Every insurance company wants your business, but how can you tell which to go with for your car insurance? If you want to find the best car insurance, it may take a little research and careful consideration.
In this guide, we’ll show you how to compare different rates and providers, discuss factors that can affect your auto insurance quotes, and provide a list of recommended comparison sites that will shorten the time it takes you to find the best car insurance companies.
- The 3 ways to find the best auto insurance companies and rates
- Our recommendations for the best car insurance comparison sites
- How to compare auto insurance quotes
- Factors that can impact your car insurance rate
- Bottom line
The 3 ways to find the best auto insurance companies and rates
The first step in learning how to get car insurance that’s affordable and provides the coverage you need is putting in the time to compare auto insurance companies and rates. There are different ways to go about this, and each strategy may offer varying results. What used to work in the past may not be the most efficient method anymore.
Here are a few ways you can compare auto insurers and their rates:
1. Research individual insurance providers
Pulling up an individual insurance provider’s website is typically easy to do on your phone, computer, or other device. You can browse through the coverage options they provide and get a feel for their rates. Once you’ve finished looking at one provider’s website, you can move onto the next and do more research with them.
It’s a simple strategy and seems easy enough, but this process can be time-consuming. To get a quote from an insurance provider, you have to input all your information and possibly your spouse’s information as well. Then it’s onto providing information about your car’s make and model, mileage, and anything else the company needs to know. At the very end, you get to see the auto insurance policies available to you, and you can decide how much coverage you want.
The whole process can take a while with one insurance provider. If you want to find the lowest rates, you’ll need to go through the same process with every major provider. Since there are a lot of car insurance providers, that means a lot of form-filling.
In addition, it can get confusing looking at different provider websites. Terminology is not standardized across the insurance industry. The terms companies use for certain coverages may be different, even if they mean the same thing. This can make it hard to understand what exactly is being offered by each company. For instance, is “roadside coverage” the same as “emergency road service” and, if not, what’s the difference?
Researching individual providers can help you get a general feel for insurance costs. However, finding the exact auto insurance policy that’s right for you can take a while and may cost you more in time than it saves you since you probably haven’t heard of every single provider out there.
2. Go to an insurance agent
Insurance agents can be a useful resource for car insurance information since they’re the professionals on the subject, right? It’s true, they should know what they’re talking about, but that doesn’t mean you’re going to have an unbiased interaction with an agent.
For example, an insurance agent who works with a specific company will most likely push you to get a car insurance policy with that company. It’s in their best interest to do so because that’s who they work for. This won’t help you if you’re trying to compare all the available options.
If you meet with an independent insurance agent, you’ll at least get a look at rates from multiple insurance companies. However, the agent will still be motivated to sell you something from what they have to offer because that’s how they make money. So while the specific company may not matter as much to an independent agent, they’ll likely still pressure you to buy from them, even if you may not feel ready to do so.
It’s also not the most convenient to set up a meeting with an agent when you’re unsure if it’ll be worth your time. If you want to get the facts from every company about what they offer, you’d have to meet an individual agent from each company or work with an independent agent. It would be very time consuming, and you might have to deal with unwanted pressure from certain agents trying to get you to make a purchase.
Overall, this strategy may have made sense in the past, but now it seems outdated and inefficient.
3. Use an auto insurance comparison site
If you want to know how to save money on car insurance, use an auto insurance comparison site. Auto insurance comparison websites are typically the easiest and most thorough method of comparing auto insurance companies and rates. These “aggregator” sites gather data from an assortment of companies based on the information you provide. You can then look between the different offers and compare them.
In a way, this is the same strategy as looking up individual insurance companies yourself, except much quicker. You only have to fill out your information one time, and then the comparison site automatically fills in the forms on each company’s website for you. Through this strategy, it’s easier to compare several companies and quotes at once, without spending too much time on the process.
Our recommendations for the best car insurance comparison sites
Car insurance comparison sites provide a simple and straightforward way to easily check out quotes and coverages from different insurance companies. If you were to go to each individual insurance website yourself to do research, it would take a lot more time. Taking advantage of a car insurance comparison site can help you lower your car insurance premiums and find the best deal possible.
