Step-By-Step Checklist for Getting Car Insurance

There's a lot to consider when you're looking for car insurance. How much coverage do you need? Who's the best insurance provider? How can you lower your premiums? This step-by-step checklist will help you find the perfect car insurance coverage for your needs.

Understand Different Types of Car Insurance

There are several types of car insurance. "Full coverage" insurance usually includes the following:

  • Liability insurance covers bodily injury or property damage you cause while driving.
  • Collision insurance covers repairs to a vehicle or object (such as a fence) that you damage in an accident.
  • Comprehensive insurance covers vehicle theft or damage unrelated to an accident, such as fire, vandalism or a tornado.
  • Uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance covers medical bills and other costs from an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver.
  • Medical payments/personal injury protection insurance covers medical and related costs if a passenger in your car is injured in an accident.

You can also add "extra" coverage; see Car Insurance Extras to Consider below for more.

Decide How Much Car Insurance You Need

  • Most states require a minimum amount of liability and uninsured/underinsured driver insurance. That's a good starting point when deciding on coverage.
  • Leased or financed cars must have comprehensive and collision coverage as mandated by the lender.
  • If your car is older, collision and comprehensive insurance may not be worth the cost; the most they'll pay out is the total value of the car.
  • If you own your home or have other assets, consider adding umbrella insurance to protect them.
  • Review your budget to estimate how much insurance you can afford.
  • Aim to strike a balance between your budget and your insurance needs.

Choose an Insurance Company

  • You can shop for car insurance online at insurance company websites or use an insurance comparison site like The Zebra.
  • If you want a personal touch, talk to an insurance agent.
    • Ask friends and neighbors or search online review sites for recommendations.
    • Captive insurance agents sell insurance from one company.
    • Independent insurance agents sell policies from multiple carriers; they can help you shop around for the best insurance.
  • Read car insurance reviews such as the J.D. Power Auto Insurance Satisfaction Study to see what customers say about carriers you're considering.
  • Check A.M. Best's rating of the carrier's financial stability.
  • Check for consumer complaints about providers at the NAIC website.
  • If you're interested in a certain type of insurance, such as pay-per-mile coverage, look for a company that offers it.
  • Compare quotes for the same type and amount of coverage from at least three insurance companies.
  • To get the most accurate quote, be prepared to provide:
    • Make, model, year and vehicle identification number (VIN) for each car you want to insure
    • Driver's license information for everyone in your household you want to insure
    • An estimate of how many miles your cars are driven annually
    • Your current car insurance policy, if you have one

There are dozens of car insurance companies to consider. Here are some reviews to get you started in your search.

Look for Ways to Reduce Your Car Insurance Costs

Car Insurance Extras to Consider

Many insurance companies offer specialty car insurance extras that can save you money.

  • Accident forgiveness prevents an accident from increasing your premiums.
  • Gap insurance covers the difference between what you owe on your auto loan or lease and the car's value if the car is totaled.
  • Rideshare driving insurance covers you during the period when you're logged in to the rideshare app but haven't accepted a trip request.
  • Roadside assistance insurance provides emergency help for flat tires or other breakdowns.
  • Rental reimbursement insurance pays for a rental car while your car is undergoing covered repairs.
  • If you often drive in Mexico, you need insurance from a Mexican company; many U.S. insurers sell this through partners.
  • New-car replacement coverage replaces your car with a new one of the same make and model if it's totaled within a certain number of miles or years.
  • Windshield/glass insurance replaces or repairs auto glass with little or no deductible.
  • Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) insurance pays for using factory parts in covered repairs.
  • Customized equipment insurance covers the cost to repair or replace aftermarket equipment on your car.
  • Classic or collectors' car insurance covers specialized repairs, parts and restoration classic cars need.
  • Pet insurance coverage pays medical costs if a pet in your car is injured in an accident.
  • Umbrella insurance provides additional coverage if expenses or lawsuits exceed the limits of your car insurance.

Learn More About Car Insurance