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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.

  • Pay by miles driven
  • Low base rates
  • Drive less, pay less

Best online car insurance experience: Metromile

Only pay for how much you drive with the Metromile app. Get rates from $29/month plus pennies per mile.

  • Rates from $29/month plus pennies per mile
  • Low-mileage drivers could save $611/year
  • All miles over 250 a day are free
  • Easy app and online claims plus 24/7 support
Promoted

Buy car insurance policies online

Name Product Roadside assistance New car protection Accident forgiveness Safe driver discount Available states
Optional
30%
All 50 states
Save up to 31% with safe driver discounts and bundling all your rides in one convenient policy.
Optional
30%
All 50 states
Enjoy premium perks like better car replacement and accident forgiveness plus local agent support.
Optional
49%
AZ, CA, IL, NJ, OR, PA, VA, WA
Only pay for how much you drive with the Metromile app. Get rates from $29/month plus pennies per mile.
13%
All 50 states
Enjoy having your own dedicated agent to help you get the best discounts and coverage.
Optional
26%
All 50 states
It's quick and easy to get an online quote with Geico, and you might be surprised at how much you could save.
Optional
Optional
55%
All 50 states
Get free quotes from top insurers for the exact coverage you need in minutes.
52%
AZ, AR, CO, CT, DE, GA, IL, IN, IA, KY, LA, MD, MI, MS, MT, NE, NM, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, TN, TX, UT
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.
Optional
Yes
All 50 states
Drivers over 50 and AARP members enjoy special car insurance pricing and benefits.

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Why 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.

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

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. 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 online?

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 get 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.

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How do I compare car insurance policies 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:

  • 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

Compare online car insurance

How can I get cheap car insurance to buy online?

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 online 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 an online car insurance policy?

Liability insurance is mandatory in the US, and uninsured motorist coverage is required in many states. Collision insurance is almost always a good idea to protect yourself in an accident.

What other coverage should I compare online?

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.

Is it always a good idea to buy 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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