Published: September 2012
Getting quotes from auto insurance providers is easy. You can pick up the phone and talk to an agent, or you can get your quote right on the insurer's website. These days, you can get an accurate idea of how much car insurance will cost you just by punching in a few figures on your computer. But once you've got a handful of quotes in front of you, how do you determine which policy will suit you best? Here are a few tips to help you effectively compare car insurance quotes.
When you first start comparing auto insurance quotes, it may be tempting to base your decision on the "bottom line:" Which policy will cost me the least amount of money out of pocket? Some people don't want to spend too much time shopping for car insurance—and for this reason, price is often the sole determining factor. But, price is not the only thing to consider when you're trying to get the most coverage for your money. If you're really interested in figuring out which auto insurance provider will offer you the best bang for your buck, you have to look beyond dollar signs and pick through the fine details that separate one from the other.
When you compare car insurance quotes with an eye toward buying auto insurance, you don't want ballpark figures. You want to know exact dollar amounts and precise coverage limits. In order to ensure there's accuracy in the quotes you receive, be ready to provide information like the make and model of your car, as well as all of its safety features. Since you'll also be asked about your driving record, it's important not to omit anything that could change your quote. Likewise, be ready to provide all information about any past accidents you've been involved in and how much money in claims your insurer paid out as a result. Past claims can have an impact on your quote amount.
Comparing car insurance quotes isn't always like comparing apples to apples. Sometimes, it can be more like comparing apples to oranges... or apples to baseballs. The fact is, not all car insurance policies are the same, and there are numerous car insurance coverage options to choose from. Failing to conduct a thorough comparison could put you at risk of missing something critical. To prevent overlooking important details, make sure that each quote takes into account the same level of coverage for bodily injury, property damage liability, collision coverage, uninsured motorist coverage and personal injury protection, and then look at the other factors involved in your decision. Never assume that the coverage involved in all quotes will be identical. If you make this assumption, you could find yourself choosing a policy that's missing something vital—like adequate collision coverage or bodily injury coverage.
Not everyone shopping for car insurance has an existing policy. But if you do, prefacing your quote comparison by reviewing your existing auto insurance policy is a great place to start. Are there some levels of coverage you could stand to lower, or do you need more coverage? Is your personal injury protection coverage too low? Use your current auto insurance policy as a measuring stick to determine if you're getting the best coverage for the best price.
Getting the opinion of friends, family members and neighbors who have had experiences with different car insurance providers is a good way of narrowing down your choices. When it comes right down to it, there are some insurance companies that are better than others at delivering high-caliber customer service and a speedy claims process. Since these factors can't be compared on paper, it makes sense to dig a little deeper into the "real world" reputation of an insurance company by talking with people who have had first-hand experience. If you're not satisfied with what you've learned by talking directly with those you know, take your search online. You can learn a lot by reading customer comments on discussion forums and social media websites.
Just because a worst-case scenario is unlikely to occur doesn't mean it's impossible. Think about what could happen if you insure your vehicle with a provider that's in the process of steep economic decline. It could cause pending claims to be held up indefinitely, or you might even lose coverage if the insurance company in question goes under. Before you pick an insurer, check out the company's credit rating on A.M. Best. It's free, it's easy, and it's the smart thing to do.
Ready to get started? Get a quote on Allstate.com.