How to Get Car Insurance in 6 Steps

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ByDanielle Beck-Hunter
Edited byCasie McCoskey
Contributions by6+ experts
ByDanielle Beck-Hunter
Edited byCasie McCoskey
Contributions by6+ experts

Updated: May 20, 2024

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The first step to buying car insurance is to gather personal and vehicle information to get an accurate quote. Familiarize yourself with basic coverage options, such as liability, collision and comprehensive coverage, to determine your needs. You can then get quotes from an agent, broker or the insurer directly. After comparing multiple quotes based on cost and coverage, select a provider. Assuming they have all the necessary information, many insurance companies can provide coverage the same day you get a quote.

For drivers switching insurers, remember to align policy start dates to avoid coverage lapses. Even if you already have a policy, shopping around may help you find better coverage for your needs at a lower rate.

Why Trust MoneyGeek? MoneyGeek gathered auto insurance quotes from Quadrant Information Services to give you the best car insurance calculator for estimating costs. It provides a quote to help you make informed decisions about your car insurance. After entering your unique information, the calculator provides a real-time estimate of your potential premiums.

2,118,312Quotes Analyzed
67Companies Compared

Step 1: Gather Your Personal Information

Your car insurance rates depend on various factors, like your personal info, car type, driving history and past insurance records. Insurers use this data to gauge your risk level and set premiums accordingly.

Provide accurate details to get the correct pricing for your policy.

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    Your Bio

    What you do, where you work and where you live will influence your insurance rate.

    Provide your details and those of any additional drivers you will include on your policy:

    • Full name
    • Date of birth
    • Address
    • Email address
    • Contact number
    • Social Security number (or other ID)

    Depending on the provider, you might need to provide payment details (e.g., bank account details, credit card number) to initiate the policy.

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    Your Car Details

    Have information about your car all in one spot, including the following:

    • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
    • Make, model and year of the vehicle(s)
    • Usage details (e.g., daily commute, business use, estimated annual mileage)

    Some insurers will ask how often you use your car and how long you’ve owned it.

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    Your Driving and Insurance History

    Insurers will likely ask about any accidents, DUIs, suspensions or accumulated points on your driving record. When applying, let your agent know your current coverage and insurance provider.

If you have all this information ready, you can usually get car insurance the same day you start shopping.

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In some cases, even unlicensed drivers may need to get car insurance coverage. You can still get car insurance without a license if:

  • Another member of your household drives, but you don't.
  • You own a vehicle and have someone else drive you around.
  • Your partner has a license.
  • Your vehicle is kept in storage.
  • You have a classic or antique car that you do not drive.

In these scenarios, you can secure an insurance policy and list yourself as a non-driving insured person.

Step 2: Choose Where to Buy Car Insurance

There are three ways to get insurance: talk to a captive agent or insurance broker or go online for the quickest option.

  • Captive Agent: A captive agent works exclusively for one insurance company, selling only that company's policies
  • Insurance Broker: An insurance broker represents multiple insurance companies, offering a variety of policy options to clients.
  • Online: To get an online quote, visit an insurer’s website. To compare multiple quotes, use third-party car insurance calculators.

If you want advice on what coverage you need, sit down with a captive agent or broker to get your questions answered. Or, if you already know what you want, go online and activate your policy after you've done your research.

Captive Agent
Insurance Broker


Knowledgeable about company's products

Offers choices from multiple insurers

Instant access to multiple quotes


Immediate answers

Shops around for you

Direct and swift policy acquisition


Limited choices

Expanded market options

Self-research and decision-making


Limited to company's policies; potential bias due to commission-based earnings

May not have access to all policies or options; service fees may apply

Requires personal info online; limited policy details

For special cases, like high-risk drivers struggling to find coverage, consider reaching out to non-standard auto insurance agencies. These specialized insurers cater to drivers with multiple tickets, DUIs or other factors that make them ineligible for traditional policies.


Getting car insurance quotes online through insurance calculators is the most efficient way to find insurance. Comparing quotes can save you about $445 yearly. MoneyGeek suggests comparing at least three insurers with similar coverage to find the cheapest rates with the best coverage.

Step 3: Know How Much Coverage You Need

Each state has its own minimum car insurance requirements. This means you must have liability insurance to pay for others' damages. Some states might also need personal injury protection (PIP) or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM).

You can go with just your state's basic plan if you want to save money. But you might want more coverage if your car is worth a lot.

Older cars that aren't worth much might not need as much coverage. If collision and comprehensive coverage costs more than your car is worth to fix or replace, consider dropping it.

Coverage Type
What It Covers
Is it Required?

