So you just drove off the dealer’s lot enjoying that new car smell, or maybe you’re sputtering down the highway in an old (but loved) clunker, or maybe you’re just trying to make it through your day and you need to be legal on the road. Either way, you must protect yourself, others, and your wheeled investment with auto insurance.

It’s true, cheap rates are important, but cheap means nothing if your policy won’t cover you if you’re in an accident, or the victim of a grocery cart caught in the wind, or the target of an enraged ex.

Here are 14 things you might not know about insurance for your wheels.

1. Minimums? What minimums?!
Sure, buying just enough coverage to make you legal on the road will save you money, but it won’t save you anything in the long run if you ever file a claim. For example, if you choose a high deductible policy, you’ll have cheaper premiums. But you’ll still have to pay that large chunk of cash before you can make a claim. If you have a huge emergency fund, that may work for you, but you could end up spending more in the long-term. (Take a look at Ohio’s minimums but seriously….consider taking more than the absolute minimum.)

2. Yes, large deductibles mean lower premiums.
It may seem like a good way to save, but think about what an accident would cost you. Let’s say you have $5,000 in repairs. A $1,000 deductible means you’ll have to pay out-of-pocket for 20% of the costs! If you have a $250 deductible, you’ll only be paying one-twentieth of the costs. You’ll need to weigh that with the difference in premiums for policies with a higher deductible.

3. Discounts, discounts, discounts.
There are discounts for everything out there. Car insurance is no exception. Many vehicles come with safety features and alarm systems that can lower your premiums Keep this in mind before you buy a new car. It might be worth it to pay for that safety upgrade for the savings in your insurance costs.

One of the biggest ways to save is by having a good driving record. There are online defensive driving courses available that cost less than $40 but save you big money on your premium. Some companies reward loyalty and will give you a discount for being a long time customer.

4. Combining policies can save you money…
Chances are, you’ve probably heard of bundling. It’s not just ad-speak. Some insurers will knock off up to 15% from both your auto and home policies if you bundle them together. Just make sure both policies provide the right amount of coverage.

5. Check to see if your insurance will cover a loaner car.
If you have an accident and your car needs repairs that will take some time to complete, what do you do now? Chances are you still need a way to get to work, school, usher the kids, visit the grandparents, go grocery shopping…you get the idea. You need a rental car. If this happens, you’ll find that having some kind of coverage that gives you an allowance for a rental will be cheaper in the long run than paying out the full price for a rental.

6. Don’t lie.
You might save a few bucks by saying you park in a garage instead of on a street, but chances are the savings are very small compared to what could happen in you get caught. If caught, you could face higher rates or you may be dropped altogether. Also be honest about listing the drivers who may operate your car. If you’re not and there’s an accident that occurs while someone else is driving, the insurance company could fight the claim stating that the driver wasn’t listed on the insurance policy. Trust me, that’s not a battle you want to fight when you’ve got a damaged car and a huge repair bill.

7. Pick and choose your claims.
Your insurance is there to protect you, but you could be in for higher rates if you file a claim every time a truck spits a rock out that chips your windshield. You’ll end up paying for a little ding that is going to cost less than you’re deductible to cover anyway.

8. Let competition benefit you.
There is no shortage of compelling ads to get your attention, but consider the value of a local independent insurance agent. You don’t pay more, usually less than buying online or from a call center. An independent agent represents you to multiple providers. Discuss your needs and a skilled agent will find the perfect coverage for you. Choice is good; and the insurance provider pays the agent for their work; win – win.

9. Do the math on installment payments.
Putting off paying today what you can pay next month isn’t necessarily the smart way to go. Think of it as interest. You’ll pay more if you break up the payments over a 6 month time frame instead of paying it entirely up front. If you can afford it, or if you can plan ahead and save, pay for your policy in one shot, or twice a year, rather than monthly.

10. Some employers cut deals with insurance companies to give employees discounts.
Ask your boss if your company has any side deals for car insurance. Also, some colleges, corporate companies or state agencies offer a big discount as well. Be sure to ask your insurer if they participate to offer additional discounts.

11. If you use your vehicle for work, you might not have the coverage you expect.
This all comes back to my # 7 point about not lying. You’ll most likely be asked how you use your vehicle, for work, for pleasure or both. Be honest. If you purchased a personal policy, but you’re constantly driving as an Uber driver….guess what, you could face claim payment issues if you’re involved in an accident on the job. So, make sure your policy covers your work use of your vehicle.

12. Red means nothing.
Maybe you’ve heard that if you drive a red car, you’ll pay more for insurance. This rumor was based off the idea that if you have a flashy colored car, you drive like a maniac and therefore insurance companies will charge you more. Well, I am here to tell you that is 100% false. Having a red car doesn’t mean you’re a reckless driver or that you’ll drive irresponsibly, and it has nothing to do with the price of your insurance. Glad we cleared that up.

13. Thieves don’t care about the price tag.
You may think your wheels are the hottest, but those stolen most often are nabbed because their parts earn a lot for the thief. How often your make and model is stolen can have an impact on your premiums, too. Take a look at the most commonly stolen cars of 2017. (Sorry Honda Civics)

14. Review, review and review some more.
As your vehicle gets older, you may not have the same needs as you did when it was fresh off the lot. Consider lowering some of your coverages if your vehicle already has a few dings that you’ve decided you’re willing to live with. If your car is worth $1,000, do you really need collision and comprehensive coverage? Probably not.

In closing, friends, remember why insurance is so important:

We never did find out about Cameron’s dad’s coverage, did we?

To talk more car insurance, or get your coverage now, call Guy Williams.