Shopping for Car Insurance

Car protected by cover
How to Shop for Car Insurance
Yes, we all have to carry car insurance and while it can be difficult to write those checks to insurance companies for the rest of your mortal life, you'll be more than happy for auto insurance if you're ever in a car accident or have your vehicle stolen. However, since there's no way out of having car insurance, you may as well try your best to save money where you can.
We suggest that you shop for deals on car insurance every year because the auto insurance world is an ever-changing landscape and you may be surprised at how much you can save. You'll find free comparison tools online that will show you the basic rates of all the major insurance carriers. You can examine the costs and decide which company suits your budget and needs.

Car Insurance Requirements in your State

There are twelve states that have a requirement that you carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. These states are Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, and Utah. Of these states, eleven are "no-fault" states. Pennsylvania law requires drivers to purchase $5,000 in medical benefits, but does not mention PIP specifically. PIP coverage is also available, but optional, in seven additional states, plus the District of Columbia.
There are 22 states that require you to have medical payments coverage (medpay) or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverages. Uninsured Motorist compensates policyholders when another driver who is at fault for an accident has no auto liability insurance or is a hit-and-run driver, and Underinsured Motorist coverage compensates a policyholder when an at-fault driver has an insufficient amount of auto liability insurance.

Car insurance online comparison tools should show you your state's minimum car insurance requirements. States that require PIP and medpay are referred to as "no fault" states. That means when injuries occur, each driver in an accident makes a claim with their own insurance company to pay for them. The at-fault driver's liability insurance covers the rest of the costs.

Comparing Car Insurance Rates
Now that you know a bit about the kinds of auto insurance you may need, it's time to do some comparison shopping and compare car insurance quotes. As mentioned earlier, you can either go online and use comparison tools via such sites as Insurify, Jerry, and The Zebra to show you auto insurance rates from different companies to help you find the best rate. You can also pick three or four of the top insurance providers and go to their websites and them compare rates for similar coverage.
Online comparison tools include your state's minimum car insurance requirements, which makes it easier to compare prices if you live in a "no fault" state. In order to accurately calculate your rates so you can compare insurance company prices, you'll need to provide the following information: 

  • Date of birth 
  • Driver's license number
  • Driving record for the past five years
  • Car Insurance history
  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of your car
  • Address where your vehicle is kept
Consider comparing quotes from big national companies such as Progressive and State Farm as well as regional or local companies to see how they price out. Make sure that each quote includes the same level of liability and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, the same deductibles for collision and comprehensive, and the same level of discounts such as multi-car or bundle packages.

How to get Lower Rates

Once you compare rates for auto insurance with several companies, you may also be able to get even lower rates by doing things like raising your deductible. A higher deductible means lower payments. If your car has an anti-theft device such as LoJack, it can lower your rate. Maintaining a higher credit score can also lower your rate. You'll also pay less by bundling your homeowner and auto policies.
Other ways to lower what you'll pay for car insurance is to take a defensive driving class. Auto insurance companies love it when you do things to improve your safe driving ability. You can get cheaper insurance by simply driving less. After all, the less you drive, the less chance you might have of getting into an accident. Don't forget to ask your insurance agent for discounts. You might be surprised at how many discounts you could qualify for, from good student discounts to safe driver discounts, you can even get a discount for paying for the full year of insurance up front. So far, I have not been able to get a discount for getting one of those certificates that name me as a Laird in Scotland.
According to NerdWallet, Allstate, GEICO, Progressive, and State Farm control more than half of the country's auto insurance business. However, smaller insurance companies often have higher customer satisfaction ratings and lower rates. It really does pay to shop around.