Yippee, it’s time to shop for new insurance … said no one, ever. Comparing insurance quotes might not sound like a fun way to spend an afternoon, but you could be throwing away good money if you don’t shop around for your policies at least occasionally.
Fortunately, there is a whole slew of new tech-powered companies committed to making the process of insurance shopping as simple as possible. Known as insurtech companies, they offer comparison tools and innovative insurance products that help consumers cut costs.
Here’s a look at some new tools to save on all types of insurance needs.
Every state in the nation minus one (looking at you, New Hampshire) requires drivers to maintain auto insurance, and laws regarding minimum coverage requirements vary. Insurers typically offer plans ranging from basic coverage that provides only personal injury protection to comprehensive coverage that will replace a vehicle if it’s stolen or destroyed in an accident or natural disaster.
Increasing your deductible is an easy way to save money on your monthly premium. If you are not putting in claims for every little ding and scrape, your insurance company will charge you less month to month, knowing it will only have to cover the cost of bigger problems.
Another great way to save money is to let one of these companies search for a better rate for you. Here’s how they work:
- Gabi: With Gabi, you upload your existing car insurance policy, and the company will search for a better deal. Sign-up takes a minute, and users can save as much as 30% off their auto, home and renters’ policies. Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson recently gave the service a test drive, with remarkable results: “How I Saved $546 on Car Insurance Without a Single Phone Call.”
- The Zebra: The Zebra’s real-time comparison engine scours more than 200 insurance companies to find you a better deal. The website also offers an “InsurabilityScore” that calculates how easily you can find coverage and a “RateAnalyzer” to pinpoint which factors are most likely to drive up your premiums. In addition to car insurance, you can search home, renters’ and recreational vehicle insurance products on The Zebra. This service is similar to Gabi but does not require that you present your current insurance policy to get competitive quotes.
- Metromile: If you are a low-mileage driver, Metromile could be the right solution for you. Customers pay a low base rate — starting at $29 a month — and then an additional price per mile driven. The company tracks mileage using a device installed under the dashboard, and monthly bills can change depending on how much you drive. Metromile is available in Arizona, California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington.
You really don’t want to use your life insurance. After all, when a claim is filed, that means someone important (that would be you) has died. However, if that time comes, your loved ones will be glad you had coverage.
(Wondering if you should have this coverage? Check out: “7 Questions You Need to Ask Before You Buy Life Insurance.”)
To get the cheapest policy, look for term life rather than whole life (also known as cash-value) insurance. Term life insurance covers you for a fixed period of time and pays a death benefit if you die during that period. That money is tax-free, and your beneficiary can do whatever he or she wants with it — paying off debt, saving for a rainy day and starting a college fund for the kids are some common options.
If you’re in the market for term life, check out:
- Bestow: This company specializes in selling term life policies at prices that it determines using algorithms — and fast. In short, if you have just a few minutes to fill out an online form, Bestow will generate a quote for a term life insurance plan and have you covered in just minutes (if approved) — no need to get a physical exam, lab tests or wait months or, as they say, “no visits to sad office parks.” Rates start as low as $5 a month, and you can get coverage from $50,000 to $1 million to take care of your family or other beneficiaries if you should die. The company operates in every state except New York.
Note: This is a hassle-free path to peace of mind at a competitive rate. But it’s not for everybody: If you’re over 55 or a smoker, Bestow may not have a plan for you.
(The opinions and ideas expressed in the above remarks are those of the author(s) and are not promoted or endorsed by Bestow.)
- Policygenius: Here’s another quick way to get a quote for your needs, even if you are older or have pre-existing health concerns. This tool compares quotes from dozens of insurance companies and finds those best for your age and health. If you have a pre-existing health concern — say, high cholesterol — it promises to look for companies that are less worried about that risk factor. Policygenius also offers rate comparisons for whole life policies and other types of insurance.
Mortgage companies require homeowners insurance as a stipulation for their loans. Unless you plan to live in a tent after your house burns to the ground, you’ll want to maintain your coverage even after you pay off your mortgage.
