How to Get Car Insurance in Five Steps
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Whether you're making a grocery run or taking a week-long road trip, driving presents a variety of hazards, many of which you can't anticipate.
You're largely in control of keeping your car in good condition by performing required maintenance, using recommended fuels, and keeping it clean inside and out.
But you can't know when another driver might collide with you and damage your vehicle or possibly cause injuries, and you need to be financially protected should that happen.
That's where car insurance comes in. Car insurance provides a financial safety net when you're in an accident. Whether your vehicle needs major repairs or you need money to pay for medical expenses, car insurance keeps you protected from considerable costs.
You're required to have car insurance in most states, and it's a good idea to have it no matter where you live.
1: Go over the details
Before you move forward with applying for and purchasing car insurance, you'll need to assemble a list of information.
Insurance carriers need data about you, your vehicle, and how you use it before providing you with a quote.
- Driver name and age
- Driver's license information
- Address where the vehicle's registered
- Vehicle mileage
- Registered owner name
- Vehicle identification number
- Vehicle date of purchase
- Whether the car is for work or personal use
- Previous insurance company and expiration date
Once you relay this information to insurance companies, they research your background for past accidents or speeding tickets, assessing risk before determining a rate.
The age of your vehicle also affects the auto insurance quote you'll receive. Newer cars are more expensive to repair, increasing their insurance premiums.
Once you've secured insurance for your vehicle, what about financing? Financing your car over a period of years offers numerous benefits, like having more money in your bank account month to month. Shift works with a network of trusted lenders to find you the best rate on financing. And applying for financing with Shift is free and without obligation.
2: Decide how to buy car insurance
You have the option of purchasing car insurance directly, through a captive agent, or from an independent agent or broker. Each method has its own benefits, so it pays to research each before moving forward.
When you purchase your car insurance directly, either online or via phone, you have the freedom to perform the research yourself. Additionally, online insurance companies typically offer the lowest rates.
A captive agent offers more personalized attention and builds a relationship with a company over time. Another nice perk is having someone to call when you need to make a claim.
For in-depth advice and guidance through the process, an independent broker is the way to go. If you're unsure of the coverage you need or specific details, independent brokers offer advice and assistance.
3: Shop for the best rates
You can employ a variety of methods when researching the best car insurance rates.
The internet is an excellent tool, allowing you to visit different company websites and see what they offer.
You can also call a company directly and have a representative guide you through plans and coverage choices.
Or, if you decide on dealing with an independent broker, sitting down with them and going over your options might make things clearer and help with your decision.
Something else to look out for are discounts offered to specific groups of people. For instance, some companies offer discounts to homeowners who bundle their home insurance with an auto insurance policy. Other companies provide a safe driving discount to people with a clean driving record.
While every vehicle sold by Shift undergoes a 150-point inspection by certified mechanics, we also offer you additional assurance after the sale. Any car bought from Shift has a seven-day refund policy. If you aren't fully satisfied with your purchase, just return it within seven days for a full refund, no questions asked.
2015 Audi Q3 (from $21,500)
4: Understand car insurance coverage options
While car insurance protects you from unforeseen financial obligations related to vehicle damage and medical expenses, specific plans offer different levels of coverage.
Understanding each plan and the type of coverage it provides is key to selecting the right one for you.
States vary in their minimum car insurance requirements, so it pays to know how much you'll need.
Car insurance plans have specific areas that cover different monetary amounts.
Comprehensive coverage protects your vehicle against events outside your control, like theft, vandalism, and weather damage.
Collision coverage covers repairs from traffic incidents, regardless of who's at fault.
Bodily injury and property damage liability coverage insures you against costs related to an accident where you're at fault.
Medical payments coverage provides reimbursement for medical expenses for you and your passengers, no matter who causes the accident.
5: Buy car insurance
Once you've spent time collecting information, deciding how to buy, shopping for the best rates, and deciding on coverage options, it's time to buy car insurance.
Typically, you have the choice of paying your annual premium in full or making monthly payments. If you decide to pay in full, a discount might apply.
If you've just bought a car, you'll need to have your insurance in place before driving away.
And if you're switching to a new insurance company, it's essential to contact your old one to cancel the previous policy. To avoid any coverage gap, be sure to set a cancellation date for your old policy after your new one begins.
Are you tired of the traditional car-buying process and don't like negotiating? We take away the stress of buying a used car at Shift with fair, no-haggle prices driven by powerful machine-learning algorithms and tons of data. Whether you want a supercharged sports car or something that gets good gas mileage, Shift makes it easy.
2017 Mazda 3 Touring (from $18,500)
How to buy car insurance in summary
Though it may seem simple, getting your own car insurance consists of numerous options. And it pays to know how you can buy it, your coverage options, and your local regulations before moving forward.
Auto insurance provides drivers with an essential financial buffer should they be in an accident and lets them get back on the road without financial hardship.
The different ways to buy car insurance each have benefits, and it depends on what the driver wants when choosing. If you feel like you have all of the information you need ahead of time, maybe buying online is for you. But if you need help to thoroughly understand a policy and its related costs, more personalized attention from an independent broker might suit you better.
Though it's ultimately up to the driver to decide which specific coverage options they want, each one services a unique purpose to keep them and those around them financially protected.
It pays to remember that different companies offer discounts to specific drivers. You might learn of discounts by simply visiting a company's website, but you can also just ask them over the phone. Either way, you could be able to save money on your car insurance premiums.
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the author or Shift Technologies, Inc. Shift does not endorse or evaluate the accuracy of any claims made or data provided by third party sources referenced herein.
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All prices are based on vehicle availability and pricing as of
April 15, 2022
Pricing shown is not guaranteed and does not include taxes or other product fees.