Comparing car insurance quotes may not be the most exhilarating part of your day, but it can save you a lot of money. Here’s why: Insurers look at similar factors, but they have their own “secret sauce” when it comes to setting rates. So two companies can charge wildly different rates for the same driver. To avoid overpaying and find the cheapest rate for you, it’s critical to compare car insurance quotes from multiple companies.
Auto insurance prices tend to inch up over time, but they can also go down. By shopping around, you might find that your current insurer offers the cheapest rate for you, or you might find that it’s time to switch.
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How to compare car insurance quotes
First of all, every car insurance rate quote you receive should be free, whether it's from Geico, Farmers or a small insurer you've never heard of. Some auto insurers require a down payment to start your policy, but a simple quote estimate should always be free. Here's how to start comparing quotes.
1. Gather your information To quickly and easily compare car insurance quotes, have the following on hand:
Personal information: The address, date of birth, occupation, driver's license and marital status of everyone you want included on the policy.
Vehicle information: Mileage, date of purchase and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) for each car. Or, if you haven’t purchased the car yet, have mileage, make, model and year handy.
Driving history: Include all claims, violations and tickets you've had over the past five years, plus any completed driving courses.
Current or previous insurer’s name for anyone on the policy or in your household. Some insurers won’t cover you without some coverage history, and if you want to exclude anyone living with you from the policy, you’ll need to prove they’re covered elsewhere.
2. Choose the right liability car insurance coverage levels
Liability auto insurance protects you from that worst case scenario by providing a cushion between your assets and the amount you’re on the hook for. For this reason, choosing the right auto liability limits is the most important part of your car insurance quote comparison. NerdWallet typically recommends having at least as much liability coverage as your net worth.
3. Decide if you need full coverage car insurance
You’ll notice that none of that liability coverage pays for your car or injuries, nor for any injuries your passengers sustain if you cause a wreck. This is why many people — particularly those whose car isn’t yet paid off — want “full coverage” car insurance. This isn’t actually a type of coverage, but instead typically refers to policies that include liability coverage, plus comprehensive and collision coverages.
In other words, you can’t just click a “full coverage” button when comparing insurance quotes online or buy something called a full coverage auto insurance policy. You’ll need to add collision and comprehensive coverage in the amounts you want.
Auto insurance quote comparison tip: Whatever coverage you choose, make sure you compare the quotes for the same type and amount of coverage so you can find the best price.
4. Collect and compare car insurance quotes
You'll want to get car insurance quotes from at least two or three companies available in your area to be sure you're getting a good deal. Consider comparing quotes from regional companies as well as the big companies such as Allstate, Progressive and State Farm. While shopping, make certain that each insurance quote includes:
The same levels of liability and uninsured/underinsured motorist protection.
The same deductibles for collision and comprehensive coverages, if you’re buying them.
The same drivers and cars.
All discounts you’re eligible for (most insurers list the discounts they offer on their websites).