How to Shop Online for Car Insurance
You can buy everything online these days and car insurance is no exception. In fact, if you know what you’re doing and have a few moments spare, buying an insurance policy online is one of the quickest, easiest, and cheapest ways to get the coverage you need.
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Benefits of Getting Car Insurance Coverage Online
Auto insurance policies are typically purchased over the phone or online. With the former option, you have the benefit of talking directly with the company and discussing your options. If you have a question about the process, ask them; if you’re not sure about something, get clarification.
When you buy online, you can’t really get those benefits, but it is much easier to compare multiple auto insurance companies. Instead of phoning many companies and giving them the same information each time, you can use comparison sites that will send the same information to multiple insurers. What’s more, you can do it at a time that suits you, whether that be 7 in the morning or 11 at night.
It’s a much quicker and simpler process all round, and that’s why the majority of customers choose to buy online car insurance.
Buy the Best Car Insurance Online
Buying car insurance online might not be a good fit for you, but you should at least consider it. Even if you prefer speaking with insurance companies and insurance agents directly, you can still use online comparison sites to perform an initial review and determine which insurance providers you should focus on.
Just follow these simple steps to get the best auto insurance rates online:
1. Prepare in Advance
Insurers will request some basic personal information from you when applying for car insurance. To hasten the process, make sure you have all this information to hand:
- The driver’s license number of anyone who will be added to the insurance policy.
- The Vehicle Identification Number.
- The make and model of the vehicle(s) being insured.
- Your annual mileage.
- Your registration.
- Details of accidents you have been involved in or traffic violations you have received.
As tempting as it might be to tell a few white lies and save yourself a few bucks, this is never a good idea and could lead to your policy being voided when the lie is discovered.
2. Check Your Credit Report
Many insurers will pull your credit report before offering you an auto policy. The higher your credit score is, the more likely you are to be offered the best rates.
Although you’re not applying for a credit card or loan, insurance companies still want to know if you’re responsible or not and credit scores can give them this information. A bad credit driver could be charged up to $1,000 more than a good credit driver, so don’t underestimate the power of your credit report and do everything you can to increase it, including:
- Increase your credit limits
- Payoff as much debt as you can
- Clear substantial sums from maxed-out credit cards
- Become an authorized user
- Sign up for a secured credit card
3. Your Current Policy
How much does your current car insurance policy cost, does it include collision coverage and comprehensive coverage? You need this information to compare your future policy with your past one and determine whether you’re getting a good deal or not.
If it’s your first policy, you won’t have this info, but can still do a bit of research on average policy costs to determine when you’re being oversold and when you’re being offered a golden opportunity.
4. Calculate What Types of Coverage You Need
The first step to determining how much coverage you need is to check the minimum coverage limits for your state. These will typically cover bodily injury liability and property damage liability, but may also include underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage, medical payments, and personal injury protection (PIP).
Once you cover all state minimums, you can start focusing on additional coverage options, including:
- Collision Coverage: Will cover your vehicle in an accident, whether that accident involves another vehicle, a tree or a wall.
- Comprehensive Coverage: Will cover you for losses associated with weather damage, vandalism, theft, and animal collisions.
Skipping these additional coverage options will save you money on your insurance premiums, but at what cost? If you have a $20,000 car that’s destroyed in an accident with an animal or falls victim to a flood, only comprehensive coverage can save you. Without it, you can wave goodbye to that $20,000 investment and say hello to a huge financial headache.
You may also want to consider additional liability insurance. Many states insist on a minimum ratio of 25/50/25, which means $25,000 for bodily injury per person, $50,000 per accident, and $25,000 property damage per accident. But these are only the minimums and you can get more cover if you need it.
5. Look for Discounts
Car insurance discounts should never be overlooked, as they could save you up to 90% on a full coverage policy. These discounts vary considerably, and include all of the following:
- Good student discounts: Offered to students who achieve and maintain at least a B average.
- Senior discounts: Offered to older applicants and AARP members.
- Military discounts: Veterans and active duty personnel can save big, especially if they use insurers like USAA.
- Safe driver discounts: If you have a clean driving history and can prove it, you’ll be offered big discounts.
- Policy discounts: Paying for your policy upfront or agreeing to an autopay could net you some big savings.
- Anti-theft devices: Having a new car with a host of anti-theft devices (anti-lock brakes, airbags) can give you some impressive discounts.
6. Start Comparison Shopping
Now that you’re prepared with some basic information, it’s time to take the leap, visit the comparison shopping websites, and start looking for the best providers for you. These sites will scour the biggest insurance companies out there, including Geico, State Farm, Allstate, Progressive, and Nationwide, aiming to find the best quotes based on your preferences and personal information.
Bottom Line: Getting Cheap Auto Insurance Quotes
Car insurance is a complicated business and underwriters take many things into consideration when setting your insurance premiums.
In addition to the discounts mentioned above, underwriters will also look at your age, gender, location, driving record, whether you are a renter or a homeowner, whether you are married or single, and much more.
All this information can be used to paint a picture of probability, telling them how likely you are to have an accident and make a claim. If they deem you to be a high risk, they will set your car insurance rates accordingly, and, in most cases, there isn’t much you can do to counter them (unless you plan on buying a home or getting married just to save a few bucks).
However, by shopping smartly, taking your time to find the right policy and using all available discounts, you can get the cheapest possible car insurance rates for someone in your demographic and with your record.