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In today’s digital world, most major car insurance carriers have a portal for their customers to purchase a policy online, whether on a website or a mobile app. Most of the time, buying auto insurance online is a quick and easy way to get coverage quickly. However, not having the personal touch of an agent can leave you with questions about the types of coverage you should include and what coverage limits are sufficient.

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From the first click of your mouse to finalizing your policy, Bankrate has created this step-by-step guide to help guide you through buying car insurance online.

What to know before purchasing car insurance online

Before starting a quote online, you may want to make sure you have the right details and information on hand. In most cases, you will be prompted to enter personal information, such as your full name, birthdate, address and ZIP code, in order to get a quote. Having the information about your vehicle make and model on hand can also help. You will need your driver’s license and vehicle identification number (VIN) to finalize the policy, but providing it earlier in the process could help you receive more accurate insurance rates. These specifics may change your quoted insurance premium, especially if you received a quote by only providing partial information.

Since you won’t be sitting down with a licensed insurance agent to guide you through the process, you may want to answer the following questions before purchasing insurance online.

  • If you have a loan or lease on your car, does your financial institution require you to have certain minimum limits and deductibles? If you need a full coverage policy, you’ll want to know before you have to choose an option.
  • If you do not have a loan or lease, do you want full coverage or are you comfortable with liability only coverage? Although most states require at least a minimum amount of liability coverage, many experts recommend purchasing additional coverage if possible to avoid leaving yourself financially vulnerable. If you were to get in a car accident without sufficient coverage, you’d likely have to pay damages and medical bills out of pocket.
  • Do you want a company that provides a mobile app? If you prefer to manage your auto insurance online, you may want to choose a provider that offers an easy-to-use mobile app. Some carriers, like Allstate, offer digital app features like “QuickFoto Claim” which allows you to submit claims and photos of your accident in the app.
  • Do you want a bundling discount for future policies? Many auto insurance providers offer bundling discounts where you can save for holding multiple insurance policies from the same carrier.
  • How important is it for your company to have a support phone number in case you have questions? Make sure the company you choose has reliable customer service if that’s important to you. Some companies, like State Farm and Progressive offer 24/7 customer service hotlines.
  • What is the claims process and do you feel comfortable with it? Some claims can be processed through a mobile app, while other companies may have you file them on a computer or over the phone. Find out what you prefer and what your potential carriers offer.

What coverage types are right for you?

The policy type that will be right for you depends on your specific circumstances and preferences. Below are several of the most popular options.

  • Bodily injury and property damage liability: This pays out for costs of injuries and damaged property to others when you cause an accident.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage: If you’re involved in an accident with someone who doesn’t carry any insurance or doesn’t have enough coverage to cover costs associated with the crash, this coverage will kick in to pay for medical bills and property damage.
  • Collision coverage: Collision will pay for damages to your vehicle if you are at fault in a covered accident. This coverage usually carries a deductible and is optional if you aren’t financing or leasing.
  • Comprehensive coverage: Comprehensive pays to repair the damage to your vehicle caused by acts of nature (such as flooding, wind, or hail), fire, theft, vandalism and hitting an animal. Like collision, comprehensive usually carries a deductible as it is optional if you own the vehicle outright.
  • Medical payments coverage: This pays out to cover your and your passengers’ medical bills in the event of a covered crash, regardless of fault.
  • Personal injury protection insurance: PIP pays out regardless of fault and covers losses due to an accident, including costs such as medical expenses, funeral expenses and even lost wages .

Best online car insurance companies

Now that you may want to shop online for car insurance, you are probably wondering where to start. There are dozens of popular auto insurers out there, but not all of them may be right for you. We reviewed numerous auto insurance companies by examining factors like customer satisfaction, ease of the online application process, available discounts, mobile app availability and claims satisfaction to help you to find a company that might be right for you. Out of the companies we reviewed, these were the standout features we identified for each one:

Company A good option for…
Geico Convenient mobile app
Allstate Customer support options
Amica Easy application process
State Farm Online claims management

Geico

Geico is a company that offers quick and easy quotes and generally cheap rates. Geico ranks highly for customer satisfaction, utilizes a user-friendly quoting system and makes it simple to file a claim. Geico’s mobile app is a standout in the industry. Policyholders can do everything from making policy changes to paying a bill and filing a claim within the app. You can even download your proof of insurance ID cards for easy access. Plus, Geico’s website allows you to complete certain tasks without even logging in, which is great for anyone who easily forgets their password.