Here are our recommendations for the best car insurance comparison sites:
The Rate Chopper
With The Rate Chopper, it’s easy to compare different quotes from major insurance companies with a few clicks of a button. Plug in the required information, and you’ll soon be on your way to finding the right insurance for your vehicle.
Why we like The Rate Chopper: The Rate Chopper doesn’t charge you anything, and the whole process is very fast. Within two minutes of filling in your information, you can be looking at different quotes. Expect to see many popular insurance options from companies like Progressive, Liberty Mutual, Root, and State Farm.
Quote Wizard is a straightforward comparison site that simplifies the process of comparing car insurance quotes. In just minutes, you could be on your way to the best car insurance rate and coverage you’ve ever had.
Why we like Quote Wizard: There’s nothing difficult about Quote Wizard’s process. Once you fill in the required information, you’ll get your offers and you can start comparing them. There’s no cost for these services, and providers include State Farm, Allstate, Farmers, Progressive, and Liberty Mutual.
The Zebra offers quotes from over 100 providers and says you can save up to $670 a year by using their services. For how fast they pull up rate quotes for you, that’s a lot of potential savings.
Why we like The Zebra: The Zebra is one of the easiest free comparison sites to use. The design is intuitive and helpful, especially when you’re filling out your information. It also shows you any available discounts based on the information you’re providing. Even better, The Zebra promises not to spam your phone or email. After you provide your info, they’ll show you several quotes from a variety of providers, including The General, Amica Mutual, Nationwide, Farmers, Travelers, Allstate, Geico, USAA, and more.
As the name suggests, Free Quotes offers complimentary quotes for car, motorcycle, and homeowners insurance. To start the process of comparing quotes from top insurance providers, just plug in your zip code.
Why we like Free Quotes: Getting car insurance quotes for free is a good thing, which is why we like how upfront Free Quotes is about it. We also like the general tips and other advice listed on the homepage, which can help if you need quick answers to common questions. Instead of just trying to push you through to see your quotes, this site is also trying to impart some helpful knowledge.
Provide Auto Insurance
Provide Auto Insurance is an online insurance marketplace that connects individuals and insurance providers. Once you’ve quickly built your profile, Provide will find the most relevant options for you based on the information you provided.
Why we like Provide Auto Insurance: There’s no cost to use Provide Insurance’s services, and there’s no pressure to go with any specific company. Provide simply puts you in contact with insurance providers and their agents. It’s up to you to decide who to go with. Provide works with top insurance providers, like Farmers, AAA, Nationwide, Progressive, and Liberty Mutual.
How to compare auto insurance quotes
To get started using a car insurance comparison site, first make sure you have the personal information you’ll need on hand. Most comparison sites will ask you for some specifics like your zip code, name, address, and the make, model, and year of the vehicle you need insurance on.
When comparing quotes, it’s essential you compare the exact same car insurance coverage between different providers. For example, you’ll want to make sure the collision coverage is for the same amount or has the same deductible. This is important because one company may look like it’s offering cheap car insurance, but if they don’t provide the same coverage, it’s not a fair comparison.
To fully understand the quote you’re offered, it’s also important to know how car insurance works and what the different types of coverage are. Here are the key things to consider when you’re looking at an auto insurance policy:
- Car insurance deductible: The amount you pay out of pocket before insurance kicks in.
- Collision coverage: Covers you if your vehicle is in an accident, including with another vehicle, an object, or by itself (such as a rollover).
- Comprehensive coverage: Covers theft, vandalism, or damage to your car that isn’t covered by collision insurance.
- Liability insurance: Covers you financially if you’re at fault in an accident. Property damage liability coverage may handle expenses from property damage. If your policy includes bodily injury liability coverage, it could pay for expenses associated with bodily injury as well.
- Uninsured motorist coverage: Protects you financially if you’re involved in an accident and the other person doesn’t have liability insurance. If they have insurance, but it’s not enough to cover damages, it’s covered by underinsured motorist coverage.
