How to Compare Car Insurance Quotes

When shopping for car insurance, one of the biggest challenges is figuring out how to compare car insurance quotes to get the best policy at the best price. Beyond premiums, you’ll also be looking at policy periods, cost sharing, coverage limits, and both current and future discounts.

On this page, we’ll give you some specific criteria you can use to understand the process of comparing car insurance quotes and go we’ll go over a few tips and tricks you can use to make sure the only thing getting taken for a ride is your car.

Beware quotes that are too good to be true, that low price might translate to a 6 month plan instead of a 12 month policy or come with pitiful cost sharing. Your premium costs are only a fraction of what is important when it comes to car coverage quotes.

This video gives a basic overview on how to compare car insurance quotes for free online.

Criteria for Comparing Auto Insurance Quotes

Every smart shopper knows not to take the first deal they’re offered.  This is especially true with auto insurance; you could save hundreds of dollars every year just by spending a little bit of extra time finding the best car insurance policy.

Before we get into the details of how to compare quotes, we’d like to recommend that you read our guide to How to Shop for Car Insurance and our breakdown of the basics of Car and Auto Insurance Quotes.  While this page is helpful on its own, you’ll get much more out of it if you understand the quotes themselves and take quote comparison in the context of shopping for a car insurance policy.

On this page, we’re going to lay out some criteria with which you can compare policies and quotes.  With these specific comparison techniques, you’ll be able to understand which differences between the quotes are the most important for you to consider when deciding on an auto policy.

Organizing your Quote Comparisons

Before you start comparing multiple quotes from different insurance companies, it’s important to set up an organized way of keeping track of your comparisons.

For some people, this may mean writing down each policy’s important information side-by-side on a sheet of paper.  For others, it may feel more natural to keep track of this information in a spreadsheet.

No matter what, just make sure that you have all of your comparisons recorded so that you can see the differences between the polices easily and clearly after you’ve finished comparing all of your quotes.  It would be a shame to go to the trouble of comparing each quote only to lose track of the policy that would have been the best for you.

Criteria to Compare Car Insurance Quotes

Here are some specific techniques you can use to decide the overall value of an auto insurance quote. These criteria are holistic – instead of looking at only a few qualities of the quotes, they look at everything about the quote and let you decide what is most important to you.

Compare Quotes to your Needs

This is the most important aspect of a quote to look at.  The purpose of this comparison is to rule out quotes that are simply inadequate.

To do this, ask your self if this policy has every type of coverage that you and your family may need.  Also ask yourself if this is within the general price range that you can afford – in terms of both premiums and deductibles.

To make this comparison easy, we recommend writing yourself a “Goal Policy.”  We explain exactly how to do this in Step 3 of our page on How to Shop for Car Insurance.

If a quote doesn’t meet all of your personal coverage needs, you probably should not consider this quote.

Compare Offered Coverages, Services, and Limits

Another important aspect of each quote to look at is what protections and services the policy would cover and what limits are placed on your coverage.

Remember, if you’re trying to shop on a budget, your goal should to find the policy that has the best coverages for their price.  This means that even a quote with a low premiums and deductibles is actually extremely costly if it doesn’t cover everything that is important to you.  You will probably end up paying much more for this kind of “cheap” policy since you’ll have to pay for all non-covered expenses out-of-pocket.

Compare All of the Costs of the Policy

This is also an important criteria, but many shoppers misunderstand how to look at the price of a policy.  Be sure to consider the quote’s premium, deductible, and coverage limits!

Many uninformed auto insurance consumers look only at the price tag on the policy’s premium.  These people might think that they’re getting a great deal, but they will likely be in for a big surprise when they file their first insurance claim and realize that their deductible is cripplingly expensive.  Do not make this mistake.

Compare Immediate and Future Discounts

Most car insurance companies offer a wide variety of discounts that can significantly change the costs of the policy.  Some of these discounts will apply to you as soon as you sign up, but others will start to apply in the future (such as return-customer discounts).  Be sure to consider both types of discounts.

Here is a list of discounts to be aware of:

  • Safe driving record discount
  • Low annual mileage discounts
  • Good grades discounts for college students
  • New customer discounts
  • Policy renewal discounts
  • Discounts for completing one or more driver’s education courses
  • Discounts for having or installing safety equipment features in your car (such as anti-lock breaks, anti-theft devices, etc.)
  • Multi-line policy discounts for taking out a policy that covers multiple types of auto insurance protections
  • Discounts for insuring multiple drivers or multiple vehicles

Compare the Insurance Companies

The entire point of buying auto insurance is to be financially protected if something unfortunate and costly happens on the road.  This is why it’s important to do a little bit of research on each insurance company which offers you a quote.

Your financial security is undermined if you shop for car insurance from a company who is not financially stable.  Similarly, if you shop for auto insurance from a company who rates very poorly in terms of reliability and customer satisfaction, you’re taking a serious risk of being left stranded in your time of need.

The following are thorough, reliable resources for researching the financial stability and customer satisfaction of any given insurance company: