Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Laura Walker graduated college with a BS in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science. She married her husband and began working in the family insurance business in 2005. She became a licensed agent and wrote P&C business focusing on personal lines insurance. Laura serviced existing business and wrote new business. She now uses her insurance background to help educate drivers about...

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Reviewed by Laura Walker
Licensed Agent for 10 Years

UPDATED: May 6, 2019

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Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident auto insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We are not affiliated with any one auto insurance provider and cannot guarantee quotes from any single provider. Our partnerships don’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own. To compare quotes from many different companies please enter your ZIP code on this page to use the free quote tool. The more quotes you compare, the more chances to save.

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Finding discount auto insurance quotes may not be high on your list of priorities, but it’s something you should consider in these tight economic times. Many of us are paying more than we have to simply because we don’t take the time to compare.

Getting your hands on a couple of discount quotes isn’t all that difficult if you know where to look.

You’re well on your way to discount auto insurance when you enter your ZIP code into the FREE tool on this page!

The key to getting discount auto insurance quotes is to know what you’re after before you start contacting insurance companies. That means you’ll have to assess the value of the car you drive, how often you drive, what your financial position is, and how much protection is appropriate for you.

Once you have a pretty good idea of what you’re after, it’s just a matter of using the resources available to you to line up those quotes.

Using an Independent Agent

If you’re a middle-aged American, it’s quite likely that you’re accustomed to the way your parents purchased auto insurance using a local, independent agent.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics explains that an insurance agent is an individual who helps insurance companies generate business by making sales calls, assisting customers in purchasing the right policies, and acting as a liaison between customer and provider.

Perhaps you’ve never used this method yourself, but it was the most common way to purchase insurance products prior to the advent of the Internet.

In the world of auto insurance, it’s normal for an independent agent to represent up to half a dozen insurance providers. As a representative of those companies, the agent is able to offer policies on their behalf and assist in servicing those policies to some degree.

An independent agent is not the same thing as a broker or a local claims office that was set up by an insurance company. He is a self-employed individual with his own business separate from the companies he represents.

One of the benefits of using an independent agent is convenience. The agent does the shopping and comparisons for you, and then gives you the best policies to choose from. He’s also able to answer all of your questions before you make a decision.

On the downside, you may pay a little more for your policy in order to cover the commission earned by the agent.

Dealing Directly with Insurance Carriers

Your second option for discount auto insurance quotes is to deal directly with the carriers themselves. Your initial contact is usually over the phone or through the company website and is designed just to get the process started.

Working directly with insurance companies is the most time-consuming and tedious method, but it affords you maximum control if that’s something that’s important to you.

Be prepared to deal with sales pitches from company representatives should you decide to go this route.

You also need to know that not all insurance companies you see advertising on television or the Internet are licensed to do business in every state.

If you want to know who offers car insurance in your state before you start making your contacts, you might want to visit the website of your state insurance department.

Sometimes they provide a full list of licensed insurance companies along with contact information. The website of the California Department of Insurance is just one example.

Using an Online Quote Tool

In the modern era, one of the most popular methods for finding discount auto insurance quotes is using an online quote tool. These sites are popping up all over the place because they are easy to use and generate good business for car insurance companies.

Before you consider using this method it’s important for you to know that there are two different kinds of quote tools.

The first type of tool is one that has direct access to the average prices of national and regional car insurance companies through various databases with which they are linked.

When you enter your zip code and the information about your vehicle into one of these tools, it compares your information against the database and returns to you a list of car insurance companies with an approximation of the price you’re likely to pay. This gives you a good idea of which companies to contact.

The second type of quote tool does not return any numbers to you: Rather, it collects information and submits it to a number of insurance companies on your behalf. Those companies then draw up quotes and contact you directly via e-mail or the telephone.

It’s your responsibility to take a look at all the quotes and compare them one against another.

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Choosing the Best Method

Despite the fact that there are three main options for securing car insurance quotes, there isn’t one that’s necessarily better or more productive than another.

Choosing the right method is more a matter of personal preference than anything else.

Older people tend to prefer using independent agents simply because that’s what they been used to their entire lives. Many of them bundle all of their policies through the same agent to make their lives as easy as possible.

Younger people tend to gravitate toward the online quote tool method because they’ve grown up with the Internet being an integral part of everything they do.

For them, it’s easy to purchase auto insurance without ever talking to a human being; or at least keeping that communication to a minimum.

Still, others prefer contacting insurance companies directly as a means of making sure they know they have all the information they need.

What’s most important is to avoid the temptation of simply selecting the first policy that comes along based on a TV ad or a direct mailing. There are too many differences between auto insurance policies and their carriers; differences you’ll never know if you don’t take the time to compare.

Along those same lines, you should never sign up for an auto insurance policy unless you’re absolutely sure you understand it.

Car Insurance Is a Contract

The importance of making sure you understand your insurance policy and documents cannot be understated. As explained on the website of the Pennsylvania Insurance Department, car insurance is a contract between you and your insurance provider.

As such, it is a legally binding agreement that requires something from both parties involved.

Under U.S. contract law, if any party to a contract is in violation of it, then the other party is freed from their contractual obligations. In simple English, when you purchase an insurance contract you are agreeing to make your monthly premium payments on time.

Should you fail to do so, you are in violation of your contractual obligations. That violation gives your insurance carrier the right to cancel your policy at their discretion, with no appeal possible.

As a contract, your insurance company is agreeing to protect you against financial loss in the event you’re involved in an accident.

As long as your premium payments are kept up to date, they are required to cover your losses based on the language of the contract. They may exceed the amount of protection they originally agreed to in the contract, but they can never provide less than what they originally agreed to.

If you don’t understand your insurance documents, you have no way of knowing whether or not your insurance company is living up to its obligations.

Keys to Discount Car Insurance

Now that you know some of the technical things about finding discount car insurance, let’s discuss some things that will enable you to get the best price possible. We’ll start with the driving records of everyone whose name will be included on your policy.

Of all the factors that influence what we pay for insurance, none is more important than our individual driving records. Every driver listed on your policy will have his or her driving record pulled by the insurance company in order to check for violations and previous accidents.

Those with cleaner records will undoubtedly pay less than those with spotty records. If you want to keep your rates as low as possible throughout your lifetime, the best way to do it is to not get tickets and drive as carefully as you can at all times.

A second important thing you can do is to make sure you keep your credit history and score as positive as possible.

Since most of us pay for our car insurance in installments, an insurance company must be comfortable with us in the sense that we won’t default on our premium payments and leave them in the lurch.

Just like your driving record, a good credit history will get you a better car insurance price.

Finally, there are other factors that come into play including the make and model of your car, how much your car is worth, the population density of the area where you live, the number of licensed drivers in your household, and the distance you drive on an annual basis.

These are all things you have less control over, but things you should consider nonetheless.

For example, if the cost of coverage for a brand-new car is prohibitive, you may want to consider an older, used car instead.

Ask about Discounts

After sorting through your quotes and choosing a handful of car insurance companies to investigate further, be sure to ask about discounts. Insurance carriers offer discounts for lots of things including safe driving, reaching a certain age threshold, car safety devices, and so on.

The website of the Texas Department of Insurance even suggests car insurance companies will give discounts for teenage drivers if they complete a driver safety course. When you add up all of the discounts you’re eligible for, it could be quite a bit of money.

Finding discount auto insurance quotes may seem like a chore if you’ve never done it before. But if you make a practice of comparing different policies at least annually, you’ll get pretty good at it. You will also increase your chances of always getting the best price.

As soon as you’re ready to start your search for discounted car insurance, just enter your ZIP code into the FREE search tool below!

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