Get an Online Car Insurance Quote
If you ask me, everything is easier online, except maybe getting a good workout. The web has revolutionized the way we get the products and services we need. When you go online, you don’t have to sit on hold waiting for a customer service representative, you don’t have to take time off work to fit the company’s office hours, and you worry less about running into a poorly-trained worker because everything is automated. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it works for me.
When It Makes Sense to Get Quotes Online
If this is your first time insuring a car, going online might not be ideal. Talking to a knowledgeable agent or customer service representative helps you choose the right coverage for your life situation and your car. The only other time I recommend speaking with someone in person is when you’ve had a major life change, like getting married or divorced, having a child or changing jobs. Even then, you could try a coverage calculator like Liberty Mutual’s. But when you’re simply shopping around for a better rate on an existing policy, online is perfect.
When you get quotes, it’s a good idea to get at least three so you can shop for the best car insurance rates. To get quotes online, you can comparison shop by going to three individual insurance company websites, or you can use an aggregator website that lets you compare quotes from several insurance companies at once.
An aggregator comparison site works like Kayak’s multi-airline airfare comparisons. It lets you input your information just once and get several quotes back. That means you could spend 15 minutes entering your information on one site, or spend 45 minutes entering it on three different websites. That’s easy math, right? Another benefit is that comparison sites work with dozens of insurance companies. That means you could uncover a treasure of a company you didn’t even know about.
Have Your Old Policy Ready
When you get a quote online, you’ll have to provide all the information you gave out when you bought your current policy. All that information is on your “declarations” page — the form that comes with your car insurance policy and comes again every time there is a change in coverage. The declarations page contains information about the cars and drivers covered by the policy.
The site will guide you through the steps of inputting your information. After entering the information essential to rating you, the site will ask you a series of questions designed to find you discounts that might be available. Sometimes these questions will be asked on the same pages where you enter your policy details (car and drivers). After that, you’ll begin receiving your quotes.
Online Doesn’t Mean Instant
Understand that getting an online quote doesn’t always mean getting an instant quote. The system might just gather information and send it to an agent or insurance company, where it will sit until the agent comes into work the next morning. You could receive an instant quote from one company and then see another come in the next day from a different company. It just depends on how they process your information. An instant quote is neither more nor less accurate than one that comes after a short delay.
Review Your Quote
Once you have all the quotes you want, it’s time to review them to make sure they’re accurate. Sometimes you’ll request a certain coverage or deductible, but the quote you receive does not reflect that. If you don’t verify the details of the quote, you may think you’re getting a better deal when you’re not, so it needs to be accurate before you take action. Get any mistakes corrected before you proceed.
You should also be sure the quote reflects all the discounts you are eligible for. Many companies list the car insurance discounts on their website, but none of them list all the discounts (typically a dozen or more) online. Check out all the discounts listed here and call the insurance company to find out if they offer each particular discount you seem qualified for. Only after you are sure your policy is priced accurately should you proceed. But it’s still not yet time to sign on the dotted line.
Review the Insurance Companies
If you went directly through insurance company websites, it’s likely you already have some idea about their reputations for service. But if you went through a quote comparison website, you probably don’t know that much about the companies sending you quotes.
Go online and look for reviews of the insurance companies. You can find information on consumer websites, local forums, and at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) Consumer Information Source page. On the right side of that page is a search box where you can find your insurance company and research complaints. Enter the company name as it appears on the quote, because insurance companies go by many names under different divisions and one division may outperform another. You want to investigate the specific company that’s offering you a policy.
Try for a Better Deal from Your Insurance Company
If you’re happy with the customer service reviews, and you’re happy with the quote, it’s still not quite time to close the deal. Unless you’re looking to switch because of bad customer service, give your company a chance to beat the price you’ve been quoted first. You could find unbelievable savings without having to switch companies at all. The New York Times published an article on retiree Thomas Mitchell back in 2012. He dropped his car insurance premium from $2,537 a year to just $1,207, without switching companies!
Review, Sign and Send Your Payment
If you’re not staying with the same company, and assuming you’ve followed the steps above and have already verified the accuracy of your quote, it’s time to close the deal. Sign where indicated that you accept the insurance coverage and send it in with your initial payment. Once you have confirmation that coverage is in effect, you can cancel your old car insurance policy, showing them evidence of the new policy. The old company will return any extra premium on a prorated basis.
Whether you get quotes online or in person, the same principles apply. Always confirm the quote is accurate and give your old company a chance to beat the price.