Everyone wants to save money — and when buying insurance, it’s easy to feel tempted to go for the lowest rate possible. After all, automobile insurance is mandatory, but no one believes that they’ll ever end up needing it; and for many others, insurance is simply too pricey of an expenditure to spend fully on.

Though this temptation to save is understandable, it can also be misguided. In many cases, insurance buyers simply pick a plan that will cost them as little as possible, without considering the actual protection it offers or the potential risks of high deductibles and holes in coverage. Ultimately, the crucial rule to remember is: buy the policy, not the price. Some things are worth spending on, and car insurance is one of them — you’ll reap the rewards in the future, and avoid some potentially damaging pitfalls.

That’s not to say that you can’t save money on insurance — quite to the contrary, you can find ways to reduce costs if you spend enough time researching different policies and thinking about your exact needs. But the idea is that this type of saving plan takes time and effort, and can’t be achieved by just going for the cheapest option available.

So, what are some ways that you can pick the policy that’s right for you, and save without having to skimp? Take a look at some of the following tips:

1. Shop around

One of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking that just 15 minutes is enough to save them money on car insurance. In reality,finding the right rate takes time and effort, mainly because you need to research different policies offered by different insurance companies.

Often, this will require calling the companies themselves to figure out exactly what they offer and at what rate. Shop around for car insurance quotes and ask questions to compare your policy, if you already have one, to other insurers.

Most people, unfortunately, don’t do this. A recent J.D. Power and Associates survey found that over the past year, 70 percent of policyholders simply renewed their existing policy automatically, while only one third got a quote before proceeding with a decision.

Ultimately, you’ll want to compare everything you’ve found and see what works best for you. Don’t hesitate to bring up with one company what you’ve discovered at another — as competitors, it’s in their best interest to help you choose their company instead of the other one.

2. Go beyond the minimum

It may be a requirement for all vehicle owners to have car insurance, but the law isn’t specific on what exactly this insurance has to entail. Insurers are only required to cover a driver’s liability up to a point, after which they’re on their own — which can potentially cause problems later down the road.

For example, damage to the other driver’s car will only be covered up to an agreed-upon amount, and anything more than that will have to come out of your pocket. Though you may consider yourself a good driver, it’s always a possibility that something unexpected could occur — which could be potentially problematic if you don’t have insurance that can cover that specific possibility.

One of the major reasons to buy more than the minimum policy is to protect yourself in the event that you seriously damage some other, more valuable car. In a case like this, the investment you put into the insurance (which may, at the time, have seemed superfluous) will make perfect sense.

3. Think about your company’s reputation.

When evaluating a company, read reviews online and find out what kind of a reputation this insurance company has in your area. Even if the policies seem reasonable, the company could have other major flaws — like poor customer service, which could just be annoying but could also cause you to pay more than you have to under certain circumstances.

4. Understand what you’re buying.

This goes hand-in-hand with shopping around and doing research, but it’s crucial that you actually know what your policy entails before you buy or renew it. Go over every single part of your car that it covers, and decide whether you are willing to take the risk of the other parts being unprotected.

5. Don’t lie to your insurance company.

It can be tempting to hide the real number of people driving your car or omit the fact that you park it in an unprotected public lot at night, but don’t. Though hiding these facts might save you money, it could also hurt you if something happens to your car and it becomes clear that you weren’t telling the truth.

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