Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Some ways to get quick car insurance quotes

Kate Anderson hates financial stuff, like balancing her checkbook, monitoring credit cards and shopping for car insurance. The California graphics artist has kept the same insurance policy for five years and wonders if she could get a better deal elsewhere.
"My boyfriend did most of the work in putting my current policy together," Anderson says. "But I've always felt it was a little too expensive. I know I should look at other companies but have put it off. It's like doing my taxes, I just never feel like taking the time" to compare insurance companies and find the one offering the lowest rates.
Anderson isn't alone when it comes to procrastinating. But getting prepared and organized can go a long way to making the online quote hunt easier. Here are a few ways to reach that end:

1. Gather all the relevant documents and details.
Penny Gusher, the consumer analyst for Insure.com, stresses the importance of having information ready that insurers will want when determining what your rates will be. There are a fair amount of questions to answer as you create the online quote, but Gusner's advice will save time.
"Make certain to make the process go smoothly by having on-hand detailed information on drivers and vehicles," she says.
One factor insurers consider when setting your rate is your driving history. Typically, a review of your traffic violation convictions, all accidents and car insurance claims over the past to five to seven years is done. "If you can't remember specifics, get a copy of your driving record (from the DMV) and claims history (your insurer can help) before shopping," Gusner says.
Car insurance companies also want to know about you and other drivers in the household. Have on hand the age at which each driver got a license. Be sure to have the names, birth dates, occupation, educational background and license status and number as well before you start the quote process. You may need to provide your license number before purchasing a policy.
Finally, insurers want to know details about the car. You will need to give them the vehicle identification number, make, model and annual mileage. You will also need to tell them whether the car is owned, leased or financed and the name it is registered under

2. Consider coverage beforehand.
Knowing your state's minimum insurance requirements is a good first step. From there, you can decide if you want to raise the limits to better reflect the value of your car and property and reduce your liability if there's an accident.
Bodily injury liability coverage, which covers others' injuries if you cause an accident, is clearly an important consideration and is mandated by most states. When it comes to this protection, the Insurance Information Institute (III) recommends that even people with minimal assets (they don't own a home or have a treasure of savings or investments) should buy at least $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident
Property-damage liability insurance, which covers the repair or replacement of other people's vehicles and property, is also required by most states. Since most cars are worth more than $15,000, the III suggests you get at least $30,000 in coverage.
Keep in mind that some states, in addition to liability insurance, require other coverage’s, including personal injury protection and uninsured motorist coverage.
Also, decide if you are going to buy optional coverage’s such as comprehensive, which covers things such as theft, vandalism and damage due to fallen objects or animal strikes, and collision, which covers damages to your car in an accident.
Another consideration: Do you want to raise the deductible to make the policy less expensive? Having at least an idea of what would work for you should make the quote questionnaire move more quickly.
Gusher notes that it's smart to pull out your existing policy (especially the declarations page) to use as a reference guide. It can remind you of what you like (and don't like) about your coverage and what gaps you might want to fill.
"You want your current policy available so that you can compare apples to apples (same coverage’s, limits and deductibles) and determine if there are better rates out there than what you're presently paying," she says.

3. Provide accurate information to the insurance companies.
Accurate quotes require accurate details. Gusher stresses that giving "best guess" information may be fine for getting a "ballpark rate quote," but it will work against you if you're serious about buying coverage. Use all the details and documents you've gathered to know more precisely what the policy will cost.
"Getting a cheap quote won't help you if it has to be recalculated because the insurer finds out that you gave incorrect information," she says. "For instance, you estimate that your traffic ticket was four years ago, and it was only two years ago. Your rate quote might change when your driving record is pulled."

4. Compare complete quotes seamlessly.
Although you want quicker and easier, don't be too hasty. Even if the rate looks good, even better than what you're currently paying or what friends are paying for similar policies, go further and get more quotes. Insurance pros, including Gesner, advise checking quotes from at least three companies. The III points out that the price of a policy can differ greatly from company to company.
"Another nice feature with online quoting systems is that you can also change information to compare quotes," says Gesner. "For instance, if you are looking for a new car to buy, you can input the information for one model car and see how much it will cost you and then switch out the vehicle to see how much a different vehicle will cost to insure."
Progressive and Assurance are two insurers that provide competitors' quotes, which allows consumers to analyze prices side by side, according to Corporate Insight (CI), a research firm specializing in finance and technology.

5. Know which discounts may come your way.
Most insurers will highlight discounts as you go through the quote process. But it's still smart to have an idea of what you'll qualify for as you move through the quote system.
Some of the more common ones are for safe driving (a clean record for at least three years), low mileage (usually for less than 10,000 miles a year) and having a vehicle with safety features (such as air bags or anti-lock brakes) and anti-theft or recovery devices.


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