Step 1: Assess Your Auto Insurance Needs
Everyone needs auto insurance to legally drive, but the process of finding the right policy can be daunting. This guide is designed to be a start-to-finish solution for people that aren’t comfortable purchasing auto insurance or feel like they don’t understand their policies. We’ll walk you through finding the best policy at the right price.
Some coverage is totally optional, but other types are legally required. At the very least, you need to purchase your state’s minimum liability insurance levels. In other words, you need to purchase an insurance policy that will pay for the damages and medical expenses of any car accident that is your fault. Learn more about the basic components of an auto insurance policy.
You have to decide what risks you want to be responsible for and what risks you want your insurance company to protect you from. Policies that protect you from anything bad that could ever happen to you car (accident, theft, fire, flood, deer, hail, falling trees, grizzly bear attack, meteor, etc.) are more expensive month to month, but you’re guaranteed to never have any unexpected out-of-pocket expenses.
State minimum insurance levels fulfill your legal obligations but do very little to protect you from financial risk. If you’re willing assume the risk of having to repair or replace your car, your insurance bills will always be lower.
Here are few different scenarios to help you decide on how much coverage you want to purchase:
Jeff owns an older car he needs to insure. Since his car is worth about $3,000, he decides to purchase only liability coverage. If anything happens to his car, he won’t get anything from his insurance company, but he saves money on his monthly premiums.
Stephanie is still paying off a car she bought last year. The bank requires her to purchase collision and comprehensive coverage because the bank technically still owns the car and wants to protect their investment. Because she doesn’t want a deductible more than $500, her monthly premiums are relatively high.
Step 2: Talk to Several Auto Insurance Agents
Now that you know how much insurance you need, it’s time to contact several companies and find the best rate. QuoteWizard’s online auto insurance quote form can help by connecting you with up to four local insurance agents.
Think about your expectations when you’re talking to the agents. For example, how would you like to pay for your policy? Some companies will quote you a low 6-month rate, but charge you a fee for each transaction if you’d like to split it up. If you want to pay month-to-month, make sure you’re not getting dinged with fees you weren’t expecting. Here are some other good questions to ask an insurance agent before buying a policy:
- Are there any discounts that I might be able to receive? Check out our article about 11 ways to save on car insurance for some ideas.
- What isn’t covered by this policy?
- If I need repairs, does this pay for Original Manufacturer Parts (OEM), or aftermarket parts?
- What if I want to cancel my policy?
- What if I need to file a claim?
- Are there fees or penalties for late payments?
All of the agents in our network are experienced experts in their field, but not all agents are created equal. Make sure that you find an insurance agent that is helpful and personable. It’s likely that you’ll have to work with him or her in the future, so it’s important that you feel like you can come to them with questions or concerns regarding your policy.
Also, try to take detailed notes about the policies the agents are offering. If you ask, they should be able to email you a copy of your policy so that you can easily compare it with the other contenders.
Step 3: Choose the Right Policy
In this step, we’ll help give you the tools you to examine your quotes to make sure that you’re making an apples to apples comparison.
Take a look at the following example:
|Example Insurance Quote Comparison|
|Company||Liability Limits||Collision Deductible||Comprehensive Deductible||6 Month Premium|
It’s important to realize that the cheapest policy isn’t always the best policy. In the above table, the Mercury quote is for New Jersey’s state minimum insurance levels: 15/30/5. It is by far the least expensive policy, but the coverage is lacking in many areas. All optional coverage is excluded. If the car is stolen, hit by an uninsured motorist, wrecked in an at-fault accident, or damaged in any other way (a windstorm, for example), this policy offers no protection.
Another important issue with this policy is that its coverage limits are extremely low. A Property Damage Liability limit of $5,000 per accident is grossly inadequate. All it takes is a minor fender-bender with a nice enough car to cause $5,000 worth of damage. If you were found at fault in accident that totaled a $50,000 car, your insurance would only pay $5,000 and you could be sued for the remaining $45,000.
The same goes for the paltry Bodily Injury Liability limits. Medical expenses have skyrocketed since many states set their minimums. In many cases, a single person’s injuries total well over this policy’s limit of $15,000 per person. If several people are injured in a car accident, the set limit of $30,000 total to cover all medical expenses is also not enough.
At QuoteWizard, we want you to pay as little as possible for the insurance you need. But sometimes, you need more than just the bare minimum. Out of these sample policies, the two with limits of 100/200/100, while slightly more expensive, are much better choices.
Step 4: Closing the Deal
After you’ve received multiple quotes, compared the coverage levels and picked the best policy, you’re basically done. All that’s left is to contact your insurance agent and determine when your new policy will start. This is also a good time to enroll in automatic billing, electronic payments, and set up how you would like the renewal process to work.
Most insurance companies will allow you to print a temporary proof of insurance card while the official documents from your new policy are in the mail. No matter what, be sure that you have some kind of proof of insurance with you whenever you are driving your vehicle. You will need it in case you are involved an accident. Also, the cards usually have useful phone numbers and basic instructions for filing a claim.
Be sure to make a note on your calendar to review your rates before the policy you’ve just purchased expires. It’s likely that you’ll want to renew at the same great rate, but you might be surprised how much rates have changed in just six months. No matter what, never settle for overpriced insurance.
Purchasing auto insurance can seem complicated, but it’s something that everyone who wants to drive legally must do. When you use a service like QuoteWizard to compare rates from several different insurance providers, you can confidently purchase a policy that will protect you and your car.