Car insurance is mandatory in most states. Even if it isn’t required in yours, having it protects you against unplanned losses.
For many vehicle owners, however, auto insurance premiums are a financial burden. It can be costly, but there are deals to be found. Learn how to find cheap car insurance with our comprehensive guide below.
What Are the Most Important Types of Car Insurance Coverage?
The average cost of an auto insurance policy varies across states and according to several factors. However, your level of coverage will have the most impact on the cost of your policy.
Liability coverage pays for the third party’s bodily injuries, death, and damaged property resulting from an auto accident. It is mandatory in states with at-fault policies—those responsible for the incident are liable for the damages.
The minimum required coverage ranges from $25,000 to $50,000 to cover an injured person’s medical expenses, lost wages, destroyed property, and in some cases, funeral costs. Without liability coverage, you must settle these costs out of pocket instead of having them paid by your insurance company.
Collision coverage pays for damage to your vehicle stemming from an accident, regardless of fault. It won’t cover the other party’s damaged vehicle in a crash you’re responsible for—that’s where liability insurance kicks in.
If your vehicle is under financing or lease, this insurance is usually required by the financier or lessor as a way to protect the asset in case of a collision.
Although comprehensive insurance includes collision coverage, it also reimburses repair expenses for damage to your vehicle due to causes other than collision. For example, comprehensive coverage can cover damage caused by:
- Severe weather disturbances
- Animal attacks
- Events outside your control
Theft is also covered, which means your insurance company will pay for your vehicle’s replacement.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
In no-fault states, personal injury protection is required in place of liability insurance. Your insurance carrier will compensate you for your injuries, no matter who’s responsible.
PIP covers your and your passenger’s medical expenses following an accident. In addition to hospital bills, it can pay for:
- Doctor visits
- Laboratory exams
- Medical devices
- Lost earnings
- Funeral expenses
Medical Payments Coverage
While similar to PIP, medical payments insurance is more limited in coverage. It only reimburses accident-related medical expenses, no more. However, you can also use it to supplement your existing health insurance and PIP.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Like the name implies, this type of insurance protects you from both uninsured and underinsured motorists. It pays for your medical expenses and vehicle repairs when an at-fault driver without auto insurance or with insufficient liability coverage hits you.
Such coverage is mandatory in some states. Adding one to your policy is financially savvy if you don’t have PIP and collision coverage; otherwise, it’s redundant.
SR22 is not insurance coverage; rather, it is an endorsement from your insurance company confirming you’re carrying the required minimum liability coverage on your policy.
An SR22 is only required for high-risk drivers, such as those who:
- Have a history of traffic infractions
- Have a suspended or revoked license
- Are found at fault for accidents without insurance
- Are convicted of driving under the influence or while intoxicated
It can also be required for motorists with unpaid court-mandated child support payments.
Fortunately, an SR22 is temporary—in most states, you’ll only need it for three years. However, it should never lapse during this period, as failure to renew it can lead to penalties. Learn more about SR22, including when you’re required to have it.
What Makes Insurance Rates Go Up?
When you want to know how to find cheap car insurance, you must understand first what determines its cost.
The insurer will consider the following when estimating your auto insurance premium.
Age, driving experience, and your driver’s record can weigh on your insurance rates. Younger and new drivers tend to have higher premiums than motorists with a long driving history because they are more accident-prone. Premiums are also higher for drivers who have multiple traffic violations or were recently involved in an accident.
The more expensive your car is, the more its replacement parts and repairs costs will be in the event of an accident. As such, luxury cars have higher premiums than standard ones. In general, sports cars cost more to insure since most people drive them at higher speeds, making them more prone to accidents. However, installing safety devices and theft deterrent systems can reduce your auto insurance rates.
Your credit history affects insurance costs as well. If you have bad credit, insurers automatically increase premiums, as your FICO score can be a good predictor of risk. They assume that the lower your credit score, the more likely they will have to pay out claims on your behalf.
The deductible is what you’ll pay out of pocket before your policy kicks in. Lower your premiums by considering a higher deductible, especially for rarely used or older vehicles.
Some areas have higher car accident claims due to weather patterns, traffic conditions, uninsured motorists, and other factors. Because of the increased risk, insurers may charge higher premiums.
What Should I Look for When Buying Car Insurance?
When considering auto insurance for a car you plan to buy or one you already own, take time to select an insurer carefully.
Look for a company with good reviews that offers reasonable rates for adequate coverage. Smaller insurance carriers may quote lower premiums, but there might be a catch to such offers—filing a claim could be challenging. Save yourself the trouble by getting a policy from an insurance company highly recommended for their customer service and coverage.
How Do I Get the Best Deal on Car Insurance?
If you want the best deal on your policy, below are a few tips on how to get cheap car insurance without being shortchanged.
Despite state oversight, insurance companies can charge different rates based on their pricing algorithms. They can raise premiums for reasons besides heightened liability risk.
Before renewing with your current insurer, get quotes from other companies and compare rates. You’ll likely find a better alternative.
Know What You Need
The more coverage you get, the higher your insurance rates. Review your policy and consider what you need. Forego collision and comprehensive coverage for older or rarely driven vehicles, or forfeit the medical payments coverage if you’re already thoroughly covered by health insurance.
Look for Discounts
Ask your carrier about possible discounts—they might be able to lower your rates if you took a defensive driving course, bundle your auto insurance with their other offered policies, or if your teenage driver has good grades.
When Is the Best Time to Buy Car Insurance?
Auto insurance tends to be the least expensive in December, although that can depend on the state. But that doesn’t mean you should let your policy lapse to cut your costs; you’ll pay higher rates next time for allowing your vehicle to go uninsured.
How Many Days Before Should I Renew My Car Insurance?
Your carrier often sends out a renewal notice a month before policy expiration. That can be your cue to start searching for better deals.
Don’t wait for your insurance to expire. Overlapping policies are often better.
Does Car Insurance Start Immediately?
Yes, your coverage can begin on the same day as your application. Remember to pay your premiums as they come due to keep your policy in force.
Is It Better to Get Car Insurance Online or Through an Agent?
Save more when you use comparison sites to get insurance instead of talking to an agent; the latter will likely try to upsell for higher rates. Be a savvy buyer, shop around, and create a package that fits your needs and budget.
Can You Get an Auto Insurance Refund?
Refunding your auto insurance premium is virtually impossible. However, there are rare instances when it can happen, so check your policy to see whether that applies to you.
What Happens if You Don’t Insure Your Car?
Without insurance, you have to pay for all accident-related expenses yourself, which could put a strain on your finances. There can be fines and penalties as well if you live in a state that requires insurance coverage. Avoid the heavy burden of sudden losses by knowing how to get cheap car insurance.
Get Affordable Car Insurance Today
With the many auto insurance options available to drivers, it can be challenging to pick the right one that gives you the best value for money. Fortunately, Cheap Insurance makes the process easy. We consistently give our clients the best and cheapest car insurance. Contact us today to learn more.