How to Get Car Insurance in 6 Simple Steps

Updated March 21st, 2022
couple learns how to get car insurance after speaking to insurance agent

Having car insurance is a necessity. Not only is state minimum auto insurance typically required where you live,  it also makes sense because it provides you with a financial safety net in case of an accident. Instead of being solely responsible for the vehicle damages and medical expenses that rack up after a car accident your car insurance company will cover some or all of the costs. And that can be a lifesaver for your finances. 

After all, there aren’t too many of us that could easily afford to fully cover car repairs, medical expenses or the cost of a new vehicle out of pocket without a paid claim from the insurance company. So, even though car insurance might feel like a burden when making monthly payments, it’s often worth the financial protections in the long run. 

Ready to find out more? Let’s explore how to get car insurance that suits your needs and your budget. 

How To Get Car Insurance In 6 Steps

Whether this is your first time shopping for auto insurance or your twentieth, here’s an overview of how to find and obtain the car insurance that is right for you. 

Step 1: Determine How Much Car Insurance You Need

The first step is to determine exactly how much car insurance you need. There is no one right answer, but there are some factors to take into account when deciding how much car insurance you need to carry. 

The state minimum requirements are a great starting point. Each state sets its own minimum requirements. If you are caught driving without meeting these minimum insurance requirements, you’ll likely face a big fat fine. With that in mind, it’s in your best interest to obtain at least the minimum car insurance required by your state. 

Need help finding that information? We’ve got you covered! Check out our full guide to state minimum requirements today. 

But keep in mind that your state’s minimum coverage requirements should only be a starting point. The minimum might be the right fit for your finances in some cases. 

But in other situations, you may be required to spring for comprehensive coverage. For example, those financing or leasing their vehicle will likely find more extensive car insurance requirements. Take the time to read the fine print of your financing or lease agreement to determine any particular insurance requirements. 

Even if you aren’t required to get higher coverage levels for your vehicle, you might decide it’s the smart move. Although more coverage usually means more expensive premiums, it also means less money out of pocket in the event of a covered incident. 

Step 2: Gather Driver And Vehicle Information

After determining how much car insurance you need, it is time to gather information about the driver and vehicle. 

Here’s the personal information you may need about any driver on the policy:

  • Driver’s name
  • Driver’s date of birth
  • Driver’s license number and state

A potential insurer can check your driving record with this driver’s license information. Typically, a driver with no infractions will pay less than a driver with violations. 

Most drivers will need to provide information about their previous policy. But new drivers won’t have to worry about this step. 

Additionally, you’ll need to provide the following information about the vehicle:

  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
  • The vehicle’s mileage
  • The vehicle’s registered address
  • The vehicle’s registered owner
  • The vehicle’s date of purchase
  • Whether you use the car for work or personal needs

The details about your vehicle’s age and mileage will impact the quotes. In most cases, a driver of an older vehicle with high mileage will have a lower car insurance premium than a driver with a brand new vehicle. 

When shopping around for insurance, each insurer will need this information. Based on the details you provide, the company can create an exact quote. That’s why it is critically important to provide accurate information. If you don’t provide the correct information, your policy might be voided by the insurance company. 

Step 3: Compare Prices

woman comparison shopping for auto insurance

To find the best car insurance rate, you should compare quotes from different companies. If you don’t compare quotes, you’ll likely pay more than you need to for the appropriate amount of insurance. 

A few ways to do this include:

  • Directly purchasing a policy from an insurer. You can request quotes from each and every car insurance company that you are interested in working with. From there, you can buy the policy online or over the phone. 
  • Talk to multiple insurance agents. If you want an in-person experience, then a captive agent is the way to go. But keep in mind that you’ll likely pay more due to the associated overhead costs. 

The downside to the options above is that you’ll likely need to commit a considerable amount of time and energy to track down the most affordable car insurance rate. The good news is that there is a better option!

Instead of searching on your own for the best car insurance rate, take advantage of the free auto insurance comparison tool offered by Compare.com. You can quickly compare multiple insurance companies at once to find the best price quickly. It’s the easiest way to cross this task off your to-do list without giving up potential savings. 

Step 4: Don’t Skip The Discounts

When shopping for car insurance, don’t skip the discounts! The right discount could lead to a sizable difference in your rate. And who doesn’t want to save more money?

