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You Know It's Time to Compare Auto Insurance When...

August 08, 2014

Shopping for car insurance isn’t quite as much fun as shopping for shoes, but it’s absolutely essential if you want to avoid paying too much. When should you compare auto insurance quotes? The best time is after major life changes, such as getting married or sending a child to college. Here are six scenarios that mean it’s time to reconsider your car insurance.

1. You should compare auto insurance after a car accident

collision coverage insuranceAfter you deal with the headaches of body shops, rental cars and insurance paperwork, the last thing you want to do is shop for car insurance. But if you see your rates jump after an accident, don’t just accept it. You need to get quotes from a few different insurers.

It’s not a given that an accident will increase your rates. That depends on the severity of the accident, whether or not you were at fault, and your insurance company’s policies. Many companies, such as Nationwide and Allstate, offer accident forgiveness, which means that the first at-fault accident on your policy won’t raise premiums. Accident forgiveness does not mean insurers will forget about the collision; if you were at fault in a collision, for example, you won’t be eligible for safe-driver discounts.

2. You should compare auto insurance three years after an accident

Every insurance company has its own policies, but in general, they don’t consider accidents or tickets received more than three years ago. If you’ve reformed your hard-driving ways and you realize that it’s been more than three years since your last accident, you may want to shop around and see if another insurer can offer lower rates.

3. You should compare auto insurance before AND after buying a new car.

When you’re considering buying a car, whether it’s brand new or a beater, keep insurance costs in mind. Minivans and SUVs are typically cheaper to insure, for instance, while sports cars cost more. Get a few insurance quotes for the car you want before you buy it.

When you complete the purchase, you must inform your car insurer so your policy can be adjusted. Once you know how much it will cost to insure your new car, get a few quotes from other insurers as well. While new cars are worth more and thus can be more expensive to insure, they also include state-of-the-art safety features that can lower your premium.

4. You should compare auto insurance when adding a teen driver

Adding a teenage driver to your car insurance policy can as much as double rates, according to one study released in 2013. Minimize the damage as much as possible by comparing insurance quotes for your new driver. Look for discounts on car insurance for teens. Liberty Mutual, for instance, offers teen driver discounts for good grades, completing driving training courses and signing a responsible-driving contract. Buying a teen driver her own policy will probably cost you more than adding her to yours. There are exceptions, however; if you own a luxury vehicle, for instance, it may be expensive to add your teenager as a driver.

Discounts aren’t the only thing to look for. Keep in mind that the risk of motor vehicle crashes is higher among 16- to 19-year-olds than among any other age group, according to the Centers for Disease Control. For this reason, you may want to increase your collision and liability coverage to ensure your teen driver and her passengers are protected.

5. You should compare auto insurance after your teen driver heads to college

Now that you’re paying tuition bills, it’s more important than ever to shop around for savings on insurance. Why? The cost of car insurance for teens is likely to change when they head off to college. If they’re attending school out of state, the legal minimum coverage requirements may change. If they’re living in an urban area, their rates may go up. But if they leave their car at home, you could see savings. Many insurers offer a “distant student” discount for teen drivers who attend college more than 100 miles from home and don’t have a vehicle.

6. You should compare auto insurance after you get married or divorced

After the excitement of the wedding comes the complications of combining finances. But here’s the good news: for men under 25, simply being married results in lower rates. And for both halves of a couple, consolidating insurance policies makes financial sense. Get quotes from your two current insurers, but don’t stop there: Shop around to see which company can offer you the best deal.

If you’re getting divorced, you’ll need to separate your car insurance from your ex-spouse’s. Here’s a handy guide to doing that — and while you’re at it, get a few car insurance quotes for yourself. Just remember to purchase a new policy before removing yourself from the joint policy, so you’re not driving without insurance.

Overwhelmed? Compare.com makes it easy to compare quotes for car insurance, so you can be sure you’re getting the best deal in any situation.

Auto Insurance Buying Guide


Buying auto insurance can be a confusing and disoriented process. We want to make sure that our users can make informed choices about their car insurance, selecting from as many options as possible. Read our Auto Insurance Buying Guide to educate yourself before you start a quote.

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