There are many reasons to compare car insurance quotes. You could be a new driver, maybe you’ve moved, your policy may have been canceled or not renewed, or your rates increased and you want to find a better deal.
But before you can start comparing, you must get a quote. When you do, there are some things you need to get together. This primarily includes personal information, without which it’s impossible to provide a pricing estimate. You’ll also need to decide on coverages and limits. Finally, understanding the process and how to evaluate each insurance company will help you get the best rate.
This page has everything you need to know about comparing insurance quotes, including:
What Are Car Insurance Quotes?
An auto insurance quote is an estimated rate you’ll get based on certain details you’ve provided to an insurer or agent. For example, let’s say you’re in the market for a new policy. In this case, you’d get one from a company to see how much you’d pay if you decided to buy from them.
To get a pricing estimate, you must tell a company or agent various pieces of personal info about yourself. This may include things like your car’s make and model, your driving history, your age, and even your gender. These facts help companies give you a personalized and fair rate.
It’s important to keep in mind that quotes aren’t set in stone or binding in any way. They aren’t even necessarily what you could end up paying with a company if you do decide to purchase a policy with them. As was mentioned, a quote is an estimate. Any change in the following could affect your final auto rates:
- Where you live
- Your claims history
- Tickets and accidents on your record
- Discounts you qualify for
- How much coverage you buy
- How many drivers you have on your policy
Be aware that quotes don’t last forever. They typically last for around 30-60 days before it’s no longer valid. You may have to get another one if you wait too long.
Why Compare Quotes?
Comparing quotes between auto insurance companies is smart for several reasons. The most obvious is that you can find a company with the cheapest rates. After all, nobody wants to pay more for coverage than they think they should.
You may also want to find a better provider, from top to bottom, than the one you’re currently with. Luckily, comparing quotes can also help you discover companies with better coverage, discounts, and customer service.
Here are some reasons why you should compare insurers:
You Want to Change Companies
One of the most common reasons people compare quotes is because they want to switch insurers. For some, this can be daunting. This is especially true if you’ve been with the same company for years.
Your insurance provider could raise your premiums for seemingly no reason due to price optimization or company losses. Or it just doesn’t feel like the same company you worked with all those years ago. While loyalty is always a good thing, sometimes it’s worth it to see if the grass is greener with another insurer.
When you switch to another company, you could find lower rates, more discounts, better service, and more. It never hurts to get a quote and check. If you’re not quite ready, we recommend checking out our article that ranks the best auto insurers in the nation.
You Moved to a New City or State
You may want to compare quotes if you’ve recently moved to a new city or state. Your current insurance carrier might charge more in your new city than your old one. Even if you’ve moved to a place that generally pays more for coverage, you could find a company with a better deal.
Another reason to switch providers after moving is that your current insurer doesn’t operate in your new state. This is often the case if you used to get coverage from a regional provider. Comparing rates will ensure you find the best car insurance company in your new state.
Your Rates Went Up
Nobody likes to look at their bill and see that they suddenly pay more for auto insurance. If your rates just went up and your coverage is too expensive, it’s probably time to find a new company.
You Had a Policy Cancellation or Non-Renewal
Your insurance company could cancel or not renew your policy for many reasons. Most often, however, it’s because of the following:
- Lots of tickets
- At-fault accidents
- A DUI conviction
- Other severe traffic violations, such as reckless driving
- Fraud or misrepresentation on your policy
- Missing payments
At this point, most companies will label you a high-risk driver. This seriously reduces the number of insurers that’ll sell you auto insurance, with most being non-standard companies. It’ll also raise your rates going forward.
Even if you’re high-risk, you don’t have to pay sky-high prices for coverage. Comparing quotes gives you the best chance to pay the lowest rates possible.
You Need to Add a Teen Driver
Most teenagers want to drive as soon as they can. But as awesome as this milestone is, it can also lead to an increase in their parents’ insurance premiums. This is because teens are more likely to get into car accidents or fall prey to distractions behind the wheel.
If you have a young driver on your policy, your insurer’s likely to raise your rates. It’s never a bad idea to look for a company that charges less when you add your teen driver to your policy.
You’re a New Driver
At some point, everyone’s a new driver. However, because of their inexperience, new drivers tend to pay more for car insurance. This is primarily the case if you’re under 25 years old, but it can also be true if you’re a new adult driver. Comparison shopping helps you get the best price possible, even if your rates are still going to be high.
You Purchased a New Car
You may have existing auto insurance for your old vehicle, but it doesn’t cover your new car. If you’re smart, you’ll find out how much a policy for your intended new vehicle costs. No one wants to discover that their new premium is so expensive that it’s a budget buster. If you didn’t check rates before going to the dealership, you should still get a quote comparison to get the best deal.
You’re Unhappy with Your Current Insurer
If you’re frustrated with your current car insurance provider, you aren’t obligated to give them your business. Not only that, but you can switch at any time. A policy is not a contract. So, if you want to investigate your options, your best bet is to request a bid for your business from several companies.
