How Do I Get Free Car Insurance Quotes?
Here are two ways to get car insurance quotes, which are always free:
1. Online. Many auto insurance companies offer free car insurance quotes online. You can visit several insurance company websites and compare quotes. To save time, use a website that provides quotes from multiple companies.
2. By phone or in person. Speak with or visit a local insurance agent who can help you find affordable car insurance options and get you a car insurance quote.
There are generally two types of insurance agents:
1. A “captive” agent works for one insurance company and can give you a quote only from that insurer
2. An “independent” insurance agent can sell policies from multiple insurance companies and can get you quotes from different insurers.
There are benefits to both approaches, and there’s no law against contacting multiple insurance agents. It doesn’t hurt to get online quotes and also speak with an agent who can help you identify your coverage needs and tailor a policy that’s the best fit for you.
What Information Do I Need to Get Auto Insurance Quotes?
To make the process go as smoothly as possible, it helps to have the following information on hand:
- Driver’s license. If there are any other drivers in your household, you’ll need their driver’s license information as well.
- Vehicle identification number (VIN). You can typically find your VIN on the vehicle’s driver’s side dashboard or printed on a sticker in the driver’s side door or door jamb. If you haven’t purchased the vehicle yet but know what you’re going to buy, ask the seller for the VIN. If you haven’t picked out your car yet, you can usually get a quote with a vehicle make and model.
- Mileage. If you own the car, have the odometer reading handy.
- How much coverage you want. You’ll want to know what coverage types you want to buy and how much coverage you need. If you’re not sure, it’s a good idea to speak with an insurance agent who can help answer your questions.
The auto insurance company will gather additional information about you, such as your driving history, past auto insurance claims and (in most states) your credit.
What Is the Cheapest Car Insurance?
Our analysis of the best cheap car insurance nationwide found that, on average, USAA has the cheapest car insurance quotes. But USAA auto insurance is only available to active members of the military, veterans and their families.
If you don’t qualify for a policy through USAA, our analysis found that Erie, Geico and State Farm offer competitive rates, based on nationwide averages. It’s still good to get quotes from multiple companies because the cheapest car insurance companies can vary depending on your state, driving record and more.
Compare Car Insurance Rates by Credit Score
Car insurance companies often use an insurance-based credit score to determine your car insurance quotes. Drivers with poor credit can expect to pay significantly higher rates compared to drivers with good credit. That’s why it’s crucial to shop around.
Insurers say that a person’s credit correlates with the likelihood that the person will make an insurance claim. Many insurers put significant weight on credit-based insurance scores when calculating rates.
While the use of credit is controversial, drivers seem to be warming up to the idea. A June 2022 Forbes Advisor survey found that:
- 42% of car insurance customers believe credit should be factored into car insurance rates.
- That’s nearly double the percentage as last year, when only 22% approved of the practice in a Forbes Advisor survey.
Using insurance-based credit scores for car insurance is banned in California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Michigan.
What Factors Influence My Car Insurance Quotes?
There are several factors that play a role in car insurance quotes. Here are some of the most common pricing factors:
Your driving history
Drivers with a clean driving history will pay less than drivers who have traffic violations and at-fault car accidents on their records. Car insurance companies tend to look at the last three to five years of your driving history, depending on your state.
The type of car you drive impacts your quote. Certain safety features (like air bags and rear backup cameras) and anti-theft features could help reduce your auto insurance quotes.
Where you live plays a significant role in rates. For instance, drivers in urban areas tend to file more car insurance claims, which usually translates into higher rates.
Your driving experience
Younger and inexperienced drivers (like teens) will pay more than drivers with years of experience under their belts.
Other pricing factors
Car insurance companies also often look at factors, such as gender, age, occupation, marital status, home ownership and credit. State law sometimes dictates that certain factors can’t be used. For example, California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Michigan ban the use of credit scores in car insurance quotes.
Other drivers on your policy
If you have other drivers in your household, their driving records will impact your rate. For example, if you add a teen driver to your policy, be prepared for a significant bump in car insurance premiums.
How Do I Choose the Right Coverage Types?
The coverage types and the amount of coverage you choose will have a big impact on your auto insurance quote. But don’t get overly focused on price and skimp on necessary coverage. If you don’t buy enough insurance, you’ll have a coverage gap that could cause major financial pain if you get into a car accident.
Your goal is to find the best coverage for your specific situation and at the best price. Here are some common coverage types to consider.
Car Liability Insurance
Car liability insurance is an essential coverage that pays others’ medical bills and property damage when you cause a car accident. It also pays for a legal defense in case you’re sued over a car accident.
