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Every driver needs auto insurance — but how can you be sure you’re getting the best coverage at the right price? Car insurance quotes are estimates from insurance companies that show you how much it would cost to buy a policy from them. You can get quotes online, over the phone or through an independent agent.
Once you’ve compared quotes from multiple companies, all you have to do is choose the one that’s best for you and then go ahead and purchase the policy. Buying car insurance can seem complicated, but it’s usually a quick and easy process once you know what to look for.
These days, it's easy to get quotes online from most major car insurance companies. After all, they want to help you become customers.
But before you can get your quote, you’ll have to plug in some basic information about yourself, your vehicle and how much coverage you want. Insurance companies use all of that to calculate your rates, and they’ll show you that estimate at the end of the process.
Like your age, occupation, address, driver’s license number and accident history.
If you’re currently insured, what’s your current insurance company and how long have you had your policy?
Basic information about your vehicle, along with your vehicle identification number (VIN), how long you’ve had it and whether you lease or own.
The total amount of protection you want, including limits and deductible amounts for each type of coverage.
Some car insurance companies will give you an instant quote as soon as you input all your information, while others will take time to email you a more accurate quote later, or have one of their agents call you on the phone. The quotes are typically estimates of what you’ll pay, not the exact rates, although some agents may be able to show you exactly what you’ll pay.
You may also be offered a few different “tiers” of quotes from the same company — a basic one with low coverage limits, a standard option, and a premium option with high coverage limits and add-ons for extra protection.
There’s no one right coverage amount for everyone, but you should choose high enough coverage limits that you’re fully protected in case of an accident. Up to $300,000 in liability coverage per accident may seem like a lot, but it’s important to have enough coverage that you won’t be stuck paying out of pocket after a car crash.
The biggest factor to consider when shopping for a policy. Make sure you’re comparing the same things — and not looking at monthly cost for one quote and annual cost in another.
Car insurance policies typically last 6 or 12 months. Make sure one quote isn’t less expensive just because it’s for a shorter term.
A cheaper policy doesn’t mean much if the insurance company doesn’t deliver when you need them. Read unbiased reviews of companies’ claims process and customer service.
Some discounts are automatically applied to your quote, like a safe driver discount or a bundling discount. Check with an expert to see if companies offer any other discounts you might qualify for.
The average car insurance premium in the U.S. is $1,134 a year (about $95 a month), according to a 2020 report from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).
But that doesn’t mean everyone pays the same amount. Car insurance rates vary widely depending on everything from your age to your credit score to the type of car you drive.
Drivers under the age of 25 are seen as high-risk
If your ZIP code has high accident rates and crowded streets, that can raise your rates
Drivers with no accidents or violations for the past several years will see lower rates
A poor credit score can make it harder to find affordable car insurance
The year, make and model of car you drive will also affect your rates
Higher coverage limits and lower deductibles mean more protection, but also higher rates
Compare quotes. Weigh options from multiple carriers before you settle on a policy. Two different companies may offer you identical coverage at significantly different rates.
Re-shop regularly. Don’t just automatically renew with the same company every year. Take a day to re-shop and you may be able to find new coverage for less than you’re currently paying.
Every major car insurance company offers discounts to drivers who have been accident or claims-free for a certain amount of time.
Drivers who pay their annual premiums up-front instead of month-by-month can earn themselves a rate discount.
Drivers who bundle their auto and home insurance with the same company can earn savings on both. Policygenius customers saved an average of 30% when they bundled.
Most car insurance companies offer usage-based discount programs, which track your driving patterns and behavior and award personalized discounts for safe driving and low mileage.
When you apply for car insurance, insurance companies will do a “soft inquiry” into your credit, which won’t affect your credit score or show up when future lenders check your credit. Credit score does matter when it comes to car insurance, though, and drivers with poor credit will see higher rates.
That makes it all the more important for those drivers to shop around and compare quotes from different companies — some car insurance companies are more forgiving than others when it comes to poor credit.
We’re here to help you shop for auto and home insurance, compare options, learn more about your coverage and re-shop every so often to make sure you’re still getting the best deal. Our agents work with lots of different insurance companies, so we can help you pick the policy that’s best for you. No sales pitches.
The cost of your car insurance will depend on a lot of factors, so there’s no one company that will offer the cheapest rates to every driver. But you can make sure you’re getting the cheapest rates possible for you by comparing quotes from multiple carriers, maintaining a clean driving record and re-shopping for new coverage every 1-2 years.
Car insurance companies make it easy to get quotes online or over the phone. To make sure you’re getting enough quotes for the right amount of coverage, work with an independent broker who can help you understand your options and choose the right policy.
The best insurance companies are the ones that offer both affordable coverage and great customer service. Low rates are great, but you also need a company that will come through when you need to file a claim. Check out our reviews of car insurance companies, where we score them based on criteria like claims satisfaction and usability.