Should I buy car insurance online? |
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How to buy car insurance online

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Everyone who drives needs some form of auto insurance, if not to cover the costs of damage to their own vehicle, then at least to cover damage to other people’s property. But the days of visiting an insurer or broker’s office or phoning them for a quote are numbered, as most people get quotes and buy car insurance online.

There are many reasons to go online for car insurance:

  • Convenience. You can get a quote and buy insurance 24/7 on any device connected to the internet.
  • Immediate coverage. You can print out your policy at the point of purchase and be covered instantly.
  • Comprehensive information. You can easily find the answers to insurance questions online, for free.
  • Instant quotes. Online insurance comparison sites bring all of the insurers and their policies together in one place for you to compare. No more jumping between providers’ websites to find the best rate.
  • Money savings. Buying online is cheaper, as many insurers offer a discount for doing so.

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Online car insurance quotes

Looking for the cheapest car insurance? Compare sample car insurance rates for California drivers and find out how much you could save.

CompanyAverage annual rateLearn more
Geico$394Read review
USAA$416Read review
Progressive$536Read review
Grange$557Read review
Mercury$564Read review
Esurance$609Read review
21st Century$651Read review
Allied$666Read review
Nationwide$666Read review
Allstate$693Read review
Liberty Mutual$709Read review
State Farm$726Read review
The Hartford$727Read review
Average$598Compare all reviews

What kind of coverage can I get online?

Regulations and minimum coverage amounts vary from state to state, but all states except New Hampshire and Virginia require drivers to have both forms of liability insurance. Whether you buy online, by phone or in person, there are five main types of car insurance.

  • Liability insurance for bodily injury. This type of coverage protects you if you are liable for any bodily injuries caused to another party.
  • Liability insurance for personal property. Personal property liability helps pay for any property damage to third parties where you’re at fault.
  • Collision coverage. This type of insurance provides coverage for collision damage to your own vehicle if you happen to get in an accident.
  • Comprehensive coverage. Comprehensive coverage provides protection beyond liability and collision coverage. Often called “fire and theft coverage,” this type of insurance covers losses from things other than an accident like vandalism, theft and other natural causes.
  • Uninsured or underinsured motorist. Most drivers are required to have some form of auto insurance, but some may be driving without. Uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance provides protection in the case that another driver doesn’t have enough coverage to cover the damage to your vehicle.

Can I get same-day insurance?

In short, yes. All insurance can be considered same-day insurance. If you already own your car and are just looking to switch providers, you might not need to activate your policy with the new provider on the same day. But if you are at a dealership purchasing a new car, the dealership legally cannot let you drive off in your new car without proof of insurance. This is where the concept of same-day insurance comes into play.

If you’re willing to use your smartphone, you can obtain your “same-day” insurance the same way you buy insurance online. Just follow the steps laid out here. But if the idea of sitting in a car dealership fumbling around on your phone seems too stressful, you can call an agent to help you through the process.

How do I buy car insurance online?

Follow these four steps to compare car insurance online. Once you’ve found the right policy for your needs and gotten quotes, many providers allow you to buy car insurance online through comparison tools and get coverage on the same day.

  • Know what type of insurance you want. Do you want liability, collision or comprehensive? Decide which type of policy is best for your situation, then look for these policies specifically.
  • Compare car insurance policies online. Once you’ve decided which type of policy is best for you, use an online car insurance comparison website to look at the options side by side. Don’t just look for the cheapest policy, however. First, find one that has everything you need. You may also wish to compare each insurer’s industry standing, claims record and level of customer service.
  • Review the options. Once you narrow your search down to a handful of policies that match your needs, read the product details thoroughly to check for conditions or exclusions that might affect your level of coverage.
  • Get car insurance quotes online. Once you are satisfied with your short list, get some online quotes. These are provided instantly on many insurers’ websites and only require the input of basic details such as age, type of car, parking location, etc. Now you’re looking at several options that fit your needs and can compare them by price.

What info do I need to get an online quote?

