Guide to Selecting the Best Car Insurance Policy Online

The first car insurance policy I got on my own as an “adult” after I graduated college was through a local agent in my hometown.  He was, in stereotypical insurance salesperson fashion, loud, obnoxious, and completely overbearing.  Before I wised-up, he cajoled, intimidated, and ruthlessly steered me towards years of unnecessary coverage and policy upgrades.  Obviously, the internet and online insurance shopping has eliminated many of the issues that I faced as a younger driver, but buying insurance online is still a challenge for the unprepared.

Make Sure You Research Your Provider

If you are like most people, you probably know more about fictional caveman and CGI rendered lizards than you do about the actual company that they represent.  While most policies and companies may seem homogeneous, there are actual differences beyond the nature of their marketing campaigns.  A great jingle or clever mascot is going to be little consolation in the event of an accident if the nearest agent is located hundreds of miles from your house.

Additionally, many insurance companies offer discounts for a number of reasons, including occupation, current military status, and for having a home insurance policy with the same company.  While most companies are going to use a similar software algorithm to determine baselines insurance rates, it is the hidden costs, and benefits, that often make all of the difference.

Understand What Impacts Price Variation

While it is obvious to most people that the amount of coverage in a particular policy affects the overall monthly cost of the policy, it may not be as obvious when it comes to evaluating the things about them personally that impact the overall cost.  Both driving record and personal credit score have a direct impact on the total monthly rate.

One of the most common deceptive, yet totally legal, practices that companies engage in when providing an online quote is that during the initial stages of the application process they will provide consumers with a generic quote that doesn’t include their personal driving information or credit score.  Once the consumer signs off on a particular company and becomes invested in the application process, pow! The actual, individually calibrated rate is revealed.

Understand What’s Being Compared

One of the biggest advantages of shopping for car insurance online is that it is easy to examine quotes from several different companies at the same time and make a decision based on a real-time comparison.  However, not all insurance policies are created equal.

Discrepancies in coverage amount and type can lead to a comparison that is not as accurate as the raw data may imply.  Whether it is a result of the data being entered into the quote generator or simply a flaw in the software itself, this type of issue can make it difficult to accurately compare providers.

Play with the Numbers

The best thing about technology is that now, everything happens instantly, with virtually no hassle.  In the dark ages of pre-internet insurance shopping, understanding how minor shifts in coverage amount affected the overall cost of the policy involved an extremely grumpy agent.  With the ability to instantly update policy details and costs it is possible to quickly decide exactly how much a specific reduction in coverage amount is worth relative to the bottom line.

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