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Shop until you drop ­– your insurance premiums

Shopping for shoes or power tools is fun. Shopping for car insurance is not.

It’s obvious why this is so ... A nice insurance policy won’t help you get noticed, like a cool pair of pumps or Air Jordans might. Nor would an insurance policy create the neighbourhood envy possible with a really loud leaf blower.

It also doesn’t help that car insurance is expensive, and getting more so every day.

But we should at least take solace that it is now easier to comparison shop for a good insurance deal, via the rise of online comparison-shopping sites like Kanetix.ca, insurancehot-line.com and others.

“It’s a fact of life that some insurers have more attractive offers than others,” says George Small, founder and manager of Kanetix.ca.

Whether you find them online or in your local neighbourhood, speaking one-on-one to brokers and agents also has to be part of the shopping experience.

This is to ensure your current or new insurer really understands your needs so you’re not under-buying or over-buying.

An agent will represent one insurance company, while a broker would represent several. Leonard Sharman of The Co-operators, one of Canada’s largest auto insurers, cautions to be leery of brokers who merely show you their “best quote” — not the same thing as seeing or hearing all the quotes from all the insurers they represent.

You need to have liability and accident benefit coverage. You’re probably already right at the minimum ($1 million for most provinces), which is more than enough for most folks. If you’re paying for more, ask your advisor/broker/agent to explain why they’re recommending the higher amount.

But physical damage or collision protection is optional, and if you’re driving an older or cheaper car, it might be a good call to drop it.

You have less to lose if an older vehicle is hit or totalled.

You can also decrease the amount of deductible for at-fault collision protection.

Small notes two factors often contribute to your comfort level with higher deductibles: your financial ability to absorb the extra amount ($1,000 versus $500, for example); and your family’s collective driving record and expertise (decent or shaky?).

“Some families can just take more risk,” notes Small.

He adds that Kanetix.ca makes it very easy to see the impact of lower deductibles; you can change the deductible amount and quickly see how it affects the quote.

Small is surprised how many consumers don’t always take full advantage of the various discounts that are available to insurance shoppers.

“On the Kanetix.ca you can identify the driver as student. Many insurers offer student discounts,” says Small.

Shopping around for insurance might never be fun, but at least it can save you some bucks — bucks you can go shopping with, for things that really strike your fancy.

 
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