How To Buy Car Insurance Online USA
Car Insurance Online USA: When Shopping for Car Insurance Online, You Can Save Time, Money and Hassle by Doing Your Research and Comparing Quotes. Online, You Can Buy Insurance in Minutes. Whatever the reason, when you get an online insurance quote from Nationwide, you can tailor and purchase a car insurance policy instantly, and even print out your proof of insurance card.
Many insurance companies let you buy policies completely online without going through an agent. Some insurers, like Progressive, even offer a discount for buying a policy online. You can also save hundreds of dollars by comparing insurance prices online.
Here we’ll show you how to find a good policy at a fair price from the best car insurance companies, all from the comfort of your couch.
What Information Do I Need to Buy Car Insurance Online?
Before you buy car insurance online, you’ll need to make sure you have all the necessary information. This will make the process go more easily and produce more accurate car insurance quotes.
Here’s the information you’ll need:
- Basic information
- Driver’s license
- Driving history
- Vehicle information
- Current insurer
To get your driving history, visit your state’s motor vehicle website. You usually can download and print out your driver history after paying a small fee, for instance $2 in California and $8 in Massachusetts and Florida.
How Much Car Insurance You Need
Virtually every state requires drivers to purchase bodily injury liability coverage, although the amount varies from state to state. On an auto insurance policy, your liability coverage is typically expressed as a series of three numbers, such as 25/50/20. The first number represents the maximum your insurer will pay per person if you injure someone in an accident—$25,000 in this example. The second number is the maximum it will pay per accident, in case more than one person is injured—$50,000 in this case. The third number refers to property damage liability.
You will need to purchase at least the minimum amount of bodily injury coverage that your state requires. For many states, that’s $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident, although some states are lower or higher.
Here are the main types of car insurance to consider:
The term liability insurance refers to an insurance product that provides an insured party with protection against claims resulting from injuries and damage to other people or property. Liability insurance policies cover any legal costs and payouts an insured party is responsible for if they are found legally liable.
Every state (except for New Hampshire and Virginia) requires you to have a minimum amount of liability car insurance. For example, if you buy car insurance in California, you need to buy at least 15/30/5. Here’s what those numbers mean:
- $15,000 for bodily injury or death to one person
- $30,000 for bodily injury or death to more than one person
- $5,000 for property damage
It’s a good idea to buy more than your state’s minimum liability requirements. These amounts are usually inadequate. For example, if you cause a major car accident in California that results in serious injuries to the other driver and totals their car, $15,000 for medical expenses and $5,000 for car repair bills won’t get you very far. And you’ll be on the hook for any amount that goes above your policy limits.
It’s recommended that you buy enough liability insurance to cover what you could lose in a lawsuit.
Uninsured motorist insurance
Uninsured motorist insurance protects you if you’re in an accident with an at-fault driver who doesn’t carry liability insurance. Underinsured motorist coverage steps in when you’re in an accident with an at-fault driver whose liability limits are too low to cover the medical expenses of any injured people.
So what happens when someone without car insurance or not enough car insurance crashes into you? Uninsured motorist insurance (UM) and underinsured motorist insurance cover you and your passengers’ medical bills and other expenses, like lost wages, pain and suffering and funeral costs.
UM is required in some states and optional in others (you can reject coverage in writing). Even if UM is not required in your state, this is a good coverage to buy.
Collision and comprehensive insurance
Collision Insurance protects your car against damage in the case of a covered collision with another vehicle. Repairs or a complete replacement of your covered vehicle may be required. Whereas
Damage to your car caused by covered situations other than crashes, such as theft, vandalism, or hail, is covered by comprehensive auto insurance. Comprehensive insurance may cover scenarios that collision insurance does not, which is why combining the two policies together might save you money.
- Collision insurance pays to repair or replace your car after a car accident, no matter who caused the accident. For example, if you crash into a guard rail or someone crashes into you at an intersection, you can file a claim under your collision insurance.
- Comprehensive insurance pays to repair or replace your car if it’s stolen or if it’s damaged due to other types of problems, like floods, fire, hail, vandalism, collisions with animals and falling objects.
Collision vs Comprehensive Insurance
When comparing comprehensive and collision auto insurance quotes, collision car insurance is usually more expensive. It is, nevertheless, normal to obtain both forms of insurance at the same time. The amount you pay will be determined by your state, the worth of your car, the deductible you choose, and your driving record.
