Leslie Kasperowicz holds a BA in Social Sciences from the University of Winnipeg. She spent several years as a Farmers Insurance CSR, gaining a solid understanding of insurance products including home, life, auto, and commercial and working directly with insurance customers to understand their needs. She has since used that knowledge in her more than ten years as a writer, largely in the insurance...

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UPDATED: Jul 14, 2021

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Buying car insurance, while it is not a process or one of the responsibilities that you look forward to doing regularly, is a responsibility that all drivers must take on when they own a car. Since all states have their own form of financial responsibility or compulsory insurance laws, a majority of consumers will need to familiarize themselves with the car insurance buying process. Start comparing car insurance rates now by using our FREE tool below!

While the process has changed from the days where you would have to make time during the day to visit an agent, the product itself has not changed much in the past few decades. It is up to you to learn about both insurance as the product and about the buying process before you venture out to bind coverage. In the past, it could take several days to price the cost of coverage and then to secure coverage. Now, consumers can find cover and then secure in a very short amount of time. Read on, and learn what you need to know.

Methods to Price and Buy Car Insurance Policies

There are several different ways that you can go about requesting car insurance quotes with carriers. Long, long ago there was no option but to pick up and drive to a company’s location to get a quote from a local agent who would inspect your car and then request signatures from you. Now, it is not such a formal process when insurance is being purchased and sold. Here are some of the various methods that you can buy insurance:

  • In-person with an Agent or Broker

If you prefer to do business in person, you can visit a local agent or broker and discuss your personal needs and budget. Some agents will require prospective clients to have an appointment before they will do a needs assessment and provide a quote. Most agents operate during business hours and on weekdays with the option to make appointments on the weekend. Brokers also commonly have weekday hours, but will give you quotes to several companies rather than just one company that they represent.

  • By Phone with Agents or Brokers

If you do not have time to go to an office or you do not want to drive a vehicle that is not insured, you also have the option to get quotes and bind coverage by phone during business hours. Brokers will help match you to the right companies and will charge a fee for this service. Agents will advise you, but can only give you quotes for the provider they are contracted through. While most of the process can be done by phone and fax, some companies may request that your vehicle is inspected.

  • Toll-free Call Center

More and more companies are transitioning from the agency structure to the call center structure. These companies can lower their operational costs and make shopping for cover more convenient. Customers can simply pick up the phone, call a toll-free number, request a quote from a licensed agent on the phone, and then compare rates. They can even bind coverage on the phone with the agent if they have their information and payment method handy.

  • Via the Internet

If you prefer not to speak with an agent and you like to do your business via the world wide web, there are multiple ways that you can request coverage online. You can either visit a reputable carrier’s official website and use a quoting tool online, or you can visit a brokerage-style site that provides you with a handful of quotes in the same amount of time. One great thing about brokerage-style tools is that you do not have to pay a fee for the price-shopping service.

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What do you need to bind your car insurance?

It might seem like an insurer would need spend some time before extending your thousands of dollars of coverage, but in most cases they will put your coverage in affect the same day that the agent quotes you as long as you make a payment and you can answer the application questions accurately. Here is the information that you will need to complete the application process the first time you make contact:

  • Year, make, model and VIN of the covered vehicle
  • Name, date of birth, driver license number and years of experience for each driver
  • Violation dates for each driver
  • Accident details for each driver within the past 5 to 7 years
  • Usage for each vehicle
  • Annual mileage estimates
  • Type of insurance you are seeking
  • Driver assignments
  • Payment methods for future billing
  • Prior insurance information

What you Should Know About Underwriting

When you are offered insurance, the offer is only based on the information provided. It will still undergo a thorough underwriting process where professionals will check databases, records, and reports to ensure you were truthful. If something was not disclosed, your policy could be cancelled or the rates can go up. This period can last 30 to 60 days. Once the policy is officially issued, your rates are guaranteed for the remainder of the term.

If you would like to shop for insurance without shuffling your schedule around, you can easily use an online quoting tool. Start comparing car insurance rates now by using our FREE tool below! After you have compared the rates through insurers, you should find which companies have the best reputation. Only after you have detailed information should you buy the best plan.