Getting a car insurance policy was once a time-consuming and hectic task where you had to go through middlemen to sift and settle for the insurance coverage that made the most sense to you.
Well, it’s not so anymore.
Nowadays, you can stay from the comfort of your couch and pore through the different auto insurance quotes of several companies found online, then contact them directly.
In a matter of minutes, you’ll get your car insurance done along with proof of insurance delivered to you via email, mail, or fax.
While the option of using middlemen known as insurance agents is still available, a better option of directly signing up for an insurance policy online is here. It’s best to know when to use an agent or when to contact a car insurance company directly.
We’ll cover that in this post as we lay out nine easy steps on how to get car insurance as quickly as possible.
Let’s go over them.
Get your driver and vehicle information ready
Before you approach any car insurance company, gather these documents and be ready to present the information contained in them:
- Driver’s name, address, and date of birth
- License number and information of all drivers on the insurance policy
- Social security number for each of the insured drivers
- Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
- Car parking areas like a garage or the street
- Car information such as the make, model, year, odometer reading, safety features, presence of anti-theft tracking devices or anti-lock brakes
- ZIP code
- Estimation of annual car mileage
- State of car ownership – whether personally owned, leased, or financed
- Current insurance company
- Driver’s history including tickets, traffic violations, driving courses taken, and accidents
The information obtained from these documents aids the insurance company in arriving at your premium and settling for policy costs that are fair enough for your peculiar case.
For example, the model, make, and year of your car could alter the premium you’ll end up paying to the insurance company because it costs more to insure newer cars than older cars.
Another factor that affects your premium is your driving history, as a driver with high rates of at-fault accidents and traffic violations might attract higher premiums.
Observe the car insurance laws in your state
In some states, some insurance coverages are a requirement, while some are optional in other states.
For example, most states in the United States require a minimum coverage of liability insurance. The minimum liability coverage is 25/50/25.
The first “25” signifies $25,000 for the highest amount of coverage for each injured person in a car accident. The second “50” is the maximum dollar spend of $50,000 per accident for all injured persons, and the last “25” signifies $25,000 covers the amount of coverage allocated to property damages.
Other states demand that all drivers must sign up for uninsured and underinsured coverage so that their insurance company covers them if they get hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver.
A few no-fault states where you must file an insurance claim, even when the fault of an accident is from another driver, require you to have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) to cover the medical costs of you and your injured passengers.
It’s important to start with the mandatory car insurance policies in your state and add others as your need increases.
Decide the method to use in getting the car insurance
There are three key methods of getting car insurance – directly contact auto insurance companies online, contact car insurance companies through a captive agent, or contact them through an independent broker.
Directly contact the auto insurance company online
You can easily go through auto insurance comparisons from websites and blog posts, then take a mental note of the companies that favor you in pricing and customer service.
Then you can visit the website of each car insurance company and get a quote detailing all their policy options after you have entered your information with them.
It saves you the stress of going through a middleman and paying additional fees for their services.
When you’ve got a good understanding of how auto insurance companies work, this will prove to be the most convenient and pressure-free option for you.
The only downside to it is that you might not be able to find answers that pertain to your unique situation online. A middleman could do that for you.
Get car insurance through a captive agent
Contacting car insurance companies through a captive agent dates back to the early days of how insurance companies operated.
The agents are captive because they work for only one auto insurance company, so they’re the best if you’re new to the game and need someone to guide you through the available insurance options.
Almost all major car insurance companies have captive agents who possess extensive knowledge of the inner workings of the company’s insurance policies and claims, making them a helpful point of contact in providing in-depth answers to all kinds of questions you may ask.
The downside to using captive agents is that you can get policy information from only one company since they work exclusively for a single auto insurance company.
You won’t have the luxury of comparing quotes from different car insurance companies.
Also Read: How to Get Lower Car Insurance Rates
Get car insurance through an independent broker
Independent brokers are not affiliated to one particular insurance company, rather they work with several auto insurance companies on a commission basis and can offer you a wider range of quotes and policy information.
While a captive agent stands as a representative of a car insurance company to you, an independent broker stands as your representative to a car insurance company.
With an independent broker, you get the chance to sample the contract regulations and quotes of different auto insurance companies in all states. They have a broader sense of how insurance policies differ from company to company and can aid you in choosing the best for your needs.
The downside to using an independent broker to get an insurance policy is that they might upsell you on needless offers since they make their money on commissions.
Determine the types of car insurance you absolutely need
The degree of importance of all car insurance coverages is not the same. Some are absolute requirements, others are optional.
Ideally, you should start with the minimum car insurance requirements in your state and add other coverage policies that you’ll most likely need.
I’ll go over some common auto insurance companies that you’ll most likely need. Some are also required by some states. Here they are:
This car insurance policy caters to bodily injuries and property damages that are caused by you while driving. It is required in almost every state in the United States.
The minimum amount you must set aside for liability coverage is in the ratio of 25/50/25 or 25/50/10 as I explained earlier in this post.
