Shop for car insurance online
- Find a Reputable Source for Car Insurance Quotes
- Get Clear on Your Budget
- Gather Your Information
- Decide Which Coverages You Need
- Order Your Driving Record
- Begin Shopping for Car Insurance
- Research Auto Insurance Companies
- Pick Your Carrier
- Shop for Auto Insurance
- Shopping For Auto Insurance
- Should You Buy More Coverage then the State Minimums?
- Start Shopping Auto Insurance Online
- More From Bankrate
Find a Reputable Source for Car Insurance Quotes
Basically, there are two ways you can shop for auto insurance online:
- Shop for quotes directly from a car insurance company’s website.
- Shop for quotes from websites that let you compare many quotes from several providers.
Although both are viable options, the second option allows you to shop more efficiently and effectively, as you don’t have to look up names of various insurance companies and visit their websites on your own.
Get Clear on Your Budget
Before you begin shopping for car insurance, make you sure know how much you can reasonably afford.
Price should never be the only factor when choosing an auto insurance policy (you need adequate coverage, after all), but if you choose a policy you can’t afford, late or skipped payments could lead to cancellation of your policy. A resulting lapse in coverage can lead to a number of consequences, including:
- License suspension.
- Higher car insurance rates in the future.
So, as you shop around for quotes, take note of those that offer the exact coverage you need at a price you can afford. Always remember that cheap car insurance does not necessarily mean good car insurance.
Gather Your Information
When you start to shop around, you'll need to share information of your own, which may include:
- Name and address.
- Date of birth.
- Type, year, make, and model of your vehicle.
- Primary type of use for your vehicle.
- Zip code where your vehicle is kept overnight.
- Ownership status of your vehicle.
- Marital status.
- License status.
- Social Security number.
- Highest level of education.
- Auto insurance history.
- Information about other drivers to be included on the policy.
Be aware that you might need to give permission to the insurance company to review your motor vehicle report and credit reports.
Decide Which Coverages You Need
First, understand that most states require some form of liability insurance either in the form of a liability insurance policy or another proof of financial responsibility, such as surety bonds.
After that, it’s pick and choose. Some of the post common forms of coverage include:
- Collision: Unlike liability insurance—which covers the other party’s damages—collision insurance covers YOUR damages should you be involved in an accident.
- Comprehensive: Comprehensive insurance covers loss and damages to your vehicle unrelated to traffic accidents. Covered events usually include theft, vandalism, weather conditions, and natural disasters.
- Uninsured and underinsured motorist (UM/UIM): These types of coverages protect you should you be involved in an accident with a driver who doesn’t have enough—or any—car insurance.
- Personal injury protection (PIP): PIP covers your medical expenses, lost wages, and funeral expenses if the other party’s liability coverage isn’t enough.
- PIP is often referred to as “no-fault insurance” and is required in many states.
Visit our Coverages section to learn more about which types of coverages you might need.
NOTE: Most states require you purchase collision and comprehensive policies if you lease your vehicle or don’t yet own it outright (i.e., you are still making payments on it).
A skilled car insurance agent or broker can help you determine which coverages are best for you and your budget based on your own personal needs.
Order Your Driving Record
Your driving record—also known as a motor vehicle record or MVR— is a record of your driving history. It shows information about:
- Your driver’s license.
- Any traffic violations.
- Any at-fault accidents.
Driving records help car insurance agencies evaluate the risk associated with insuring you. Because most car insurance companies look at driving records* when determining quotes, it’s important you know what’s on yours. Specifically, it’s important to know your information is correct.
For example, if your state uses a driving record point system and your points aren’t accurate, you can contact your driver license agency to see about correcting them. Likewise, if you have a traffic violation and your state offers the option to remove such violations by completing a traffic school, you can ask about enrolling in such a course before shopping for car insurance.
* Most auto insurance companies look back five years; however, note that this is just an average and not a rule. Your insurance agent will be able to tell you how many years they review.
You can order your driving record from your state’s driver license or motor vehicle agency or from a reputable third-party company.
