When Priceline came to prominence for their “Name Your Own Price” system, it introduced America to the art of negotiating. I thought it was somewhat surprising that America was so late to the table, as the rest of the world has already fully embraced negotiating. They will negotiate everything from toothpaste to your kidney (OK, maybe not that last one). America as a culture has been pretty gun shy about asking for a different price. It’s almost as if it’s too embarrassing to ask for a discount or for a better deal on anything. What is surprising though is that companies and retailers are willing to negotiate if you just ask. (I reduced our cable internet bill by $5/month just by asking for a lower price.)
I actually really like to bargain but it wasn’t something that came very naturally to me until recently. As I think back, I believe that this new found form of fun for me came 7 years ago when I walked into a sales lot for the first time and got royally screwed because of my lack of knowledge. I was even scammed $500 by the car salesman when he “helped” me get car insurance but in reality just introduced me to just how soulless they can be. Now I will negotiate everything, even if it’s 50 cents. After that car purchasing experience, I realized that because I was too embarrassed and scared, I was giving my money away and freely letting people take it whenever they wanted. I work hard for my paycheck, as do many of you, so why freely give it to somebody else when you don’t have to?
My auto insurance p0licy is actually up for renewal in a month, which is basically my favorite time of the year. Just like Priceline.com and LendingTree.com, I hold all the power in my hands and I will make companies compete for my business. I have spent the last few days asking friends and coworkers for their recommendations for an auto insurance provider. I have collected somewhere between 12-15 quotes from different insurance companies, searching for not only the lowest price but also gathering information about each company and what they offer.
I have basically narrowed it down to these three providers:
Liberty Mutual (Incumbent) – $838/year
AAA – $800/year
Amica – $642/year.
Liberty Mutual remains a consideration simply because they are my current provider, and they will want to keep me as a customer, putting me in a more advantageous position to negotiate a better price. AAA is in the running because of what they offer (rental car insurance, insurance is extended to cars I borrow, and even if I lend mine out to someone, etc.) So they have an attractive package. Amica, truth be told, is a company I’ve never heard of, but several friends have recommended them to me based on their good experience with them. Amica also provided me with the lowest quote, in which case they are my bargaining chip. On Monday I plan on calling both AAA and Liberty Mutual telling them of my interest in having my car insured by their company but that Amica is offering me a cheaper alternative and ask if they can beat that price.
The phone conversation will typically transpire with them acting reluctant t0 budge on the price, ready to justify their price by the premium service that they provide over Amica or any other competitor. I will simply respond that price is the determining factor and politely ask if they can lower theirs. If they won’t beat the price, I politely thank them for their time and move on to the next company and repeat the process. If nobody beats Amica’s price, I will go with them. If they do come back with a lower price than Amica, I will ask for them to send me a quote to my email address, so that I will have something in writing to confirm and lock in that price (just in case they decide to be jerks and not honor what they quoted me). I will then proceed to call Amica and tell them of Company X’s quote and ask politely for them to beat that price. If Amica won’t beat them, then I’ll go back to Company X and have them be my provider. If Amica will lower the price, then I will repeat the process until somebody stops budging on the price.
It’s good to be in a position of power. I’ll give an update on how it goes when it’s all said and done.
If you’d rather not go through that hassle but want to see a somewhat comprehensive list of quotes from different companies, visit Insurance.com and AnswerFinancial.com. I say go to both because neither website is as comprehensive as they claim to be. (Neither of them gave me Liberty Mutual, AAA or Amica, which ended up being the three cheapest for me.)
*Mvelopes price update: Mvelopes offered TJ and me an “exclusive” lifetime membership for $379. They also gave us credit for the remainder of our 2 year sign up, which reduced the upgrade price significantly. I say it’s an “exclusive” offer because I’m sure if you asked for it, they would give it to you.