Personal Injury Protection
Personal injury protection (PIP), also known as “no-fault insurance,” is a component of an automobile insurance plan that covers the healthcare expenses associated with a car accident. PIP covers medical expenses for both injured policyholders and passengers, even if some don’t have health insurance.
The types of expenses covered by PIP include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages if you cannot work due to accident injuries
- Funeral expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
- Replacement services (such as house cleaning or child care) that you cannot perform due to accident injuries
PIP is required in some states and optional in others. Check with your state’s department of motor vehicles to determine if you are required to carry PIP coverage.
Medical payments coverage, or MedPay, helps pay for medical expenses and funeral costs after a car accident, no matter who is at fault. Medical payments coverage, sometimes called “MedPay,” is usually sold in small amounts between $1,000 and $5,000. It also pays the medical bills if you or one of your family members is hit by a car while on foot, riding a bike or traveling as a passenger in someone else’s vehicle. It covers medical bills for you and your passengers, no matter who is at fault for the accident. MedPay is not available in every state.
Other types of Car Insurance
You can buy more coverage types if you need them. Here are some to consider:
- Gap insurance: Gap insurance is a type of auto insurance that car owners can purchase to protect themselves against losses that can arise when the amount of compensation received from a total loss does not fully cover the amount the insured owes on the vehicle’s financing or lease agreement. This situation arises when the balance owed on a car loan is greater than the book value of the vehicle.
- Rental reimbursement insurance: If your car is being repaired for an accident insurance claim, rental reimbursement coverage pays for transportation costs, such as a rental car or public transportation fees. Typically, this type of coverage can be added only when you have comprehensive and collision coverage in your car insurance policy.
- Roadside assistance insurance: Roadside Assistance Cover in your Car Insurance Plan is an add-on cover and acts as your most trusted ally when the vehicle breaks down. In other words, Roadside Assistance Coverage means a professional technician comes to your rescue when your car breaks down in the middle of the journey leaving you stranded.
Where Do I Get Car Insurance Quotes Online?
A car insurance quote is an estimate of how much you’ll pay for a policy. Insurers each use their own unique formula to calculate a car insurance quote, so 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 chance you’ll have of finding the cheapest car insurance company for you.
The best way to find a good price is to compare car insurance quotes from several different insurance companies.
There are generally two places you can find car insurance quotes online: through an insurer’s website or on a comparison website. Let’s look at both.
Buying car insurance online through an insurance company website
You can typically find free car insurance quotes on an insurance company’s website. The insurer’s website will likely have a button to click to begin your quote.
You will be asked to enter information such as your:
- Date of birth
- ZIP code
- Contact information
- Vehicle type
- Driver history
You’ll also have the option to select your coverage types and policy limits and add additional drivers, if applicable.
After you enter all of the necessary information, you’ll get a quote. Typically you will also have the opportunity to review and edit your coverage selections. If you are satisfied with your coverage selections and price, you may have the option to purchase the policy.
But before you make a purchase, we recommend getting insurance quotes from multiple insurers. You may be able to beat the price you were quoted or find better coverage options.
Buying car insurance online through a comparison site
If you want to get quotes from multiple insurers at once, you can use a comparison site. You’ll need to enter information similar to that requested by insurer websites. The comparison site will then offer car insurance quotes from multiple insurers.
A comparison site can be a useful tool to get an at-a-glance look at multiple quotes. But some websites might only offer a limited number of quotes. Or the website might not show you the quoted rate and instead redirect you to the insurance company’s website, where you may have to enter more information.
If you are not satisfied with your quotes, you may want to use both comparison sites and insurers’ websites.
What Other Ways Can I Buy Car Insurance?
If you don’t want to buy car insurance online, you can speak with an insurance agent in person or over the phone. There are generally two types of agents:
- Captive agent. This type of agent only sells policies from one specific insurance company or one group of related insurers.
- Independent agent. This type of agent works with a variety of car insurance companies.
It’s a good idea to speak with an independent insurance agent who can gather multiple quotes from several different insurance companies.
Tips To Save Money When Buying Car Insurance Online
Perhaps the biggest appeal of buying car insurance online is the convenience factor, but it’s also a good way to save money. Even if you already have car insurance, it’s worth getting quotes to see if you can find a better deal elsewhere. More than half (58%) of drivers believe they overpay for car insurance, but only 29% switched companies, according to a recent Forbes Advisor survey.