Liability-Only Insurance

Costs to repair or replace your car after an accident

Yes (in 48 states)

Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

Costs to repair or replace your car after an accident (regardless of fault)

Yes (in no-fault states)

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UI/UIM)

Medical expenses if a driver hurts you without insurance or with insufficient insurance

Yes (in some states)

Collision Insurance

Costs to repair or replace your car after an accident

No, but required for financed/leased cars

Comprehensive Insurance

Damage to your car from non-accident events (theft, weather damage, etc.)

No, but required for financed/leased cars

Data filtered by:Results filtered by:
Age Group:
Age Group:30-59
100/300/100 Full Cov. w/$1,000 Ded.Average Annual Premium$1,054Average Monthly Premium$88
State Minimum Liability OnlyAverage Annual Premium$489Average Monthly Premium$41
300/500/300 Full Cov. w/$1,000 DedAverage Annual Premium$1,138Average Monthly Premium$95

Determining how much insurance you need can be tricky. You want to make sure you're protected without spending too much. However, the minimum requirements might not cover everything if something happens.

You can add additional coverage to your insurance to give you more protection. For example, roadside assistance can help you out if your car breaks down. And with accident forgiveness, your rates won't go up after your first accident.

The more extras you add and the higher your policy limits, the more you'll pay for insurance. Find the right balance between being protected and what you can afford.

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Yes, you need insurance before getting behind the wheel of your new car. Dealerships usually ask for proof of insurance before you can take the car home. Not having insurance is against the law and could land you in trouble. Coverage lapses can also increase your rates.

Step 4: Choose a Car Insurance Company

Finding the right car insurance company is essential. You want the right mix of coverage, affordability and reliable service.

Here's what to keep in mind:

  • "Cheapest" vs. "Best": Don't focus solely on finding the cheapest rates. The best car insurance should balance cost and appropriate coverage for your needs.
  • Coverage Matters: Ensure the insurer offers all the coverage types you need (liability, collision, comprehensive, etc.) at levels that make sense for your situation.
  • Budget-Friendly Options: If you're on a budget, lowering coverage limits can reduce your premium. However, be sure you're not leaving yourself financially vulnerable in the event of an accident.
  • Customer Service: In times of need, you want responsive service. Check online reviews and resources like J.D. Power ratings and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) to see how insurers handle claims and treat their customers.
  • Financial Strength: Not all insurers are created equal. Choose a company with strong financial ratings (ideally A+ or A++ from AM Best) to ensure they can reliably pay claims.

Take your time and compare at least three quotes from multiple insurers. Don't just settle for the first option you find. Informed decisions lead to better coverage and potential savings on your car insurance.

Data filtered by:Results filtered by:
Age Group:
Age Group:30-59
Coverage:100/300/100 Full Cov. w/$1,000 Ded.
State FarmBest Score (Out of 100)88Annual Premium$883Monthly Premium$74
TravelersBest Score (Out of 100)88Annual Premium$1,037Monthly Premium$86
GEICOBest Score (Out of 100)88Annual Premium$936Monthly Premium$78
NationwideBest Score (Out of 100)87Annual Premium$930Monthly Premium$78
ProgressiveBest Score (Out of 100)86Annual Premium$1,120Monthly Premium$93
FarmersBest Score (Out of 100)86Annual Premium$1,192Monthly Premium$99
AllstateBest Score (Out of 100)85Annual Premium$1,124Monthly Premium$94
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MoneyGeek has state-by-state recommendations for the most affordable car insurance policies that will best fit your needs, depending on where you live.

Step 5: Shop Around for Car Insurance Quotes

Understanding how to buy car insurance isn't just about knowing your needs; it's about effectively comparing options to get the best deal.

Here's a step-by-step approach to ensure you're making an informed choice:

Consistency in Coverage

When comparing quotes, it's important to ask for the same type of coverage across the board. This ensures you're comparing apples to apples.

Maximize Discounts

Always ensure you've applied all eligible car insurance discounts. Discounts can vary from provider to provider, but common ones often relate to safe driving, multi-policy bundles or memberships.

Multiple Quotes

Get quotes from at least three insurance companies. This gives you a clearer view of the market.

Expand Your Search

Pooling more than three quotes can be helpful. Companies may offer different rates for the same coverage because they weigh factors like age, driving history and credit score differently.

Use Online Resources

Tools like the MoneyGeek car insurance calculator can provide a wealth of information, helping you discern between necessities and non-essentials in coverage.

Remember, insurers use many factors to calculate rates, but understanding the impact of your age, driving history and credit score can be particularly enlightening as you navigate the process.

