Whether you're purchasing car insurance for the first time or you need to renew your current auto insurance policy, you should compare car insurance quotes from at least three carriers before you sign up for coverage.
The simplest way to do that is to compare auto insurance quotes online. To get started, write down the vehicle identification number for the car, the driver license number for everyone to be listed on the policy and decide how much coverage you want.
States have minimum insurance standards, but you may want to have higher levels of coverage to be sure you're protected in case your car is damaged in an accident or is stolen.
Your car insurance policy can include a variety of coverages. The top seven types of coverage are listed below. Depending on your state laws, some coverages may be optional.
When comparing auto insurance quotes, be sure you are doing so for the exact same coverage amounts for each carrier. If you don't, you won't really find out which car insurance company is offering the lowest rates for your specific coverage needs.
While shopping online for car insurance can save time and money, you should carefully evaluate more than just the cost of an insurance policy, says Bruce McClary, spokesman for ClearPoint Credit Counseling Solutions in Seattle and a credit counselor for 15 years.
"Buying car insurance comes down to making an educated decision," says McClary. "That means some leg work on the part of the shopper. Learn about the providers, their track records, how efficiently they handle claims and the types of coverage available. A competitive rate deserves a closer look of the service provided and how it suits your own needs."
1. You can save money. Your main goal when comparison shopping for car insurance is likely to be saving money. When you compare car insurance quotes online, it's much easier to quickly assess rates from multiple carriers.
Car insurance rates vary according to where you live, your age, your driving record, the car you drive and your commute distance, among other factors. And in all but a few states, your credit plays a role, too. Each car insurance company has its own underwriting rules based on these factors, which is why one carrier may charge a much higher or lower rate than others for the same coverage.
The more you pay for car insurance, the more likely it is you can find a better rate.
2. You can simplify your search. Online comparison tools are very fast and convenient, says McClary. Instead of calling each company or completing an online form at each site and then comparing the results, you can complete one form on Insurance.com and receive auto insurance quotes from multiple car insurance companies.
3. You can shop on your own terms. If you're like most people, calling an insurance agent or multiple car insurance companies is simply too time-consuming. Shopping online for car insurance quotes can be done at any time, and you can run different coverage scenarios -- such as higher deductibles or increased coverage limits -- at your own pleasure.
4. You can find the right policy for your needs. Whether you're looking for a policy that includes rental car coverage or roadside assistance or a basic policy that provides the bare minimum of coverage, you can customize your search to find the best rates for the policy you need. You may even find that you can get additional coverage and still keep within your budget when you gather competing quotes from several insurance companies.
5. You can be instantly insured. Once you've found the best insurance policy and price, you can purchase your new car insurance policy and be immediately insured. Most companies allow you to print instant temporary proof of car insurance cards and can help you cancel your current car insurance policy.
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