Car insurance is expensive, and cutting costs is crucial for folks whose budgets are tightening as prices rise. There are many ways to save money on auto insurance, but the most effective way is to compare car insurance quotes with a number of providers.

Each car insurance company has its own criteria for setting rates, so comparing quotes can help you get the right coverage at the best rate. 

“Prices for the same coverage can vary by hundreds of dollars from company to company, so it pays to shop around,” says Carole Walker, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Association. 

But before you start collecting car insurance quotes, there are some important things you should know. If you are wondering how to get a car insurance quote, here’s how to do it right. 

Key Highlights
  • Gathering multiple quotes is the best way to get a good deal on car insurance. 
  • Get quotes by using the help of an agent or by getting quotes online. 
  • Providing details about your driving history and rating factors can help you get accurate quotes. 
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Written by:
Chris Kissell
Contributing Researcher
Chris Kissell is a Denver-based writer and editor with work featured on U.S. News & World Report, MSN Money, Fox Business, Forbes, Yahoo Finance, Money Talks News and more.
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Reviewed by:
Laura Longero
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Executive Editor
Laura is an award-winning editor with experience in content and communications covering auto insurance and personal finance. She has written for several media outlets, including the USA Today Network. She most recently worked in the public sector for the Nevada Department of Transportation.

How to get a quote for car insurance

When gathering car insurance quotes, following a checklist helps ensure you do things correctly.

Here is a step-by-step breakdown of how to do it: 

  1. Figure out how much coverage you need. This includes determining how much liability insurance to carry and whether you want to purchase collision and comprehensive coverage. You also must decide whether to purchase personal injury protection coverage, medical payments coverage and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
  2. Gather important documents. When shopping for quotes, you must have a few documents handy, including your driver’s license, current policy and information about your car loan. 
  3. Decide how to obtain quotes. One way to gather quotes is to go to individual car insurance sites and ask for a quote. A much quicker way to get quotes is to go to a one-stop shop that instantly compiles several quotes. You can also consider shopping through an independent insurance broker or agent. 
  4. Compare coverages and quotes, and select an insurer. The final step in the process is to decide which insurer offers the coverage you need at the best price and then select the insurance company that is best for you

Many drivers focus exclusively on price when gathering and comparing quotes. While it is wise to try to keep your costs lower, failing to look beyond price can be a mistake. 

“It’s important to not just compare the price of car insurance, but also coverage types offered, available discounts and claims service,” Walker says. 

She urges car insurance shoppers to make sure they are getting the right type of coverage – and enough coverage – to protect themselves financially. 

“Cutting corners on car insurance is dangerous because the type of policy and coverage limits will determine how much money you’ll receive when you’re involved in a crash, or your car is stolen or damaged,” Walker says.

Online quotes vs. quotes from an agent offline

Some people prefer to work with an agent when searching for the best car insurance policy. These buyers feel better having the help of an expert to guide them through the process. 

Those who choose this process can work with an independent agent representing several insurance companies. Or, they can choose to work with “captive” agents who represent one insurer. 

Another way to buy insurance is to get online quotes directly from individual car insurers or through a website that instantly offers quotes from several different insurers. For those who don’t mind a DIY approach, buying online speeds up the process of shopping for car insurance. 

Explore in detail whether it is cheaper to buy car insurance online or through an agent

How to get an anonymous car insurance quote

If you prefer to get car insurance quotes anonymously without revealing your identity to an agent or broker, your best bet is likely to obtain quotes online. 

However, it’s crucial to understand the limitations of anonymous quotes. If you refuse to provide key personal information, the quote you receive is less likely to be accurate. 

Insurers need to know some key personal details — such as your driving record, insurance history and information about your car — to give you a precise quote. 

If you plan to purchase a policy, you must provide these key details. It’s simply impossible to secure a policy without doing so. 

Anonymously estimate car insurance costs based on your state and driver profile using our tool

How do car insurance quotes work?

A car insurance quote is an estimate of how much you can expect to pay for a policy with an individual insurer. The more accurately you respond to the insurer’s requests for personal information, the more precise the quote will be. 

