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I have been paying my insurance company $250 a month for a $1k deductible, "full coverage" insurance policy.

Long story short, on coming through the policy, two major things I need after I was rear-ended recently; the rental car assistance in case of accidents where my car becomes unusable is an addon package and car repairs are covered only for aftermarket parts, with OEM part cost overages to come out of my pocket.

Of course, there are other things they are going to charge me for, and increase my premium by 10% or more once I actually make a claim.

Here's my question: is there to insurance companies as there are credit unions to banks?

Is there a way I could:

  1. sit down with a human being
  2. go through the policy
  3. understand what I am up for, what I am liable for and what will be "taken care of" for me
  4. find out which policy is actually good for me
  5. all without the above person(s) having a financial incentive of trying to push me to buy a policy from a specific company where another one would have been better yet/or cheaper for me?

My background:

  1. I am new to the US, came here as a student 4 years ago.
  2. Just got my driving license 2 years ago
  3. I need to move around in California to different zip codes, but in the same Fountain Valley, Riverside and Corona area

The premium of $250 a month is something I could live with (if I have to) but the high deductible and pathetic customer service and coverage worries me.

I had this SAME feeling when I was banking with a few big banks and now that I joined credit unions, I am really happy, and that gives me some hope in this case too.

Is there a way for me to be really happy in the case of auto insurance?

Some people recommended I join AAA, but I would like to hear from you guys before I make the change.

(I am also open to apartment rental insurance, but perhaps that should be a separate question?)

  • Should I also ask this on the dedicated auto forum on SE? – f1StudentInUS May 11 '12 at 21:00
  • I think there is a word missing in this sentence "is there to insurance companies as there are credit unions to banks?" – JohnFx May 11 '12 at 23:08
  • My recent rear-end accident will not cost me a dime. No deductible, and no increase to premium. Does the police report reflect that you were rear-ended? My insurance co said 99% of the time a rear-end victim has zero liability. – JoeTaxpayer May 12 '12 at 1:21
  • @JoeTaxpayer: The police refused to take a report as the other party owned up all responsibility. I refused to involve an attorney in this matter as we were not brought up that way, but the at fault party's insurance company is playing hardball and they will not let me use OEM parts for the repair. I also found out neither will my insurance support OEM parts (they will only pay the price of aftermarket parts). Had I been on AAA myself (or the other party) that would not have been an issue, so I want to change what I can control: my company. – f1StudentInUS May 12 '12 at 2:13
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You want Mutual insurance companies. Those are the insurance companies that are owned by the members much like credit unions are owned by the members.

Something to consider is how well an insurance company treats you besides just the bottom line price. Clark Howard (a US radio host) frequently cites Amica Mutual as the top tier of customer service providers.

You can check Consumer Reports to see which insurance companies are the best in service. You might not pay any less (or even a bit more) but the issue comes up when there is a need to insure.

  • MrChrister, just to be on record, your recommendations were one of the reasons I switched to CUs a year ago! That was very good advice in hindsight. Thank you. – f1StudentInUS May 11 '12 at 21:34
  • Thank you, but fair is fair. I am just passing on what I learned from clarkhoward.com – MrChrister May 12 '12 at 1:52
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    Several large insurance companies are also technically mutual insurance companies: just look at the official names (e.g. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company or State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance Company, which indeed returned a small dividend to me on one or two occasions). There are other insurance companies that also bear the State Farm name (actually subsidiaries of State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance Company) but are not organized as mutual insurance companies. Thus, "Having insurance from State Farm" does not necessarily mean that the insurance is from a mutual insurance company. – Dilip Sarwate May 12 '12 at 10:26
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AAA is a "consumer" club that provides services to its members. In a sense its a similar relation as the credit unions compared to banks. AAA also have service centers everywhere, and you can go there and talk to the insurance agent about all your needs and concerns. From my experience, they're significantly cheaper than other insurance companies.

AAA members can also buy other insurance products, not just auto insurance, so you can get your renter's insurance quote from them as well. But you have to be a member to purchase, take that into the account, as the membership adds to the costs.

  • I am sorry if my mention of AAA made you use them specifically for this answer: I wanted fdedback about NPOs and/or "for profit" but CU like orgs in general. Say for example: betterworldclub.com/insurance/index.cfm. What am I looking for? How do I read about them? – f1StudentInUS May 11 '12 at 21:19

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