LA Car Insurance Shock!

Every year around this time, I look at my financial picture and wonder…. jeez, where does all the money go? It’s like smoke, blows right out the door. So I try and brainstorm to figure out how to squeeze a little harder from the dollars coming in and hang onto the dollars going out. This year I’ve decided to review all the monthly expenses I take for granted, you know, groceries, the wine & chocolate fund, shoe expenditures, car insurance, etc. So in that spirit, I called four car insurance companies: 21st Century, who has insured me for the past five years and who has been great, given that I’ve been hit three times in three years. AAA, cuz they have a good reputation. Geico cuz they say they’re the most competitive and have a cute lizard on their logo and finally, Progressive, because they have a rep for good claims and low cost. What I found out made me realize it’s not smart to sit on your haunches figuring that whatever deal you have is the best you can do.

To my surprise, triple A was by far the best deal. They beat the current insurance price I’m paying by $1100 per year. Geico was next, just $200 higher, 21st was third, and Progressive, who I thought was one of the most competitive, was the most expensive! Anyway, it definitely pays to shop around. I’m gonna be $1100 richer this year by spending an hour or so on the phone.

And if you have any suggestions on other reputable insurance firms, let me know. I haven’t forked over the cash yet, so I’m open to suggestions. Now I just have to make my reservations for a weekend in the sun in Tulum on the money I saved! Yah baby! Why do a budget and save money if you can’t blow the cash on something fun?!

21 thoughts on “LA Car Insurance Shock!”

  1. AAA is generally the best deal on car insurance. The only case where it’s not is sometimes other companies can do a better deal if you bundle your car and home owners insurance.

  2. before you sign on the dotted line, go check out wawanesa. I had the same situation and went through the state department of insurance’s list of car insurance providers and got quotes from the majority of them. wawanesa gave us the best quote.

  3. try Mercury — had them for years and years– low rates, GREAT service when you get in an accident — I heard they’re picky @ whom they insure, but don’t know

  4. My boyfriend has AAA. At least, he thought he did. But it turns out that they’d been taking out his insurance payments from someone else’s account (their own mistake) so they cancelled his policy without telling him. Today he went to their office to renew his policy and to his surprise he found out that not only did he not have insurance, but that he owed several hundred dollars in back payments.

  5. This is soooo cool! I’ll check out all these suggestions before I make a decision! I hate doing administrative stuff like this, but now that I know there’s so much variation in price, it’s exciting!

  6. If you belong to any alumni or professional associations, see if they have discount deals with any insurance companies. Geico has a deal with my college alumni association and that ended up being the best rate.

  7. Also get a quote from Safeco. I’ve been wanting to change insurance mostly because I don’t like my insurance guy, but every time I get a quote from somebody else it’s higher. That includes qutoes from AAA and Wawanesa and a quote from Traveler’s that included discounts for bundling with my homeowners.

    I know other people that get great deals from Wawanesa too, so also def check them out.

  8. Wawanesa will drop you in a second if you have an at-fault. We had them for years until my wife rear-ended someone. They cancelled us a few weeks later.

  9. I’ve been with AAA for almost ten years and have nothing but praise for them. I wish they would spread the payments out evenly over 12 months instead of the graduated 9 months, but it’s nice to not shell out any money for the last few months and have the first month be a tiny payment.

    Plus their service offices rock. You can get most easy DMV stuff taken care of, and I got the best passport photo taken at the one in Burbank.

  10. Beware of AAA: they look like they’re a good deal, but they are lousy and dishonest. I had a car accident last year while insured with them. The other driver was 100% at fault, as stated by a traffic cop who had witnessed everything. AAA initially found me 100% at fault (citing an invalid code violation). It turned out that they had never interviewed the cop, nor contacted the other driver or his insurance company. I had to file a claim with the CA Department of Insurance, get the cop to make a written statement, and threaten them with legal action for negligence and misrepresentation, before they eventually, and reluctantly, “revised their decision.”

    While doing my research, I found out that other people had similar experiences with AAA. I also found out that Mercury offers good deals, and that people are generallly happy with them. I eventually went with State Farm: they’re a little more expensive ($200/year for 2 cars), but everyone who had an incident while insured with them raved about their quality of service (incl. at fault cases). After the hassle with AAA, I don’t mind paying a premium for the peace of mind.

  11. ps: AAA are great for the membership services (towing, DMV, travel, etc), but their auto insurance services (Interinsurance Exchange) are an entirely different culture and experience. Like many, we made the mistake of trusting ther membership reputation.

  12. Tammara,

    You are certainly in touch with the readers; I too am starting my search for lower insurance rates. I’m 53 years old, no tickets and no accidents, yet I’m dishing out $3,152 per year for two cars to 21st Century.

    And thanks to all the readers that submitted companies for us to shop and compare with.

  13. wow again! thanks for all the suggestions. good heads up on AAA… I seem to be a magnet for accidents and I have loved the ease and support of 21st century, but hate that I’m paying so much. To find a happy medium would be great. Oh! And before I was with 21st century, I was with Mercury and had a 10 year history with them with no accidents. Then my car was stolen and they paid the claim, but dropped me a month later. I felt betrayed becuase I had paid all those premiums with no claims and the first time there WAS a big claim, they said sayonara!

  14. I find AAA to be expensive (~$1600 plus interest per year for a 2003 Mazda Protege5, up from ~$1250 plus interest for a 1999 Toyota Camry), but I had no trouble with them when I got into an accident (although it was obviously the other guy’s fault – I was going straight through a green and he made a left in front of me – so there was no way for AAA to claim I was at fault). They sued the guy while my lawyer and I were preparing our lawsuit and tacked on how much we were going to sue for to their settlement (I’m assuming they settled, I can’t remember).

    They are rather draconian about late payments though. One time, they suspended my insurance because I was two days late. However, another time, they let it slide because I’m a longtime customer (7+ years).

    That said, I got a quote from Wawanesa, because two other friends switched to them (from Mercury and 21st Century I think), and they were able to beat AAA by $400 or so. Now I’m curious to check out Amica and Safeco.

  15. USAA is by far the cheapest best insurance you can get – for those not familiar, it is the insurance company that covers the US military men and women and their families. If you aren’t ex-military, you have to have a parent who served (I have heard of at least 1 person who got in because their grandfather served) to get in.

    Once you are in, car insurance, renters/homeowners insurance, home loans, and credit cards with great rates become available to you. Oh, and Heathervescent is right – that dividend check is pretty cool, too.

  16. i second the costco connection.
    i had been w/farmers.
    the insurance thru costco is through american express division, Ameriprise.
    My coverage was more than I’d had w/farmers and the rate was very close to HALF!
    and more than what AAA quoted me.
    i was unfortunate to 2 hit-and runs last year. (not my fault)
    they didn’t raise my rate or drop me.

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