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New car lotShopping and comparing car insurance quotes? Smart.

Drivers who compare car insurance quotes typically save hundreds of dollars a year.

However, there's no point in getting quotes that change once all your information is verified, the process known as underwriting. A quote is an insurance company's offer to insure you at that price, assuming all the information you've provided is accurate. Forget a ticket or mistakenly enter the wrong model of car, and that price has to be adjusted.

To spend the shortest amount of time comparing quotes, give the most accurate information possible.

The following checklist will help you gather the information you need to fill out your comparison shopping form quickly.

Key takeaways

  • A quote is an insurance company's offer to insure you at that price, assuming all the information you've provided is accurate.
  • To spend the shortest amount of time comparing quotes, give the most accurate information possible about yourself and your car.
  • Gather all of the information you need ahead of time to make sure you can answer all of the questions on the quote form accurately.

Information about you

  • Personal details: Name, address, date of birth.
  • Living situation: Your ZIP code, whether you rent or own your home, how long you've lived in your current location.
  • Your job. Your occupation and the length of your commute to work

Information about your vehicle

  • Make, model and year: Be specific for each vehicle if you can. Is your 2009 Honda CR-V an EX, LX or SE? This typically refers to the vehicle's trim - LX (luxury), EX (extra) and SE (special edition). The difference will probably be a few dollars. If you buy a policy, the insurance company will ask for your vehicle identification number (VIN), which ensures that the vehicle is listed correctly. But in the meantime, accurate model information means a more accurate quote.
  • Safety features: To take advantage of possible discounts, know the safety features of each vehicle, like anti-lock brakes and the type of anti-theft devices (passive, active, audible and so forth).
  • Average miles driven: Tally up how many miles you drive a year, too. Less mileage means less risk, and usually a discount.

Your driving record

  • How long have you been driving? Drivers with less experience -- typically less 10 years --tend to pay more.
  • Motor vehicle record: When you request a final rate after comparing car insurance quotes, the insurance company will pull your motor vehicle record (MVR). The number of claims and violations on your record will affect your rate. The company will look at your driving record for the past five years. Providing the most accurate driving record information possible during the quoting process will generate a quote closer to your final rate.
  • Do you require an SR-22 filing? If the state has notified you that your insurance company must file as SR-22 certificate -- the carrier's guarantee to the state that you have the required coverages in place -- the company may ask for the request number.
  • Defensive driving classes: If you've taken a state-approved defensive driving class, insurers will ask you for the date you completed it and may later ask to see proof.

Your previous insurance history

  • Current policy information: Insurers will want to know who your current insurance company is and how long you've been insured.  If you are not currently insured, disclose that up front.
  • Your current policy limits. Carriers may ask. And if your current policy is handy, it's a good guide to make sure you compare prices that include all the same coverages you now have -- including deductibles and liability limits.
  • Claims amount paid: Had an accident that was your fault? Know how much your insurance company paid in claims - to you and the other driver, if applicable. Again, the insurance company will pull a report during underwriting that discloses past claims, but the more accurate you can be during the quoting process, the closer your quote will be to reality.

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