Saving on car insurance.

I was reading the post on cheap mobile plans and I saw someone had enquired about car insurance and how to cut down on that thread. I just wanted to post my experience and throw the suggestion out here as to how I saved. Of course, YMMV in your case, which goes without saying.

So, a little back story. I used to be a grad student in Massachusetts up until last August, after which I moved to Missouri. I have a 2013 Honda Accord, which I purchased new back then) and it has been paid off completely. Now, my insurance provider was Geico when I was in Massachusetts and I had an extremely good rate. Before I get into the rates, apparently, MA is THE only state in the country which still does yearly premiums, so that could also have possibly contributed to my rate. Second disclaimer, I have a clean driving record, no tickets,  no accidents, no nothing. 

That being said, I used to pay 61 USD per month, for a 100/300 coverage on bodily injury, uninsured and underinsured liabilities. Crazy, I know right? Most of the other coverages were also maxed out, like medical payments at 10K per person etc. Again, I had a 1K deductible on comprehensive and collision (given that I had saved that much in case anything happened), so I could afford to do that to keep premiums low. All in all, great coverage for around 730 USD a year.

When I moved to Missouri in September, I got a really big shock. Moving states changed my premiums so much, it no longer even made sense. For the same coverage, now I was due 120 USD a month, for being a good driver. So I looked at options within Geico. Firstly, I love Geico. They are awesome and if this had not happened, I would never have left. The one and only option I could find to drop my premiums was to drop coverage. Believe it or not, dropping everything to state minimums, from 100/300 to 25/50 and giving up all medical payments and all the other bells and whistles, and still ending up paying 87 USD a month was tough. It is not Geico's fault, that is how their business model works and so on and so forth.

So, I started looking around for options and all the traditional insurance companies quoted me similar rates for similar coverage. Then one day, I happened to watch this ad that came on Hulu I believe, about Root Insurance (disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Root, don't have anything to do with them, all opinions are my own). I started digging into them since their claims seemed interesting about saving around 50% or more on insurance. I was like woah, that is a lot of money. So I started digging a little into how they operate and such and discovered that their business model is what makes the difference. Now, insurance companies operate as a big pool of money into which premiums go and out of which claims are paid. End of the day, they insure everyone, good drivers and bad. And if you are a good driver, you end up paying for all the bad ones. This is where Root differs. They insure only good drivers (or so they say). Anyway, you download their app, do a test drive for 2-3 weeks, depending on how long the app takes to figure out your driving habits, and then it presents you with a quote based on your driving. Or not. It is also possible that based on your area, your driving and other factors, you may not get a quote, which means you do not get insured from them.

So I did the test drive, since I was not too worried about my driving and all that. In the end, the quote that I received effing blew my mind. For the same 25/50 state minimums (for which I was paying Geico 87 USD a month, remember?), I was quoted 30 USD a month. 30 frikkin' dollars for car insurance. I double checked to make sure everything was correct, and it was. I then bumped up my coverage to pre-Missouri levels, or rather Massachusetts levels for which I had been paying 60 USD a month and it quoted me 60ish a month, almost on par with what Geico was giving me in Mass on a yearly premium, which was not an option here and I was forced to pay 120 USD a month. It gets better (and goes without saying), if you pay your entire 6 month premium at once, bigger discount. So all in all, I now pay 54 USD a month (or 325 USD for 6 months), at half the cost of what Geico quoted me when I moved to Missouri. So if you are game, and believe in technology, give Root a shot to save more if you are a good driver.

Observations:

  1.  If you are a privacy freak and are worried about being tracked, totally understand your stance. Other insurances also provide devices or ask you to install apps to do the same so that they can monitor your driving. Except in Root's case, you need to have it active during the period of the test drive, so that their algorithms can assess your trips (rather, when you started and stopped) and your driving style. I have since turned off all location and motion access to the app on my phone, it does not affect my premiums and does not do anything to that. You pay what you are quoted.
  2. They also had a program similar to Geico and State Farm and others about giving back during the pandemic. If you drove 20% lesser in May/June than what you did in general, you could get back anywhere between 10-20% of your premium. You of course have to turn tracking on again, so that they can see how much you drive, which I did and promptly turned it off again. If it saves me 30-60 USD on my premium, I could end up paying anywhere between 265-295 USD for 6 months, which is dirt cheap. 
  3.  One downside is that Root may not be available in all states. It definitely is not available in Mass, so hard luck if you live in a place that they are not allowed to insure in.
  4. One upside to Geico is their amazing customer support team, whom I truly love for their professionalism and such. In Root, everything happens through the app. Even with Geico, it happens in the app, but you had agents to talk to 24/7. With Root, you don't have agents 24/7, except for roadside assistance. Getting to an agent is a little harder during the day, but that depends on how much you are willing to fork out for that fallback option. More than 50% of my insurance just for agent support was a no-no for me. So the choice was easy. Also, I am sure many people might have AAA, so roadside assistance may not even matter.
  5. I cannot speak to the claims process as yet since I have not have had to use it at all, but from what I gleaned from my online sleuthing, it is actually pretty painless and seamless.
  6. The other big question I had was if Root insures only good drivers, what happens if I am a great driver and get into an accident? Do they cancel my premium or such. An isolated incident here or there should not be an issue, albeit with higher premiums, but when I asked an agent before signing up, they said consistently getting into accidents could get you kicked off (as long as you were AT FAULT). Does not mean they will terminate you in the middle of your cycle, but your policy may not be renewed due to that.
  7. Bigger discounts when you bundle Renters with them, if you are bundling. I used to bundle auto and renters with Geico, and as with auto, my renters was cheaper with Root for more coverage, and nets your some more auto discounts as well. I currently pay 102 USD a year for 20K loss of use liability with a 300K personal liability. My deductible is 500 USD. 
  8. I am sure more good drivers and more vehicles on the same family plan will save more than the regular insurance companies.
  9. Root is Ohio-based and has been around for quite some time, in case anyone is interested.

DISCLAIMER: I am not affiliated to Root in any way, shape or form. This is purely my personal experience. 

P.S: If you are interested, send me a message and I will send you my referral link, although in the interest of full disclosure, it does not save you anything on top of what you are quoted. It will give me a bonus. It is their way of saying thank you for sending good drivers their way. :P 

P.P.S: Let me know if you have any further questions and I will be more than glad to answer them for you. Although nothing about claims. :P

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