Begin Shopping for Car Insurance
Now that you have a few reputable sources for quotes, it’s time to start applying for them.
Always apply for at least 3 quotes from different providers. Different car insurance companies offer different premiums based on factors like:
- Your driving record.
- The coverages you need.
- The different discounts and rewards programs they offer.
Be honest on your application; giving false information could keep your initial quotes from matching your actual premiums.
Also remember to include any information that might help lower your rates. Such information includes:
- Extra safety features on your vehicle.
- Any driver safety courses you’ve successfully completed.
- Your occupation and marital status.
- Your annual mileage.
Research Auto Insurance Companies
Once you’ve chosen a few companies that have given you acceptable quotes, it’s time to research them. There are several ways to research car insurance companies:
- Check the companies’ reputation as well as legal and financial standings using:
- Your state’s Department of Insurance. This agency lets you know if a company is licensed to sell insurance in your state.
- Financial ratings agencies such as J.D. Power and A.M. Best.
- The Better Business Bureau (BBB), which is a great place to look for any customer complaints and how the company handled them.
- Find any family members or friends who use the same companies.
- Ask questions such as how long they’ve been with the company, how the company has handled their rates in terms of traffic violations and at-fault accidents, and how they’d rate their customer service experiences.
- Ask each company about discounts and good-driver rewards programs.
- Ask about multi-line insurance policies.
- Will you get a discount if you “bundle” more than one line of insurance (such as your car insurance and homeowner insurance)?
- Evaluate the companies’ social media accounts.
- Ask potential insurance companies about issues such as coverage and discounts and assess their responses.
Shopping for online quotes is never just about which company offers the cheapest car insurance. Do your research so you feel comfortable knowing you’ll be adequately protected in the event of a loss.
Pick Your Carrier
Now that you’ve shopped around, researched a few companies, and gotten some car insurance quotes, it’s time for you to choose the right insurance company for you!
Remember, if you have specific questions about your policy, your auto insurance agent can help you determine what will work best for you.
Shop for Auto Insurance
- Auto Insurance
- Shop Auto Insurance
The Internet has changed the ways companies do business, and as a result, it's easier than ever for you to shop around for auto insurance from the convenience of your home, anytime you like. All you need to do is take advantage of resources that are available to not only inform you, but help you to effectively shop for the right auto insurance coverage that's also affordable.
NetQuote can help you learn about how to effectively shop for auto insurance online, what to look for, and how to receive and choose the best auto insurance quote from competing insurance companies.
Whether you're buying a new car and need auto insurance coverage, or just want to ensure you're getting the best price on your current insurance rate, it's smart to do your research. Being an informed shopper will empower you to find the right auto insurance company and policy that fits your needs and budget.
Shopping For Auto Insurance
It is important to shop for auto insurance because you want to be adequately covered if you get in an accident. And you certainly wouldn't want to pay more for car insurance than in necessary. If you haven't shopped for auto insurance for a while, you are probably paying too much. You could possibly be saving hundreds, even thousands, per year. For example, when my fiancé and I decided to move in together, I filled in my information into a comparison quote service. The auto insurance quotes for very basic coverage on two cars) ranged from $912 to $1,807 - a difference of $895 a year.
It may be especially important to start shopping for auto insurance if you know you are paying a higher premium because of a couple of tickets, an accident or a questionable credit rating. In these cases, shopping your policy against others may be well worth the effort.
Before you can begin shopping, you have to decide what you need. Find out what coverage is required in your state. After you know what's required, decide what - if anything - you need in addition
Should You Buy More Coverage then the State Minimums?
Look at your personal financial situation.
Get enough liability coverage to protect your assets. For instance, if you are at-fault in an accident, and you only have $50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage but have $100,000 in assets, attorneys could go after your treasures if other party's medical bills exceed $50,000.
The general recommendation for liability limits are $50,000 bodily injury liability for one person injured in an accident, $100,000 for all people injured in an accident and $25,000 property damage liability that is, 50/100/25) given that half of the cars on the road are worth more than $20,000. However, you need to let your financial situation be your guide. If you have no assets, there is no need to buy excess coverage.
