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How to get a car insurance quote

Getting an auto insurance quote is the best way to see personalized rates and coverage options from insurance companies. While traditional car insurance companies do offer free quotes, this process can be inefficient as it only results in a single option. With The Zebra, drivers can enter some basic information and receive quotes from hundreds of the most trusted insurance companies within minutes.

If you're shopping for a new policy, use the following steps to help you find great coverage with rates you can afford.

 

1. Set a budget

The first thing most customers look at when comparing quotes is price. It's important to keep your car insurance costs within budget, but remember: the cheapest option isn't always the best. Cheaper coverage from an auto insurance company with a poor track record or poor customer service may not be ideal. This is where your knowledge of coverage types will come in handy.

 

2. Consider your coverage

Knowing what coverage you need ahead of time can help you in your search for car insurance. While some drivers just want to get minimum car insurance coverage, there are a lot of reasons to look beyond just basic liability insurance. For one, you risk paying out of pocket for damages that exceed your liability limits after an at-fault accident. Second, some insurance companies see drivers with a history of state minimum coverage as risky. If any insurance company sees you as a risky customer, they will account for that risk with a higher premium.

Zebra Tip: Not sure if you need full coverage?


Full coverage car insurance is strongly recommended if your vehicle is:

  • Worth more than $4,000
  • Will be eventually resold
  • Leased or financed (in these instances it's required)

Note that full coverage is very common. 58% of our customers have full coverage for at least one of their vehicles.

3. Research insurer reputation

Making yourself familiar with how insurance companies treat their customers is a very important step in the insurance shopping process. You'll want to look for things like claims satisfaction and customer complaints, along with organizations such as the Better Business Bureau and J.D. Power. Another great place to start is with our list of the best car insurance companies.

4. Choose how to get your quotes

After doing some research on the best insurers, the next step should be deciding how to receive your insurance quotes. Regardless of the method you choose, it's important to get multiple quotes. This can be done through the following methods:

insurance agent sitting at a computer
Local captive agents

These agents are tied to a specific insurance company, meaning they aren’t able to compare offers so you'll only get a quote from one carrier. While these insurance agents are great for customer service needs – many with brick-and-mortar offices to service their clients – some more technology-focused carriers no longer use these types of agents at all.

insurance agent on the phone
Independent agents or brokers

Independent agents are appointed to sell policies for various insurance companies, giving you many options to choose from. The Zebra is an example of an independent agent. We work with most of the top companies and have in-house agents ready to help you with your car insurance policy.

computer showing online car insurance quotes
Online comparison sites

Offering the most convenience and the widest array of options, online insurance comparison sites, which The Zebra also is, can help you find multiple car insurance quotes in minutes. 

Why use The Zebra?

The Zebra is an independent insurance advisor and comparison site that can streamline your research process by delivering personalized insurance quotes from top companies.

The Zebra helps take the guesswork out of which insurers will be best for you by allowing you to quickly and easily compare quotes online. We partner with companies both large and small to help you find a policy that fits your needs.

list of car insurance quotes from The Zebra.com

An example of personalized quotes you can get from The Zebra.

With The Zebra, you can:

  • Save time by getting multiple quotes at once
  • Find the cheapest car insurance companies based on your driving profile
  • Learn what coverage is best for your needs
  • Get assistance from our knowledgeable in-house agents
  • Feel confident your personal info is safe and secure

The Zebra really does take your privacy seriously: you won't receive any spam (we don't even take your phone number!) and we will never sell your information.

Start the process online or reach out by phone to speak to one of our agents. Our in-house agency is appointed to sell policies on behalf of most of the top insurers across the country.

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Find cheap car insurance quotes

We know that cost is the number one reason why people shop for auto insurance, in fact 40% of our users believe that they are paying too much for their current coverage. To help, we've listed out some ways to help get you the cheapest quotes on car insurance.

Compare auto insurance rates

Generally speaking, you should compare car insurance quotes every six months to make sure you're with the right insurance company. Even if nothing changes with you, your rates could go up for a number of reasons during that timeframe. However, there are a few life events that could qualify you for cheaper rates that include moving to a new state, adding a new vehicle to your policy, getting married and even getting older. 

If you find a cheaper rate elsewhere (ideally for the same coverage), cancel your current policy and move on to the new insurer as soon as you can. For most companies, the process to cancel is very straightforward. Depending upon how much time you have left in your auto insurance policy, the remaining premium can be refunded back to you.

Do you have any claims on your record?

Keep in mind that:

  • At-fault accidents can lead to expensive insurance rates
  • If you file a claim, it's likely to stay on your record for 3-5 years
  • For cheaper quotes, it may be better to pay for some damage out of pocket
  • Use The Zebra's claims calculator to help determine when you should file a claim

Use car insurance discounts

Some car insurance discounts are automatically added to your auto insurance quote when they pull your driving report, but you should always make sure they’re not missing anything. Below are some potential discounts and cost-cutting programs in which you can participate to help get you the cheapest quote.

