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Often we hear the question: “When is the right time to shop for car insurance?”

In short – you can shop for car insurance at any time. But, there are two points to remember when you shop: First – You will see the balance of your current coverage premium returned, pro-rated of course.  And secondly – make sure that there is a period of overlap between changing insurance coverage. That is, make sure that your new coverage is in force before you cancel your old policy. Remember, the concept behind insurance is to protect your property, protect your family, and anyone else who has an interest in your property (like the bank financing your auto), as well as anyone your car might do damage to.

There are some key trigger points that should prompt you to begin your car insurance shopping.

Your current policy term is near the end, and it’s time to renew

Typically this is potentially when you will be seeing any premium increases. It’s always a disappointing feeling to open your renewal notice and see that your rates are going up. Conversely, if you see a decrease in your premium, that’s great, but you should still consider getting car insurance quotes even if your current policy has decreased. If your insurance company has lowered the premium for your coverage, the odds are that other insurance companies have lowered their premiums for your current situation as well. Always compare your current rate against other companies to make sure you’re getting the cheapest car insurance premium for the coverage level you want.

Buying  a new vehicle

You’ll need to add a new vehicle to your current  policy regardless – but knowing the actual coverage costs for the new car before you add it can help you decide on your purchase. If your new car coverage costs significantly more than your current policy, you may be inclined to select a different vehicle. The time to check pricing on coverage for a new car is before you make the purchase.

When you’re moving

Your zip code is a significant part of how your coverage rates are determined. Outside of your driving record, and the type of car you drive, your zip code is the chief component of assessing your risk. Crime in the area, traffic details, miles driven, the statistics on accidents and property loss in your area, make a huge difference in your rate. Get quotes for the area you are moving to before you move to make sure you don’t see any surprises.

Buying a new home

Most companies offer discounts for combining your auto and home coverage. Some companies offer a discount on just one policy, lowering either your car or home owners rates. Others offer smaller discounts on both coverages, but the savings can be significant. But another consideration at this time is that if you have lower limits on your auto policy, you could risk the investment in your home. Now is the time to consider increasing your coverage on your car, to protect your home.

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You or someone on your policy are turning 55

While no one really is excited about becoming a *senior citizen* many insurance companies look at your years of driving experience – likely to be about 40 years by the time you reach 55 – and use this as a factor to lower your rates. If your insurance policy doesn’t offer a senior discount, there are many companies that do. This is the perfect time to shop.

Your teenager is getting their driver’s license

Just to warn you – prepare for sticker shock. Other than previous insurance losses and your driving record, nothing else has the potential to raise your insurance rates like a young driver. Their inexperience, their decision making, the high rates of distracted driving and the statistics for teen drivers involved in accidents are all factors that make young drivers expensive to insure. You might want to consider limits on which car your teen driver has access to, and different limits on that vehicle. Get your quotes before your teen is ready to drive.

So you can shop for car insurance at any time. Remember to overlap your coverage, and never cancel your coverage before your new policy is in place. It’s always the best to get quotes before these significant changes take place.

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