Consider Your Driving Habits.
If your past is filled with auto accidents, if you are a speed demon or a have long commute on a winding road, then you should get more comprehensive coverage.
Start Shopping Auto Insurance Online
Now that you have made several decisions about the coverage you want, it's time to start shopping. Bring all your records - your current insurance policy, your driver license number and your vehicle registration. And get cozy in front of your computer.
Begin with an online comparison service.
If you go to NetQuote can type in your information and get a list of comparative quotes. The form takes about 6 minutes to complete. Keep in mind, when you use quote sites, you may not get instant insurance quotes. Some companies may contact you later by e-mail, or call you to discuss your personal needs.
When agents contact you, take note of several things:
- Annual and monthly rates for the different types of coverage - make sure to keep the coverage limits the same so that you can make "apples-to-apples" comparisons
- A number to call the Agent in case you think of additional questions
- The insurance company's payment policy When is your payment due? What happens if you're late in making a payment?)
- Discounts offered by the insurance company that pertain to you
- The insurance company's consumer complaint ratio
- The insurance company's A.M. Best ratings
Always remember that you shouldn't always buy the cheapest car insurance out there; but to buy the cheapest insurance and still receive adequate coverage and service.
Start shopping right here and learn how easy and convenient shopping for auto insurance can be. Get your free auto insurance quotes today!
Easy money is hard to come by during the best of times, let alone in the wake of the Great Recession.
But spending as little as one hour shopping for auto insurance can put hundreds of dollars back into your wallet, says David Marlett, chair of the Department of Finance, Banking and Insurance at the Walker College of Business at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C.
Successful shopping requires you to follow a few rules, Marlett says. Knowing where and when to shop — and what questions to ask — can help you get the lowest possible auto insurance rates.
Marlett offers his thoughts in the following interview.
What’s the best way to comparison-shop for car insurance?
The important thing is to get at least three quotes from different insurers. Whether you use an agent, phone or the Internet depends on the comfort level of the consumer.
It is remarkable how the same driver can get substantially different quotes from different insurers. Insurers have different pricing strategies, and some focus more on driving record, while others may give more weight to credit score, type of car or location. The whole process will take less than an hour, and you can save hundreds of dollars.
Be sure the quote is for the same coverage from each insurer. In one of the classes I teach, students are required to get a quote on their auto insurance. I provide specified limits for liability, medical payments and uninsured motorist and require a $250 deductible on the physical damage coverage. That way, we have an apples-to-apples comparison when we discuss their quotes in class.
Some insurers encourage students to use a lower liability limit in order to get a lower premium. That is extremely bad advice.
What are some tips for getting lower rates on the auto insurance policy one currently has?
Always ask about discounts — especially for young drivers with good grades or who have completed driver’s education courses.
Some insurers are even starting to offer discounts based on how you drive each day. This is a new and still-developing concept called “telematics” or “pay as you go.” Drivers can voluntarily allow insurers to track their speed, acceleration, number of hard stops and time of travel. Some insurers are offering premium discounts if you allow them to track your actual performance.
When shopping for a new car, be sure to check the crash-test rating before buying. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is a great resource. Not only will you and your family be in a safer vehicle, you will also receive a lower premium.
Are all insurance companies pretty much the same? Can we assume the cheapest company will be as good as those that charge more?
Most state regulatory authorities evaluate and approve the auto insurance policy language so the actual coverage language is ideally fairly consistent within a state. However, how the insurers interpret that language and settle claims does vary significantly.
Some insurers have fantastic reputations for their claims service, while others do not. I like the rankings provided by Consumer Reports magazine.
How often should someone consider switching car insurance carriers?
I recommend getting new quotes every three years. Shopping annually is overkill, and some insurers reward customers who are loyal. Shopping at major life events — such as marriage, a child turning 16, a move to a new city — is also a good idea.
What are some things someone should know about an insurer before switching to that company?
Is the company licensed by your state department of insurance? What is its financial rating? It should be an A or better. You can get this information from your state department of insurance website.
Doug Whiteman, associate editor at Bankrate.com, contributed the questions for this interview.
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