Zebra Tip: Bundling yields the most savings


Most auto insurance discounts are small, but bundling your auto policy with another insurance type will save you the most money. On average, homeowners can save about 10% by bundling car and home insurance, while renters save 5%.

Change your deductible

A general rule in the insurance world is if the vehicle you own is worth less than $4,000, you can consider dropping collision and comprehensive (i.e. full coverage) insurance. The reasoning is simple: the after market value of your vehicle isn’t worth the cost to insure it. However, if you’re like the 50% of our customers that lease or finance your vehicle, you’re usually required to keep full coverage. If it's necessary for you to have full auto insurance coverage but you want to save money, consider adjusting your deductible. 

Because your car insurance deductible and premium are inversely related, you can lower your bill by raising your deductible. Looking at the chart below, you can see how your premium will change with a $500 and $1,000 deductible.

AVERAGE MONTHLY INSURANCE RATES BY COVERAGE LEVEL
Coverage Avg. Monthly Premium
State Minimum Liability Only $50
50/100/50 BI/PD with $1,000 Deductible $129
50/100/50 BI/PD with $500 Deductible $147
Updated: 01/26/23.

Quotes comparison example

After receiving numerous car insurance quotes, a price-minded shopper has narrowed down their options to the three below. Cost is a major consideration, but the customer also wants to make sure they have comprehensive and collision coverage to add further peace of mind. Based on the information presented, which quote do you think they should choose?

Note that the format for liability coverage is X/Y/Z where:

  • X = bodily injury/person
  • Y = bodily injury/accident
  • Z = property damage/accident
Liability Deductible Cost
Quote #1 50/100/50 $1,000 $111/month
Quote #2 100/300/100 $1,000 $112/month
Quote #3 100/300/100 $500 $125/month

All three options were close in price, but #1 offered less liability coverage. Between #2 and #3, the only real difference was in the deductible, which was more expensive for the third option. Because this customer isn't overly concerned about a higher deductible, #2 is the best option.

Find cheap auto insurance quotes right now!

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Information needed to get insurance quotes

In order to receive a car insurance quote, you'll need to have the same basic information handy. To speed up the process, make sure have the following ready to share:

Basic personal information
Driver's license

Name, address (or your vehicles garaging location), and birthday are required in addition to gender and marital status. Some insurance companies will also require your Driver License number. 

car with two passengers
Vehicle type

You need to know the year, make, model, and trim of your primary vehicle. While you don't need to know your vehicle identification number (VIN) during your quoting stage, you will eventually need it to buy your policy.

set of keys
Other vehicle details

Vehicle status (owned or leased), primary use and average miles driven are typically asked for as well.

moving vehicle
Insurance history

Have you had continuous coverage or are you currently uninsured? Some car insurance companies require at least six months of continuous auto insurance to issue a policy.

insurance documents
Additional information

Lastly, you'll be asked about any accidents or citations (excluding parking tickets), so having a clean driving record is ideal. Credit score and highest-level of education will also be needed to understand what kind of risk you might be.


Car insurance quotes: frequently asked questions

A car insurance quote is an estimate of what you can expect to pay for insurance coverage from a specific company. Auto insurance quotes are determined by the personal information you provide. Credit score, driving history and age are all factors that contribute to auto insurance rates.

Auto insurance quotes should be available for free, either online or over the phone. Major insurers offer a free car insurance quote, as do insurance comparison sites like The Zebra, which allows you to receive quotes from hundreds of the most trusted insurance companies in minutes.

The quickest and easiest way to get car insurance quotes is through an online comparison site like The Zebra. Free tools like this allow you to view side-by-side quotes from as many companies as possible allowing you find the best rate for the coverage that suits your needs.

Viewing and purchasing auto insurance quotes online is just as safe as doing it with an insurance broker. In fact, getting quotes this way will likely save you both time and money.

According to The Zebra, USAA ($94/mo) and GEICO ($102/mo) are among the cheapest companies for auto insurance right now. This of course depends on pricing criteria unique to every individual driver but our data shows that on average these are the best options.

Customer Questions & Answers

Getting a car insurance quote for 2 addresses

If you have two addresses you would need to list the address where the car is kept most of the time. This is called the garaging address.
Jun 26, 2018 Arlington, TX


About The Zebra

The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.

  • The Zebra’s insurance content is written and reviewed for accuracy by licensed insurance agents.
  • The Zebra’s insurance content is not subject to review or alteration by insurance companies or partners.
  • The Zebra’s editorial team operates independently of the company’s partnerships and commercialization interests, publishing unbiased information for consumer benefit.
  • The auto insurance rates published on The Zebra’s pages are based on a comprehensive analysis of car insurance pricing data, evaluating more than 83 million insurance rates from across the United States.