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The Best Time to Get an Auto Insurance Quote

March 26, 2015
Auto Insurance, Insurance
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You probably already know that getting regular auto insurance quotes from multiple companies is a great way to save on car insurance. Whether you ask your agent or go online to check yourself, comparison shopping saves money. But when is the best time to get car insurance quotes? And how often?

Shopping at renewal time has benefits

Trisha DeLong of the Tri-Wood Insurance Agency in Columbus, Ohio, recommends gathering auto insurance quotes every year when your policy comes up for renewal.

“I think it’s best to shop for insurance as soon as you get your renewal information,” she says. “It allows you to compare the premiums and coverages for each carrier.  It also allows you to get an ‘advance quote discount.’ ”

You can save 10% with Allstate, for example, by signing up for your policy a week before it goes into effect. Early shoppers can also save 10% at Travelers.

Companies usually send out renewal information a few months before your policy expires, according to Bill Wilson, associate vice president of education and research at Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America. This gives you time to gather a few quotes or make an appointment with your agent to go over your coverage.

While you’re at it, DeLong suggests you reassess your homeowners and umbrella policies, if you have them. Keeping all your policies with the same company can also lead to major savings.

Life events can change your insurance needs

Haven’t been keeping up on your policies on an annual basis? Major life events are a good time to get fresh auto insurance quotes, too. Consider doing so if:

  • You get married. Auto insurance is an important part of merging finances with your spouse, and if you choose the same company, you can get multipolicy or multicar discounts. It might be worth getting quotes from both of your individual providers and a few other companies to see who’ll give you the best deal
  • You have a teen driver. Nothing strikes fear in parents’ hearts quite like the thought of paying for teens’ auto insurance. Most insurers have discounts — such as for being a good student or taking driver training — that can keep things from getting too scary, but it’s still wise to comparison shop.
  • You’re retiring. Auto insurance companies generally take a favorable view of older drivers — to a point — for a few reasons. For one, once you’re no longer commuting, you’ll probably put fewer miles on your car and be less likely to get into an accident. It might be worth running the number.
  • You buy a new or used car.  Buying a car may seem like enough work, but you’ll need a new set of quotes to go with your new vehicle. Differences in cost, theft rates and cars’ equipment can make some vehicles cost far more to insure than others. Better yet, pull some quotes before you decide on a car so you won’t be surprised.

These aren’t the only situations in which you should revisit your insurance. Wilson suggests comparing quotes anytime your life situation changes such that “if you had something happen, you’d have family members who’d suffer financially.”

Consider how you shop for insurance

It’s important to get quotes regularly no matter how you get them. But it also may be wise to reconsider a chat with an agent, if you haven’t had one already. Life events like marriage and retirement can change your entire insurance picture, with consequences and benefits not just limited to car insurance.

“Unless (customers) really understand coverages and their needs, an agent is so important,” DeLong says. “They are playing with their assets if they pick … incorrectly.”

Wilson agrees that many customers need personalized advice to sort through the differences in insurance policies. “Everyone’s situation is unique,” he says. “Often the cheapest policy is cheap for a reason.”

Alice Holbrook is a staff writer covering insurance and investing for NerdWallet. Follow her on Google+.

Image via iStock.