When getting a car insurance quote online, you’ll need to provide some basic information. The more details your provide, the more accurate the quote. Here is the info you might be requested to provide:

  • Where you live
  • What kind of car your drive make, model, year, mileage, VIN
  • Personal info, including age and marital status
  • How much you drive in a year and for what purpose
  • Your driving record
  • Your credit history
  • What kind of coverage you want liability, collision, comprehensive
  • Other drivers who will be using your car regularly
  • Any modifications you have made to your car, like installing specialty exhausts or tinting windows

Compare online car insurance

How can I save money on car insurance?

Whether you choose liability insurance or comprehensive will depend on your budget, the value of your vehicle and any loan requirements (some secured loans require comprehensive insurance as a condition of the loan). However, there are several ways you can reduce the cost of your premiums.

  • Buy online to earn a discount of up to 20% at some providers.
  • Complete a defensive driving course or certification to reduce your premiums.
  • Buy a car that is less expensive to insure, such as one with less horsepower, anti-theft devices, etc.
  • Restrict the age and number of nominated drivers.
  • Choose a pay as you drive option if you don’t drive much or are an extremely safe driver.
  • Increase your deductible to reduce your premium, but make sure you can afford it if you have to pay up.
  • Add security features such as a car alarm or immobilizer.
  • Bundle all your insurances with one provider for a discount.
  • Shop around for the provider with the best no claims discount.
  • Insure your vehicle for market value rather than agreed value.

What questions should I ask before buying insurance?

Buying auto insurance can be intimidating if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Here is a checklist of a few important questions you should ask your insurer before finalizing your policy.

What should I look for in a policy?

Liability insurance is mandatory in the US, and collision insurance is extremely important and should always be purchased. As such, one of the biggest questions is whether you should get comprehensive car insurance. These policies vary by insurer, but there are certain standard features that you can expect your policy to contain:

  • Flood, hail or storm damage
  • Malicious acts such as vandalism or riots
  • Fire and theft
  • Accident or collision
  • Damage to third party property

A good comprehensive policy will also include some or all of the following, or at the very least, offer them as optional extras:

  • Towing and storage costs after an accident
  • Use or reimbursement of a rental car while yours is being repaired
  • Windshield replacement coverage
  • Emergency travel, accommodation and repairs
  • Motorhome and trailer coverage
  • Legal liability coverage up to $20 million

A very good comprehensive policy could also include features such as:

  • Vehicle contents coverage
  • Coverage for wheels, rims and tires
  • 24/7 roadside assistance

Comparing policy features and comprehensive car insurance quotes online is a good way to get the coverage and price that’s right for your needs.

When should I call an agent instead of buying online?

Buying car insurance online is fast and easy, but there are some reasons why you might want to consult with an agent before purchasing your insurance.

If you have a great deal of assets, like owning a home, multiple cars or a business, you might want to purchase insurance through an agent. Not only will an agent help you manage all of your different insurance needs, he or she can help you save money by bundling those policies. And the agent can make sure you have adequate insurance to protect all of your assets in case you are sued as the result of a car accident.

Bottom line

The convenience of purchasing car insurance online is undeniable, plus many providers offer a discount for doing so. But make sure you’re informed about the basics of car insurance so you can choose the best coverage for your needs.

Find the cheapest rates

Compare the best car insurance companies near you.

Your information is secure.

Still have some questions?

Compare car insurance providers online

Name Product Roadside assistance New car protection Available states
Included free
Yes, cars under 2 years old
All 50 states
Enjoy having your own dedicated agent to help you get the best discounts and coverage.
Liberty Mutual
Yes, cars under 1 year old & 15,000 miles
All 50 states
Car insurance through Liberty Mutual will give coverage options for almost any situation.
Root offers simple, affordable insurance that’s ideal for good drivers. Try the Root app for 2 weeks and see how much you could save. Available in 20 states.
Yes, cars under 1 year old & 15,000 miles
All states except AK, DE, HI, MT, NH, VT, WY
Esurance offers a modern online and mobile experience that helps you take your insurance on the go. Available in 42 states.
Yes, cars under 1 year old & 15,000 miles
Drive less than 30 miles a day? Save on the coverage you need with pay-per-mile insurance from Metromile. Get a low monthly rate then pay just a few cents per mile. Available in CA, IL, NJ, OR, PA, VA and WA.
All 50 states
USAA offers affordable car insurance with highly rated customer service to millions of military members and their families. Only available to military members, veterans and affiliated military members.

Compare up to 4 providers

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