Here are some tips to consider when buying car insurance online:
- Compare quotes. Don’t just go with the first quote you find online. Comparing car insurance quotes among several different insurance companies is the best way to save money.
- Look for discounts. Insurance companies offer a wide range of discounts and the savings can vary from one insurer to the next. For example, our analysis of car insurance discounts found that good driver discounts can range between 10% to 40%.
- Bundle your policies. Bundling is when you insure two different insurance types with the same insurance company. For example, auto and home insurance bundling discounts can range from 5% to 25%.
- Increase your deductible. Your car insurance deductible is the amount that is deducted from your insurance check if you make a claim under certain coverage types (such as a collision or comprehensive insurance). Deductibles typically range between $250 to $1,000 (or more). Generally, a higher deductible amount will result in lower premium payments.
- Be picky about optional coverage for older cars. In some cases, it doesn’t make financial sense to buy certain optional coverage types, like comprehensive and collision coverage, for an older vehicle. If you’re not sure what to buy, it doesn’t hurt to pick up the phone and speak with an independent insurance agent. You can also check out our guide for when to drop collision and comprehensive insurance.
Pros and Cons of Buying Car Insurance Online
You can typically buy car insurance online in less than an hour. But it may not always be the best way for you to buy insurance. Here are some pros and cons to consider.
Pros for buying car insurance online
- Convenient. You can comparison shop among several insurance companies any time of the day from the comfort of your home.
- Quick. You can typically get quotes in a matter of minutes and if you find a policy you like, you can often buy it and download your proof of insurance within an hour.
Cons for buying car insurance online
- Lack of guidance. If you are not certain of the coverage types and amounts you need, it may be better to speak with an agent who can guide you through the process.
- Quotes can be inaccurate. The quotes you receive online can be much different than the actual cost of your policy. That’s partially based on the information you provide versus what your insurer gathers, such as your driving history, past car insurance claims and your credit-based insurance scores (in most states).
How Much Does Car Insurance Cost?
Nationally, the average cost of car insurance is $1,569 per year, according to a Forbes Advisor analysis of car insurance rates among large insurance companies. But your rates will vary depending on several factors.
Car insurance premium factors include:
- Your driving record
- The driving record of all drivers on your policy
- Your vehicle
- Where you live
- Your age and driving experience
- Your claims history
- Your car insurance coverage selections
- Your car insurance deductible
- Your credit-based insurance score (except in California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Michigan)
- Other factors, such as marital status, home ownership, gender and occupation
What Companies Have the Cheapest Car Insurance?
USAA has the cheapest car insurance, but it’s only available to military members, veterans and their family members. If USAA car insurance is not available to you, it’s worth getting a quote from Geico.
But don’t stop there. It’s smart to take advantage of the wide range of quotes at your fingertips. As you’ll see below, the prices for car insurance can vary drastically depending on the company.
How To Buy Car Insurance Online FAQ
1. Is it cheaper to buy car insurance online?
It’s not necessarily cheaper to buy car insurance online, but it is an effective way to compare car insurance quotes among several different insurance companies. Comparing quotes is the best way to save on car insurance because not all companies price their policies the same. You can get free quotes at an insurer’s website or by using a comparison site.
2. How fast can you get car insurance online?
You can usually get car insurance online in less than an hour. If you’re in a hurry, make sure you have all the necessary information beforehand, such as the driver’s license numbers for all drivers on your policy, and your vehicle information and VIN. You should also know how much car insurance you need before you get quotes.
Compare quotes from several different insurance companies to find the best policy that suits your needs and budget. When you find a policy you like, you can set your policy’s effective date, make a payment and start coverage.
3. Can I buy car insurance for a new car online?
Yes, you can typically buy car insurance for a new car online. It’s a good idea to start the car insurance shopping process before you get to the dealership so you have an idea of how much a policy will cost. Buying car insurance at the dealership can be more expensive and your options will be limited, so make sure you don’t skip this step.
If you have your new car’s vehicle identification number (VIN), you can buy your policy before you get to the dealership. If you don’t have the VIN, you can gather car insurance quotes based on the year, make and model of the car you plan to buy.
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