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: Apr 16, 2019

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Many drivers have fairly unpleasant memories when it comes to their previous efforts at buying auto insurance.

While most auto insurance companies are pleasant enough to deal with when requesting an auto insurance quote, the actual process of getting rate quotes can be time-consuming and tedious.

However, shopping for auto insurance rates is a necessity for drivers who want to lower their auto insurance rates and save money.

Rather than get a full rate quote, you may be able to obtain a quick and FREE rate estimate from a rate comparison tool instead. These estimates are easy enough to get, as you simply have to enter your ZIP code into the rate comparison website.

So how can you find an auto insurance rate estimate?

Understanding What a Rate Estimate Is

You may be wondering why it takes so long to get a full insurance rate quote while it is so fast and easy to get an estimate. The answer to this question lies in understanding what a rate estimate is.

Auto insurance companies use numerous factors to determine your complete auto rate.

One of the key factors that is analyzed when generating a rate quote is the zip code of your home address.

By reviewing your zip code, the insurance company reviews risk factors such as how many high risk drivers live close to you. High risk drivers may be men under the age of 25, teen drivers of both genders and senior citizens.

An insurance company also reviews crime statistics for your zip code to determine rates.

The fact is that some zip codes are just more expensive to insure drivers in than others, and rate estimates take these factors into consideration.

How Full Insurance Quotes Are Calculated

So just how does a full rate quote differ from a rate estimate? Insurance rates are not solely determined by your zip code.

Other factors are also reviewed for a full rate quote, including:

  • the vehicle being insured
  • the driver’s history of accidents and traffic citations
  • the driver’s gender and age
  • the driver’s credit report
  • the deductible and coverage requested

While the zip code demographics are important in determining rates, other factors are also reviewed to determine a full rate.

An estimate gives you a ballpark idea of what your rates may look like through a certain auto insurance company, but a full quote provides you with a firm price for auto insurance.

How to Use a Free Rate Estimate

Clearly, you do not want to make a buying decision without getting a couple of different full rate quotes. However, insurance companies’ rates will vary significantly.

With so many different auto insurance companies you may choose to work with, it can be difficult to decide which companies you should call for rates.

If you are like most drivers, you simply do not have time to reach out and request a full rate quote from each and every company.

However, you can use a free rate estimate to determine which companies offer the best rates for your zip code.

This can help you to decide which companies to contact for a full quote.

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How to Get a Free Rate Estimate

Using a rate comparison website is free, and it also just takes a few minutes of your time to use.

Because of how fast and easy it is to use a rate comparison site, this should be a first step for any driver to take when shopping for new auto insurance rates.

You simply have to visit a FREE rate comparison website, enter your ZIP code into the form and review the results you receive.

What You May Learn

When you use a free rate comparison site to view rate estimates, you may learn a few different things. In some cases, you may learn that you are grossly overpaying for your car insurance today.

If you learn this yourself, you will be motivated to take time to shop for auto insurance rates. In other cases, you may learn that your current auto insurance rate is really quite competitive. In this case, you have just saved yourself a considerable amount of time and effort.

After all, you otherwise would have wasted a lot of time shopping for full auto insurance rates before learning just how low your current rates are.

When to Use a Rate Comparison Website

Insurance companies adjust their rates regularly, and some of the factors that attribute to your rate calculation may also change. Many people will use a rate comparison website annually or semi-annually as their policy renews.

However, these sites are free to use and can be used repeatedly with minimal effort.

Therefore, if any factors associated with your current rates change, you may considering using a rate estimate site and then shopping for new rates. This may include if you are moving, if you trade in your vehicle, if you get into a car accident and more.

If you think you may be paying more than you need to on your auto insurance premium today, there is one good way to find out. You can use a FREE rate comparison tool online to get rates estimates.

After entering your ZIP code into the rate comparison site, you can review estimates to see just how competitive your current rates are.

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