Welcome to The Ultimate Guide for Buying Auto Insurance, where we’ll answer pretty much any and every question you have about the car insurance buying process. Whether you’re a seasoned pro who’s had a policy for thirty years or you’re just starting out with your first personal policy, this guide will help you shop confidently.
Insurance can be confusing and expensive. Here at InsuraMatch, we aim to help you make better insurance decisions. By understanding your policy and what features are best for you, we’ll help you find car insurance that fits your needs at a price that works with your budget.
Let’s get started!
When To Start Shopping for Car Insurance
They say timing is everything. To get the timing right when shopping for auto insurance, you’ll want to start looking for quotes about two weeks out from when you’ll need your new insurance to kick in.
We asked InsuraMatch agent Seth Miller about it, and he tells us, “There is no ‘right time’ if you think you’re overpaying, start shopping! Most states require the insurance company to offer a prorated refund if you cancel your policy early. You’ll only pay for the amount of time you’re insured before cancelling. So there is usually no penalty to cancel and change carriers if you find a better rate. That being said, two weeks prior to the new policy starting is a good time to get started because it will allow you, the customer, to qualify for most Advanced Shoppers Discounts.”
Start shopping about 2 weeks before you need your new policy to start to qualify for an Advanced Shopper discount!
“The most common reasons for shopping are a rate increase, new car purchase, or when a new driver caused a rate increase (like when a child just gets their driver’s license),” Seth tells us. Whether you come to this guide from our email, because you’re purchasing a brand-new car or you are trying to figure out how you can save on your car insurance policy, shopping around can start at any time.
A rate increase with your current insurer can definitely lead loyal customers to wonder if maybe, just maybe, there’s a policy out there that would be a better match for you. Luckily, we can help. Says Seth, “Customers should shop their insurance every few years to make sure their rate is in line or below the current ‘market.’ The beauty of working with an agency like InsuraMatch is that we can do a review for you, just give us a call and we’ll shop you around with all of our carriers. If we can save you money with a different carrier, we’ll help you move over to that carrier.”
What You Need to Get a Car Insurance Quote
When you give us a call or start a quote with us online, you’ll need to have some information handy to get the most accurate quote possible. Seth recommends, “Customers should have their current policy declaration page, VIN numbers for all vehicles, and Driver’s License Numbers for all household members.” Refreshing your memory on the make, year and model of your cars will also come in handy.
To get an auto insurance quote, you'll need:
● Policy declaration page
● VIN number for each vehicle you want to insure
● Driver’s license numbers for all household members
You’ll want to think about how much you drive, too, as your quote will likely ask you how many miles you drive per year. According to the Federal Highway Administration, the average American drove 13,476 miles in 2016.
Seth adds, “Generally speaking, the average person drives about 12,000-13,000 miles a year, but depending on your commute, it may be higher or lower. Sometimes we’ll ask the customer what their current odometer says and based on when they bought the car, do some rough math to determine what they normally put on historically speaking.”
Not all insurers price on mileage, but if you don’t drive much it could mean lower rates with those carriers. Whether you drive often or not, shopping multiple carriers with an agent like InsuraMatch will increase the chances that you get a variety of quotes from different insurance companies, depending on their rating factors.
Insurance companies weigh many factors to determine quotes. When shopping for quotes, it is important that you are as honest as possible, including when it comes to past accidents and traffic violations. Seth advises, “Insurance companies have advanced reporting capabilities and the right to make adjustments to your policy during the Underwriting review period. It’s best to be upfront with any activity on your license, because the company will likely find it anyway. You want to use your time spent shopping for insurance to find the most accurate rate. If you purposely leave something out, you’re likely wasting your time as the activity will most likely be found later and your price will be adjusted accordingly.”
As with all types of insurance, honesty is the best policy (no pun intended!).
What Coverage To Consider
Everyone in the US is required by law to carry a certain amount of auto insurance (well, except in New Hampshire, but even there it is recommended #livefreeordie). Coverage is mandated to help protect everyone from the potentially devastating costs of getting in a car accident.
Your state’s minimums should be treated more like a recommendation than an indication that’s the right amount of coverage. For many people and families, the coverage provided by their state’s mandated minimums is not enough. They are referred to as “minimums” for a reason. You will likely want to consider more coverage.
Seth advises, “Everyone should consider their assets when choosing the right coverage for them. Generally, the more you have to protect, the more coverage you’ll want to carry.”
The state mandated minimums can serve as a guide when you’re shopping, but speaking with an insurance agent about your specific situation can be helpful in figuring out what additional coverages are most important for you to consider. An agent can also help you understand why it’s important to carry certain limits.
