cleveland). One good question to ask your agent is "if you were insuring your own home and car, would you write your insurance through X company?". That's how I got my current policies: two quotes came in around the same price, but my agent recommended company A over company B in terms of service.
posted by kevinbelt at 11:47 AM on May 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yes to find a local agent, probably independent. Ask around with your friends - chances are you know someone who has one they like and have done business with for a long time. Let THEM do the legwork and bring you back quotes.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:14 PM on May 9, 2016

When I've shopped for auto insurance, I've usually started by getting a few quotes from some national agencies. Last time, they were all too high, but one of the agencies forwarded me to a broker of some sort who had access to rates for a bunch of companies. I got a much lower rate from an insurance company I had never heard of (it was called 21st Century) and it worked out great. When I got in a fender bender, the insurance worked just fine, too.

You will get junk emails and the occasional one-time phone call. I have a separate email I've set up for anytime I sign up for something. That way, whether it's an insurance agent or Old Navy coupons, automated crap goes to one address and actual emails from people I know go to my main one.

If you live in a city and barely drive, I highly recommend Metromile for insurance.
posted by AppleTurnover at 2:09 PM on May 9, 2016

Low rates aren't everything when it comes to insurance. A friend of mine had Geico, and when she needed to file a claim, they were terrible. I then switched from Geico to Amica solely because it has excellent customer service ratings. I am paying a little more, but there's no sense in saving money on premiums if the company is going to give you grief when you need to file a claim.
posted by FencingGal at 9:52 AM on May 10, 2016

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