Who Doesn’t Need to Get One?
Not everybody needs to shop around for a better deal. If you’re happy with your car insurance company and pay the rates you want, it’s probably not the best idea to compare quotes.
But how can you be sure you have the best rate possible? It may still be worthwhile to compare several different companies. This way, you’ll know you’re getting the best deal.
How to Get a Quote
Getting a quote from an insurance company is generally pretty simple. However, you may have to go through a few steps before you can get one. You’ll first have to make sure you have certain pieces of personal information on hand. Most insurers ask specific questions about you to help put together a bid for your business.
It’s also helpful to know how you want to get your quote. There’ll be many options, but it may make the comparison process easier if you have a tried-and-true way.
Provide Personal Information
Be prepared when insurance companies, agents, or comparison shopping services ask for a lot of personal information. You may wonder why they need all this. It all helps paint a picture of you as a driver and potential customer. The better and more accurate the information you give an insurer, the better chance you have of getting your desired rate.
These are some of the most common details you’ll have to divulge to an insurer for accurate price estimate:
- Car make, model, and year
- First and last name
- Address and zip code
- Phone number and email address
- Birth date
- Military service (if any)
- Education and occupation
- Credit rating (if your state allows it)
- If you’re single or married
- Whether you have a current driver’s license
- Whether you have an SR-22 requirement
- If you have had tickets or accidents in the last three years
- Number of drivers on your policy
- Desired coverages, limits, and deductibles
- Previous insurers (if any)
- Whether you drive for a rideshare service, such as Uber or Lyft
If you’re looking to get a quote with the same or similar coverage to what you already have, it could be helpful to look at your policy declarations page. This shows which coverages and limits you already have and can be a good reference when you’re checking out competing insurance carriers.
Make sure you provide consistent information to each insurer. Changing details like your desired coverages or limits could make one company look cheaper than another, even if it’s not.
Where to Get a Quote
Since the advent of the internet, it’s been possible to get car insurance quotes online. If you prefer, you can go the old-fashioned route and contact agents or companies directly. The best part is that you have all the control when you’re looking for a new company.
These are the best ways to get a quote:
- Directly on an insurance company’s website. It’s never a bad idea to go straight to the source. Most insurers have quick and easy forms.
- By contacting an agent. You can get a quote by calling and/or setting up an appointment with an agent for any given company. They’ll ask you for the same information you’d provide when you fill out an online form. Agents can be either:
- Captive. A captive agent works directly under a specific insurance company.
- Independent. An independent agent may work for multiple insurers, meaning they could get you several estimates.
- Insurance broker. A broker represents you and not an insurer You can work with them to help you get a policy from a provider.
- Comparison shopping services. Many websites allow you to put in your info and receive rate estimates for various companies. This allows you to compare quickly, without having to fill out tons of forms or find agents. Always be sure that the website has a secure connection.
- Right here at RateSonic. We have all the tools you need to compare quotes, companies, and rates. Just enter your ZIP code in our form to begin!
How You’ll Receive Your Quote
After you request a quote, you can receive it online, via email, over the phone, or in person. The mode in which you see your estimate may depend on how you provided your information. If you called an agent or saw them in person, they may call you back or invite you to their office. If you filled out an online form on a provider’s website, you’ll likely be able to see your rate on the website shortly after. You may also receive an emailed copy or receive calls from an agent.
You may also wonder how long it takes to receive a response. This can vary. But some companies claim you can receive your quote in as little as five minutes.
Be aware that it’s very likely you’ll end up talking to someone on the phone or in person. Insurance companies and agents want your business and will let you know about it. You’re probably going to get some follow-up calls or emails.
If you’re unhappy with the cost estimate you received, remember that it’s not a final rate. You can always go back, adjust it, and try to get a new quote. Some comparison shopping websites may not ask you for all of the relevant information to get an accurate rate from an insurance company. You could also try changing some of the details you inputted (like your preferred coverages and limits) and see if it gives you a better rate.
How to Compare Car Insurance Quotes
Once you have quotes from a few or more different companies, it’s time to compare. You’ll have to gather them and see which one looks best to you.
The cheapest doesn’t always mean the best. An insurer could have cheap rates but could come up short in other areas. You may be tempted to simply compare based on the lowest rate. But it’s also smart to compare companies based on important factors such as customer service scores, available coverages, discounts, or how they handle claims.
Ask yourself these questions when you’re comparing companies:
- Does this company have the coverages I want?
- Does this company have low rates compared to others?
- Does this company have discounts I can qualify for?
- Can I save more by bundling with this company?
- Does this company have good customer service ratings?
- Does this company have a good website and/or mobile app? Will I easily be able to file a claim?
When you compare insurers, one will often stand out from the rest. This company’s coverages, discounts, and rates will best align with your circumstances. All major providers are great, but some are just a better fit. Comparing quotes is the best way to ensure you find an insurance carrier where you’ll pay less and get the coverage you need.