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 Chris Harrigan

UPDATED: Oct 8, 2020

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Many people are not aware of how car insurance rates are calculated
  • There are many ways you can compare car insurance rates
  • It’s a good idea to compare at least three different quotes before making a final decision

The cost of owning a vehicle includes much more than just the sales price and the cost of taxes and titling fees.

Not only do you need to register the vehicle, you also need to maintain and insure it.

Many people are not aware of how car insurance rates are calculated. Contrary to popular belief, even inexpensive vehicles that are older can carry high insurance rates if they have a poor safety record.

Compare car insurance by using our FREE search tool above!

What channels can you check car insurance rates on?


The product can be confusing and deciding which coverage limits are adequate can cause your eyes to glaze over.

This is why choosing the most convenient channel that also helps you make decisions is pertinent.

– Traditional Channels

If you are price shopping for insurance coverage, you need to consider what is important to you before you choose which channel is best.

If you want a personal relationship with an agent who can recommend coverage limits and options, it might be best for you to visit a local agency where you can sit down and talk face-to-face.

This traditional way to shop is very popular with baby boomers and retirees who appreciate great customer service and doing business the traditional way.

There is always the option to call the agent by phone if you are not able to visit the agency.

You also have the option to visit a brokerage, where the broker will match you to the best insurance product based on the answers of your application.

What differentiates a broker from an agent is that a broker is not captive.

They are free to sell products with any company that they have an agreement with instead of pushing only products from an exclusive company. They represent you as the buyer instead of the company.

– Modern Channels

The industry has changed dramatically in the recent years. As more and more consumers require more convenient methods to check rates, it has become much more popular to check quotes online.

You can call a call center directly and ask for a rate quote, visit an insurer’s website directly and fill out a quoting form or use a single brokerage-style site that will give you instant quotes from multiple insurers.

While many insurers have very advanced online quoting systems that ask you basic questions and lead you to quotes, but those systems are only for the insurer’s rates.

If you would prefer to find the lowest rates, using an online rate comparison tool is the ideal choice.

These tools save you a great deal of time and are flexible enough that you can request quotes any time of the day from your home, tablet or even your mobile phone.

Instead of being forced to visit an office during business hours or to visit multiple websites to compare quotes, you can do everything on one site and see just how different the rating systems can be from carrier to carrier.

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What will you need to get accurate rate quotes?

If you are trying to choose a specific car, you might not have all of the information that you need, but as long as you have your information and the make and model, you can get an accurate quote.

This is because vehicle information is pre-populated in most quoting systems if you know the year, make and model.

Here is a breakdown of the information that you should have handy to get quotes from an agent or online:

– Driver Information

Driver information will not change regardless of which type of vehicle you buy.

Out of all of the risk factors used to assess a policyholder and establish rates, the drivers on the policy make the greatest impact.

The insurer wants to know how much experience drivers have, what they do for a living, how safe they are behind the wheel and if they obey traffic laws.

Here is the information you need to enter:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • Years of driving experience
  • Driver license number
  • Driving violations
  • Accidents in the past 5 years
  • Grades and driver safety training (if under 25)
  • Occupation
  • How the vehicle is used (to work, school, pleasure)
  • Prior insurance

– Territory and Mileage

Where the vehicle will be parked and how much it will be driven is also important.

Rates are based on the state, but they can also differ from zip code to zip code.

This is why you need to get quotes for the rate of the insurance on the vehicle in your region.

You will also need to estimate how many miles you will be driving weekly, monthly or annually.

These factors will play a role in how much you will pay per month or per policy period.

Vehicle Make and Model


This is where it can get a little tricky when you are checking rate quotes.

If you already have vehicles, you can check the rates with several insurers easily by giving the agent the VIN of the car or entering that long number in the quoting form.

Make sure that you are requesting quotes for all of your cars together if you own more than one vehicle. This will qualify you for a multi-car discount that applies to the rates of all of the cars.

This multi-car discount could make a significant difference and could sway your decision.

Doing research on the computer is the best way to save money. Not only can you locate affordable cars for sale on the computer, you can also check their vehicle histories and then check the rates to insure them all at the same time.

Only after you have taken the time to compare the rates of several models should you commit to buying the car that you have been saving for.

Use the FREE comparison tool below to find affordable quotes! Enter your zip code now to get started!