UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020
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Everyone knows that in order to get the best price for something, you have to shop around and compare prices between different retailers. This sentiment is equally true when it comes to your auto insurance policy. Prices vary – sometimes wildly – across the entire market, so it’s good to cover your bases in order to make sure you get the best deal.
But how does one go about doing so? There are so many different companies, there’s so many different ways to shop, and you have so many options that at times I can feel almost overwhelming. But depending on who you are, your level of tech savviness, and how determined you are to get the best price, the way you shop for your cheapest quote may be different than how your spouse, your neighbor, or your parents would. Below, we’ll outline how the process works, and make some helpful suggestions for how you can find the best quote for your next car insurance policy.
Where to Start
Before you even start shopping around between companies, you need to have all your relevant personal information ready and waiting to be given to your insurance agent. The more information you have, the easier it will be to get you the most accurate quote. It isn’t uncommon, especially if you leave out important info that the insurance company finds out about later, for the quote you were given to change once the company officially underwrites your policy. To make sure you get the most accurate quote, try to have the following available before you talk to anyone:
- Your zip code
- Your age, sex, and marital status
- The size of your family, as well as who else might be included on the policy
- The make, model, and year of the vehicle(s) you want to ensure
- Any other property you might want to insure and bundle with your auto policy
- Your driving record, as well as any record of tickets or accidents within the last 5 years
- Your credit score (with the exception of Massachusetts, California, and Hawaii
- An estimate of your yearly mileage and your reason for driving them
Having all this information ready to go before you start asking for quotes can definitely make the process go a lot faster. Some companies may want additional information beyond what is listed above, but try and refrain to give out truly sensitive information, such as your social security number, until you’re absolutely sure you are ready to buy.
Once you have all of this information collected and ready to go, then you’re ready to start contacting prospective companies. As well as having many different insurers to choose from, you can also pick from three different ways of getting in touch with them:
- Visit their online website. Nearly every major insurance retailer these days has a quote generator tool that is just a mouse click away. Most of them only require basic personal information (such as your zip code, driving history, and home ownership status) and will keep it in the strictest confidence. This is a great option for people who are very tech-savvy or who don’t have much time to spend on the phone.
- Over the phone. Pretty much all major Insurance companies have either a customer service call center or local office. All you need is the phone number, and your personal information. While it may feel better to get a quote from a living, breathing person, there are downsides. You may have to spend several minutes with them over the phone in order to work everything out, which takes longer than an internet search. Plus, you may have to deal with pushy salesmen trying to get you to agree to a commitment immediately over the phone. But if you prefer the phone over the Internet, this may be a better option.
- In person. Depending on where you live, there can be anywhere from a handful to several dozen auto insurance offices within driving distance. All you have to do is type their address into your GPS, hop in your car, and go. You may get lucky and catch an agent who wasn’t currently assisting any other customers when you show up. They can sit down with you and discuss your options. Again, you will need to have your personal information available so that they can estimate the best quote for you.
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Understanding That Quotes Will Vary
You may have noticed that throughout this article, we’ve posted some graphs which compare prices between different insurance companies in different states. You may have also noticed that even within the same state, the same driver can get dramatically different quotes depending on which insurer he or she chooses*. But your insurance quote won’t just vary from company to company. It can vary based on anything from your credit score to your education level to your driving record and more. For example, look at the difference between a driver with poor credit and a high school diploma to a driver in the same zip code with a college degree and excellent credit:
The difference is obvious. Your unique personal circumstances have a lot to do with how much you will be charged for your monthly insurance premium. But even if your circumstances aren’t those of the perfect driver, you can get a better deal by shopping around. Just follow the helpful tips we’d outlined above, and you’ll have a better deal on your car insurance and no time!
*Our example was a middle-aged homeowner, male, married, driving a five-year-old Honda Accord with average annual yearly mileage, a good credit score, a $1,000 deductible on comprehensive and collision coverage, with a clean driving record and an interest in bundling multiple insurance policies.