Buy Auto Insurance Online — How to Get Cheap Quotes
Are high auto insurance premiums driving you to look for a better deal? If so, it’s quick and easy to get cheap car quotes to buy auto insurance online.
In fact, spending just 15 minutes online shopping for car insurance could save you hundreds of dollars over the next year.
Here are the steps to get cheap quotes for good coverage at the right price:
1. Assess coverage then buy auto insurance online
Before you can buy auto insurance online you need to know what coverage you want. However, many drivers don’t even know what coverage they currently have, says Jason Hoffman, president of J. Hoffman Insurance, an independent insurance agency in New York. To get the details on your current policy, find the declarations page you got from your insurance company, which will spell out how much liability insurance you have and whether you have other coverage.
Auto insurance falls into three categories:
- Liability insurance – Each state sets minimum limits for liability insurance, which all drivers must carry. It’s smart to carry more than the state minimum. The American Institute of CPAs recommends you protect yourself financially by carrying bodily injury liability coverage of at least $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident.
- Collision insurance – You can also buy collision insurance, which pays for repairs to your own car from a collision, which could be hitting another car or an object like a bridge or tree, according to Allstate.
- Comprehensive insurance – Another optional coverage, comprehensive insurance pays for damage not caused by an accident – for example, from hail, a falling branch or a rock hitting your windshield. Comprehensive insurance also covers theft, for example, if a thief broke your window and stole your car stereo.
2. Get a cheap quote online
There are good and bad ways to get a cheap quote when you buy auto insurance online.
First, here’s what not to do: Don’t directly shop car insurance companies known for cheap rates by plugging your information into their websites. If you do that you may end up talking with a company representative who doesn’t have your best interests at heart, Hoffman says.
Fortunately, there are ways to get cheap quotes so you get the coverage you need with no nasty surprises down the road. Here’s how:
- Start online to find an agent. Instead of going directly to a company to try to find a bargain, look for an insurance shopping website that allows you to plug in your information, which gets passed on to a handful of agents who can look for the best policy for your needs at the lowest price. Check out any agent you’re considering by visiting their website and looking at online reviews, Hoffman recommends.
- Scout out discounts. The agents you speak with should know the ins and outs of the many discounts offered by auto insurers. Finding multiple discounts increases your chances of getting a cheap quote when you buy auto insurance online. For example, if you’re a student up to age 25 who makes As or Bs, a good student discount could cut the cost of your premium by as much as 25 percent. If you have a good driving record with no accidents or tickets, that could save you as much as 20 percent. You may also be able to get a substantial discount if you’re willing to put a monitoring device in your car and it shows that you drive safely. For example, Nationwide’s has a program that offers savings up to 40 percent based on your driving.
- Get multiple quotes. Get quotes from multiple insurance companies to get the cheapest policy that offers the coverage you need. You can either get quotes from several agents, or find one independent agent who represents 10 or more companies and can shop all those insurers for you. Rates may vary widely from one insurer to the next, so get at least three quotes.
- Quote bundled insurance. If you also own a home, you’ll likely get your best deal by getting your home and car insurance from the same insurer. For example, State Farm offers up to 22 percent off auto insurance to policyholders who also have home, condo, renters or life insurance with the company. It’s definitely worth getting quotes for bundled policies to see how much you could save by going this route. When quoting bundled insurance, look at your home insurance declarations page and make sure any home policy you’re considering provides comparable or better coverage.
- Check premiums with different deductibles. One way to save big is to increase your deductible, says Keith Balsiger, president of Balsiger Insurance, an insurance agency with three locations in Nevada. Ask for quotes at different deductible levels -- $250, $500 and $1,000 – to see how much raising your deductible can slice off your premium when you plan to buy auto insurance online, he says.
3. Consider other ways to save
If you find the quotes you’re getting are still too high, you may have other options. Some consumers who drive older cars choose to save by carrying only liability insurance.
How do you decide if liability only is right for you? It may make financial sense if your car is fully paid off and eight years or older, according to personal finance expert Clark Howard. He recommends calculating your total yearly cost for collision and comprehensive insurance, the two types that are optional. If the yearly cost is more than 10 percent of your car’s total value, consider going with only liability coverage, he recommends.
Before you go that route when you buy auto insurance online, it’s smart to make sure you have enough money saved to pay for your own repairs or buy a new car if you get in a wreck.
You can also check to see if you can get cheaper group auto insurance through your employer or another organization, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
And, finally, if you’re in the market for a new car or considering getting one soon, know that picking a safe car can save you quite a bit on insurance. For example, State Farm does annual reviews of the claim record for each make and model of vehicle made after 1994, and owners of vehicles with the best records can save up to 40 percent on premiums.
Following these tips will put you in the driver’s seat when you buy auto insurance online – and save you money on premiums.