old car - Serge Bertasius PhotographyAuto insurance commercials have sure gotten fun in the past few years. Who doesn’t love the goofy spunk of Progressive’s Flo, with her bright red lipstick and blue headband? We’ve enjoyed the adventures of Geico’s gecko, and laughed at the silliness of the various “Jake” at State Farm ads. Though we often can recite auto insurance punch lines and slogans, how many of us have taken the time recently to explore options and compare rates?

According to an April Consumer Reports (CR) article, only 25 percent of consumers have shopped for auto insurance in the previous year and, of those, most researched only one or two companies. Because your coverage needs and credit scores change, and insurers generally update their prices every six to 12 months, CR recommends you comparison shop every two to three years. Also explore your options if your situation changes (marriage, new vehicle, adding a teen driver, etc.).

“Ask your insurer what the change will mean for your policy, then shop for a better deal,” CR suggests and notes that the more companies you research, the better your odds at finding a better deal.

Keep in mind, too, that finding the lowest premium shouldn’t be your sole objective. A company can offer low premiums and still cost you more overall by low-balling loss estimates, forcing you to pay extra for manufacturer parts versus knockoffs, and jacking up premiums after an accident. As you comparison shop, consider the insurer’s reputation and customer satisfaction, as well.

For insurer ratings and money-saving ideas, read CR’s car insurance buying guide online.

Photo courtesy of Serge Bertasius Photography at FreeDigitalPhotos.net