What is the best way to buy an Insurance Policy? Annually, semi-annually, quarterly, month-to-month? What's cheaper in the long run, monthly payments, semi-annual paying your policy in full?
In this article, we will point out some of the benefits and drawbacks to each payment plan, explore the difference between paying monthly vs annually or semi-annually (6 month), direct bill vs auto-pay, and what works out better in terms of savings and total cost.
Picking a Term
Most auto policies are purchased as a 6-month or 12-month agreement. There are also options with some companies to purchase the policy quarterly or even month-to-month. There can be advantages, and sometimes disadvantages, to each depending on the situation. The advantage of purchasing an annual (or semi-annual) policy is that it will lock in the rate for the whole term. Rates can increase across the board from month to month and as such it would seem that buying a policy with the longest term possible may be the best way to go. Though, some people prefer a shorter term as to keep their options open. One example may be that someone has a ticket on their record that is getting ready to drop off in a couple months. If they purchase a 6 month policy vs a 12 month they may qualify for a better rate sooner. Quarterly policies are rare and usually for a specific personal budgeting purpose or short-term need. Month-to-month policies are policies that renew every month. The advantage? In many cases, the down payment is cheaper due to the fact that the up-front cost is not based on a percentage of an annual term to calculate monthly payments, it is specifically covering a one month premium. Another advantage is that the policy can be let go easier and without cancellation fees. If the consumer no longer needs their policy, they can just non-renew on any given month. The disadvantages of this type of policy are that the rate can fluctuate or go up potentially every time it renews and, if the payment is late, there is no grace period. If the payment is not made by the due date, the policy would have to be re-written or possibly re-instated with a lapse. That's why we always suggest to our clients that we set them up on auto-pay, but we will look further into that further down the page.
Paid-in-full vs monthly installments
A standard payment option most insurers offer is to pay for your car insurance in one single upfront payment. By paying your yearly (or semi-annual) premium all in one go, you won’t have to worry about costs again until it comes to the end of the policy, as this bill is taken care of. Obviously paying for a full year’s premium upfront is not feasible for most of us, so most people find monthly installments more attractive. Paying monthly will allow you to spread the cost of your insurance over the year (or 6 months), making it a more manageable bill. Most insurers provide this payment plan. Sound good? Well, though this makes it more convenient, there is always a price for convenience. The trade-off is usually monthly billing fees. Most insurance carriers will charge between $1 - $12 per month.
To Auto-Pay or not to Auto-Pay?
That is the question. The terms EFT, ACH, and Auto-Pay bring up different feelings for different people. Some may like the convenience of EFT while others like to maintain complete control. I agree with both camps. I like complete control and don't care for my account information being "on-file" with a company. Ironically, these days our information is "on-file" with companies like Netflix, eBay, Paypal, Venmo, Spotify, Amazon, etc. However, I have come to realize some things take priority. I want to make sure I do not end up with a cancelled policy. By having it on auto-pay, its paid on-time like clockwork. Also, there is usually a significant savings! I like paying $1/mo for my billing fee vs $11! Though, its not the same with every company, usually there is some monetary incentive to being on auto-pay.
Our job is to find the best policy, coverage, term and payment plan for each of our clients based on their specific needs. Please feel free to call us for any questions you may have or to obtain a free quote.