Nearly every state in the U.S. requires drivers to carry insurance, but car insurance quotes can vary widely from provider to provider.
You can shop for car insurance from multiple companies at once to compare rates and see which one offers you the coverage you need.
Each company has a different formula to assess your risk level, so even if one provider quotes you a high price, you may find lower rates somewhere else.
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In this article, we at the Home Media reviews team will discuss how to shop for car insurance and find the most affordable coverage options from the best car insurance companies.
What is a car insurance quote?
Most online quotes are instant unless you shop for car insurance with a smaller provider. You just need to provide basic information about yourself, your vehicle and anyone else who drives it.
When you reach out for a quote, always give accurate information. An insurance agency can cancel your plan within 30 to 90 days (depending on the state) if you leave out something significant, like a teen driver living in your household.
Car insurance quotes are usually good for a period of 30 days, so you can continue to shop around and circle back if you don’t find a better plan.
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The quote you receive may break down pricing for different types of auto insurance coverage so you can decide if you want a minimum coverage or full coverage policy.
How to shop for car insurance quotes
Let’s break down the process of shopping for car insurance quotes into a few steps.
Step 1: Gather your information
No matter which way you decide to get insurance quotes, you’ll have to provide a few pieces of information. Have the following ready before you start shopping:
Information for each driver in your household, including driver’s license numbers, dates of birth and occupations
Vehicle information including the make, model, mileage and vehicle identification number (VIN) Average miles driven per year Driving history Current coverage information
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Step 2: Decide what level of coverage you need
The next step is to decide on the level of coverage you want. Unless you live in New Hampshire, your state requires a basic level of bodily injury and property damage liability insurance coverage.
This pays for damage you cause to other drivers. Your state may also require some level of medical coverage or underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage.
Getting your state’s minimum liability limits is the cheapest option, but it may not provide high enough limits to cover serious accidents. It also doesn’t cover your car when you cause an accident or encounter environmental damage.
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To get full coverage, you’ll want to add comprehensive coverage and collision coverage. Like liability coverage, you can choose different limits for these types of insurance, as well.
Higher limits give you more protection but also cost more. Lenders usually require you to maintain full coverage on a vehicle with an auto loan.
Step 3: Request car insurance quotes
Once you have your information ready and know what you’re looking for, you can start comparing quotes. There are a few ways to shop for insurance quotes.
You can use a quote comparison tool, get quotes online from companies, call companies on the phone, visit a branch in person or work through an insurance broker.
Quote comparison tool: With a comparison tool, you can enter your information once and compare car insurance quotes from providers in your area.
In our 2022 car insurance survey which polled 1,000 respondents, 30% stated they used a quote comparison tool, making it the most popular way to shop for car insurance coverage.
Direct online quote: You can get free, instant quotes from many providers’ websites, but you’ll have to visit each companies site one by one.
Just over 24% of the 1,000 respondents surveyed reported reaching out to providers directly online for quotes.
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Quote by phone: Calling an auto insurance company can give you a more personalized service experience and help you gauge the company’s customer care.
Insurance agents generally help you pick out a policy and make sure you’re getting all the auto insurance discounts you’re eligible for. Our survey showed that 20% of the 1,000 people polled preferred calling companies directly.
In-person quote: You can get a quote by visiting your local insurance office. Be prepared to bring necessary documents with you.
Of course, you’ll have to be available during regular business hours to go this route. While slightly less popular than other options on this list, nearly 16% of respondents would rather talk to an insurance agency or use a broker when shopping for car insurance.
Car insurance broker: A broker works as a middleman between insurers and customers to get you the best deal.
This can be a hands-off way of shopping. However, brokers can sometimes charge a fee and may work on commission, so they have an incentive to recommend full coverage policies.
Step 4: Purchase a policy
When you’re happy with the coverage and pricing you’ve found, you can purchase that policy online, over the phone or in person.
You can get same-day insurance after you make the first payment, or you can schedule it to start on a future date.
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Be sure to overlap your new car insurance policy with your current coverage by one day to avoid any lapse in coverage.
How often should you shop for car insurance?
You can get car insurance quotes at any time. We recommend shopping for car insurance quotes each time your auto policy is up for renewal or if you experience a life-changing event like moving to a new location or getting married.
A better price might be available with your current provider or a new provider.
Shop for car insurance to compare new rates if any of the following occur:
You move to a new zip code
You get married
You move in with family members and can combine policies
You turn a year older
You raise your credit score
You start a new job and will be driving much less
Three years have passed since your last at-fault accident or moving violation
In our 2022 car insurance survey which polled 1,000 respondents, 28% of those surveyed reported shopping for car insurance less frequently than once a year, while over 26% stated they shopped every six months.
Price comparison tool
You can use a free price comparison tool like the one below to get quotes from major insurers like Geico, Progressive and State Farm. Be prepared to enter basic information about your vehicle and situation.
Factors that increase and decrease insurance rates
Our cost estimate data shows that the average 35-year-old driver with good credit and a good driving history pays about $1,732 per year for car insurance coverage.
Because your location affects your rates, the cost of car insurance can vary widely by state.
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The table below shows the top five most expensive states for full coverage car insurance.
Auto insurance premiums also vary widely by provider, which is why it’s important to get car insurance quotes from companies and compare rates.
Below are 11 popular insurance providers with our average annual rate estimates. These estimates apply to full coverage insurance for 35-year-old drivers with good credit and good driving records.