Here are some discounts to look for when getting car insurance:

  • Multi-car insurance discounts: Need to get car insurance for multiple vehicles? You can save with a multi-car discount. 
  • Multi-policy discount: Most of us need insurance products. If you are also shopping for homeowners, renters, or life insurance, look for a multi-policy discount. 
  • Pay in-full discount: Paying for the entire policy premium upfront isn’t possible for every budget. But if you can afford to pay for your entire car insurance policy at once, your insurer may offer a discount. 
  • Vehicle safety discount: If your car has plenty of safety features, then a discount may be available.
  • Anti-theft discount: Car alarms and vehicle tracking systems might mean more savings on your car insurance. 
  • Good driver discount: Safe drivers can often score a discount. If you have a clean driving record, make sure to ask about a good driver discount. 
  • Usage-based discount: Are you an infrequent driver? You may be overpaying for car insurance. Check out your usage-based coverage options if you’re behind the wheel less than the average driver.

Of course, you likely won’t qualify for every single discount on this list. But even if you just qualify for one, that could mean major savings! For more details about car insurance discounts, check out this full piece.

Step 5: Consider The Deductibles

One of the final steps of getting car insurance is to determine what deductible is best for your situation. 

A deductible is the amount you’ll have to pay out of pocket when you file a claim. After you meet the deductible, the insurance company will pick up the rest of the tab within your insurance policy’s limits. 

You’ll need to decide whether an insurance policy with a high or low deductible is right for you. 

The advantages of a low deductible car insurance policy are that you’ll have peace of mind. If you need to file a claim, you only need to pay a little out of pocket. That can be an especially important factor if you are on a tight budget. But the drawback is that a low deductible policy comes with a higher insurance premium meaning you’ll pay more each month. 

On the flip side, a high deductible car insurance policy will likely come with affordable monthly premiums. But you’ll be on the hook for more out-of-pocket costs in the event of a claim. 

It is tempting for anyone on a tight budget to go with the high deductible option due to the lower insurance premiums. Before going this route, consider what size deductible your budget could truly absorb. Don’t choose an incredibly high deductible if coming up with the funds is an unreasonable option. 

Want help choosing between a high deductible and a low deductible? Check out this full piece that dives into the details of both. 

Step 6: Pay For Your Policy

You’ve made it this far! Now for the final step — paying for your insurance policy. 

Most insurance companies are willing to accept payment via check, credit card, debit card, money order, or direct transfers. 

If you aren’t paying for the policy upfront, it’s a good idea to set up an automatic payment. Otherwise, it is entirely too easy to miss a payment, which could result in a lapsed policy. Don’t let that happen to you!

After payment, the car insurance company will send over an insurance declaration page. Make sure to read this over to confirm that you have the correct policy details. If there are any mistakes, reach out to your insurance company immediately. 

Additionally, you’ll likely receive a small proof of insurance card to carry with you. Some insurance companies won’t send a paper copy. Instead, you’ll need to download their app to find your proof of insurance. 

First-Time Car Insurance Shopper? Here Are The Mistakes To Avoid

Couple saving money when shopping for auto insurance

Now you know how to get car insurance. But if you are a new shopper, it can be easy to make a mistake that could cost you big time. 

With that, we’re sharing the top car insurance mistakes to avoid. 

Forgetting To Comparison Shop

The biggest mistake that car insurance shoppers make is forgetting to shop around. It is very tempting to head straight to a car insurance company you’ve heard of and choosing them immediately.

But unfortunately, that’s a big mistake!

If you head straight to a single insurance company, chances are that you aren’t getting the best deal on the market. You may get a fair deal. But without shopping around, you can’t know how much others would charge you for comparable coverage. 

With that, it is incredibly important to shop around when choosing a car insurance policy. When you work with us, you can see all of your options in just a few minutes. That means you can lock in the best rate without shuffling around to get quotes from individual insurance companies. 

Choosing The Wrong Deductible Amount

The deductible associated with your car insurance policy is an important number. If you choose a deductible you can’t afford, that could lead to a financial disaster if you actually have to file a claim and pay the deductible before your insurance kicks in. 

As we discussed above, a high deductible policy is usually attached to a lower premium. Although that can be tempting, moving forward with a high deductible policy means you are on the hook for that deductible amount if you file a claim. 

Depending on your situation, it could make sense to opt for a policy with a lower deductible. Even with higher premiums, a low deductible policy can offer peace of mind that you won’t have to cover a major expense if you need to file a claim. 

Not Buying The Right Coverage

You need to meet your state’s minimum insurance requirements. But in many cases, you’ll want to purchase more coverage than that. Not getting the right policy could lead to big financial consequences in the event of an accident.

