As soon as the words “car insurance” sprung to your mind, you probably already had an ad show up for it on your social media, or a commercial from one of the big insurance companies interrupt your binge-watching on your favorite streaming service. There’s a huge market for car insurance out there with a proliferation of viable options, and with all of them shoving their messaging down your throat at every opportunity and claiming to be the best, it can be hard to know which insurance company can provide the best option for YOUR needs.
With what feels like thousands of insurance companies constantly vying for your attention, paying for ads on nearly every platform you visit, and virtually begging for your patronage, even thinking about the prospect of shopping for car insurance can be exhausting – and that’s if you know precisely what you need, which isn’t always the case.
Shopping for car insurance doesn’t need to be this gargantuan, daunting task. However, before approaching the market and getting on the line with an agent or three, there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself for the decisions you’ll have to make. Doing the necessary research, knowing what you need to meet state regulations (and more importantly, what you don’t), and knowing what factors will likely be considered when an insurance company offers you a rate will better prepare you to approach this daunting, sometimes predatory market.
For a crash course on shopping for car insurance, read on… Life is about to get just a little easier for you.
Get An Idea of Your State’s Requirements
Every state requires drivers to have at minimum a basic level of coverage, but what each state defines as a “basic level of coverage” often varies from state to state. Unless you’re unusually schooled in your state’s regulations or fresh out of driver’s education, chances are you’ll need to look up what your state requires each driver to have. Most states require you to have some kind of liability insurance at a bare minimum, which is designed to pay for the other person’s expenses if you get into an accident and are found to be at fault.
The two most commonly required kinds of liability insurance are property damage, which covers damage to the other person’s car or property, depending on where the accident happens and how extensive the damage is, and bodily injury insurance, which will cover the cost of hospital or doctor’s visits.
While generally speaking, when shopping for insurance, you want to go for the bare minimum; it’s recommended that you obtain at least these two kinds of insurance. While insurance is government-mandated and can be seen as an irritating expense, it is primarily there to protect you. Make sure that if you skimp on how much coverage you obtain, you get at minimum what you need to protect yourself and your assets, that’s for rental cars as well. You can find a comprehensive list of the requirements for your state on your state’s website, or through legal sites like this one.
Factors that Will Determine Your Rate
Insurance companies take a look at a large number of potential factors when weighing how much they should charge you for coverage, including your age, the condition of your car, and any previous driving history you may have. While you may believe that some of the judgments insurance companies make based on your age or gender are not necessarily fair, these guidelines are fairly universal.
Typically, younger drivers get charged more as mature drivers are found to accumulate fewer accidents; the same is true of men, who get charged more than women on average. If you typically drive your car in urban environments, tend to drive your car frequently, or own a used car with existing damage, the same is true: your rates will likely be higher, as the insurance company views you as more statistically likely to get into an accident.
Fortunately, a lot of insurance companies also offer discounts for drivers that fit into these groups, such as drivers attending college, drivers that bundle their auto with home insurance, drivers with cars that have top-of-the-line security systems, or drivers with a good driving record. Knowing which demographics get discounts at different insurance providers will make it that much easier to evaluate which one you should go with.
Here comes the part that most everyone dreads: going to each insurance provider and getting a quote from them directly. The thought of spending hours on the phone with agents hungry to sign you at any cost is a draining one. Fortunately, with a large number of options available on the market today, the labor of calling each provider and negotiating yourself out of a phone call with an agent begging you to stay on the line is no longer necessary.
There are a number of ways you can approach this arduous task. Firstly, conducting research online on potential quotes. Most insurance providers either have their information online or allow for minimal-contact quotes to be generated based on the information you enter and after doing the necessary demographic and discount research, you’ll likely be able to narrow down your insurance provider pool to a couple of good-looking options. If you don’t feel like doing all this research yourself though, you could always enlist the help of an independent agent who will walk you through the car insurance shopping process. Or better, as it doesn’t require dealing with agents at all, you can use an engine that compares insurance rates to skip a significant portion of the research yourself, comparing hundreds of potential quotes at once and getting a top three list in minutes.
For a reliable insurance-quote-comparing tool, check out Compare.com, and narrow down your list of providers in seconds.
Making the Market Work For You
Whatever option you use, navigating the car insurance market can be made so much easier if you know enough about how it works beforehand. Knowing what you need, what factors insurance companies are likely to weigh for and against you, and which insurance companies are more likely to give you better rates will prepare you to enter the market formally and negotiate the best deal for your needs.