What are auto insurance quotes for car insurance?
A car insurance quote estimates how much you'll pay for a policy. An insurance quote is calculated based on your information, including your age, the car you drive, your driving history, and where you live, among other factors.
Insurers each use their unique formula to calculate a car insurance quote. Even if you provide the same information to Geico, Progressive, or any other company, no two quotes will be the same. The more auto insurance quotes you get, the better your chance of finding the cheapest car insurance company for you.
Definition and Examples of Auto Insurance Quotes
Auto insurance quotes estimate how much you will pay for a certain type and amount of auto insurance coverage based on your information.
Alternate names: Auto premium quote, car insurance quote, auto quote
You can collect quotes from different auto insurers through agents or websites before you decide which insurance is right for you―and they are free. You might even get more than one quote from an insurer for different coverage amounts or types of insurance.
So, if you want both auto liability coverage and comprehensive collision coverage for your 2020 Honda Civic, an insurer will provide you with an estimate. You can ask other insurers what it would cost for the same coverage, then compare those quotes to find the best rate.
How to get car insurance quotes
There are several ways you can get free auto insurance quotes. You can buy directly online or over the phone, from a "captive agent" (who works for only one company), or from an independent agent or insurance broker.
- First, some pro tips. Whichever option you choose, make sure you:
- Look into car insurance companies' complaint records and customer satisfaction. Auto insurance reviews are a good place to start.
- Get at least three car insurance quotes online or from an agent, so you can evaluate whether you're getting a good price for the coverage you want.
- Understand coverage limits. Check that each policy has comparable liability limits and deductibles when comparing quotes.
Auto insurance quotes online or over the phone.
Getting free auto insurance quotes online is one of the easiest ways to shop for car insurance. Most companies offer free online auto insurance quotes, including State Farm and Allstate, which let you start online but assign you a captive agent to finalize your quote on the phone. Purchasing a policy online (or over the phone) is referred to as buying car insurance "direct" from the insurer.
Buying insurance directly without the help of an agent gives you more freedom to adjust coverages and see auto insurance quotes for yourself, but there are also drawbacks.
How Auto Insurance Quotes Work
What happens when you request a quote from an agent or via an insurance company's website? Let's review the quote process from both the insurer's and consumer's points of view.
Quotes from the Insurer's Perspective
Quotes are based on the insurance company's initial estimation of your risk as a driver and any discounts you might qualify for.
The risk equation depends on various factors, including the insurance regulations in your state. For example, insurers can take your credit history into account in some states. In other states, insurers aren't allowed to consider your credit history.
- In general, these factors could influence your quote:1
- Your driving record, marital status, gender, and age
- Your location and how you use your vehicle
- Prior insurance coverage
- Any discounts you qualify for (such as combined auto and home coverage)
- Your choice of deductible
- Optional coverage, such as rental car reimbursement coverage
Insurers weigh factors differently, so their quotes will vary. To make accurate comparisons of rates from different insurers, you should provide the same information to each one.
Your final auto insurance rate can be different from the quote you receive. The insurer will likely request your official driving history and a report from CLUE (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) before issuing you a policy.
CLUE is an insurers' information database that collects past and present claim histories. The information in these reports can affect the final policy cost.
Quotes from the Consumer's Perspective
When you get a quote, be specific about the auto insurance coverage you need and discuss any concerns with the agent.
The California Department of Insurance suggests avoiding asking for "the best coverage," as the agent will guess what you need.2 Also, avoid asking for "full coverage," which isn't an actual type of coverage. Instead, ensure you understand your state's minimum coverage, your coverage needs, and what auto coverage you'd like to add.
You'll need to provide either the agent or an online site with several pieces of information like your date of birth, car's VIN, your driving history, and other personal details. Have these details handy when gathering auto insurance quotes.
When researching the quote, ensure you understand what the quote includes, such as:
- Coverage: The amount of liability and other coverage are you buying
- Deductibles: Your portion of the payment when your vehicle is damaged
- Discounts: Which discounts are available
- Payments: Payments can be made in one lump sum or monthly or quarterly installments, although these smaller payments may be accompanied by fees or other costs
- Optional coverages: In some states, insurers must offer you particular coverages but allow you to reject the coverage. Ensure you understand what's optional and what isn't in your state.