What Do I Need To Get Car Insurance?

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Smiling man next to his new car, wondering what do I need to get car insurance?

Having an adequate auto insurance policy is one of the wisest decisions you can make. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, roughly 13 car accidents occur every minute

Clearly, protecting yourself and your assets is a good idea, so you may be wondering, “What do I need to get car insurance?” In this guide, we’ll answer that question and more. We’ll go over the process of getting auto insurance and look at how much coverage you need, including all the information required by insurers.

If you are looking for a new auto insurance policy, the easiest way is to use a site like Compare.com, which walks you through the process step-by-step, allowing you to get accurate quotes and compare rates from multiple companies at once. Just enter your ZIP code below to get started:

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What Do I Need to Get Car Insurance?

Happy family with their dog traveling in their car

To request a quote and enroll in a new auto insurance policy, you must provide vehicle and driver information to the insurer, including your driving history.

Vehicle Information 

Vehicle information includes the name of the registered owner of the vehicle, date of purchase, and all details such as your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and vehicle year, make, and model.

Your VIN appears on a sticker, usually posted inside your vehicle’s door sill or windshield. Contact your vehicle manufacturer or car dealership if you cannot locate your VIN.

You may also be asked to share a declaration page from your most recent or current auto insurance policy. Declarations pages consist of your prior auto insurance policy‘s first page and detailed coverage selections, amount of premiums, payment frequency (e.g., monthly or semi-annually), and deductibles.

Driver Information

Driver information entails the names, dates of birth and driver’s license numbers of every member on the policy. Some carriers will want your social security number, but it’s usually only for the named insureds, not the other drivers on the policy.

Several factors influence the cost of a new auto insurance policy, and applicants will likely be asked to share their gender, occupation, education level, assets, income, and marital status. In addition, age is particularly significant, as rates are generally higher for younger drivers.

You will need to be forthright about your driving record. Auto insurance companies will ask you to declare past moving violations, incidents, and claims. They’ll likely check themselves too before you purchase your policy, so be sure to be honest when getting quotes.

All this information will help insurers determine coverage options and the cost of your auto insurance policy.

How Much Car Insurance Do I Need?

One of the most important decisions you will make is the amount of coverage you need. For most drivers, it’s smart to have a full coverage policy with high liability limits above your state’s minimums.

  • Liability coverage covers the cost of damages sustained in an accident and comprises two parts: bodily injury liability (BIL) and property damage liability (PDL)
  • Collision coverage covers damage to your vehicle caused by you or an at-fault driver.
  • Comprehensive coverage protects against damages outside your control, such as theft, hail, vandalism, and falling objects like tree limbs.
  • Personal injury protection (PIP) covers the cost of medical expenses, lost wages, transportation to/from the hospital, and other damages if you or your passengers are injured in an auto accident.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage pays for damages caused by drivers with limited or no auto insurance. Often, they are two separate coverages, split into bodily injury and property damage coverage. Property damage coverage only applies if you also have Uninsured Motorist Property Damage coverage as well. Most states require uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, except for a select few.

Another question one should ask other than “what do I need to get car insurance” is deciding on appropriate liability limits. It’s generally a good idea to obtain at least $100,000 per person, $300,000 per accident for bodily injury liability and $100,000 in property damage liability coverage for older drivers, and higher liability coverage limits for younger drivers or those that have a lot of assets to protect.

What Are Additional Coverages I Can Apply For?

Outside of the above, optional coverages on a car insurance policy include roadside assistance, gap insurance, and rental car replacement coverage. Consider these perks more for peace of mind or your own personal circumstances, as they are generally not required under state law. 

Another type of coverage you can apply for is SR-22 coverage. Also known as a Certificate of Financial Responsibility, this court-ordered coverage proves you carry the minimum coverage required by state law after being convicted of a DUI or DWI. You may need SR-22 coverage for driving without enough insurance or committing repeat offenses within a short time frame (e.g., three moving violations within the past six months). Let’s hope you never have to file!

How Much Does Auto Insurance Cost?

happy family driving in their car

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, drivers paid an average national combined average premium per insured vehicle of $1,204 (2019), representing an 18.71% increase from 2015.

Of course, this number represents an average. Rates paid for auto insurance are subject to change based on many factors, including but not limited to age, gender, ZIP code of residence, number of past claims, and make and model of your vehicle. Different states also require different minimum liability limits (e.g., 25/50/25 for California and 20/40/15 in Iowa).

What If I Lie On My Auto Insurance Application?

Lying on your auto insurance application is classified as fraud and will result in stiff penalties, including policy cancellation and reclassification as a high-risk driver. In addition, it will limit your ability to secure affordable policies in the future. Therefore, even a tiny bluff on your application is a big deal.

Some of the most common lies on auto insurance applications include:

  • Failure to disclose accident or traffic violation information
  • Providing the wrong number of miles you drive daily (guesstimates may not be good enough)
  • Giving a different location from where you actually park your vehicle
  • Omitting high-risk family members from your policy

How Can I Save On Car Insurance?

One way to save on car insurance is to apply for the minimum required insurance coverage by your state. However, this type of coverage offers substantially fewer protections than full coverage, which can add collision, comprehensive, and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to the mix.

Another way to save on car insurance coverage is to apply for discounts. For example, you may save a few dollars in exchange for participating in a usage-based telematics program, bundling your home and auto policies, enrolling in defensive driving courses, and installing anti-theft devices.

In short, some may argue that asking how you can save on car insurance is just as important as asking what I need to get car insurance.

How Do I Get An Insurance Quote?

So now you may be asking, what do I need to get car insurance quotes? If you are in the market for a new and affordable auto insurance policy, you must shop for the best car insurance rates.

Tools like Compare.com offer real-time quotes from top-rated companies, including AAA, 21st Century, Liberty Mutual, Metromile, Nationwide, Safe Auto, and Travelers Insurance. Almost all carry high scores from the Better Business Bureau with 24/7 customer support and competitively priced packages, no matter what coverage options you select.

Compare.com also makes it easy to purchase your policy online or directly over the phone with the insurance provider. Get started by entering your ZIP code below:

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