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Choosing between 2 auto insurance companies? Here's how to background them

There are several online tools that help you compare insurance companies to find the right fit and the best deal.

INDIANAPOLIS — Shop your car insurance every six months.

It is an easy way to shave money off your bill.

"Each insurance company uses a different formula to calculate a person's car insurance costs," said NerdWallet expert Ben Moore.

That means your excellent credit score could mean more cash in your pocket at Company A, compared to Company B.

When you are talking to the agent, double check that you are getting all the applicable discounts.

"You can get a discount for something like bundling a home and auto policy together, taking a defensive driving course, signing up for automatic payments or paperless billing," Moore said.

Another way to compare prices is an online comparison tool, which a lot of financial sites offer. 

Once you have two or three close quotes, do some digging.

"There's companies like AM Best and NAIC that aggregate how many consumer complaints to state regulators the company has gotten, and also what their financial strength is," Moore said.

The NAIC, or the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, offers a consumer lookup tool. You can search the insurance company's name or NAIC code, which is just an identification number.

Once you've tracked down the company profile, poke around their reports. 

The NAIC has complaint information that goes back ten years. The public website through Consumer Insurance Search shows the past three years.

An NAIC spokesperson said some "think twice" signs to look for include a sudden jump or drop in sales, accompanied by a jump in complaints.

Remember, insurance is there to pay claims when things go wrong. If their net income is going down, they may not be in a rush to pay claims.