Instant car insurance quote

Getting instant online car insurance quotes online takes a little more effort than comparing prices for clothes or electronics.

Still, shopping around for quotes is easier than ever and can save you quite a bit of money. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

Where to go
The big insurance companies all provide quotes online these days. Progressive even offers to provide competitors’ rates so you can comparison shop.

Several independent sites (including NerdWallet) offer quotes from multiple insurance companies with links to each so shoppers can click through to ones that interest them. Some sites give ballpark numbers, while others are quite specific.

What you need to get a quote
Different sites ask for different details, but pretty much anyone offering instant car insurance quotes online will need to know where you live and what kind of car you drive to give you even an idea of what you can get. That’s because states have widely varying rules about how auto insurance works and what it must cover, risks change by location and certain cars cost more to insure or even require special policies.

To get beyond general numbers you’ll also have to give your age, marital status and how much you drive and why (commuting, business or pleasure). Sites may also ask for details about your driving record, your credit history and your current insurance. Insurance company underwriters have determined they can estimate risk based on all of these factors.

To get beyond general numbers you’ll also have to give your age, marital status and how much you drive and why (commuting, business or pleasure).

Many sites require you to give your name, address and date of birth. They then use this to get details about your credit and driving history, rather than having you fill those in yourself. They might ask for an email address and phone number so they can contact you with offers.

You’ll also be asked to give some idea of how much coverage you want. Some sites offer general options, such as “basic” and “premium”; some ask questions and then suggest coverage levels; and some ask you to fill in specifics about the coverage you want. Basic coverage may mean the minimum required in your state, while premium would include higher liability limits, plus collision and comprehensive protection (also with high limits) and possibly other coverage, such as rental-car reimbursement and roadside assistance. Here are factors to consider when deciding on coverage.

OK, so now what?
If you’re ready to look for instant car insurance quotes online, check out NerdWallet’s car insurance comparison tool for some quick results. It might pay to try another site or two, so you can compare results. If you want to go directly to insurance company sites, try more than one. There can be a wide range of prices among companies.

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What Information Do I Need To Get An Instant Car Insurance Quote?
Updated: February 2016

Buying car insurance online can be fast, but getting an accurate online quote requires a little time and preparation. If you’re looking for «instant car insurance,» it helps to know beforehand what information you’ll have to provide and what coverages you might need in a policy.

Mother holding her infant while using the computer.
According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), some insurers use personal information as factors to determine the price of your auto policy. To help facilitate the instant price quote you’re seeking, you’ll be asked to provide accurate information. The III says the following may be used to help determine your online car insurance quote:

Your address, which may help determine your vehicle’s exposure to certain risks specific to your area.
Your age, which may indicate your level of driving experience.
Your gender, which may help indicate your risk for serious accidents.
Your Social Security number
Your driver’s license number, to ensure you’re a licensed driver.
A suburban home.
When you drive with quality coverage, you drive with peace of mind. Allstate auto insurance can help you stay protected for wherever the road takes you.

Beyond the basics about yourself, you may be asked to provide details about the car you’re insuring. Some of the additional information that you should have on hand, according to the III, includes:

The make, model and year of the vehicle to be insured
You car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
Your car’s odometer (mileage) reading
Details on any security features like car alarms or GPS anti-theft devices
Whether your car has safety features like front- and side-impact airbags
If your car has anti-lock brakes
How you use your vehicle — and your driving record — may also factor into your car insurance quote. You might want to gather notes on the following before getting an online quote:

How many miles you drive per year (can be an average). According to the III, the more you drive, the higher your possibility of getting into an accident and paying more for an auto policy.
Details on moving violations and accidents of note that appear on your driving record, according to the III — be prepared to get specific. In most cases, you will be asked to provide dates and details. To be better prepared and to help expedite the quote process,you might find it helpful to order a copy of your driving record from your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.
What coverages you choose — along with their limits and any deductibles — may directly affect your online car insurance quote. If you’re not sure how much insurance you need, first review your state’s requirements. Here are some of the common coverages you may want to read up on before you start your quote:

Liability coverage:
If you cause an accident, this coverage may help pay for bodily injury and property damages resulting from the accident.
Learn more about liability coverage.
Collision coverage:
If you need to repair your car after an accident, this coverage may help pay for damage done to your car.
Learn more about collision coverage.
Comprehensive coverage:
This coverage may help pay for damage to your vehicle that isn’t from a collision. Covered perils may include things like fire, theft or vandalism.
Learn more about comprehensive coverage.
Medical payments coverage:
This coverage may help pay medical expenses incurred by you or your passengers, regardless of who’s at fault in an accident.
Learn more about medical payments coverage.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage:
If you cross paths with someone who is uninsured or underinsured, this coverage could pay for damage caused by the uninsured/underinsured driver.
Learn more about uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance.