Buying Car Insurance: 6 Steps

Do your homework and shop around when you're buying car insurance. Follow these tips to get the best coverage.

If you're willing to spend a little time and do a little homework when buying car insurance, you can save hundreds of dollars a year and get the best coverage to protect you in case of an accident.

1. Determine Which Coverages and What Amounts to Buy

Begin the process of buying car insurance by reviewing the coverages that you have now, if applicable. Take out your insurance policy and look at the "Declarations Page," which is usually a loose page that is inserted into the preprinted insurance policy form. It lists the coverages that you have (and, often, the amount that you pay for each coverage).

Next, familiarize yourself with the different car insurance coverage options that are available to see if there are other coverages that you should consider buying.

2. Get Multiple Quotes

As you go through the process of soliciting multiple quotes, use any of these 17 tips for saving on car insurance that apply to you and your situation.

You might want to start your search by getting multiple quotes online. It will probably take about 15 minutes to fill out the online forms that you must submit to get quotes. Most online companies will give you a quote on the spot.

After you've gotten online quotes, contact any other insurance company that you want to consider by telephone. All insurance companies have toll-free numbers that you can call for this purpose.

As you go through this process, save the information that you get on your smart phone or tablet, or just go old-school and write it all down, so that you have all the data in the same place.

3. Compare the Quotes

Of course, you should consider each insurance company's price quote. But also the specific coverages that each company is offering -- and the policies of each company on such things as payments and payment plans -- as well as the reputation of the insurance company.

When comparing the coverages that are offered, these are two provisions that you do NOT want in your policy:

  • Agreement to Arbitrate. Some insurance companies require you to waive your right to sue them and, instead to submit your complaints to arbitration. This provision is less than ideal because, sometimes, a lawsuit or the threat of a lawsuit is exactly what you need to get a satisfactory result. Learn more about Arbitration of Car Accident Claims.
  • Aftermarket parts. Some insurance companies include a provision allowing them to repair your car with aftermarket parts. You don't want these. You want OEM parts.

4. Choose the Best Coverage

Choose the option that gives you the best mix of coverages, price, rating of insurance company and consumer-friendly policies and procedures.

5. Read Your New Policy

When you receive your policy, read through it. At least look at the Declarations Page to make sure you have gotten the coverages you wanted at the price that you were quoted.

Your insurance company will also send you proof of insurance which you should carry in your wallet or in your vehicle. Some security experts recommend against keeping it there because if your car is stolen, and the registration and proof of insurance cards are in the vehicle, the thief will have all of the information needed to show that he owns the car.

6. Cancel Your Old Policy

Once you have your new policy and have gone through it, cancel your old insurance policy.

For everything you need to know about car insurance, check out all the articles in our Car Accidents and Insurance Coverage topic.

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