Buying car insurance isn’t something anyone really enjoys doing. However, it’s one of those things you need if you want to be safe and legal on the road. The question is, where do you start?
Determine How Much Coverage You Need
The very first step is to determine how much car insurance you need. There are a couple of ways to do this. For starters, you must figure out the basic requirements within your state.
Every state is different, but each one has specific requirements on how much coverage you need. In the state of Alabama, for example, you must have $25,000 of coverage for bodily injury liability for a single person, $50,000 of bodily injury liability for all people in the accident, and $25,000 of property damage liability. Other states have different values and/or may require additional protection (such as MedPay or personal injury protection).
But here’s the deal: That’s just the base requirement. You’ll have to determine if you want/need additional coverage. Generally speaking, it’s a good idea to get more coverage than the minimum (if you can afford to do so). This will keep you protected should you be involved in a serious accident.
When determining how much coverage you need, think about your other insurance policies – like your health insurance plan.
“If you have a decent health insurance plan, you might get away with purchasing the bare minimum personal injury protection coverage — or none at all if your state doesn’t require it,” Edmunds explains. “However, you might end up paying a copay and deductible that wouldn’t apply if you have PIP or MedPay.”
If this all sounds a little complicated, don’t worry. You don’t have to memorize all these numbers yourself. You can always find assistance from an insurance broker, agent, or online service.
Choose the Best Way to Buy Auto Insurance
Just as there’s no single type of auto insurance, there isn’t just one way to buy a policy. There are two common approaches:
- With this option, you find an auto insurance agent or broker and work with them to help you find the right policy. The benefit of working with an agent is that you’re able to ask questions and get personalized feedback and suggestions on how much coverage you need, the best type of policy to buy, etc. However, when you work with an agent, you’re usually captive by their provider. In other words, they’re only going to quote you on their own products (which may be more expensive or restrictive than what else is on the market).
- When you shop for insurance online, you can get quotes from different companies (and even use non-captive pricing engines to pull quotes and rates from a variety of companies). You can also find speciality types of insurance, including options like learner driver insurance.
Don’t Go By Price Alone
When you start getting quotes on your insurance, you’ll naturally be drawn toward the cheapest ones. After all, insurance is insurance – right? Well, not exactly. Just because a company gives you a cheap quote, doesn’t mean it’s the best option for you and your vehicle.
Consider all of the details of the policy. Research the company’s reputation. (Do they have a reputation for stiffing people? Or do they typically live up to their end of the bargain?) You’ll also want to read about how they repair vehicles.
“Examine the terms of the agreement to make sure the company doesn’t require the use of cheaper aftermarket materials for repairs instead of the original factory parts, which can pose safety hazards,” experienced driver Jeff Harder writes.
If comparing multiple quotes, be sure to compare apples to apples. Pricing is not the only way to analyze policies. If you’re only focused on finding the cheapest product, you’re almost certainly not going to get the best service.
Selecting the Right Policy
At the end of the day, it comes down to the quality of the policy, the price, and other factors that are personal to you. You obviously have to meet the basic state-level requirements, but that’s just the beginning. Take your time and patiently wait to find an option that provides the best possible protection at the best possible price.