Thursday, June 9, 2016

Someone to watch over me—I’m thinking, I’m thinking



I think it was the timing more than anything.  Back in April, when I was doing my first year of ‘early retirement taxes’, I was horrified to learn I owed $1,000 in federal, state & local (versus the $230 I estimated) and had just picked myself up off the floor when I got hit with another whopper: an ambulance bill (from my trip to the hospital for kidney stones 8 months prior).  It had only been partially paid by my insurance, so I had to cough up $572.00 on top of everything else.

As l sat here reeling, I opened my next piece of mail:  a notice from my auto insurance carrier.  Dear Mr. Morris, your annual premium is due; send $530.00 pronto, Tonto.

I know, I know.  Everyone has bills to pay & everyone who drives has car insurance.  But I DON’T drive—well, hardly!  And they needed to know!

I called Erie Insurance.  Hi Doug, this is Carl.  How can we help you?  “Hi Carl, can you tell me how long I’ve been with Erie?”  Sure Doug, since April 2004.  I told him I deserved a discount.  I’ve never filed a claim, never gotten a speeding violation or even a parking ticket.  I drove a total of 800 miles last year.  I—I even pay extra for roadside assistance and never used it, the one time I needed my battery jumped I called AAA.

Carl got all excited.  Doug, we can’t go any lower!  You’re free to shop around but you won’t find a better rate--you’re already getting a safe driver’s discount!  He said my only option was to drop the coverage amounts to the legal minimum, but strongly advised against it.  Then he asked if there was anything else he could do.


So this morning, I got in my car (for the first time in a couple weeks) and for some reason was reminded of that plea on deaf ears.  I felt frustrated all over again.  After I returned home, I went online & began googling how to lower my auto insurance premiums and came across this little 2 minute video.

THIS WAS EXACTLY WHAT I’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR.  I went to and took a look around, then decided I wanted to talk to a real person & gave them a call.  I got a very straightforward agent (Evan) who asked me a couple questions about my driving habits, then explained how their plans work (you’re billed monthly) with a $20-40.00 base rate and charged 2-5 cents a mile, depending on your quote. 

I told Evan I wasn’t interested in some “bare minimum” insurance, I wanted the same coverage & deductible I currently have.  He said “Good, find your insurance paperwork and let’s come up with a quote.” 


He said “Based on driving 1000 miles a year, you’d reduce your current insurance almost by half, 45%.”  Er… wow.  He explained to me how the device you plug into your car works (it doesn’t check for hard braking or speeding like those Progressive contraptions, it only records miles).  We must’ve talked a good 15 minutes, I didn’t commit to anything (yet) but told him it was very encouraging.

He said “Can I send you a couple links that might help you in your decision?”  Here’s a good article in The New York Times and here’s a more straightforward one in NerdWallet.

I’ve been going back & forth on this most of the day.  What if I suddenly wanted to start driving 50-100 miles a day?  Okay that isn’t happening, but I googled the distance to my sister Shawn’s house and on top of the $14-15.00 in gas it costs for the round trip, I’ll be paying at least $5.00 extra for those 120 miles.  But then again, it’s not like I make those road trips often… and I wouldn’t be getting a $530.00 bill next April.  

But how do I know the monthly base-rate or cost-per-mile won’t increase substantially a year or even 6 months from now?  Evan told me he couldn’t make any promises, but said they were very transparent with their pricing methodology & wouldn’t have their current ranking or member base if they pulled stunts like that.  “Doug… I’d give it a 1% probability of such a thing occurring.”

Aw, that’s reassuring!  Eye rolling smile   I’ve got some thinking to do…


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