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You are not required to pay a deposit to compare car insurance quotes, but you will need to pay a deposit, which is basically your first payment, once you buy coverage, says Penny Gusner, senior consumer analyst for CarInsurance.com.

"You are required to make a deposit in the form of a minimum down payment when purchasing your auto insurance policy if you do not pay for your policy in full. The down payment is usually calculated as a percentage of the entire term premium," says Gusner.

There really is no such thing as "no deposit" car insurance.

Drivers use the phrase "no-deposit insurance" when they are trying to find insurance policies that don't require a high first payment when they purchase it. While the amount of money you'll have to pay to put your car insurance coverage into effect will depend on your insurance company, your location, your age, the type of car you drive and your driving history, among other factors, you'll always have to make a first payment to start your coverage.

This is important to note, because the term" no-deposit insurance" is sometimes used in advertising to imply that you can get car insurance coverage  before you make any payments. That's not true. You must make a payment for your coverage to start.

The best way to find the smallest deposit, or first payment, is to compare car insurance quotes from multiple insurers to find the cheapest car insurance for your particular driver profile.

Once you make a down payment, then make payments periodically. Each state has requirements on the minimum down payment, but it is typically 25% of the policy premium. If you need insurance and cannot afford a large down payment, and are looking for cheap car insurance with no deposit, there are many types of payment plans to help you purchase the policy that you need.

Once you have an auto insurance quote and have decided you want to set up a payment plan, the insurance company involved will inform you of the down payment amount that will be due to put the policy into effect. Remember, the down payment is usually calculated as a percentage of the entire term premium. Your specific insurer can inform you if it is the typical 16%, 25% or 33%, or a different percent of your full premium amount.