- Personal injury protection: Covers your medical bills if you’re injured in an accident, no matter who’s at fault. May cover rehabilitation costs and lost wages as well.
- Gap insurance: May also be called other things by the provider, but it typically means insuring the difference or some portion of the difference between what you owe on a car loan and what your car is actually worth.
- Roadside assistance and rental reimbursement coverage: Typically covers any costs needed if you break down, such as towing, battery jump-start, flat tire change, and more. Rental reimbursement coverage covers the cost of a rental car if your car is getting repaired or replaced.
Depending on your personal preferences, you may also want to investigate any perks or benefits that come with an insurance policy from a particular company. For example, some companies have great mobile apps, while others do not.
Finally, as part of your research, be sure to look at consumer insurance reviews and customer satisfaction ratings of any provider you’re considering. You may find that customer satisfaction is an important factor for you. Consider looking at an insurer's J.D. Power and A.M. Best ratings, which measure customer satisfaction and financial stability. You can also find information on a large number of providers on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners website.
Factors that can impact your car insurance rate
Different car insurance companies may offer very different premiums, but it’s also important to take into consideration how big of an impact your insurance profile has on your auto insurance rates. If you feel like all the quotes you’re getting are high, then you may want to start working on the things you can change to get a better rate next time around.
Here are some of the major factors that affect car insurance rates:
- Driving history or driving record: Those with a good driving record may get a lower rate — at-fault accidents and traffic violations will increase your rates. Good driver discounts could lower your premium.
- Type of car/age of car: The more expensive your car, the higher your rates will be. A new car will also typically have higher insurance premiums than an older car.
- Car safety features: Certain safety features like electronic stability control or anti-theft devices may save you money.
- Your age: Young drivers and teen drivers may be viewed as high-risk and tend to pay higher rates due to their driving inexperience.
- Your gender: Women tend to have lower rates than men.
- Bundling with other insurance coverage: Purchasing auto insurance alongside home insurance, renters insurance, or life insurance may save you a huge chunk on your policies.
- Safe driver courses: Safe driving and defensive driving courses can get you discounts on rates.
- Your credit score: Your insurance credit score is a bit different than your regular credit score, but it works similarly. A good credit score will help you get lower rates.
- Annual mileage: If you drive more, your rates may be higher.
- Good student discount: Certain providers offer a discount for students who maintain a certain GPA.
- Military discount: Military members can receive special discounts on their rates.
- Senior discount: Many providers offer exclusive discounts for policyholders who are senior citizens.
What types of car insurance are you required to purchase?
The types of car insurance you're required to purchase can vary from state to state, though most states require minimum coverage levels, typically for liability coverage. For instance, California typically requires that motorists purchase property damage and bodily injury liability coverage. Some states have additional requirements. For example, New Jersey and Pennsylvania require that drivers purchase personal injury protection in addition to liability coverages.
If you are shopping around for insurance coverage, it's a good idea to research your state's requirements before you compare quotes.
What is full coverage car insurance?
Typically, full coverage car insurance includes three different types of coverage:
- Liability insurance: If you're at fault in an accident, liability insurance may cover the cost of property damage and medical bills, depending on the type of coverage you have.
- Collision insurance: May cover car repair or replacement costs if you're in an accident.
- Comprehensive insurance: May cover repairs for events that are beyond your control, like theft and vandalism.
Which car insurers offer accident forgiveness?
Several car insurers offer accident forgiveness coverage, though it may not be available in every U.S. state and it typically only covers drivers for their first at-fault accident. For instance, Geico offers its customers the opportunity to earn or purchase this type of coverage in states where it's offered. It may protect drivers from increased rates as a result of their first at-fault accident.
While nobody looks forward to filing an auto claim or having to go through the claims process, purchasing at least the minimum coverage required in your state can turn out to be a valuable investment. But since there are so many car insurance companies out there, do your best to research different rates and compare quotes between providers to find the deal that best suits what you need.
For the quickest and most efficient way of finding the best rates, use a car insurance comparison site. This will take the hassle out of searching through different insurance websites and spending a lot of time to find your answers.