How to compare car insurance
Many drivers don t know how to compare car insurance except by looking at price.
There s nothing wrong with comparing based on price, but you won t get the best car insurance unless you know what you can change to make your coverage better or cheaper.
Use our tool to compare car insurance quotes from different companies. It only takes about 10 minutes, and you’ll be able to see side-by-side quotes from top carriers free. Start now!
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to effectively compare car insurance quotes and coverage options.
A quick guide to comparing car insurance
- Compare car insurance companies. Get at least three quotes, and consider financial ratings and complaint ratios.
- Use up-to-date-information to account for life changes. Events in your life such as moving or marriage will greatly affect what you pay. To buy, have your vehicle and driver s license information handy.
- Compare coverages and limits. Make sure the types of coverage and their limits fit your needs and do what insurance has to do: Shield you from financial upheaval. Then compare quotes apples to apples.
- Experiment with deductibles. If you have savings to cover them, raising deductibles is an easy way to affect your rates. You should be able to easily get quotes at each deductible level.
- Consider potential for big discounts. Some big savings potential from bundling home and auto policies or enrolling in pay-per-mile plans may not be apparent at first.
- Compare payment plans. Look for discounts when you can pay in full. Expect fees if you make payments. Consider what types of payment an insurer will accept.
- Read the fine print. Look for limitations on who can drive your car and when your coverage is extended to rental cars or new cars.
Use our online quote comparison tool to save you time and money. Discounts, coverages, and deductibles are all taken into account when we show you quotes from multiple carriers all on one page.
Compare car insurance companies
These are the top five auto insurers in the U.S. as of 2014, ranked by annual premiums written:
In your state there are probably several hundred more carriers to choose from. Here’s a list of car insurance companies we work with that are in your area and beyond. The more flaws you have in your risk profile, the more likely you ll find that rates from different companies vary significantly sometimes by thousands of dollars. In fact, many top-tier car insurance companies don t insure higher-risk drivers those who need an SR-22 filing, for example, or who are under age 25 but instead direct those clients to their subsidiaries.
We suggest you compare at least three companies, along with looking at a renewal from your current insurer. You can find customer ratings, details on discounts and contact information for most top car insurance companies on our site.
Compare using up-to-date information
If there have been changes in your life since the last time you shopped around, make sure they are reflected in your new quotes.
For example, getting car insurance after marriage or buying a house usually mean cheaper rates, because married people and homeowners tend to file fewer claims. You may have added a teen driver to the household. Or you may have moved to a new ZIP code, which can change what you pay radically.
Comparing car insurance quotes usually requires only the information you have in your head: Your name, address, make and model of car, previous insurance history and a timeline of past claims and violations.
When you find a quote on a policy you like, you ll need more specific information to actually buy it.
We recommend you have handy your car s vehicle identification number (VIN), your driver s license number and those of any other drivers on the policy.
Compare coverage and limits apples-to-apples
Make sure each car insurance quote you compare is for the same type and amount of coverage.
A good way to start is with your current policy s declarations page, which lists the types of coverage you have, your deductibles and limits and your premiums you pay for each.
- Ask yourself if the liability insurance limits you chose would still protect your home, savings and other assets if you were at fault in an accident. If you own very little, you don t need high limits. If you ve gotten married, bought a house or built a nest egg, you need more.
- Ask yourself if you still need comprehensive and collision full coverage — to repair or replace the car. At a certain point the premiums you pay would be better put toward saving for a replacement.
- Ask yourself how you would pay for treatment if you were injured in an accident that is your fault. If you do not have health insurance, consider adding some kind of medical coverage. If you have health insurance, consider whether you have the savings to pay for deductibles and co-pays, and whether the passengers you routinely carry have health insurance as well.
- Ask yourself what would happen if an uninsured motorist totaled your car or put you in the hospital. Uninsured motorist bodily injury and uninsured motorist property damage are two very different coverages, and not all states require them. We recommend getting uninsured motorist coverage so you’re protected against such instances.
Insurance.com auto insurance coverage calculator
Compare your deductibles
Car insurance deductibles on your collision and comprehensive coverages are one of the best means you have of influencing the rates you see.
Most car insurance claims are small. When you choose a higher deductible, you are assuming more of the risk of paying those claims.
We recommend you choose an amount that you can pay from savings or are confident you can scrape together. Your car won t be repaired until you pay your share.
Compare for big discounts
Car insurance discounts are a way to save big on car insurance, upwards of 25%. Make sure you know what’s available.
A company that sells both auto insurance and home insurance wants you to buy both. If your family has more than one car, it wants to insure them all. Since the company wants to sell you multiple policy types and multi-car policies, they’ll give you a discount.
Auto and home insurance bundle and multi-car insurance discounts can give you a substantial discount on your rate.
A slightly more expensive premium from an insurance company that can bundle your auto and home coverage might be cheaper once the discount on both policies is applied.
If you have a teen in the household, the company with the more generous good student discount might be less expensive after the discount is applied.
Almost all companies that offer pay-as-you-drive plans such as Snapshot or In-Drive will offer you a 5 discount just for enrolling after you buy a policy. Later, after you have installed a monitoring device, the discounts can range from nothing to as much as 50 percent. These plans can pay off if you are a very cautious and extremely low-mileage driver.
Compare payment plans
Almost all carriers offer the option of payment plans. Typically you will need a car insurance down payment of 8 to 33 percent. Expect to pay a fee for the privilege, between $3 and $10 per payment.
Not all carriers accept all forms of payment. Consider whether you will pay by:
- Check or money order
- Bank bill pay
- Electronic funds transfer (EFT) automatic online payment
- Credit card
- Debit card
Conversely, you can expect a discount for payment in full, usually 5 to 10 percent.
Compare the fine print
If you have black marks on your driving, insurance or credit history, you may be comparing car insurance from what are known as nonstandard companies. They re known as nonstandard because the policies they sell can have exceptions to standard coverages and situations.
The most common are:
Limits on permissive drivers. Standard policies allow you to lend your car to any licensed driver; a nonstandard policy might not, or it might limit how much coverage a permissive driver is given. This is known as a step-down provision.
No automatic coverage: Standard policies also insure you behind the wheel of a rental car, up to your limits, and automatically transfer to a new car for a short period. A nonstandard policy might not.