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Comparing auto insurance rates is a great idea for anyone who needs to save money on automobile insurance. There are hundreds of auto insurance companies, and thousands of different kinds of specials and discounts.

This can make it hard to tell which provider offers the best rates. Fortunately, there are some steps and tips to follow that will help to get you the best deal.

car insurance comparisonBefore You Begin

Before you begin to shop for auto insurance, gather together some important paperwork. This should include the details of your driving history, the make, model and VIN numbers of the cars you will be insuring, and the driver license numbers of all of the drivers in your household that you will be covered under the policy.

It can also be helpful to prepare a list of security features your cars have, their current mileage, the average number of miles driven in a year, and any other special features such as anti-lock brakes.

Collecting Quotes

After you have compiled all of this information start getting insurance quotes over the phone and online. One great option to use is a car insurance calculator. With these online tools, all you have to do is enter your zip code, and companies will list the amount that they will charge you for auto insurance. This can be a great way to save time and money when shopping for auto insurance.

As you get quotes, pay close attention to the helpfulness and friendliness of the insurance agents. A company that has rude agents when you’re trying to purchase insurance will likely be difficult to work with when you have to make a claim. If you get quotes online, research the reputation of the company.

Don’t reject an insurance company because they do not have a local office. Many online auto insurance companies use local agents in the event you have to make a claim, and a lot of them have lower premiums than their brick and mortar counterparts.

Ideally, try to research and comparison shop between four and seven different companies. Make sure to include a variety of different companies in your search, including both large and small providers. In addition to price, be sure to consider the quality and reputation of the company. Talk to friends and relatives, read online reviews, and look up companies with the Better Business Bureau.

A car insurance calculator will often provide quotes from several different companies, greatly reducing the amount of time you would otherwise have to spend researching each company separately.

Each company that gives you a quote in an auto insurance calculator will also give you some background on their company along with easy to follow links to do more of your own research if you like to know a lot about the company you buy auto insurance from.

Create a Spreadsheet

In order to keep all of these companies separate and organized as you get quotes, create a chart or spreadsheet. When creating your spreadsheet, be sure that you have a column for the name and phone number of each company, the premium amount for various levels of coverage, deals, or promotions, and additional notes or remarks on the reputation of the provider.

This may seem like a daunting and very time consuming project, but when using an auto insurance calculator, it can be very easy and quick to fill in a spreadsheet like this. The results that you get from an auto insurance calculator can be easily copied and pasted into a spreadsheet, and the quotes that are provided usually come with enough information to fill in all the necessary fields.

How much insurance do I need?

Figuring out how much insurance you need can be tricky. When you’re getting quotes, start by asking what the total cost to insure each of the vehicles at the minimum level of coverage as required by the state would be. Make this minimum amount one of the columns on your spreadsheet. By knowing this amount, you can budget an amount to cover your basic insurance needs, and add additional coverage as desired.

It is also important to find out how much it will cost you to insure the vehicles with higher premium amounts. If you have a lot of assets to protect buying insurance beyond the state required minimum coverage will protect you in case you are at fault in an accident.

Remember that if you are found to be at fault, you will be required to pay the medical bills of the other driver and all of the vehicles’ passengers. In the case of a serious accident, medical bills can easily cost more than the state required minimum coverage amounts.

It is also important to get prices for additional riders such as collision and comprehensive insurance. These riders cover your vehicle and its contents in the case of an accident where you are at fault. They also provide protection if you are in an accident with an uninsured motorist, a hit and run situation, vandalism, and they can also provide replacement coverage for any stolen items.

Each of these additional riders can increase the total cost of the insurance premium. The protection that will be provided, however, is definitely worth paying more for. For many people, these types of additional coverage are required.

Persons who use their car for work (either to transport clients or company equipment) are often required to have higher insurance levels and/or comprehensive insurance on their vehicles. Many banks also require that any cars which they hold title to; that is, any car with a loan on it, must also be covered by collision insurance. This is to make sure that if the car was in an accident, the bank would be able to get its money back.

Deciding on a Deductible

Finally, be sure to get prices on all of these types of insurance at different levels of deductible. The deductible is the amount of money that you have to pay out of your own pocket in the event that you must make a claim. As the deductible you choose goes up, the premium should decrease.

Carefully consider how much you’re willing to save in premiums in exchange for a higher deductible. If you have very little in savings, a high deductible policy may not be right for you.

After you have base prices for each type of insurance at each deductible level, factor in any discounts. Insurance companies offer a wide array of discounts including multiple driver for having more than one person on the policy, good student for people with high grades, and being a good driver, which typically means you have had no accidents or speeding tickets within the past three years.

Picking an Insurance Company

On your spreadsheet, make a separate column to note each of these discounts. When setting up the spreadsheet, however, only write down the final price of each type and level of coverage. Make a separate column for deals and promotions that do not affect the premium price, such as vanishing deductible rewards and bonus checks for having a clean driving record.

A car insurance calculator will make getting a price quote for each of these types of insurance much easier. Just by filling in your zip code, a variety of car insurance options will be presented you. Each of these options will have different deductibles and coverage levels. Having all of the information in one place will save a lot of time over having to call each company individually.

Once you have completely filled in your spreadsheet, it should be fairly simple to eliminate a few companies immediately. Cross out or delete any companies that had rude agents, and any companies that would not respond to your inquiries.

Also, get rid of any auto insurance provider that has a bad reputation with customer service, payment processing, or dealing with claims. If an emergency happens, your insurance company should help you, not become another hassle to deal with.

Next, start comparing the remaining companies in terms of price. If there was one company with particularly good customer service and/or a good reputation, call or e-mail them and explain to them what prices other auto insurance companies have offered to you.

Occasionally, agents can adjust the price or offer an additional discount in order to gain your business. Remember that not every company can do this, however. When you’re done, consider dropping the companies with the highest premium rates from your list.

When you’re done, look at the remaining companies on your spreadsheet and pick one that is right for your family and finances. Remember that this decision is not about simply picking the cheapest coverage. Consider how the company will respond to claims and any other problems you might have while you are their customer.

After You Have Decided

After have picked your auto insurance provider, keep a copy of the spreadsheet you created. By keeping this copy, shopping for car insurance next year will be much quicker and easier.

Try to add at least one new company to the chart every year to make sure that you are getting a fair and accurate picture of what is available. Of course, you should also shop for auto insurance if you are in the market for a new car.

Comparison shopping for auto insurance will typically only take a few hours, and it can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars a year on insurance premiums.

With a car insurance calculator, it can take a lot less time than that. In fact, many people say that this entire process only takes them a few minutes with a car insurance calculator.

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