Even if Geico can't save you money on car insurance, maybe I can

For personal reference, this is what I've learned over the last month in shopping for auto insurance:

1. If you've had violations, check your driving record so you know what you have to report. Personal Plans, a company partnered with IBM, told me I couldn't get insurance through their two carriers since I wasn't considered a California Good Driver -- which mean, I've had 2 violations in the last three years. He was able to tell me what showed up when my driving record was checked, and I found out I was within a day of having one go off my record. Don't report more than you're required to!

2. Shop around. I know everyone says this, but it's true. There was about a $700/year difference between the lowest and highest rates I got, and those weren't the first and second places I tried. I contacted directly about 8 places and used Lower Auto Insurance to send my information to a number of different carriers. I thought it would be ineffective (like eSurance), but I received a number of phone calls with substantially lower rates than the other.

3. Let them know if you're in college, a college graduate, and what degree you have. A number of places gave me a discount just for having an engineering degree.

4. If your car isn't worth much, don't cover it. My car is probably only worth $3000, so if I hit someone, I'll just pay to fix it or get a new car. Insurance wouldn't pay me more than the value of the car, and getting that coverage isn't worth the increased premiums.

5. If you have health insurance, opt out of medical coverage. This was something that was on my dad's policy that he recommended, getting about $5000 of medical coverage per accident. After talking to some of the insurance representatives, it sounds like that won't even come into play if you have decent health insurance.

6. See if your company has deals worked out with insurance providers. I didn't qualify because I'm not a "California Good Driver", but I'll recheck with Personal Plans this summer when another ticket goes off my record. Check Beneplace to see if you get any discounts (this site will also list eligible discounts at other stores, like Circuit City, so definitely check it out!)

7. Consider public transit to work. I'm not sure how much this affected my rates, but after signing my apartment lease, I'm pretty sure I'll be using public transit to commute to work -- work commutes are something they take into account when they figure your rate.

If I've listed something that's illegal... let me know. But I think it's legit.

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