Auto Insurance Quotes: What you Need to Know

Auto insurance quotes are an insurer’s estimate of what a policy will cost. Auto quotes are based on age, vehicle, accidents, coverage amounts, and more. Auto quotes can be obtained through a broker or direct from an insurer for any vehicle types including cars, trucks, motorcycles, and any other road vehicles.

On this page we discuss auto insurance basics, tips, and tricks. Most of these apply to all vehicle types, but the focus on this page is on shopping for car insurance quotes. Getting, understanding, and comparing auto quotes are the key to shopping for auto auto insurance and choosing the most cost effective policy for you.

Auto Insurance Quotes: Tips and Tricks

We cover all the car insurance basics including how to shop for quotes below, but first here are some more tips and tricks that have to do with car insurance quotes:

  • Be as honest and thorough as possible when filling out information to get a quote. The more accurate and complete the information that you give to the insurer is, the more accurate the quote you get back from them will be.
  • Gather quotes from different insurance agencies; as many as possible.  Build a list of all of the potential auto insurers in your area.
  • Now is the time to ask about discounts!  There are some policies which have premium discounts for things such as having a good driving record, keeping good grades (as a college student), completing a driver’s education course, taking out multiple policies at once, having safety equipment (antilock breaks, antitheft devices, etc.) installed in your car, and more.
  • If you have multiple types of car insurance that you know from your the Goal Coverage you planned out earlier, ask about bundling insurance policies (also known as multi-line coverage).  Such a policy rolls multiple types of car insurance coverages into a single policy.
  • Often your premium will be lower on a multi-line coverage policy than it would be if you had multiple policies, each providing you with a different type of coverage.
  • Don’t be afraid to solicit quotes online!  If you have all your information handy, it will only take about 15 minutes for each quote you get.  However, be aware that you’re not seeing all of that insurance company’s options – many deals are only offered through agents and brokers.
  • Ask your friends and family if they have an insurer that they’ve been happy with in the past.  Often, personal recommendations will help you find a great car insurance policy that you couldn’t have found with hours of blindly shopping for auto coverage.
  • After you’re done shopping for quotes, make sure that you know how to compare them holistically.


The Basics of Car Insurance Quotes

A car insurance quote is an estimated price for an auto coverage policy. These estimates are based on a statistical calculation of how much financial risk your policy would pose to the insurer.

Each auto insurance quote you get usually includes information such as the premium price, the covered protections and services, dollar limits, and deductible amounts. Some companies automatically factor in discounts that you would qualify for (but many do not).

Make sure that you are completely prepared before you start looking for quotes. This means that you know your specific car insurance needs and financial limitations beforehand – don’t wait to figure this out until you’re on the phone with an insurance agent! You should also have all of the information on hand that the insurer will need to estimate your rate.  This required information includes:

  • The Year, make, model and VIN for each car that you’re insuring
  • An estimate of the number of miles you drive each year in each car that you’re insuring
  • Vital information for each driver you wish to put on your policy: full name, occupation, gender, how many years they’ve had a license, and their Driver’s License Number.
  • Info about any accidents or violations that you’ve been involved in within the last 3-5 years.  Bring information on the exact date on which it occurred, who was at fault, any injuries that occurred, any resultant auto insurance claims that were filed, and if applicable, the claim amount.
  • A list of any safety features of the car/s being insured.
PRO TIP: It’s important to understand that the insurance agent running your quote is a human being. If you have all your information on hand and treat them with a little respect, it will go a long way towards them going the “extra mile” to make sure they pair your needs with the right policy. Be honest about past accidents and other infractions, they are on file anyway. Your insurer isn’t always your friend when filing a claim, but your insurance agent should be.

For more information on how to best prepare to get car insurance quotes, see our Nine-Step Guide to Shopping for Car Insurance.

Where to Find Auto Insurance Quotes

When you’re prepared, it’s time to start actually getting quotes from potential insurers.  There are a couple different ways to do this, and here we’ll discuss the pros and cons of each method.

The key to quote-shopping is simply to get as many possible quotes from as many different sources as possible.

Lots of people only choose to get auto insurance quotes through a single avenue – usually, the internet.  There are lots of great policies being sold on the web, but there are also a lot of potential policies sold over the phone, at an agency, or through a broker which might be even better deals.

Let’s break down your three main avenues for finding car insurance quotes:

  1. Shop Directly from the Insurance Company — This is where you’ll search for quotes online or over the phone.  All you have to do is search the internet for insurance agents in your state and follow their websites to find out how you can get an auto insurance quote.  The biggest benefit of getting quotes directly from the company is convenience; it only takes about 15 minutes to get the quote and you can do so from the comfort of your own home.  However, the downside to this avenue is that most companies do not include all of their policies and discounts on online quotes – usually they reserve their best deals for those who get quotes from one of the following methods.
  2. Shop through an Insurance Agent – An insurance agent (usually referring to an exclusive insurance agent) is a professional who sells insurance from single carrier.  The main benefits of finding quotes through insurance agents are that you will have access to all of the company’s policies, promotional deals, and discounts and that you will have access to someone who is knowledgeable about how insurance works (this may come in handy later! Especially when you’re trying to read and understand your car insurance contract).  Also, car insurance quotes from agents tend to be more accurate than those found online or over the phone.  The downside is that you will have to schedule a time to meet with an agent, and even then you will only have a quote from a single agency.
  3. Shop through an Insurance Broker – An insurance broker (also called an “independent agent”) is very much like the insurance agents discussed above, except that brokers represent many companies instead of working for a single insurer.  As such, they can quickly provide you with multiple auto insurance quotes for you to compare (from various insurance agencies).  As with agents, a good broker will be a valuable resource for understanding and maximizing the use of your car insurance policy.  However, the big downside to having a broker is that, in return for his or her services, you will have to pay for a brokerage fee.  Also, an independent broker might not have access to all of the policies, deals, and discounts that an exclusive agent would have access to.
ADVICE: In-person insurance agents may not always have the best selection of plans, but being able to sit down with a real person has a few perks. Not only can you talk candidly and make a connection for all your insurance needs, you can also support a local business. All the shopping methods have their benefits, and aside from the time it takes, you can shop around as much as you want before you buy. Getting some quick quotes online and then bringing them with you to a local insurer could really give your insurer a mark to beat.