Mistake #1. Not shopping around.
SR22 car insurance rates vary widely. Every carrier prices risk factors like a recent DUI conviction, suspension, or an SR 22 insurance mandate differently. Some insurance companies have no appetite for risk at all. Some carriers aggressively compete for the high-risk market. While you’re going to pay a lot more than you did before you got the DUI/DWI for a few years, some carriers will charge much less than others for the same driver.
The first thing you should do as soon as you get a black mark on your drivers’ record is to shop around to many different carriers to find the best possible rate and coverage.
Mistake # 2. Sticking with a captive car insurance agent.
This mistake is closely related to Mistake # 1: The failure to shop around. A captive car insurance agent is one who is tied to a single insurance company. They can only sell you a policy from a single insurance carrier. They have no flexibility, and couldn’t show you a more competitive policy from a different carrier if they wanted to. Many strip mall and neighborhood insurance agents fall in this category. If there’s a recognized brand name on the door or the sign out front, chances are good that it’s a captive agent who can only sell car insurance for that brand.
The company knows their captive agents can’t show their clients any competing policies. And so they have little incentive to quote a competitive price.
This is less of an issue with lower-risk drivers. But because pricing in the higher-risk market varies so wildly, it’s a huge problem for SR 22 insurance customers, people with DUIs, moving violations, and other factors perceived as high risk.
Your neighborhood captive agent may be a swell guy and a great golf buddy. But he’s not going to be able to shop your policy to dozens of competitive carriers to get the best quote. And that factor can cost you a thousand dollars per year and more.
Mistake #3: Thinking “Cheaper” Car insurance is “Better.”
Car insurance is all about protection. Cheap DUI insurance companies that compete on nothing but premium are constantly fighting each other to offer the cheapest premium on the Internet quote engines. That creates a race to the bottom. In order to charge those rock-bottom, cheap-looking premiums, cheap car insurance companies have to sacrifice important protection.
A carrier that is cheapest at renewal time will rarely provide the best protection at claim time. And claim time is when it really matters.
But lots of people research car insurance companies by going to the Internet and looking for “cheap SR22 car insurance” or “cheap DUI auto insurance.” But cheap car insurance isn’t better car insurance.
For example, is your policy a combined single limit policy or a split limit policy?
These are very different contract provisions. They may seem trivial to most people who don’t do insurance for a living. But they could make a huge difference at claim time.
The insurance company wants to exclude risks with subtle language like this, because they can show a lower premium in their advertising and on the quote engine sites. But a combined single limit policy offers much better protection if multiple people are injured in an accident, compared to a split limit policy. A better carrier would sell you a combined single limit policy, over a split limit policy. But they would have to charge a slightly higher premium to provide that protection.
So the better carriers offering the better policies are at a disadvantage if you’re just picking the cheapest policy from a list.
Monthly premium is just one of many important factors you should consider when choosing a car insurance company. And it’s nowhere near the most important. You might be able to save 10-20 dollars per month in the short run. But you’re going to spend a lot more money in the long run.
But I’m here to tell you: Chances are good you’re reading this blog because you’re a high-risk driver. If you’re a high-risk driver, you’d better have great insurance!
Mistake #4. Not using an SR22 car insurance specialist.
You wouldn’t take a Mercedes to a lawnmower mechanic shop. You wouldn’t have your foot doctor do brain surgery. But every year, tens of thousands of high-risk drivers keep taking their car insurance to a general practitioner, instead of to an independent insurance agent who specializes in the high-risk market, who works at an independent brokerage that is specifically geared to serve the higher-risk driver.
Folks, the SR 22 insurance market is very specialized. Agents need to keep up with the policy features and underwriting programs of a dozen or more different carriers. Agents who specialize in this niche will understand these policies and programs much better and will be able to match you with a policy much better than a generalist or captive agent. The independent specialist not only has more choices than the captive – they have a better understanding of the competing products out there.
