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Many consumers find shopping for car insurance overwhelming. There are so many different types of policies, features, companies, and coverage options that it can be difficult to know where to start.
By doing your research up front and understanding your car insurance needs and budget, you can be sure that you are getting the best policy for you.
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Finding and choosing a new car insurance provider doesn’t have to be a monumental task. Simply follow the tips below to take all of the hassle and guesswork out of this important process.
Understanding Your State’s Requirements for Car Insurance
One of the first and most important steps in finding the right car insurance is to understand what type and level of coverage you are required to have by law. This may sound simple, but it is often overlooked by many consumers.
Each state has the right to set the legal requirements for auto insurance for drivers residing in that state.
As a result, the requirements vary widely across the country.
Here are some things that differ between states:
- Some states mandate that drivers carry personal injury protection insurance, while others do not.
- Certain states require extremely high levels of collision coverage, while others are lower.
- Uninsured motorist coverage may or may not be mandated.
Finding out your state’s minimum requirements provides a good baseline for your car insurance search. To learn what these requirements are, check with your local DMV or a local insurance agent.
Remember that your state’s minimum requirements are just that, a minimum. In most cases, you will probably want to carry more coverage than the state requirements.
Understanding Your Personal Car Insurance Needs
Once you have a baseline for what level of car insurance is mandatory as set by the specific laws of your state, it is time to determine exactly what your car insurance needs are. You will want to consider features and benefits, coverage levels, and payment options.
Features and benefits refer to the specific types of coverage offered by an insurance company. In addition to the standard collision insurance, you may want to choose personal injury protection coverage, uninsured motorist coverage, or other options.
To determine the features and benefits that fit your specific needs, you will want to consider:
- who in your family will be driving
- what the typical usage and mileage of the vehicle will be
- your risk factors based on your area and driving record
Features and benefits of coverage may vary widely from individual to individual. If you are not sure exactly what you need, contact a reputable source such as the Insurance Information Institute for more information.
Once you know the types of coverage you will carry, make sure you put plenty of thought into the amount of coverage. The higher your level of coverage, the more expensive your premium will be.
However, you will also be better financially protected in the event of an accident. You should balance your risk factors with the amount of coverage you are financially able to procure.
Finally, you should consider what insurance payment options best suit your needs. Insurance plans can be paid in periodic installments or all up front.
You may even be able to secure a dividend plan. Consider the payment options that best fit your budget.
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The Best Ways to Find and Gather Car Insurance Quotes
Once you know exactly what you’re shopping for, finding car insurance quotes is easy. There are several ways that you can quickly and easily gather multiple auto insurance quotes.
Starting online is a simple way to get many auto insurance quotes quickly. You can visit the specific websites of insurers, or use a single search engine that gathers auto insurance quotes from multiple providers at once.
To get a car insurance quote, you will need to enter some personal information, including:
- Your name
- Contact info
- Information about your vehicle and driving habits
- Your driving record
You can also get auto insurance quotes over the phone by directly contacting different insurers. This gives you the benefit of talking to a live person, who can help answer any questions you may have throughout the quoting process.
If you prefer a more guided approach to finding car insurance quotes, try meeting with an independent insurance agent. These agents are in your local community and can help you learn about and secure quotes from multiple different companies.
Choosing the Right Company
Many car insurance customers make the mistake of choosing an insurer solely based on the price of the policy. Price is a very valid concern, and it will certainly hold a lot of weight in your car insurance provider decision. However, it cannot be the only factor.
You will also want to choose your car insurance company based on value, service, quality, and features. These factors are harder to understand and quantify than policy price.
It’s always smart to do your own research to understand the reputation of a potential insurance company. Several online tools can help you do this.
When you are narrowing down your list of potential insurers, you will want to vet them with independent, unbiased data.
Because they are unaffiliated with any insurer, you can feel comfortable that you are getting a realistic impression of the insurance company based on the consumer panel reviews.
You can also search for independent consumer reviews online. Simply type the name of the company and “reviews” into a search engine and scan the results.
Remember, you will want to be sure that any reviews or testimonials be from reputable sources, not a company or website affiliated with the insurer.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list of potential companies based on this information, do a final check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure that there are not excessive consumer complaints. If so, you may want to consider an alternative insurer.
Choosing the Right Policy
At this point, you have identified the type of coverage that you need and the insurer in which you want to do business. All that is left is to pick the perfect policy!
You already have most of the details of the policy you want and the appropriate coverage levels identified. However, you will want to make final tweaks based on the specific offerings of your chosen insurer.
Look for special features, such as declining deductibles or roadside assistance. Every insurer has a portfolio of perks or benefits that they offer to try to stay competitive in the insurance market. Take advantage of any applicable deals.
You will also want to see what discounts you are available for as a customer. For example, many insurers offer a good student discount or a safe driver discount.
If you have multiple types of insurance, including home, life, etc., you may be able to transfer them all to your new insurer and save even more. You could also receive a small discount for paying for your policy upfront rather than in installments.
If you need help navigating the policy options, contact a customer service representative from the insurer. They should be happy to help you find the best insurance product fit and options for you.
Staying on Top of Your Car Insurance Needs and Budget
Congratulations! You’ve successfully chosen your new policy. So now, you are done with car insurance, right? Not exactly.
The market for car insurance is volatile and constantly changing. In order to make sure that you have the best coverage for your needs, as well as the best deal, you will want to periodically monitor the market.
Don’t just count on auto-renewing your insurance policy every year.
Once or twice a year, you should set aside a little time to review your car insurance.
- Are you happy with your coverage?
- Is your insurer meeting your needs?
- Have you seen much lower rates advertised elsewhere?
- Do you need to increase, decrease, or otherwise change your coverage level?
Also, be sure to consider changes in your needs and history as well. If you are adding new drivers to your policy or get a new vehicle, for example, these factors will impact your overall insurance needs.
Any major change in your personal profile or driving record is a good time to review your insurance provider, policy, and options.
By following these simple tips, you can be sure that you are getting the right car insurance.
Further, by continuing to monitor your car insurance needs and budget, you can have the peace of mind of knowing that you’ll always have the best deal on the best policy for you and your family.
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