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How to Get Instant Online Car Insurance Quotes

May 21, 2015
Auto Insurance, Insurance
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Getting instant online car insurance quotes online takes a little more effort than comparing prices for clothes or electronics.

Still, shopping around for quotes is easier than ever and can save you quite a bit of money. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

Where to go

The big insurance companies all provide quotes online these days. Progressive even offers to provide competitors’ rates so you can comparison shop.

Several independent sites (including NerdWallet) offer quotes from multiple insurance companies with links to each so shoppers can click through to ones that interest them. Some sites give ballpark numbers, while others are quite specific.

What you need to get a quote

Different sites ask for different details, but pretty much anyone offering instant car insurance quotes online will need to know where you live and what kind of car you drive to give you even an idea of what you can get. That’s because states have widely varying rules about how auto insurance works and what it must cover, risks change by location and certain cars cost more to insure or even require special policies.

To get beyond general numbers you’ll also have to give your age, marital status and how much you drive and why (commuting, business or pleasure). Sites may also ask for details about your driving record, your credit history and your current insurance. Insurance company underwriters have determined they can estimate risk based on all of these factors.

To get beyond general numbers you’ll also have to give your age, marital status and how much you drive and why (commuting, business or pleasure).

Many sites require you to give your name, address and date of birth. They then use this to get details about your credit and driving history, rather than having you fill those in yourself. They might ask for an email address and phone number so they can contact you with offers.

You’ll also be asked to give some idea of how much coverage you want. Some sites offer general options, such as “basic” and “premium”; some ask questions and then suggest coverage levels; and some ask you to fill in specifics about the coverage you want. Basic coverage may mean the minimum required in your state, while premium would include higher liability limits, plus collision and comprehensive protection (also with high limits) and possibly other coverage, such as rental-car reimbursement and roadside assistance. Here are factors to consider when deciding on coverage.

OK, so now what?

If you’re ready to look for instant car insurance quotes online, check out NerdWallet’s car insurance comparison tool for some quick results. It might pay to try another site or two, so you can compare results. If you want to go directly to insurance company sites, try more than one. There can be a wide range of prices among companies.

Aubrey Cohen is a staff writer covering insurance and investing for NerdWallet. Follow him on Twitter @aubreycohen and on Google+.

Photo via iStock.