Learn more: Geico Insurance review

Allstate

Allstate offers users a multi-functional website. Better yet, Allstate makes it simple to get direct customer support if handling your policy yourself becomes overwhelming. You can even reach Allstate via e-mail or through a digital chat. Allstate offers a variety of discounts and plenty of agents nationwide in the event that you need to talk to someone face-to-face after you have purchased your online policy.

Learn more: Allstate Insurance review

Amica

If you want an easy and hassle-free option, you might appreciate Amica’s online application process. You begin by entering in your address and answering just a few simple questions that will help determine if you are eligible for a quote. The application is then broken down into five simple sections — your information, vehicles, drivers, discounts and your quote summary. If you need to step away from your computer, you can save a quote and return to it later. As an added benefit, Amica received the second-highest rating from J.D. Power for claims satisfaction. For more information, visit www.amica.com.

Learn more: Amica Insurance review

State Farm

State Farm offers a convenient and well-designed claims management system that is easy to navigate. Choose the type of incident you are dealing with and the website will break the claims process down into five steps. Even third parties involved in an incident with a State Farm driver, but who are not insured with State Farm themselves, can create an account to track a claim. Additionally, there is a digital chat button on every claims page so you can easily chat with a representative if you have a question.

Learn more: State Farm Insurance review

How to compare multiple car insurance quotes at the same time

Online insurance comparison websites can help you purchase auto insurance online. These sites typically use artificial intelligence to match you with multiple companies and give you quotes.

For instance, online insurance comparison site Insurify is an insurance marketplace that can make your shopping process simpler. You simply fill out your information and preferences, and Insurify gives you quotes from multiple providers. The company is free to use and helps you save money by allowing you to compare quotes and purchase a policy all in one place.

Pros and cons of buying auto insurance online

Buying car insurance online may or may not be the best option for you. When deciding whether or not to buy insurance online, you may want to consider the following pros and cons.

Pros Cons
Generating quotes and buying all in one place May not get personalized guidance from a licensed insurance agent
Quick and easy Limiting your options to companies who offer to sell policies online

If you already know what type of policy you need and how much coverage you want, purchasing auto insurance online can be a great option. You can generate a quote to see how much you’d pay, and the process is typically quick and easy. Even better, you usually won’t have to pay an agent fee.

However, if you aren’t sure what type of policy would be right for you, it may be best to buy a policy in person or over the phone. That way, you can discuss your preferences and needs with a licensed insurance agent who can help tailor a policy to fit your specific needs.

Buying insurance online is usually quicker and easier, but buying it in person from an insurance agent may be a better option for those who don’t know what type of policy they want yet.

How to save on online auto insurance

Are you hoping to buy cheap car insurance online? Buying car insurance online is not necessarily a cheaper option than more traditional methods. However, that does not mean that you will not be able to find affordable coverage.

The average cost of full coverage car insurance in the U.S. is $1,771 annually, but it’s possible to score lower rates. Here are some of the easiest ways to save money on your online auto insurance:

  • Shop around: The online quoting process is usually simple, so it may be in your best interest to get a quote from more than one company. As long as you are getting quotes for the same coverage, you should be able to compare rates and select the one that is most affordable.
  • Bundle your policies: You might qualify for a multi-policy discount if you insure more than one policy with the same insurance company. If you already have a homeowners or renters policy elsewhere, you may want to quote it alongside your car insurance policy to see how significant the discount is.
  • Explore every discount: Many car insurance companies have several discounts available. You may be eligible for a reduced premium based on your driving record, your grades, your employer, your vehicle’s safety features and even your driving frequency.

When shopping around, remember that the cheapest price is not always the best option. Be sure that you are getting quotes for the coverage that you need and not just the cheapest available. If you are not sure how much coverage to purchase, it may be best to start your auto insurance search by talking to a licensed agent.

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