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How to buy car insurance online

Get car insurance coverage today in 4 easy steps

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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.

How do I compare car insurance policies online?

You can get as many free quotes as you like either from an agent or by shopping online. Because it costs you nothing, it pays to shop around. You can usually buy car insurance online through comparison tools and get coverage on the same day. An easy way to get multiple quotes is by using a comparison site like Finder that compares your best rates side by side.

  1. Find out what type of insurance you need. Choose the types of car insurance coverage and add-ons you need. Then, set how much you pay up front in deductibles and the maximum payout limits.
  2. Pick the best company for you. Read online reviews from customers or review sites to choose the best options for you. 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.
  3. Get quotes from multiple companies. Get quotes from at least three insurers. That way you can compare prices, coverage and benefits to pick the best car insurance company for you. Give details about your car and driving history, and be honest when you apply about your tickets and claims because insurers will be able to verify that info after you apply.
  4. Finalize your policy. Decide on which provider fits you best, complete your application and set up your payment method. You’ll save by paying automatically or paying up front.

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:

  • Your car’s make, model, year, mileage and VIN
  • Personal info, including age, marital status and address
  • How much you drive in a year and why
  • Your driving record
  • Your credit history
  • What kind of coverage you want, like liability, collision and comprehensive
  • Other drivers who will be using your car regularly

Can I get same-day insurance online?

Yes, you can get a policy that starts today. You can buy car insurance online the same day you pick up your new or new-to-you car, or if your current policy was just canceled.

If you have insurance already and want to add a new car to your current policy, some insurers offer a 5- to 30-day grace period. That means your current policy will cover your new car for a few weeks until you update your car details.

If you don’t have insurance, you can buy it online the same day you get the car, but you’ll need to show proof of coverage before driving a new-to-you car off the lot. It could take less than an hour to get, but you may need to make a down payment to activate your policy.

What kind of coverage can I buy 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. This 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.
  • 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.
  • Roadside assistance. Provides a range of coverage from basic mechanical assistance and towing, to tire replacement.
  • Gap insurance. This coverage provides protection for your loan or lease if your car is totaled or stolen while you’re still paying it off and you owe more than it’s worth.
  • Personal injury protection. This coverage will pay for medical services you or your passengers may need after an accident.

Cheapest for safe drivers: Metromile

Pay only for the miles you drive, plus enjoy app services you won’t find everywhere like claims and car health updates.

  • Start with low rates at $29/month, plus pennies per mile
  • Mileage over 250 in a day is free
  • Intuitive app that helps with claims, ID cards and car health updates
  • 24/7 customer support for help around the clock

Shop for car insurance policies online

Name Product Roadside assistance New car protection Accident forgiveness Safe driver discount Available states
Progressive
Optional
30%
All 50 states
Discover coverage that’s broader than competitors, valuable discounts up to 30% off and perks like shrinking deductibles that reward no claims.
Clearcover
Optional
Yes
AZ, CA, IL, LA, OH, TX, UT and WI
Get instant online support and score a low rate thanks to online data that sets premiums automatically.
Allstate
13%
All 50 states
Your dedicated agent can help you find the best savings with multiple discounts and rewards programs.
The AARP Auto Insurance Program from The Hartford
Optional
Yes
All 50 states & DC
Drivers over age 50 can enjoy low rates and perks designed for mature drivers, plus freebies and AARP member perks like free replacement cost coverage.
EverQuote
EverQuote
Optional
Yes
All 50 states
Roll in a variety of car insurance quotes from top insurers despite a high-risk driving profile, and view possible discounts while you’re at it.
Esurance
40%
All states except AK, DE, HI, MT, NH, VT, WY
Take advantage of this online company's low base rates and mobile tools like app-based telematics and teen safe driver programs.
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Compare up to 4 providers

Should I 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.

Pros and cons of buying car insurance online

  • Fast and easy
  • Low-pressure
  • Compare multiple policies at once
  • Less detailed info online
  • Not always able to bundle policies
  • Quotes are sometimes estimates

Compare online car insurance quotes

Looking for the cheapest car insurance you can buy online? 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
Alliance$435
Progressive$536Read review
Grange$557Read review
Mercury$564Read review
Esurance$609Read review
Kemper$615Read 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

When should I avoid buying car insurance online?

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

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.

Get the cheapest quotes

Compare car insurance companies near you.

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