Reader Question: I’m interested in getting auto insurance quotes online. What information do I need to have ready to get quotes online and are online quotes accurate?
Obtaining auto insurance quotes online is a fairly easy process. Whether you’re buying car insurance for the first time, or looking for better prices to reduce premiums, getting quotes online is the best place to start. It will help you understand your policy, how it works, compare companies and coverage options, and best of all, many prices at one time.
Back in the “old days,” you had to call every insurance company one by one, providing the same information repeatedly, but now you can get the same quotes, know you’re including the coverage you want, and see them all at once. They can be just as accurate, if not more accurate, than getting quotes over the phone, because you know exactly what information you need to provide, know what you have provided, and hand selected your policy options yourself. If there’s something you can’t remember, that’s okay. Online quoting systems pull the same reports insurance agents do, and it will auto-fill any needed information into your quote, making it just as accurate.
If you currently have insurance, having your current policy in hand for quotes will make things super easy. Your present policy should have almost all the information you need to get insurance quotes. If you don’t have a copy of your policy, here’s the info you’ll need for accurate insurance quotes:
1. Vehicle information — If you only have the year, make, and model of your car, you can still get a quote. However, if you also have the VIN (vehicle identification number), it will make your quote more accurate. If you’re trying to decide on buying one of two cars, include the info on one for a quote, then edit the quote to switch vehicles and see the difference.
2. Personal information — You’ll need to provide your date of birth, address (if you have separate mailing addresses and living address, you’ll need to specify this), driver’s license number, marital status, and student status. If you feel uneasy about putting in this information online, remember this: the safe rule is to never give out information unless YOU initiated the contact. Therefore, if you’re the one who sought the insurance quotes and feel comfortable with the website you’re using, that should help ease any fear. Although you’re not required to give out this information for quotes, not providing certain types of information or changing info can cause very large differences in quotes.
Check with the Better Business Bureau for any complaints against the company or website, and you could even search to see if there’s any negative information online anywhere about the quoting system you’re using. It’s important to note too that the info online quoting systems ask you for is the same information an insurance agent would ask for; it’s simply info that tells insurers what they needs to know to calculate premiums.
Additionally, some worry their credit will be harmed when their credit report is pulled for insurance quotes. When your credit is pulled for insurance, it’s deemed a “soft hit,” which doesn’t damage credit. “Hard hits” hurt credit, and those are when you’re asking for credit to be extended to you, such as applying for credit cards, cars, and mortgages. Soft hits don’t impact your credit negatively, no matter how many times or how many insurers pull it.
3. Driver information — If there are other drivers on the policy, you’ll need the same information from them too. Even if they don’t drive your car, you might need to list them as excluded or as non-drivers. Have their names, dates of birth, and driver’s license number. You WILL need their license number if you buy the policy and if they’re going to be listed as a driver and usually if they’re going to be listed as a non-driver as well.
4. Driving history — This includes any minor tickets for the last three years, major tickets (DUI, driving on suspended license, failure to carry insurance, etc.) in the past five years, and any claims and/or accidents you have had in the past five years. Provide this info for you and any drivers on the policy. If you don’t enter them all in manually, the quoting system will just pull it when they run your driving records and Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) report, which tells insurers about any past accidents you’ve had, your insurance history, and past claims history information.
If you currently have insurance and have been continuously insured for at least six full months, have that information available. You could receive a significant discount on premiums if you have insurance currently and haven’t had any gaps or lapses in coverage.
Once you’ve provided that information, you’ll be asked what coverage options you want.
1. Liability — This is mandatory and your chosen limits are the maximum amount the insurer would pay if someone was hurt or if you damaged property in an accident. Choose the highest limits you can afford.
2. Comprehensive and Collision — This isn’t required unless you have a loan on the car. However, even if you don’t have a loan, if you don’t choose to carry this coverage, you won’t have ANY coverage for your vehicle and would have to absorb all financial loss if the car was damaged or totaled. You’ll need to select deductibles, which is the amount you’re responsible for if there’s a claim.
3. Medical Payments — This gives you and your passengers coverage for any injury in your car regardless of fault. Some states carry PIP (Personal Injury Protection) instead.
4. Additional Options — Roadside assistance, rental car coverage, gap insurance, vanishing deductibles, and accident forgiveness are just a few of the options you can add to customize your policy.
Once you’ve customized your policy, you’re ready to make a decision. Once you’ve compared each quote to the other, go through the process as far as you can before giving credit card information. If your quote amount changes at all, you’ll want to review what perhaps caused the change in rates (such as forgetting about a speeding ticket from a couple years ago that auto-filled when your driving record was ran), but if you can’t find anything that’s changed and see a significant change in premium, note your quote ID, call the main sales number of that particular insurance company, and have them pull up the quote and review it with you to see what possibly caused the rate change.
You’re not alone in wanting accurate online quotes, and it’s starting to seem as though primarily getting quotes online is a direction we’re headed in, causing some to even worry about the jobs of insurance agents. According to Comscore’s 2011 Online Auto Insurance Report, 20% of all consumers buy their insurance online, and 58% of people look for insurance information online according to a 2011 JD Power study. Although 2012 may not be quite as robotic or electronic as it appeared in glimpses of the future in movies, we’re definitely living in a world where doing anything and everything online makes all of our lives much easier.