The Easiest Ways to Compare Auto Insurance Policies
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UPDATED: May 6, 2019
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It’s probably safe to assume that comparing auto insurance policies is not on the top of the list for most people where entertainment options are concerned.
Nonetheless, taking the time to compare is necessary if you want to make sure that you are getting the best possible coverage at the best possible price.
To that end, there are several easy ways to get the policy quotes you need so that you can reach an informed decision.
While you’re thinking about it, get your auto insurance quotes online right now by entering your ZIP code into the FREE search tool on this page!
According to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics, there were some 250 million registered motor vehicles on America’s roads in 2010. That’s an awful lot of vehicles all in need of some sort of car insurance.
Yet it stands to reason that among all the vehicle owners, there were some who paid more for their insurance than others, and there were also some who were happier with their policies than others.
It would be interesting to find out how many of these car owners took the time to compare policies.
Start Your Search Online
If you’re looking for easy ways to get auto insurance policy quotes that you can compare, perhaps nothing is easier than starting with an insurance-related website, like this one, that offers a free search tool.
By using the search tool, you can enter a minimal amount of data to receive quotes without ever having to directly interact with a sales agent.
In all but a few cases, you’ll have to deal with an agent eventually, but for the initial process of narrowing your choices down the online method is by far the easiest.
Just so you know, search tools come in two different types. The first type of tool utilizes a database of information based on the published rates of major insurance companies.
When you enter your information, the search engine returns estimates of what you would pay from each of the companies in the database licensed to do business in your state.
The other type of quote tool collects your information and sends it to various insurance companies on your behalf. The individual insurance companies then contact you via e-mail or phone with their own quotes.
Contact a Local Independent Broker
The second easy method for comparing auto insurance policies is to go through a local, independent agent. This type of agent does not work for a single insurance company as a salaried employee.
Rather, he is an independent businessman representing multiple companies across several different lines of insurance.
For example, he may represent six different car insurance providers, four different life insurance providers, and four additional homeowner’s insurance companies.
The benefit of using the agent lies in the fact that his experience allows him to find the perfect policy for your circumstances, rather than you having to hunt for it yourself.
The disadvantage is the fact that he is limited to only those companies he represents. If there’s a cheaper car insurance company he doesn’t work with, you will never know unless you do the research yourself.
Should you decide to go this route, you shouldn’t have trouble finding a couple of agents you can work with if you live in a mid-size or large city.
There are more than 411,000 independent insurance agents across the United States, according to 2010 numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
Contact Insurance Companies Directly
The third method for obtaining auto insurance policy quotes is not necessarily easy, but it’s been included here as a source of general information. This method involves the driver contacting insurance companies individually, whether online, over the phone, or in person, and obtaining single quotes from each of them.
Not only is this method a bit more difficult, it’s also considerably more time-consuming. When you go online or use an independent contractor, it is much easier to develop a short list of companies you’re interested in.
When you search for quotes directly you have to start with a long list and then narrow it down on your own.
You can reduce the amount of time it takes by still using online resources to contact individual insurance companies.
The biggest names in car insurance almost always have a quote tool of their own that enables you to enter information about yourself, your car, your driving habits, and the type of coverage you need.
They will then either produce a quote on the spot or contact you to discuss your options.
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Know What You Need
When you have your auto insurance quotes in hand, it’s time to sit down and compare policy details between them. The easiest way to accomplish this is to set the quotes side-by-side on the kitchen table and compare each individual item.
Even if you’ve received your quotes electronically, it might be easier for you to keep track of things if you print them out rather than having to flip through multiple screens on the computer.
The first thing you should be checking is the amount of coverage required by law in your state.
For example, the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles reports that all registered vehicles in that state must be covered with liability, personal injury protection (PIP), and uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) insurance.
The minimum amounts required are as follows:
- $25,000 per accident for injury/death of a single victim
- $50,000 per accident for injury/death of multiple victims
- $20,000 per accident for property damage
- $15,000 per accident for personal injury protection
- $20,000/$50,000 uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
The reason it’s important to know this information for your state is because it is illegal for car insurance companies to force you to exceed these minimums.
It’s advisable that you do so, especially if you have any valuable assets you want to be protected in case of a lawsuit. However, it’s not required that you carry any more than the minimum amounts.
One last thing about knowing what you need: Your bank will probably require you to carry collision and comprehensive coverage if you still have an outstanding loan. They are legally allowed to do so.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance, most do. When you’re comparing auto insurance policies with this additional coverage, you’ll want to know how much it’s costing and what your deductible is.
Check Extra Coverage Options
Once you have liability, collision, and comprehensive out of way, the next thing to look at is any extra coverage options that the insurance company has thrown into the estimate.
Some of these extras will include full glass coverage, emergency roadside assistance, theft of personal property, and so on.
Some companies throw these extras in at no additional charge, while others add to the total cost of the policy.
You’ll be evaluating these things based upon how much you think you need them versus how much they cost.
Keep in mind that if you find a policy you can afford that includes a lot of extras, you can drop those options later on if cost becomes an issue.
The only parts of a policy that are absolutely mandatory include the liability coverage and any collision and comprehensive required by your bank.
Compare How Different Drivers Are Rated
If you have multiple drivers in your household, each one will be rated by the insurance companies according to age, gender, and driving history. Some auto insurance policies will show how much insuring each driver is costing in regards to the total cost of the policy.
For other insurance companies, you’ll have to specifically ask for that information in order to find out. But it is very important information nonetheless.
For example, if you had a multiple car household consisting of four licensed drivers, an insurance company might assign the riskiest driver to the most expensive car in order to maximize premiums and protect itself against loss.
While they are legally allowed to do so, you are legally allowed to have access to this information and ultimately decide which driver gets assigned to each vehicle.
So any policies you’re comparing side-by-side need to have this information to enable you to make a smart decision.
Lastly, you’ll want to compare the different payment options each policy offers. You’ll get the absolute best price if you’re able to pay for your entire policy up front.
Otherwise, you will incur installment fees and other charges if you decide to pay quarterly or monthly.
Those extra charges may not seem like much in terms of individual payments, but they add up to a significant amount of money over several years.
What you don’t want to do is pay for your car insurance with a credit card unless you have the money in the bank to pay the credit card bill at the end of the month.
At anywhere between 8% and 19%, the interest charges on the credit card generally exceed the finance charges you would pay for making installments. If you can’t pay for the entire policy up front, it’s still cheaper to make installments than to pay with a credit card.
Comparing auto insurance policies may be confusing to you at first, but once you’ve done it a couple of times you’ll get very good at it.
Just remember that your willingness to compare will directly influence whether or not you’re getting the best possible price.
Start assembling your car insurance policy quotes today by entering your ZIP code into our FREE search tool above!