Before committing to a car insurance policy, consider all of your policy options. These include:

  • Liability Insurance. This insurance can cover other people’s injuries and property damage if you’re in an accident. 
  • Collision Insurance Coverage. If your vehicle is damaged in a collision, this policy will pay for your damages. 
  • Comprehensive Coverage. Comprehensive coverage can pay to repair or replace a vehicle if it is stolen or damaged by something other than a collision – such as a fallen tree or flood.
  • Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage. Even though it is typically illegal to drive without insurance, many drivers don’t abide by this rule. This insurance can cover your damages if hit by a driver who doesn’t have insurance or doesn’t have enough coverage to pay for your damages. 
  • Personal Injury Protection Insurance. If you can’t work due to an accident or have medical bills, this coverage can help you cover costs for an extended period.
  • Gap Insurance. If you financed your vehicle, gap insurance will cover the difference between what a regular insurance policy would cover and the outstanding loan amount if your vehicle is totaled or stolen.
  • New Car Replacement. If you know you’ll want help replacing a totaled vehicle with a new car, having this extra insurance will help.
  • Roadside Assistance. Many insurance companies allow you to add roadside assistance to your policy. 
  • Rental Reimbursement. If you’ll need a rental while your vehicle is repaired, this optional feature can be worth it. 
  • Mechanical Breakdown. Some insurers offer this coverage which will pay for some car repairs. 
  • Accident Forgiveness. If you want to protect your rate after an accident, having this coverage will keep your auto insurance rates steady after an at-fault accident. 
  • OEM Endorsement. An Original Equipment Manufacturer endorsement means that your vehicle will be repaired with only original parts. 
  • Vanishing Deductible. If you drive accident free each year, your deductible will decrease by a certain amount depending on your insurance company. 

As you consider your car insurance needs, make sure that you get the right coverage for your lifestyle and budget. If you need to file a claim, you’ll be happier if you choose a policy that works for you.

Making A Mistake On Your Application

Mistakes happen. But if you make a mistake on your car insurance application, that could lead to big trouble down the line. 

If an insurance company finds out that you have incorrect information on your application, they can reject the application. In that case, you can just reapply with the right information. But if the application is approved with incorrect information, the insurance company could choose to cancel your policy or refuse to pay claims in the future. 

It’s a good idea to double-check your application before applying for an auto insurance policy. 

Not Researching The Company Before Buying A Policy

No one wants to file an insurance claim. But if you have to, you want to be working with an insurance company that offers a pain free process. 

It’s worth taking a look at the customer reviews of any insurance company you are considering working with. If you don’t like what you see, looking for another insurance company makes sense. After all, you don’t want to get stuck filing a claim with a company known for making the process challenging. 

How To Get The Cheapest Car Insurance

Everyone wants a good deal on car insurance. Here’s how to get the cheapest car insurance. 

Regularly Compare Quotes

We’ve talked about the importance of comparing quotes. You should absolutely compare quotes when first shopping for car insurance. But don’t stop there!

Every time you need to renew your policy, take the opportunity to shop around for the best rate. Typically, you’ll find a better deal just by comparing a few companies. It’s worth the time investment to keep your premiums low. 

Seek Out Discounts

Skipping over the available discounts is always a mistake. The right discount could make a big difference in your budget when it comes to car insurance. 

When shopping around, take the time to consider your discount options. If you might qualify for one, ask your potential insurance company about it. 

Boost Your Credit Score

Insurance companies often look at your credit score when determining your rates. 

It probably goes without saying, but a higher credit score will often lead to a lower insurance premium. And conversely, a lower credit score will often lead to a higher rate.  With that, taking steps to improve your credit score could lead to lower premiums. 

Some best practices for boosting your credit score include making on-time payments and paying off your debts. Although these actions won’t immediately raise your credit score, consistently working towards a better credit score can pay off. 

Raise Your Deductible

A higher deductible can mean lower insurance premiums. Before you raise the deductible, consider whether or not you can afford to cover the higher amount. If your finances cannot pay for the deductible, you should consider sticking with the lower deductible, even if that means a higher rate. 

Infrequent Drivers Should Consider Usage-Based Insurance

Are you an infrequent driver? It’s possible you are overpaying for insurance. 

Consider seeking out a usage-based insurance policy. With these policies, you typically pay a base amount plus, you’ll pay extra for miles over a certain number.

Depending on your driving habits, this could offer some big savings. 

Take A Defensive Driver Course

In some states, insurance companies are required to provide a discount to drivers that take a defensive driver course. Although taking this course might not be a riveting experience, it could be worth the savings. 

Before signing up, make sure your insurance company approves the course. Otherwise, you could be wasting your time. 

Ready To Start Shopping? Here’s Where To Start

Car insurance is a necessary cost for any driver. If you are ready to knock this task off your to-do list, work with Compare to painlessly find the best rate

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you insure a car instantly?

In many cases, you can apply for car insurance and have the coverage in place within one day. Although that’s not instantaneous, it can be very fast!

How much does it cost to buy car insurance?

The cost of car insurance varies dramatically based on your location, age, driving record, and more. The only way to find out how much car insurance will cost for your situation is to get a personalized quote.

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