Seth gave us some general car insurance limit advice, “The minimum Bodily Injury Liability we recommend for anyone is $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident ($50,000/$100,000). Homeowners should have at least $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident ($100,000/$300,000), and preferably they carry $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident ($250,000/$500,000). Most leasing companies also require $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident ($100,000/$300,000). Property damage liability should be at least $50,000 per accident, but we recommend $100,000 per accident.”
Homeowners should have at least $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident ($100,000/$300,000) in bodily injury liability coverage.
If you are found at fault in an accident, which could cause damage to your car and the other car, as well as injuries to the passengers in your car and the other car, you are responsible for the costs of repairs and medical treatments. If your insurance doesn't cover those costs, your assets could be at risk. If you don’t have assets, a portion of your future earnings could be at risk in some states. Carrying enough auto insurance coverage can be incredibly important if the worst were to happen.
More coverage generally means a higher premium. One way to help lower it is to go for a higher deductible. Our agent, Seth, offered his advice on choosing a deductible, “It’s a personal decision, since it’s the amount that the customer will be responsible for paying if they get into an accident. Generally speaking, $500 deductibles are the most common, but I like to recommend a $100 deductible for comprehensive because it tends to be a relatively inexpensive change.”
Consider What’s Important to You in a Policy
The coverage an auto insurance policy provides is absolutely the most important factor to weigh in choosing an insurer, but if you’ll get comparable coverage from a few different companies, considering other features can make a difference.
Your insurance agent can help steer you toward an insurance company that fits your needs, or as we like to say around here, your InsuraMatch agent can help you find your match.
Some things to consider when weighing which insurance company to go with are:
- Regional vs. national - there are pros and cons to both. A regional insurer may know your area better, but a national player could have better rates or modernized technology.
- Online payments vs. phone or (gasp!) paper - if your preferred method is important to you, this is definitely something to consider. Many insurers don’t offer online payments or correspondence, so be sure to check that out before choosing a policy.
- Reviews / service - Check out reviews to see the good, the bad and the ugly. Like anything on the Internet, reviews can often be skewed toward those who had exceptionally good and exceptionally bad experiences
- Financial stability - each insurance company has ratings to determine their financial stability. You can check this online.
- Ask your agent - your agent may have insight on which company would be best for your specific needs, since they talk to many different customers and companies each day and hear their feedback.
Saving Money on Your Auto Insurance Premium
One question we get often from customers is how they can save money on their car insurance. With so many insurance ads telling you you can save, it can feel like you’re missing something when you go searching for new quotes.
At InsuraMatch, we do our best to help our customers save, whether that’s comparing quotes for you or finding discounts. Seth shared some of his car insurance discount tips, “Some of the easiest ways to save are to take a defensive driver course, bundle all of your insurance policies, get a quote early for the Advanced Shoppers discount (at least 8 days prior to the start of your new policy), and sign up for e-documents. Depending on your driving skills and habits, signing up for UBI (user based insurance) could lead to savings. These are relatively new programs that are becoming more and more popular in the industry. UBI programs monitor your driving habits and can give you a discount based on a number of factors including how well you drive, the time of day you drive, and the number of miles you drive. If you’re a safe driver, you should be rewarded!”
Being a member of your alumni association or AAA can also lead to discounts, as can having updated safety and security features in your vehicle. Ask your agent for ways to save - there are many different discounts offered by different carriers!
Another way to save on your insurance policies is “bundling.” Bundling refers to taking out multiple insurance policies with one insurer, a bundle of them, if you will. Says Seth, “Bundling is a great way to save money and reduce the hassle of dealing with multiple insurance companies or agencies. Don’t just get a quote on one product, like home, auto, boat or motorcycle, get a quote on all of the policies at once to receive the best rates. Then you can choose the best option overall.”
Ready to buy? Let’s do this!
The InsuraMatch Advantage
After reading this guide, hopefully you’ve found all the info you need to confidently shop for a quote and find your match. We’d love to help you do that.
Get a free quote in less than 10 minutes!
You’ll probably agree that we’re pretty much insurance experts (or nerds…). If our expert advice giving isn’t enough to sway you to get a quote from us, I’m not sure what will… but I will take this opportunity to talk up the other reasons why InsuraMatch is such a great choice!
We represent many insurers (in fact we’re constantly growing our portfolio), so we can help you compare multiple quotes at once. Our agents are knowledgeable about the policies offered by each of our insurers, so they can help you sift through the quotes and determine which one is best for you.
With InsuraMatch, you can start the process online with our online quoting tool. In just a few minutes, you'll have real quotes from our partners. Then you just need to speak with an agent to review the final details and sign up with an insurer. From start to finish, the entire process takes 20-30 minutes - not bad!
Let us help you find your match - your insurance match!