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How to compare car insurance online

It's easy to find out how your premiums match up with those at other companies.

By Karen Datko Jan 22, 2010 3:11PM

This post comes from partner blog The Dough Roller.

 

I've had my car insurance through Nationwide for almost 30 years. My parents used Nationwide when I started driving, so that's who I used. Of course, back then there was no Internet or easy way to compare auto insurance quotes. You had to call agent after agent to get rates. Today, comparing auto insurance is a snap.

In fact, searching for the lowest rates is so easy, it's worth doing every year. A few years back I called Geico to see if they could beat the rates I was getting from Nationwide. Despite their commercials, they couldn't. Still, it was worth the 15-minute call. Just last month, Nationwide decided to bump up my insurance rates by $100 a year. So I'll be comparing rates this year, too.

 

Here's how to do it.

 

Compare quotes online

A few weeks ago, we discussed most of the coverages available for auto insurance and showed a few different scenarios of just how your auto insurance provider works. Once you've given some thought to the types and amounts of coverage you need, it's time to compare quotes. Finding the best auto insurance quote is painless, thanks to the Internet.

With hundreds of available auto insurance carriers in the U.S. today, comparing them online before making a decision is a must. To make the process easier, several Web sites have been developed that let you shop for auto insurance from multiple carriers at one time. While there are many insurance- related sites, the two that stand out to us are insurance.com and insureme.com.

 

These sites basically work the same way. After you give them your basic information, they get quotes from about a dozen different carriers (the actual number depends in part on where you live). They then present you with the lowest three to five quotes. It's really that easy.

 

There is one difference between insurance.com and insureme.com worth noting: They represent different insurance carriers. For example, insureme.com can get quotes from familiar names like Nationwide, Farmers, and State Farm. In contrast, insurance.com covers Progressive, MetLife, Liberty Mutual, and Travelers, to name a few.

So you have a couple of options. You can get quotes from both insurance.com and insureme.com. There is no cost or obligation for the quotes, so using both is not a problem. Alternatively, since they both represent first-rate insurance companies, you can just pick one. Either way, by comparing auto quotes, you stand a much better chance of getting the best available price, and comparing them side by side can save you hundreds each year.

 

It's important to keep in mind that getting multiple quotes is just the starting point. Using the quotes to narrow down your choices, the next step is to contact the auto insurance providers directly.

 

There are several reasons for this. First, the quote you received online is likely not 100% accurate. Even though you have given your personal information and answered a few questions, there is still more research that an insurance provider needs to conduct before issuing a final premium.

You also want to inquire about possible discounts. One common discount applies when you have multiple types of insurance with the same carrier. Insurance companies also discount the premiums when you pay the premium in full each year rather than monthly. And things like good grades, anti-theft devices and a clean driving record can save you big money, so make sure you ask about those discounts. Finally, you'll want to make sure that the provider has a relationship with a body shop close to you so that if your car needs repairs you don't have to travel far to get it done.

 

Whatever decision you make, you should have enough information in front of you to decide if you feel comfortable with your auto insurance or whether it's time to switch. Your six-month or one-year premium will fluctuate from time to time, and if it's higher than you would like, contact your insurer to see how it can accommodate you. If not, there's a good chance you can find another provider whose policy costs less.

 

Related reading at The Dough Roller:

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