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How to Compare Car Insurance

Finding the right car insurance company for your needs and budget can require some time and research. Fortunately, there are many ways to compare car insurance companies from the comfort of your own home. Most of the qualities of a good car insurance company can be researched online.

The best way to begin comparing insurance companies is to get quotes from several companies, which can easily be done by simply entering your zip code in the box at the top of this screen. Get quotes from several companies.

When you have a short list of the companies that offer the best prices, you can begin comparing the details of each company directly. Try to narrow the choices down to five or fewer so that you can really focus on the differences between each policy without becoming overwhelmed by the different options. Each company offers different rating structures, discounts and special offers.

Insurance Coverage Areas

Some companies, like State Farm, have offices in each of the 50 states. When you compare insurance companies, find out where they are based and how many locations they have. Companies that operate exclusively online will have a list of states where their insurance is accepted. Most insurance companies have a very broad reach and can provide coverage in any state.

AAA offers auto insurance to customers throughout the United States. The insurance coverage is not tied directly to AAA’s famous roadside assistance plan, which means that anyone can purchase insurance whether members of AAA or not.

The benefit of purchasing insurance from a company with such a wide base of operations as AAA is that you can move from state to state and still maintain your insurance policy with the same carrier. Your rates may change as you change locations, but you can remain comfortable with the insurance company that you are used to using.

Online Insurance Companies versus Brick and Mortar

Since the internet has become safer for consumers and more dynamic for businesses, it has grown into one of the most popular ways to purchase car insurance. Several companies like Progressive and Esurance do not sell their policies through any brick and mortar locations at all. They are strictly available as online insurance companies. When you compare different car insurance companies, you need to understand how online insurance coverage can differ from traditional brick and mortar coverage.

Progressive is an online car insurance company that offers quotes from several different agencies on its website. In general, Progressive will attempt to provide customers with a lower price than the quotes offered by competing companies.

Progressive customers can choose from several different types of coverage, including auto, motorcycle, and recreational vehicle insurance. Customers deal with Progressive mainly through e-mail exchanges rather than over the phone, which can make communication slower than you would experience with a traditional insurance agent. Safe drivers who do rarely file claims may find that the low cost of working with an online insurance company is worth the limited communication options.

Insurance Companies that Cover Specific Groups

When you compare different car insurance companies, make sure you pay attention to companies that cover specific demographics. Companies like the AARP offer insurance to people who are age 65 or older. AARP can offer discounts to because is zeroes in on this specific demographic. Young inexperienced drivers are not part of the customer base, so their high accident rates do not affect the cost of insurance for everyone else.

AARP and other similar special interest insurance companies can focus their coverage on certain drivers who fall into special categories. This reduction in driving variables usually benefits the insurance customer because it helps keep the car insurance rates lower.

Compare Insurance Company Ratings

Part of comparing insurance companies is to find out how financial stable the companies are. Those with the longest history are more likely to continue being there when it’s time to pay claims. You want an insurance company that has been in business a long time, with a reliable record for paying claims.

There are online resources to help you conduct a thorough investigation into the standing of several different insurance companies. When you have compiled a list of companies you are the most interested in, visit a ratings site to see where those companies fall in the list of car insurance companies.

Rating site J.D. Power and Associates is an excellent resource of information about the reputation of individual insurance companies. They publish the results of policyholder surveys from all parts of the country. If you visit the J.D. Power and Associates website, you will see the detailed listings of the most popular insurance companies and how their customers rate the companies’ performance. This can be a powerful tool to help you choose between well-established insurance companies that operate in your area.

Standard and Poor's is another rating company that provides the financial information about different insurance companies. If you are unsure about how solid or trustworthy a particular insurance company is, you can check the Standard and Poor's website to see how the company's financial holdings are rated.

If the financial information shows that the company is doing well, you can feel more confident that the insurance company will be able to cover your costs if you are involved in a serious accident. If the company looks less financially sound, you may do better to choose a different, more stable insurance company.

Customer Reviews and Online Forums

Reading through customer reviews or online forums may be the most time consuming way to compare insurance companies, but it is also the most revealing. Former and current customers from several different insurance companies are listed on different internet sites where they give candid reviews of the service they received.

Checking reviews for the performance of any service organization requires checking into more than one source for your information. Do not rely on one or two reviews to make your final decision. Give the company a fair chance by reading at least five different reviews before you create an opinion of the company.

Remember that the majority of the people who take time to go online and leave a review about a company or a service agency are doing so because they are unhappy with the service they received. For every negative review, there are at least five other customers who are happy enough with the service that they do not feel the need to post something about it online.

Local Auto Repair Shops

You can learn a great deal about insurance companies by speaking to people who deal with them on a daily basis. Talk to the technicians at a local auto body repair shop about the insurance companies you are considering. These professionals can often give you inside information on what it is like to deal with each of the different insurance companies that they have worked with throughout their careers.

If the insurance company has dealt fairly with a mechanic, you can trust they will be more likely to deal fairly with you as a customer. If a mechanic has some horror stories to tell you about some of the insurance companies he or she has dealt with, you may have better luck finding a different insurance company to work with.

Individual Agents

State Farm is an insurance company that has agents all over the United States. Each agent works independently and represents State Farm as an agency. It is misleading to compare the overall image and reputation of State Farm without considering the image and reputation of each individual agent.

When you research customer reviews, remember that each agent has a unique personality and character when it comes to dealing with customers. A State Farm agent that works in one city may receive poor reviews online, but the State Farm agent around the block from your house may receive glowing reports from customers.

When you compare car insurance agencies, begin with the general overview of each company and then narrow your research down to agents that operate in your specific area. Insurance companies vary widely be region due to the personal nature of providing insurance to individual customers. Insurance companies that are based strictly online are the only ones that do not have significant regional differences because they operate remotely and serve a wider geographic base of customers. In the end, you should find the insurance company that you believe you will feel the most comfortable working with if there is ever a problem.