How To Get Car Insurance
There are a handful of ways to buy auto insurance. Our guide walks you through all the steps.
Auto insurance is a major (but necessary) part of a driver’s budget. Most people buy car insurance online, over the phone, in person or through a combination of these methods. Shopping for car insurance can be done in four simple steps:
- Gather the information you need to get car insurance
- Decide whether to buy online, over the phone or in person
- Get quotes based on your coverage needs
- Compare quotes to get the best policy for you
1. What do I need to get car insurance?
No matter where you purchase auto insurance, there is some information you should gather ahead of time. Before getting quotes, we recommend collecting the following personal, driver and vehicle information. You may not need all of it, but it can be convenient to have handy.
- Date of birth
- Address or state of residence
- Contact information
- Number of drivers on the policy
- Driver history, like accidents or license suspensions
- Previous insurance information
- Commute length
- Make and model
Once you’ve collected all the relevant information you need to get auto insurance, it’s time to start looking for the cheapest policy that fits your needs.
2. Online, over the phone or in person?
There are three ways to get car insurance: online, over the phone or in person. There are advantages and disadvantages to each.
Buying auto insurance online is a great option if you don’t want to deal with an agent, want quotes fast or want to get quotes on your own time. By cutting out the phone call or in-person meeting, you can avoid agents, which lets you shop for car insurance whenever is most convenient for you.
However, if you buy auto insurance online, you won’t be able to ask questions about your unique situation and get the advice of an expert. This can be a downside if you aren’t totally sure what coverage you want and how much coverage you need.
Over the phone
Getting car insurance over the phone is a good option for people who want to speak to an agent, but don’t want to go through the hassle of going into an agency office. Talking to a representative over the phone gives you the opportunity to ask questions about what certain parts of your policy mean and begin building a relationship. Having an agent in your corner if you have to file a claim can be a big advantage.
A drawback of buying over the phone is that it is more difficult to compare quotes side by side. Agents may also try to sell you additional insurance products you don’t need. Getting on the phone with the right agent can also be tough. It’s often easier to comparison shop online than call a bunch of agents.
Purchasing car insurance in person has the same advantages as over the phone, with the added benefit of face-to-face interaction. This can be a valuable experience for getting to know your agent.
Whether you visit an agent in their office or call, they will either be a captive or independent agent. Independent agents sell policies from several companies, while captive agents only sell a single company’s policies.
3. Deciding how much coverage you need
No matter how you decide to buy car insurance, you should get a sense of how much coverage you need. Understanding how much coverage you need ahead of time can make getting quotes online quicker, or if you decide to buy in person or over the phone, make sure you get sufficient coverage.
Most states have some level of required coverage (the exception being New Hampshire), but minimum requirements often aren’t enough should you get into a bad accident. Your unique situation determines how much insurance you need. At QuoteWizard, we recommend having at least the following:
Bodily injury liability: $100,000 per person, $300,000 per accident (100/300)
Property damage liability: $100,000
Uninsured/underinsured motorist liability: $50,000 per person, $100,000 per accident
If your state requires other coverages, like personal injury protection (PIP) or medical payments (MedPay), it's often cheap to increase that coverage amount. We recommend purchasing as much coverage as it takes to make you feel comfortable.
There are some other auto insurance coverages you might consider adding as well. For example, if you have an auto loan, you might consider getting gap insurance, which covers the difference between how much you owe on your loan and the insurance payout after a total loss.
Once you can ballpark how much coverage you need, it’s time to get quotes from a few companies and move on to step four: comparing rates.
4. Compare quotes
The final step in getting car insurance is to compare quotes. An auto insurance quote should lay out your coverage limits, a price, applied discounts and potentially other information that went into your quote. We recommend getting quotes from at least a few companies so you can pick the best option for you. Tips for comparing quotes
There are a few things to keep in mind as you compare quotes before buying a policy.
- When you look at the quoted rates, make sure you take coverage limits into account. The cheaper policy may provide less coverage.
- Pay attention to how high your deductible is. This is how much you’ll have to pay out of pocket before your insurance kicks in after a claim.
- Make sure all discounts you think you should be eligible for are applied.
Compare car insurance quotes to get cheap car insurance.
Auto insurance can be a headache, especially if you feel like you’re overpaying. One of the best ways to get the right amount of coverage for the least amount of money is to get multiple quotes and know how much coverage you need. Don’t assume that your first quote is the cheapest — rates can vary dramatically between companies.
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