Shopping for auto insurance: tips, tricks, and resources

After you’ve picked out the car of your dreams, your next step is selecting a car insurance policy. And while the car insurance industry has made a lot of technological progress in the last decade, getting an auto policy can still be a tiring process. We’ve broken down how to get car insurance in 2019, with a few handy tricks to ensure you find the best possible rate for your vehicle. Let’s get started.

How to find car insurance
  1. What you need to get a car insurance quote
  2. How to purchase car insurance
  3. Additional tips and resources

What you need to get a car insurance quote

In order to get car insurance coverage as quickly as possible, have all the required information ready to go. Listed below is all the information you need to get an auto insurance policy.

  • *DOB(s) of all drivers on the policy
  • *Vehicle storage location address(es)
  • Drivers license information of all drivers on the policy
  • Driving records of all driving on the policy
  • *Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) of all vehicles on the policy
  • Insurance history of all drivers on the policy

*These are the most basic requirements for a quote. If you want an accurate auto insurance quote, have these at the ready. While these details aren’t always required up front to get a quote, they will eventually help determine your rate.

Moreover, any insurance company will pull what’s called an MVR — a Motor Vehicle Report — when creating your quote. An MVR is basically an abstract of your driving record. Insurance companies use your MVR to project what kind of driver and client you might be. If you've provided inaccurate information for your quote, your premium will be updated to reflect that.

How to buy car insurance

There are a few ways to acquire car insurance coverage for your new vehicle. Your personal preferences may determine which car insurance shopping method works best for you. You can get an auto insurance policy through an insurance agent dedicated to one particular insurer, an agent or broker representing multiple insurance companies, via a car insurance company's website, or by using an online car insurance comparison engine — this last option is a great way to avoid auto insurance broker fees.

How to get car insurance from an insurer's agent:

These agents are known as “captive,” meaning they work for one insurance company exclusively, selling only that company’s policies. The benefit of working with a captive agent is their exceptional familiarity with the insurer's coverage options.

Farmers, State Farm, and Allstate are major auto insurers that commonly utilize captive agents.

How to get car insurance from an independent agent:

The other way to pay for car insurance with an agent is through independent agent or broker. Unlike a Farmers agent, who only sells Farmers products, independent agents are able to sell other companies' insurance products (as long as they have a relationship/partnership with them). The benefit of this is the ability to compare premiums from different insurance companies while developing a trusting relationship with an agent. One downside of this approach is the potential for additional car insurance broker fees.

How to get car insurance directly from an insurer's website:

A common way to buy car insurance is to purchase a policy directly through an insurance company's website. Your user experience may vary, as some companies invest more in their online user experience than others. This a good alternative if you want to handle things yourself and you already understand the coverage you need. The downside of this is that you see only one company’s insurance rates.

How to get car insurance via an online comparison tool:

The best way to shop — regardless of the product — is to find the cheapest price. Comparison tools (like The Zebra) show auto insurance premiums from different companies to help you find the best rate. The benefit of this is clear: you can see prices from a variety of insurance companies and get a cheap quote.

Get started buying car insurance — compare rates now!

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Additional resources

If you’re looking for more information on buying car insurance, including how to save and how much coverage you need, see our guides:

Methodology and sourcing

The Zebra is an independent, third-party source of unbiased insurance information. Our editorial team comprises three licensed insurance agents, who provide expert information and insights. As always, check with your insurance agent or potential providers before selecting a policy, as everyone's situation is different.