Last year before it was time to renew my auto insurance, I received a letter from my insurance company telling me my renewal rates would increase by over 30% because I had received two speeding tickets.
I’ve been driving for over 40 years, and have never had a speeding ticket. I was furious, and decided to look into this myself before complaining to my insurance agent.
There is a website that allows you to research Maryland court cases. You simply type in a first and last name, and can see all cases-traffic, civic or criminal-that a person was involved in since the internet has been in use.
I was able to find out there was another woman with the same first and last name as me, who coincidentally had the same birth month and year as I do. (How scary because of identity theft, but that’s a topic for another article.) However, her middle name is different, and she lives in another county in Maryland. She had two speeding tickets, and the dates matched what the insurance company referred to in their letter to me.
My insurance company apparently had found this name & these tickets, assumed it was me and didn’t bother to look further to verify that it was me.
I sent a letter to the state Insurance Commissioner, complaining about this mistake that caused me to be put into a higher rate bracket. I also faxed copies of the court information to my insurance agent. Once their error was admitted, my insurance company did reduce my premium, but I decided not to renew with them since they had made such a lazy mistake.
I believe rewarding poor customer service by continuing to do business with that company only invites further poor customer service. It’s okay to fire your insurance company, or any company that doesn’t treat you like their Number One customer.
The lesson here… if you maintain a good driving record, avoiding accidents and tickets, be sure to read all correspondence from your insurance company at renewal time. Question any mistakes and follow up to make sure you are getting the best rate for your driving record.
It’s also a good practice to shop for car insurance every year. I do, and I work with an insurance broker who has access to many different companies. Every year she finds a company that offers me a better deal.
You no longer need to remain loyal to same insurance company year after year. They spend a lot on marketing and advertising to get you to sign up with them, but don’t spend the money to retain you as a customer. Shopping online for insurance is great, but you may want to spend the time on a phone call to a broker to find out if you can save more on your auto insurance.
I have a theory that if every driver would shop their rates every year instead of blindly accepting the higher renewal rates, the insurance companies would realize it’s cheaper for them to keep their customers and they would reduce their rates for existing customer who maintain good driving records.
Don’t let underwriting mistakes cause you to pay more for your auto insurance!