Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health insuran...

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Chris Harrigan has an economic degree from Limestone College and an MBA from Clemson University. He previously managed auto insurance claims for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Currently, he is using his business and insurance expertise to provide insurance data analysis and visualizations to enhance the user experience.

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Reviewed by Chris Harrigan
Former Auto Insurance Claims Manager

UPDATED: Aug 5, 2021

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Advertiser Disclosure: We strive to help you make confident car insurance decisions. Comparison shopping should be easy. We are not affiliated with any one car insurance company and cannot guarantee quotes from any single company.

Our car insurance industry partnerships don’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own. To compare quotes from many different car insurance companies please enter your ZIP code on this page to use the free quote tool. The more quotes you compare, the more chances to save.

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Key takeaways...

  • Getting auto insurance quotes online is a convenient way to shop around when you’re looking for low rates
  • Most of the bigger auto insurance companies have their own quoting tools on their official company websites
  • Third-party websites with online comparison tools give buyers the option to get instant quotes on a single site
  • It’s easy to fill out an online quote form to get your rate estimates as long as you have all of the information
  • Online quotes are just as accurate as quotes given by agents as long as you provide accurate personal information

Auto insurance quotes are premium estimates that help consumers decide which coverage options and limits they can afford to buy. Since premiums vary for each person, you can’t just pick a policy off the shelf. Without offering prospective clients personal rate quotes, there’d be no way for consumers to effectively shop the market for the best price points from the best carrier.

As a car insurance consumer, it’s best for you to get at least four or five quotes before you decide on any plans. Unfortunately, getting all of these quotes can be difficult if you work day and night and have familial obligations.

Luckily, more and more companies have online tools that make it easier to shop the market. In fact, we have one right here! Try it for free by entering your zip code above.

If you’re worried about how accurate these tools are, here’s a guide to help:

Why Do Insurance Rates Change before You Finalize Your Policy?

When shopping for auto insurance coverages, many people get quotes from different auto insurance companies. Then they go to finalize their choice, and their auto insurance rates change. Why does this happen? It may seem like a bait and switch.

This is where full disclosure comes in. Insurance companies give you a preliminary quote based on the information you put in. When you decide on a company and push the button to move onto the next step, their systems run reports to get access to your driving records. This could include accidents or claims (including minor ones) and tickets. You may have forgotten about some if you have accident forgiveness with your current insurer or if your current insurer hasn’t checked your record recently. If something pops up that you didn’t list, it will change your quoted rates. If you disclose everything for the initial quote, your rate should remain the same.

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Why Is Shopping around So Important?

If you’re a bargain shopper, you already know why it’s so important to shop around.

Since eCommerce platforms have become the premier place to search for the best deals, it should be no surprise to you that companies are lowering their prices and trying new marketing tactics to entice people to buy.

You can find incredibly low-priced deals online when you’re shopping for the latest phone or a new wardrobe. Shopping around for auto insurance is important for another reason.

You can’t just look at sales ads and find the best deal when you’re looking for coverage because pricing isn’t one-size-fits-all like it is for goods in a retail store.

Since your rates are personalized, you have to identify which carriers have priced their products to do business with drivers who fall into a similar risk class. If you forgot about an accident or ticket, you may want to run quotes again. The same at fault accident can affect quotes from different companies more severely in some cases than others. You can only tell if you’re running quotes with different companies.

Some companies have exorbitantly higher rates for inexperienced operators than any other company. When you notice this difference, it’s fair to say that the carrier has priced itself out of that segment of the market.

How do you get quotes online?

Not only can you add items to a shopping cart and have them shipped to you, you can also enter personal information into a quote tool and get insurance quotes in a few minutes.

All you need is your own personal computer or another mobile-ready device with an Internet connection and you have the tools that you need for online quotes. Our calculator allows customers to answer a few questions and get quotes from multiple carriers at once.

Once you’re connected to the Internet, you’ll have to enter a website or search for companies in your browser.

As soon as you decide which carrier you want to start getting estimates through, you can log on to the site and then begin filling out personal information in the quote form.

You may be required to provide contact information to start the online process.

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What’s the difference between a direct quote and a third-party quote?

As you start to get your online quotes, you’ll start to notice that there are different types of quoting tools that you can use.

  • There’s a direct quote tool, where you’ll visit the insurer’s official website and fill out the form
  • There’s also a third-party quoting tool, where you can get multiple quotes from different insurers on a single platform

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Do you have to pay to get an online quote?

One thing you should never do is pay to get an auto insurance quote online. Direct quote tools should always be free to use because it’s a service offered by the insurer.

Shopping online isn’t just convenient for today’s modern consumers, it’s an option that doesn’t cost you anything.

You’d think that a comparison shopping site would charge you for the instant quotes, but that’s not the case either. Someone has to pay to manage the site, update the forms, and offer customer support.

But it’s not the consumer buying the policy that has to pay, it’s the insurance companies who want their products to be marketed that must pay the site a percentage of the premium as a commission. It’s essentially like a marketing fee.

Will your quotes be less accurate?

Shopping online doesn’t change the accuracy of your quotes. You might think that it’d be better to get quotes from an agent because they are an expert. Some companies only sell policies through licensed agents. If you’re unsure, agents can answer questions and explain things you don’t understand. Online calculators are built to look for insurance discounts and otherwise help you get the best price. So your rates should be about the same.

Agents are using similar types of quoting systems and filling the information in for you when you’re getting a quote. Online quotes are just as accurate as quotes given by agents and brokers as long as you’re giving the right information.

If you don’t disclose that you’ve been in a few accidents or you don’t remember the date of your last speeding ticket, you could get an inaccurate quote but only because you didn’t provide all of the information you needed to.

What information do you have to provide?

If you know what type of information you’re going to be asked to provide, you can prepare to fill in all the fields and avoid misquotes altogether. Most of the rating information that’s used is the same from personal insurer to personal insurer, regardless of the state.

Here’s a list of details you should know:

  • License number and age licensed
  • Date of any tickets or accidents
  • Credit rating
  • Vehicle Identification Number
  • Annual mileage of each car
  • How each car will be driven
  • Driver assignment for each car
  • Garaging zip code for each car

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What happens if there’s a misquote?

If you do fail to mention something and you apply for coverage, your premium can change before the policy is issued. You may still get cheap car insurance depending on what you left out, but it’ll depend on the company. If you’re online, you’ll see the difference in your insurance rate in seconds in most cases. Either way, you’ll get documents in the mail showing the newly updated premium and a bill for the difference.

You can always decide to shop around again if you’d like.

If you’re hesitant to shop for your auto insurance online, don’t be. It’s easy to get fast and accurate quotes by using our online rate comparison tool.

Enter your personal information, select coverage options, and choose the best policy.