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: Jul 8, 2021

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Everyone wants to save money on car insurance, so finding free cheap auto insurance quotes is an important endeavor. Finding free quotes is easy, but whether or not they will qualify as cheap is up to you.

Start right now by putting your zip code into the FREE box to receive a vast number of car insurance quotes!

Also, you need to be able to tell the difference between quotes that are cheap and those that are affordable. Not having enough insurance can spell trouble down the road, especially if you cause an accident on that road!

Cheap vs. Affordable Auto Insurance

In an effort to save money, many drivers buy less car insurance coverage than they would need in the event of a catastrophe or serious accident. An underinsured motorist is in danger of being sued for the remaining damages if the insurance won’t cover all of the costs.

Buying only the minimum amount of coverage is surely the cheapest option, but it will be much more expensive if you cause an accident.

The first thing to look at is your state’s minimum insurance levels.

You can find this information by searching your state’s minimum requirements at your state’s insurance or financial department’s government website. For instance, the Texas Department of Insurance lists minimum requirements as 30/60/25.

All states require Bodily Injury Liability, which is the first two numbers in the basic coverage designation–this coverage pays for injuries that you inflict upon other drivers in an accident.

State laws designate the minimum dollar amount that you must carry per person and per accident. Texas’s minimum dollar amount is $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident.

However, not all state minimums are the same, and some are really not enough to cover your liability in the event of a serious or multi-vehicle accident.

For instance, California’s minimum amount is listed as 15/30. That means your insurance will pay up to $15,000 for each person, but no more than $30,000 for the entire accident.

If more than two people have hospital costs over $15,000 each from an accident that you caused, then you can be sued to cover the remainder of the bills.

Another required insurance in all states is Property Damage Liability. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), this covers the damages caused by you to another driver’s vehicle, as well as property such as telephone poles, structures, and fences.

Property liability minimums are designated by the last number in the series, and Texas’s minimum dollar amount for property damage is $25,000.

Again, some minimum coverage levels are not nearly enough to cover property damage that could be caused in an accident.

For example, New Jersey requires only $5,000 in Property Damage Liability, which would likely not be enough to cover all of the damages to another driver’s vehicle in the event of a moderate to a serious accident.

Again, you would be financially liable to cover the cost of further damages if you were at fault.

Additionally, some states require Personal Injury Protection, or PIP, which pays for you and your passenger’s medical bills or even lost wages and the like. Again, only purchasing the minimum requirements in auto insurance coverage may be cheap, but it will not be affordable in the event of a serious accident.

As a case in point, Florida only requires a driver to carry $10,000 in PIP insurance; but as medical bills can run into the tens of thousands of dollars and above, the minimum may not cover all of your medical bills. It is important to get adequate coverage.

Another coverage that is required in some states is Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage. This pays for your damages caused by another driver who doesn’t have enough insurance.

You could certainly sue the at-fault driver, but it may be many years before your damages are paid for.

Don’t Cheap out on the Options

There are also optional coverage choices, such as collision and comprehensive. These two types of coverage are for the benefit of your vehicle alone.

Collision insurance coverage pays to fix the damage to your vehicle in an accident, while comprehensive coverage pays to fix damage caused by just about anything other than an accident.

For example, theft and weather damage are covered by comprehensive insurance.

While collision and comprehensive are usually optional, they are generally required by an auto lender until your loan is paid off. Lenders want to be assured that the loan on the vehicle will be paid whether that vehicle is operational or not.

Like all of the other auto insurance options, you can go the cheap route by buying less insurance than needed, but you will be in danger of having high liability later when the repairs to your vehicle must come out of your own pocket.

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Making Auto Insurance Affordable

Buying more insurance than the state minimums does not have to be expensive. Your free quotes for auto insurance can be quite affordable if auto insurers deem you to be a low risk for getting into an accident or filing a claim.

So, if you want your insurance quotes to be in the reasonably priced range, you need to actively make an effort to show that you are a low-risk driver.

The first area to consider is your driving record. A driving record filled with speeding tickets, moving violations, and DUI tickets shows that you are more likely to be in an accident.

Accidents mean claims, and that spells less profit for the insurance company; so they are going to charge you more money to cover that risk. Conversely, a good driving record will result in affordable premiums.

What are you to do if your past driving history has some black marks such as tickets and accidents, but you still want affordable rates?

First, you need to make a commitment to be a better driver. This means obeying the speed limit and other rules of the road, such as leaving enough space between your vehicle and the one in front of you.

You also need to stop taking risks, such as passing other vehicles on the right or texting on your phone while you are driving. Then, you need to enroll in a driving course that will remove points from your license upon completion.

Another consideration for proving you are a low-risk driver is your credit history. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), insurers use your credit to assess your risk through a correlation between poor financial choices and risky driving.

So, those with good credit histories get better auto insurance quotes because insurers believe that those who make responsible financial decisions are also more likely to make responsible driving decisions.

Improving your credit will lower your quoted rates. Improving your credit can be done over time by paying off old accounts and paying down your current debt as much as possible.

Also, try to curtail creating new debt by limiting credit card use for emergencies only.

Just as responsible driving is the only way to create a good driving history, good credit history can only be created through responsible financial decisions.

How Your Vehicle Affects Insurance Rates

The vehicle that you drive also affects your car insurance quotes. Again, auto insurance companies prefer vehicles that statistically generate fewer claims.

Autos with high safety ratings or reputations as sensible vehicles will tend to receive lower insurance quotes.

On the other hand, vehicles that have safety issues or are meant for speed and performance are more likely to carry higher insurance premiums.

Sport cars, coupes, convertibles, trucks, and SUVs are generally more expensive to insure than vans and sedans. Such vehicles have statistically higher rates of accidents, of traffic infractions, and of costly claims.

Also, vehicles that will cost a lot to fix after an accident will garner higher car insurance quotes.

Vehicles with high safety ratings are likely to get the most affordable quotes. Safety ratings can be viewed at the website of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for a variety of vehicles, based on tests run on roof strength, front and side impact, and head restraint safety in various types of crashes.

The IIHS also designates select vehicles as Top Safety Picks. Such vehicles are a smart bet for affordable auto insurance quotes.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also publishes its results of safety testing with its 5-Star Safety Ratings. Vehicles are tested on safety performance during front and side crashes, as well as having their risk for rollover assessed.

Vehicles are awarded stars out of five for each test and for an overall rating. Again, vehicles with four and five stars will likely have much lower costs to insure.

Other Tips and Tricks for Low Auto Quotes

While you are working on your driving record and your credit history, as well as saving up for a safer vehicle, there are still some steps you can take to lower your car insurance rates.

Again, you need to think like an insurance company and try to lessen your risk of having to file a claim for damage or theft.

Your best bet is to try to improve the protection of your vehicle. Installing anti-theft devices such as alarms, recovery systems, and VIN etching will all lower your comprehensive coverage premium.

If you are able, start to park your vehicle in a garage, and let your insurance company know about it; this is one of the questions they asked when you were originally quoted a rate.

Vehicles that are parked indoors are less likely to be damaged by weather and falling objects; they are also much harder for thieves to steal.

Getting Free Cheap Auto Insurance Quotes

Your quotes will go faster if you have all of the necessary information available. You will need information about yourself such as your driver’s license number and information about your vehicle such as the exact make and model and the VIN number.

Once you have gathered all of the information, the best route is to get multiple quotes to find the most affordable option.

Competition drives down rates, and it can’t hurt to let an agent know that another company quoted you a lower rate.

The best place to get multiple car insurance quotes is right here by entering your ZIP into the FREE tool now!

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