As a recap, the first 25 signals $25,000 and is meant for the bodily injury of one person. The second 50 means $50,000 and is meant for the bodily injuries of several persons. And the last 25 or 10 means $25,000 or $10,000. It’s set aside for property damages caused by you such as destruction of walls, fences, or mailboxes.
Most times, this minimum amount is too little especially when you caused an accident that resulted in multiple casualties with various degrees of injuries. So, you might need to buy a little more liability coverage to adequately cover the costs of these accidents.
Related: What Is Car Liability Insurance?
Comprehensive and collision coverage
Collision insurance coverage caters to accidents that involve your car colliding with another car or an object.
On the other hand, comprehensive coverage covers non-collision auto accidents, such as fire, attacks from wild animals, storms, adverse weather conditions, or any natural disaster.
Uninsured and underinsured coverage
Uninsured coverage caters to the medical and property damages arising from a car accident when you get hit by an uninsured driver.
Underinsured coverage settles the medical and property damages from auto accidents whenever you get hit by a driver whose insurance policy limit isn’t enough to settle the damages, a driver who is underinsured.
These two insurance policies are required in a few states.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Medical Payment Coverage (MedPay)
Medical Payments Coverage settles the medical costs of casualties gotten from your car accident, while PIP not only settles the medical costs but reimburses you for lost wages and any task you might not be able to do due to the accident, such as house cleaning.
Check out supplementary coverage insurance available
Some supplementary insurance coverage could come in handy in difficult times, though they are optional.
Based on your peculiar needs, your insurer could advise you to add them to your insurance policies. Two examples of these supplementary coverages are:
Towing and labor coverage
This insurance coverage could prove valuable in instances where you don’t hit or get hit by any third party, but your car just breaks down on the road.
You’re stranded but can’t call your insurance company because this doesn’t fall under liability, comprehensive, or collision insurance policies that involve hitting or non-collision accidents.
A towing and labor coverage is perfect in times like this, as it would take care of the cost of towing your car to a mechanic, hiring the services of a mechanic or any auto personnel of your choice, and balance out the cost of getting your car up and running again.
It should be noted that the towing and labor coverage doesn’t cover the buying of specific car parts like batteries, just other activities to get your car out of the road and working.
If you intend on using your car for business such as working for a ride-sharing company like Uber or doing food delivery, most insurance companies won’t allow it, as they want insured cars to be for personal use only.
A ride-sharing coverage is specifically set aside to cover the damages involved in cars that have been marked out by insurers for business and ride-sharing purposes.
This is one optional insurance coverage that a certain group of people would find really helpful.
Related: Different Types of Car Insurance
Compare insurance quotes from at least three companies
After you have decided on the type of insurance coverage you want, it’s a good rule of thumb to compare quotes from at least three car insurance companies before making a choice.
You can reach out to three insurance companies yourself or use the services of an independent broker to analyze and compare your options.
A pro tip when making comparisons is to avoid focusing on the company with the cheapest coverage available.
You can look at other metrics and how they fare like customer service or the availability of captive agents or independent brokers to attend to you.
Ask your insurance company for available discounts
Tell your insurer to provide information on all discounts so you can make good use of all discounts you qualify for.
Auto insurance companies offer a variety of discounts like safe driving discounts, discounts for combining home and car insurance together, discounts for certain professional certifications, and even discounts for car features such as anti-theft.
There’s a big chance that you already qualify or you could qualify for one of these, so why not utilize it?
Select a premium and deductible
A premium is the amount you pay to your insurance company to cover your coverage policy. It’s a regular amount you pay for your auto insurance coverage.
You can choose to pay it once or in installments. If you pay it once, you could receive a discount from some auto insurance companies.
Otherwise, you can discuss with your insurer to pay it monthly, every six months, or annually, as it’s convenient for you.
A deductible is the dollar amount you pay out of your pocket towards a claim before your insurance company covers the rest.
It’s a figure that’s “deducted” from your policy, a figure that you must pay by yourself towards the settlement of a covered claim before your insurance company takes care of the rest.
After choosing your insurance coverage, you’ll be required to select a deductible and a premium amount.
A higher deductible lowers the premium to be paid to your insurance company, while a lower deductible increases the amount of premium you’ll pay to your insurance company.
Simply put, if you’re okay with paying more out of pocket as a deductible when an accident occurs, you’ll get a lower premium subscription and vice versa.
So, you can decide the ratio that works best for you.
Most auto insurance companies would allow you to make payment through a bank transfer, credit cards, debit cards, or through checks and money orders.
Buy your new car insurance policy and terminate your old one
Since you’ve made your choice and everything is set, go ahead and buy the new car insurance policy.
It’s always best to buy a new auto insurance policy before getting a new car because it’s against the law to drive uninsured in most states.
If you’re simply changing the insurance coverage of your current car, cancel your old policy only when your new one is already active so you won’t be caught driving around without coverage.
When canceling, get a refund of any premium that went unused after your insurer has removed a cancellation fee.
Don’t forget to collect your proof of insurance from your insurer, since it could be sent through email, mail, or fax. Now, you’re good to go.