What Do I Need To Get Car Insurance?

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Woman researching car insurance

Shopping for car insurance can sometimes seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. With a little preparation, you can secure a quote and get covered in no time.

First, you’ll need to be ready to provide information about yourself, your vehicle, and other details.You’ll also need to know your state’s minimum-coverage requirements and whether you need to add additional coverage to your auto policy.

This article will cover everything you need to have on hand to start the car insurance quote process. By the end, you’ll be ready to shop confidently and find the best insurance company for your needs.

Key Takeaways:

  • If you have a car loan or lease, your lender will likely require you to have comprehensive coverage and collision coverage.
  • Increasing coverage limits and adding additional coverage is usually a good idea — and affordable.
  • Asking about discounts and comparing quotes from multiple companies is recommended to secure the best deal.

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What You’ll Need for a Car Insurance Quote

woman driving a car

Car insurance companies need to collect certain information to determine your risk level and rate. Insurers look at many factors when setting rates, but the higher your risk — such as how likely you are to file a claim — the higher your premiums. This ensures that the company remains financially sound if it must pay many claims simultaneously.

Let’s review the most important information you’ll provide during the quote and purchasing process.

Personal information

The first thing auto insurers will typically ask for is your personal details. Insurers will verify the information you give, so the more accurate the information, the more accurate the quote. Here’s what you should be ready to provide.

  • Age: Younger drivers typically have higher rates of car accidents, while older and more experienced drivers are involved in fewer accidents.
  • Gender: Male drivers account for more than 70% of fatal car accidents, making them higher risk than women.
  • Marital status: Married drivers tend to have multiple vehicles on the same policy, which can lead to savings.
  • Location: The insurance claim rates, traffic congestion, road conditions, and climate of where you live influence the cost of auto insurance.
  • Occupation: Your job title can also indicate your insurance risk. For example, occupations that drive more often or at night tend to be involved in more accidents.
  • Homeownership status: Insurers consider homeowners less risky to insure than renters.
  • Annual mileage: The more miles you drive, the more opportunities you have to cause an at-fault claim.

Vehicle information

Insurers will ask for information about your vehicle, including your car’s year, make, model, and vehicle identification number (VIN).

This information indicates important information about your vehicle, such as:

  • Its estimated value
  • The average cost to repair it
  • Its accident and claim rates
  • If it’s been vandalized or stolen
  • The estimated damage it can cause
  • How safe it is for passengers

Car insurance companies ask for this information to give you a more accurate quote and to assess the amount of risk that comes with insuring your vehicle. Companies may also ask for your VIN to get the most accurate information about your vehicle. The VIN provides a detailed history of accidents and damages that can affect insurance costs.

Driving record

You’ll need to provide information about your driving record, including details about any recent driving infractions, such as when the incident happened and other relevant information.

Your driving record has one of the largest effects on your car insurance costs. Drivers with a history of car accidents and traffic tickets pay higher rates than drivers with clean records. That’s because insurers view drivers with a history of risky driving behavior as more likely to cause an accident.

But your habits can change over time, so insurance companies will only review your history for the past three to five years — often called the “lookback period.” This is great news for people with less-than-perfect driving records. Keeping a clean history going forward ensures your rates will decrease eventually.

Keep in mind that every company will have a unique approach to evaluating your record, so compare rates often.

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Insurance history

During the quote process, insurers will also ask about your previous insurer. Your insurance history includes the following information.

If you’ve experienced a lapse in coverage or an insurer has canceled or refused to renew your policy, you’ll likely see higher rates. Unfortunately, these incidents indicate a higher risk to insurance companies.

On the other hand, insurers prefer drivers who’ve maintained continuous insurance coverage over the years — and typically offer them lower rates. This is likely because these drivers have a proven history of paying on time, which is valuable to the insurance company.

What to Consider Before Getting Car Insurance

Woman looking up car insurance coverage on laptop

You’ll have to consider several things when buying a car insurance policy. You want to balance purchasing an appropriate amount of coverage with your budget, which often means making difficult decisions about coverage levels. But there are plenty of strategies to ensure you get the best coverage for a low cost.

Here are some things to consider during your next buying process.

Determine the level of coverage you need

All drivers must meet state-minimum liability insurance requirements to drive legally — and most states require coverage. If you finance your car, you’ll probably need full coverage — which includes liability insurance, comprehensive coverage, and collision coverage — to meet the requirements of your lease or car loan.

But for many drivers, state minimums don’t provide enough financial protection, so consider increasing your coverage limits. The higher your limits, the better your financial protection. You may also purchase the following optional coverages:

Some optional coverages — like uninsured and underinsured motorist protection and PIP, for example — are required in some states, so check your state’s requirements to be sure. Purchasing optional coverages is generally a good idea and usually affordable — plus, it provides more financial protection.

Ask about discounts

Discounts are an easy way to lower the initial cost of car insurance. Some of the most common discounts include:

Discount Potential Savings How to Qualify
Bundling or multi-policy Up to 30% Buy more than one insurance product from the same company
Multi-vehicle Up to 25% Insure more than one car
Telematics Up to 40% Allow your insurer to track your driving
Safe driver Up to 30% Maintain a clean driving record
Low-mileage Up to 25% Drive less than 7,500 miles annually

Verify with your insurance agent that you’re getting all the discounts you’re eligible for so you don’t leave any money on the table.

Shop around and compare quotes

Comparing car insurance quotes is the best way to ensure you get a great deal. Gather quotes from at least five companies. The more companies you quote, the more likely you’ll find the best policy for the lowest cost.

Be sure to consider the following factors when comparing policies:

  • Coverage levels: Ensure you compare the same types of coverage, coverage levels, and deductibles.
  • Policy perks: Ask your insurer about policy perks such as accident forgiveness or deductible rewards.
  • Customer service: It’s a good idea to review the insurance company’s customer satisfaction scores to see if it’s the right fit for you.
  • Claims service: Check customer reviews to see how well it handles the claims process.
  • Ease of contact: Look into how easy it is to get in touch with customer service when you need to.
  • Technology: Determine if it’s easy to use and navigate the insurer’s mobile app and website.

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Car Insurance Shopping FAQs

It’s common to have questions about the car insurance shopping process. Below are some short answers to the most common questions people ask about shopping for a new auto policy.

Which company has the cheapest insurance?

Several insurance companies offer cheap car insurance rates — notably, GEICO, Auto-Owners, and Erie, according to research from Compare.com.

But the cheapest rate for you depends on several factors, including your state, age, insurance history, driving record, and more. Always compare rates to discover which company is cheapest for you.

How do you get car insurance for a car you haven’t bought yet?

You can get a quote and compare rates for a vehicle you haven’t bought yet just as you would for a car you own. Doing so is a great idea because you can determine if the new car you want to buy will be cheaper or more expensive to insure.

How do you know how much car insurance you need?

You’ll need at least enough car insurance to meet state-minimum limits and, if applicable, your lender’s requirements for collision insurance and comprehensive coverage. Beyond this, many drivers choose to increase their coverage limits to ensure they’re financially protected in the event of an expensive at-fault accident.


  1. National Safety Council, “Age of Driver,” Accessed February 5, 2024.
  2. National Library of Medicine, “Motor vehicle driver injury and marital status: a cohort study with prospective and retrospective driver injuries,” Accessed February 5, 2024.
  3. Statista, “Number of drivers involved in fatal crashes in U.S. road traffic from 1996 to 2021 by sex,” Accessed February 5, 2024.
  4. Insurance Information Institute, “What determines the price of an auto insurance policy?,” Accessed February 5, 2024.

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