Depending on the plan provisions, homeowners insurance will pay not only to rebuild your house but also to replace the contents and to put you up in a hotel or temporary housing after a natural disaster. However, be aware that standard coverage may not cover damages related to some events, such as flooding or lava flow.
Here are a couple of options to find a good plan at the best price:
- Lemonade: There’s been a lot of buzz about Lemonade, which brands itself as an insurer powered by computer algorithms, helpful bots and behavioral economics. The company takes a flat fee out of premiums to pay for its expenses, and whatever it doesn’t spend on claims by the end of the year is donated to a charity chosen by the customer. Best of all for consumers, homeowners coverage starts at just $25 a month. Lemonade also promises claims payments in minutes and offers zero deductibles for some products. Lemonade policies are available in most states and the District of Columbia, and the company says it is working to expand to the others.
- Clearsurance: This website isn’t selling insurance; it lets you compare companies based on community reviews. You can research companies nationwide or search by state. Then you can double-check whether the company offering you a sweet rate also has sweet service. Clearsurance currently offers reviews for homeowners insurance, renters insurance and car insurance.
Living in an apartment or other rental home doesn’t mean you can skip insurance. Your landlord may have a policy, but it only covers the structure the landlord owns and won’t pay for your possessions in case something happens.
What you need as a tenant is a renters insurance policy. Renters insurance is designed to cover your belongings — from bikes and electronics to clothes and fine art. It can also cover temporary housing if your rental unit is damaged and you have to live elsewhere for a period, and some liability coverage if someone is injured in your rental and sues you. Fortunately, these plans are relatively inexpensive.
Here are a couple of companies that help you get a cheap policy with minimum hassle:
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 eliminated the financial penalty for failing to have health insurance that had been established by the Affordable Care Act as an incentive for more Americans to get coverage. But it’s still critical to have health insurance, even without the threat of a tax penalty. Have you seen the cost of a broken leg lately? We’re talking $17,000 to $35,000 if you need surgery.
Fortunately, about half of Americans get coverage through their workplace. Others may be eligible for government Medicare or Medicaid coverage. Everyone else needs to find their own plan.
Healthcare.gov is a good place to start. It’s the official federal health insurance marketplace offering coverage options for most states (some states run their own marketplaces). If you buy coverage on Healthcare.gov and earn between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty limit, you can get a tax credit to reduce the cost of your premiums. Note: A special open enrollment period is available for consumers who want to get new coverage or update existing insurance in 36 state marketplaces that use the Healthcare.gov platform. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the special enrollment window is open from Feb. 15 through May 15.
If the marketplace isn’t for you, here are some other health insurance options to try.
- eHealthInsurance: This company’s online tools can help individuals, families and small businesses quickly locate the best plan and price for a health insurance policy by running through thousands of options offered by hundreds of companies. If you have questions, eHealthInsurance promises to have help available 24/7 through its online chat function, email or licensed health insurance agents.
- Oscar: You can do just about everything with an app, including buying and managing health insurance. Oscar is a health insurance company offering unlimited phone calls to doctors 24/7 and help with navigating your benefits. Besides classic plans, you can buy a Simple Plan or Backup Plan at a lower cost. It also sells Medicare Advantage insurance, the private coverage option to traditional Medicare. Oscar coverage is available in some but not all states.
- Clover: Clover’s Medicare Advantage plan includes check-ups at home, gym memberships and wellness rewards in addition to dental, vision, hearing and prescription drug coverage.
Among the major insurance categories, disability coverage may be the least well-known. This insurance helps pay your bills if you become sick or injured and can’t work. Many policies have an exclusion period, meaning they will only kick in after you’ve been out of commission for a certain time, ranging from 90 days to six months. Disability insurance won’t replace your income entirely, but it should help.
Many people get disability insurance through a workplace benefits package. Group coverage through an employer is an economical way to buy it. If that’s not an option, try Policygenius for disability offerings that let you adjust factors such as the waiting period and view policies and quotes in minutes.
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