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Shopping for auto insurance traditionally meant calling or visiting local agents for quotes. While this practice usually results in finding affordable auto insurance it certainly is not the best way to understand all your coverage options.

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Many auto insurance agents have financial incentives to sell coverage from one provider over another, or sales quotas which may influence what type of insurance they offer you. Of course, many auto insurance agents are great resources to help identify the best coverage for you and your family but the only way to truly know if you are getting the best deal will be to comparison shop.

Requesting auto insurance quotes online is a very easy way to compare auto insurance companies and understand how much the cost of insurance will be for your unique profile. Additionally, it’s often done without speaking to an agent and limited to a small set of questions without the pressure of an agent standing over your shoulder.

Millions of drivers shop for auto insurance online but before you do there are some things you need to know.

Understand How Auto Insurance Works

This is probably the most critical step of auto insurance comparison since if you don’t know how auto insurance works how can you really select the best coverage? There are many different types of auto insurance and without the right coverage you can be 100% uninsured or severely underinsured in a car accident.

Before shopping for auto insurance or comparing quotes always understand at least the basic types of coverage including:

  • Liability Insurance
  • Collision Coverage
  • Comprehensive Coverage

If you live in a state with no fault insurance it’s equally important to understand personal injury protection as, depending on where you live, you may even have a choice between typical auto insurance and no fault coverage. Your choice can not be changed during the course of your policy so it’s important to understand how coverage works before selecting a policy.

There are many other supplemental forms of auto insurance also including GAP insurance (very important for new car owners), medical payments coverage and more. The more you learn about auto insurance the better position you are in to make an informed decision and obtain sufficient coverage.

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Understand your Risk Profile

Do you have speeding tickets, a long claims history, a poor credit score, a DUI conviction or are relatively a good driver?

Your overall risk profile will determine how much auto insurance costs and sometimes many of the big brand names only prefer perfect drivers. This means the cost of auto insurance can be significantly more with some companies depending on how you rate on the risk level as a policyholder.

Some things you can actually improve before applying for auto insurance however if you get denied coverage or offered high premiums it’s important to know what factors are affecting your premiums.

Learn about Auto Insurance Discounts

Shopping for auto insurance online is fast and convenient however you are also often depending on a small series of questions to get a quote. These forms may not have all the questions you need to maximum your auto insurance discounts so it’s important to learn about the available discounts in the marketplace and make sure any quote requested contains these.

Not all auto insurance discounts are offered by all providers but you definitely want to make sure any discounts available are factored into your quote.

Never take the First Quote

Online shopping also has an impulse feature where its easy to get sold by striking images or a “Buy it Now” button so always stay focused on your primary goal of comparison shopping. There is no race to buy auto insurance (as long as you don’t plan to drive without it) so collect your quotes and then sit down away from the computer to compare your options.

Once you have a short list of suitable providers and quotes then call the companies direct, ask more questions and quiz them on more ways to find cheaper auto insurance.

You also need to pay attention to the quality of a provider and intangible features like hours of operation, online account management tools, the claims handling process and more. On the surface, shopping for auto insurance online may sound easy, and it relatively is, however much homework should always be done before choosing an auto insurance policy.

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