When formulating a quote, the insurer relies on its own risk assessment algorithm. This algorithm helps the insurer determine how likely it is that you will file a claim, which in turn helps to establish a premium rate for you as a policyholder. 

Some of the factors that can help determine your quote include

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Driving history
  • Location of residence
  • Make and model of vehicle

Car insurance quotes typically remain in effect for 30 days. However, they are not a guarantee of the price you will pay, but rather an estimate. 

Learn more about what a car insurance quote is

Does getting a car insurance quote affect your credit?

Getting a car insurance quote will not impact your credit. 

Car insurance companies might check your credit, but they will do so via what is known as a “soft pull.” This type of credit check does not impact your credit score. 

In a handful of states, car insurance companies are prohibited from checking your credit. 

Can you get an auto insurance quote without owning a car?

Some people do not own a car but still want car insurance for occasions when they rent a vehicle. Many insurers sell policies to these drivers, known as non-owner insurance policies. 

This coverage typically costs less than a standard car insurance policy. However, it’s important to note that a non-owner insurance policy usually only provides liability coverage and will not reimburse damages to you or the car you are driving. 

Final thoughts on how to get a car insurance quote

Obtaining several car insurance quotes is the best way to ensure you get the coverage you need at the best price. 

“You should get at least three different price quotes,” Walker says.

Fortunately, there are many ways to gather multiple quotes. Providing the right information to potential insurers can help you get the most accurate quotes to find the right policy for your needs. 

FAQ: How to get car insurance quotes

How long does it take to get a quote for car insurance?

Gathering car insurance quotes is usually a quick process. Going through an agent might take some time, but it is usually quick. However, the fastest way to get quotes is to go to a website that gathers several quotes simultaneously. This is a nearly instantaneous way to get quotes. 

How can I get a free quote for car insurance?

Car insurance quotes are free — if a car insurer asks you to pay for a quote, it should raise a red flag. 

“You should never have to pay for a car insurance quote,” Walker says. “All reputable insurers will provide free insurance quotes that allow you to shop for coverage.”

You can obtain free quotes directly from an insurer, through an insurance agent or through a website that quickly offers quotes from several different insurers. 

Why do car insurance quotes vary from one insurer to another?

Car insurance quotes vary because each insurance company has its own criteria for setting rates. Each insurer has thousands of auto insurance rates in every state where it does business, according to Walker. This includes separate rates for: 

  • Each type of car
  • Each driver 
  • Every geographical area in the state

“Each company also has its own surcharges and discounts available that impact these rates,” Walker says. 

Learn more about whether you can negotiate car insurance

Resources & Methodology

Sources

National Conference of State Legislatures. “States Consider Limits on Insurers’ Use of Consumer Credit Info.” Accessed September 2023

Laura Longero

Ask the Insurance Expert

Laura Longero

Executive Editor

Laura is an award-winning editor with experience in content and communications covering auto insurance and personal finance. She has written for several media outlets, including the USA Today Network. She most recently worked in the public sector for the Nevada Department of Transportation.

John McCormick

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John McCormick

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John is the editorial director for CarInsurance.com, Insurance.com and Insure.com. Before joining QuinStreet, John was a deputy editor at The Wall Street Journal and had been an editor and reporter at a number of other media outlets where he covered insurance, personal finance, and technology.

Leslie Kasperowicz

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Leslie Kasperowicz

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Leslie Kasperowicz is an insurance educator and content creation professional with nearly two decades of experience first directly in the insurance industry at Farmers Insurance and then as a writer, researcher, and educator for insurance shoppers writing for sites like ExpertInsuranceReviews.com and InsuranceHotline.com and managing content, now at CarInsurance.com.

Nupur Gambhir

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Nupur Gambhir

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Nupur Gambhir is a content editor and licensed life, health, and disability insurance expert. She has extensive experience bringing brands to life and has built award-nominated campaigns for travel and tech. Her insurance expertise has been featured in Bloomberg News, Forbes Advisor, CNET, Fortune, Slate, Real Simple, Lifehacker, The Financial Gym, and the end-of-life planning service.

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Contributing Researcher

Chris Kissell is a Denver-based writer and editor with work featured on U.S. News & World Report, MSN Money, Fox Business, Forbes, Yahoo Finance, Money Talks News and more.