Using a specialist has other advantages, too: Experienced agents in this niche understand how to work the system to get your license reinstated faster. Or get that waiver packet through so you can get back on the road again. Or use a non-owner insurance policy to save money, or quarantine the damage of a DUI to a specific state, protecting your main policy in your home state.
Another example: At Standard, we have a special relationship with Intoxalock, a Breathalyzer ignition interlock device. Our customers can save up to 25% on ignition interlock rental fees. You might save a few dollars with a generalist agent in monthly premiums. But you’ll pay a lot more in the long run.
Mistake #5: Not telling your car insurance company about your DUI.
Some people try to skate by, hoping their car insurance company won’t find out about them getting cited or convicted of a DUI or other driving infraction. That’s a big mistake.
If you get cited or convicted of a DUI, it’s a matter of public record. And insurance companies are very good at checking and monitoring public records. If your carrier realizes you were concealing material information from them, they may cancel or rescind your policy. This makes it much more difficult to buy coverage from other companies.
If the insurance company doesn’t find out about your DUI immediately, they will when you renew your policy. Because they’ll check your driving abstract.
The best policy is full transparency. You’re not the first person to get in trouble. Inform your carrier right away.
Depending on the conviction, your state, and the carrier, they may cancel your coverage. That’s ok. Give us a call! Chances are good we have half a dozen other carriers that will be happy to insure you – and are competing for your business.
Mistake #6. Carrying Only the State Minimum Coverage.
Every state requires vehicle owners to maintain a minimum level of liability/property damage/bodily injury coverage. And in every state, the minimum is nowhere near enough to adequately protect either you or other drivers and pedestrians who may be injured if you are involved in an accident.
Some states only require $5,000 or $10,000 in liability/property damage coverage. That doesn’t even replace a mid-tier used car. And it certainly doesn’t compensate someone who may suffer a debilitating injury in a car accident. If your liability limit doesn’t cover the damage, you will be responsible for the difference. The courts can then seize your assets and garnish your wages to force you to pay.
The best course of action is to pay a little more, but have the highest liability, personal injury, and property damage coverage you can afford.
Insurance is all about protecting yourself against risks you cannot afford to bear yourself. For this reason, it’s better to buy high liability protection than max out your budget buying a policy with a very low deductible. For the same monthly premium, you can buy a plan with a higher deductible, but with far, far more liability protection that actually provides adequate protection for other drivers, pedestrians, and yourself.
Mistake Number 7: Not calling Select.
Most car insurance agents don’t know what to do with high-risk clients. Their carriers often don’t want the business, and will either cancel you outright, decline your renewal, decline your new application, or set premiums absurdly high to keep you off their books. Or their actuaries are hoping you’ll be a sucker.
At Select, we want your business. Our whole agency is built to serve the underserved high-risk driver. Our carriers value the drivers with some dings on their record, and still compete for your business. Our agents work with people who’ve been in your shoes every day. We don’t look down on our clients. Instead, we look for ways to add value for higher-risk drivers. For example, we form industry relationships so our clients can qualify for a discount on ignition interlock device rental fees.
We invest in technology and agent training. So our agents can file SR22, FR44, waiver packets, hardship license applications, and other important documents electronically, direct to your state’s DMV. Saving you time and energy, and potentially getting you on the road faster.
We understand how to file an SR22 with a non-owner policy out of state, for you drivers who got in trouble while traveling away from home. So you can limit the damage to your primary auto insurance policy and ability to drive in your home state.
Don’t overpay for car insurance. Worse, don’t underpay, thinking you’re taken care of, only to learn at claim time that you’re with the wrong carrier, or have the wrong type of coverage. Fill out our easy online quote form. Or Call us now at (855) 438-7353 to speak to an agent!
We look forward to working with you!
See you on the road!
Steve “Mr. Insurance” Ludwig
CEO, Select Insurance Group