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One of the best ways to save money on insurance is by asking for a home and auto bundle. If you’re already happy with your home insurance provider, bundling your policies under the same provider is typically cheaper.

Car Insurance Calculator

MoneyGeeks's car insurance calculator will give you a customized estimate of your auto insurance cost. It's free to use, requires no personal information and we won't send you any spam.


Rates updated:

Jun 17, 2024

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Step 6: Purchase Your Car Insurance Policy

Once you’ve decided on a policy, it’s time to make your purchase.

Apply for the Policy

Once you've chosen a provider, complete their application process, which typically involves filling out personal, vehicle and driving history details.

Set Up Payment

Pick how you want to pay: monthly, quarterly or yearly. Most providers have online options to make this easy.

Receive Confirmation

After submitting your application and making the initial payment, you should receive a confirmation, often via email, detailing your policy information.

Your car insurance policy often becomes active upon completing your application and making the necessary payment. If you want to save a bit more, consider setting up automatic payments — many providers offer discounts for this. Additionally, paying your premium in full might result in cost reductions.

Unsure about the policy? Many car insurance companies offer both six-month and 12-month policy periods. Opting for a six-month policy can be a great way to "trial" a provider or plan.

If you're switching insurers, start your new policy before ending the old one to stay covered and avoid a lapse in coverage.

Tips on Shopping for Car Insurance

Car insurance can feel expensive, but you have more control over your costs than you might think. Here are a few clever ways to save money while maintaining the coverage you need.

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    Don’t Overlook Usage-Based Programs

    Many insurers offer programs that track your driving habits through an app or device. Safe driving behavior (smooth braking, no speeding, limited late-night driving) can earn you significant discounts. Ask your potential insurers if they offer such a program.

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    Bundle Your Policies

    Bundling home/renters insurance with car insurance from the same company often unlocks significant discounts. Ask your chosen insurer (or others if you're still comparing) about the potential savings with bundling. The best home and auto bundles can save you hundreds of dollars annually.

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    Leverage Memberships and Affiliations

    Many organizations offer car insurance discounts to their members. Check with your employer, professional associations or alums groups to see if they have partnerships with insurers.

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    Review Your Coverage Annually

    Your insurance needs may change over time. Review your policy annually to ensure it suits your current situation. You might be able to lower your premiums by adjusting coverage types or limits if your circumstances allow.

FAQ About Buying Car Insurance

Equipping yourself with the right information will help you find the best car insurance that suits your needs. Read and review the most common questions you'll most likely encounter when looking for the best insurance for your car.

What do you do if no insurance company will insure you?
What is the minimum amount of insurance you should have?
How long does it take to get car insurance?
How do you get car insurance if you can't afford it?
Do you need a driver’s license to get car insurance?
Which companies allow you to pay for insurance with a credit card?
Can you insure a car that's not registered in your name?
How do you get car insurance after a policy cancellation?

Experts' Insights on How to Buy Car Insurance

  1. What are some key things to consider when choosing a car insurance company?
  2. How can individuals best assess how much coverage they need when shopping for car insurance?
  3. What is your advice for consumers who are shopping around for car insurance quotes? What are some strategies to get the best possible quote?
  4. What are some strategies to get the best possible quote?
Angelo DeCandia
Angelo DeCandiaInstructor at Touro University
Yibing Du, Ph.D.
Yibing Du, Ph.D.Clinical Assistant Professor at The University of Texas at Arlington
Li Zhang, Ph.D.
Li Zhang, Ph.D.Professor at Department of Finance, Insurance and Real Estate at St. Cloud State University
Lynne McChristian
Lynne McChristianDirector at Office of Risk Management & Insurance Research at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Joe Roberts, Ph.D.
Joe Roberts, Ph.D.Director, Center for Innovation and Professional Development at Webster University
John Espenschied
John EspenschiedAgency Owner of Insurance Brokers Group
Evan W. Walker
Evan W. WalkerAttorney at Evan Walker Law
David Eckles, Ph.D.
David Eckles, Ph.D.P. George Benson Professor of Risk Management and Insurance Program at the University of Georgia
Frank Paiano
Frank PaianoProfessor Emeritus at Southwestern Community College, Registered Representative
Lauren Fix
Lauren FixEditor In Chief of Car Coach Reports

About Danielle Beck-Hunter

Danielle Beck-Hunter headshot

Danielle Beck-Hunter is a personal finance researcher specializing in auto insurance for the past three years. She is passionate about financial education and aims to help readers live their best lives while saving money. Her writing has been featured on various insurance websites.