Buying car insurance online can be challenging. Sure, there are dozens—maybe even hundreds—of auto insurance providers vying for your business through interactive websites that allow you to do everything from getting a simple quote to closing the deal on coverage. But if you've got any questions that need answering beforehand, your best bet is to pick up the phone and talk to an agent directly.
Of course, you may not have to do that. If your needs are simple, you may be able to seal the deal without even picking up the phone. Here are a few things to know about buying car insurance online.
It's not enough to be able to key the make, model and year of your vehicle into an online car insurance quote form. Beyond those basics, you may be asked a number of detailed questions that will help the insurance company give you the most accurate quote. Be sure you have the following additional information handy when you buy car insurance online.
- Your car's odometer (mileage) reading.
- Your car's VIN (Vehicle Identification Number).
- The type of wheels your car has (whether they're stock or after-market rims).
- If you have power windows or power locks.
- How many cylinders your engine has.
- Details on any security features like car alarms or GPS anti-theft devices.
- Whether your car has safety features like front- and side-impact airbags.
- If your car has anti-lock brakes.
- How many miles a year you drive your vehicle.
This is no different whether you're dealing with a car insurance agent in person or typing in your information online. But, this is the one place where many online car insurance customers get hung up, requiring them to talk to an agent on the phone for clarification. When you buy car insurance online, you're asked to provide details about your driving history. Some people with less-than-stellar records may consider fudging the facts a bit, but if there's anything negative on your driving record, the insurance company will find out about it when it runs a check with your state's Department of Motor Vehicles. Before you sign up for auto insurance online, order a copy of your driving record from the DMV so that you can offer full disclosure on any accidents or tickets on file. It's also a good idea to look at your driving history to make sure it's accurate, and contest anything that shouldn't be on your record.
Insurance providers often run credit reports on applicants, and the results of those credit reports may have an impact on the quote you'll receive for coverage. Before you buy car insurance online, order a copy of your credit report and go over it closely to make sure it's accurate. Address any errors you find with the credit reporting agency.
Online resources are a great way to get information about insurance companies, to review policies on your own time and to get accurate quotes on how much a policy will cost. But they lack a certain all-essential human element that can be an important factor in choosing the right auto insurance policy for you. To make sure you're getting the best deal possible, pick up the phone and talk to an agent—or better yet, visit one in person.
Published: September 2012