Every state except for New Hampshire and Virginia require a minimum amount of car liability insurance, but it’s a good idea to buy more than what’s required. That’s because the minimum amounts are often woefully inadequate to cover medical bills and property damage if you cause a major accident.
If your policy limits are too low, you could be stuck paying out of pocket for the rest. A good rule of thumb is to buy enough liability insurance to cover your net worth, or the amount that you could lose in a lawsuit.
A good way to add extra liability coverage to an auto policy is to buy umbrella insurance.
You may have heard the term “full coverage car insurance.” This typically refers to an insurance policy that includes liability, collision and comprehensive insurance.
Collision and Comprehensive Insurance
Collision and comprehensive insurance pay for repairs to your car for a variety of problems, such as car accidents (regardless of fault), car theft, vandalism, fires, floods, falling objects (like tree branches) and collisions with animals.
While collision and comprehensive coverage are often sold together, you can purchase them individually. For example, if you only want coverage for problems like theft and floods, you can get a car insurance quote for comprehensive insurance without collision.
Just keep in mind that buying one without the other can leave you with a significant coverage gap. For example, if you back into a pole, you need collision coverage to pay for repairs.
If you have a car loan or lease, you’re likely required to carry both anyway.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage pays for medical bills and other expenses like lost wages when you are in a car accident caused by someone who doesn’t carry liability insurance, or who does not carry enough liability insurance to cover all your medical bills.
Some states require that car owners have uninsured motorist insurance.
Medical Expenses Coverage
This type of coverage varies by state, but generally it covers medical bills and other types of expenses (such as lost wages) if you or your passengers are injured in a car accident, no matter who caused it.
Some states require personal injury protection insurance (PIP) as part of their “no-fault” auto insurance systems.
Other Car Insurance Coverage Types
You’ll generally find several options beyond the basics when you compare car insurance quotes. These types can help you fill coverage gaps if you want to pay the extra money:
- Gap insurance. If your car is totaled or stolen and the vehicle’s value is less than the amount you own on a car loan or lease, this coverage pays the “gap” between the insurance check and what you owe.
- Rental reimbursement auto insurance. This covers the cost of a rental car while your car is being repaired for an accident insurance claim. But daily limits can be low, so make sure you need it.
- Roadside assistance insurance. If you’re stranded on the side of the road, roadside assistance insurance will pay for a tow, a jump-start for a dead battery, gas for empty tanks and a locksmith if you manage to lock your keys in the car. You may be able to find a better deal on roadside assistance elsewhere, such as an auto club.
How to Compare Car Insurance Quotes
Many Drivers Don’t Know That Car Insurance Quotes are Free
One potential barrier to consumers shopping for coverage is the misbelief that getting quotes costs money. About a quarter (27%) of respondents said that getting car insurance quotes costs money either some of the time or all of the time according to a recent survey by Forbes Advisor. It doesn’t.
More men than women incorrectly thought you have to pay to get car insurance quotes:
- Half (50%) of men surveyed said they thought you have to pay at least some of the time to get quotes compared to just 16% of women
- 61% of women correctly said you typically don’t have to pay to get car insurance quotes. Only 36% of men knew that.
Here are tips for comparing car insurance quotes:
Here are tips for comparing car insurance quotes:
Determine how much coverage you need
Assess whether it makes sense to buy more than your state-mandated minimum liability requirements—in nearly all cases it does as low limits can be exceeded by even minor accidents. Decide if you want comprehensive and collision coverage to cover your own car, and choose a deductible amount.
Research customer service
Review customer satisfaction ratings so you can find an insurance company that will be responsive if you have to file a claim and that can help you identify the best coverage options for your needs.
Check coverage options and discounts
Make sure the companies you’re considering provide coverage options and price breaks that match your driver profile. For example, if you want pet injury coverage included and the option to have a usage-based plan or accident forgiveness, check to see if these are offered. If you have a teen driver and work from home, a company with good student and low-mileage discounts is worth considering.
Shop identical coverage amounts
Compare car insurance quotes for the exact same coverage amount to be sure you’re getting an equitable comparison. Check out multiple insurers for pricing.
To determine average national rates, we averaged the rate increase in each state among large insurers for drivers with liability coverage of $100,000 bodily injury per person, $300,000 bodily injury per accident and $100,000 for property damage (100/300/100), and collision and comprehensive insurance. Source: Quadrant Information Services
When you’re shopping around for car insurance quotes, you may get lots of opinions on what company to use and what coverage to get.
Comparing quotes from several different insurers is one of the best ways to save money. And it’s not a process that takes hours. With a minimal time investment, you can find the best car insurance rates and a policy that’s right for you.