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General car insurance FAQs

How do I get insurance?

Getting car insurance is easy. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the amount you pay will be determined by the amount and type of coverage you want and your personal driver profile.

When purchasing car insurance, consider these three simple steps: 

  • First, consider your coverage needs. Your state determines the lowest level of insurance you need by law, but you may want to insure your car with more coverage than the minimum required by law. Learn more about the types of insurance, so you can learn what coverage you need.
  • Once you know what coverage you need, start researching insurance providers and compare rates. Keep in mind that all insurance companies determine their rates differently, so the only way to find the best rate for you is to compare quotes from 3-5 companies. Most car insurance companies offer free quotes online, or you can call to get more information, such as what kinds of discounts are available to you. 
  • Once you choose an auto insurance company that offers the coverage you need at the best price, purchase your new policy with the company. If you have a current policy with another company, be sure to cancel that one after your new policy is instated to avoid a lapse in coverage.  

How does the insurance company determine my insurance rate?

Car insurance companies determine how much they charge you based on a number of factors that make up your driver profile. Factors that can impact your quoted rates include: 

  • Demographics – including your age, home ownership, credit score, and more 
  • Your driving history – including how long you’ve been driving, traffic violations, and more 
  • Your car – including make, model, and year 
  • Where you live – including state and zip code 
  • How much coverage you want 

Read more about the factors that impact your car insurance rate 

How do I switch my car insurance?

Contrary to what you might believe, you can switch your car insurance at any time, regardless of whether you are in the middle of your current policy. To switch your car insurance, here are some tips you might want to consider: 

  1. Decide what coverage you want with your next policy 
  2. Check if your current provider charges cancellation penalties or fees 
  3. Compare car insurance quotes from 3-5 insurance companies to find the best price for the coverage you want  
  4. Research your new company and choose and purchase your policy  
  5. Cancel your current policy once your new one starts to avoid a lapse in coverage 

Read more about how to switch your car insurance 

How can I get cheaper car insurance?

There are many ways you can try to get cheaper car insurance. The first is simply to get quotes from multiple providers. This will help you determine if you’re currently receiving the best rate possible based on your needs and qualifications. 

If you get quotes that are a lot less than what you currently pay, you can either ask your current provider if they can match the price or switch your car insurance to the cheaper provider. Switching is usually an easy process.  

Sometimes, the reason your car insurance is so expensive is due to your driver profile. For example, drivers under 20 years old usually pay more for insurance than more experienced drivers, and drivers with a recent at-fault accident or traffic violation typically pay more.  

There are ways to lower the cost of your insurance such as taking a defensive driving course. Check with your provider to see if there are any discounts you qualify for or can reasonably earn. 

Read more about getting cheap car insurance 

How to cancel car insurance?

If you’re unhappy with your current auto insurance policy, you can follow these five steps to cancel your car insurance. First, review your current provider’s cancellation policy. Next, talk to your agent and request a cancellation form. Then, fill out and submit the necessary documents. Don’t forget to receive proof of cancellation. Lastly, shop around to find a new car insurance provider that meets your needs and budget so you avoid a lapse in coverage. 

Read more about how to cancel your car insurance

How much car insurance do I need?

The answer to this question depends on where you live and what you would like to cover.  

Each state has its own minimum requirements on the type and amount of insurance needed to insure a car. When you’re trying to determine what and how much car insurance you need, you can start by reviewing your state’s requirements.

Find out what’s required in your state 

Once you review your state’s minimum requirements, you may find that you want additional coverage. For example, sometimes owners of new cars want comprehensive coverage to insure their car from natural disasters and vandalism, even though comprehensive coverage isn’t required by their state. To figure out what insurance you want, you can review the different types of insurance to decide what makes the most sense for your situation.  

Learn about the different types of car insurance 

Can you get car insurance without a license?

It is possible to get car insurance without a license. However, it may be a complicated process because most insurance companies require proof of a valid driver’s license to purchase a policy.  

The most common reasons someone might need to get car insurance without a driver’s license of their own is if they are insuring a car they cannot drive themselves due to age or disability or they need to get insurance for a minor who can’t legally enter into an agreement themselves.  

If you need to get car insurance without a license, it’s best to compare rates from multiple companies to find the most affordable policy for your situation, since insurance companies typically consider license-less clients more high-risk and charge a more expensive premium.  

What is gap insurance on a car?

If you lease or finance your vehicle, gap insurance helps cover the gap between what you owe on your vehicle and your car’s actual cash value in the event it is stolen or totaled in an accident.  

Because car insurance companies usually only cover up to the market value of your vehicle in the case of a total loss, gap insurance protects you from being “upside-down” on your loan, owing more to your lender than your car is worth. Gap insurance on a vehicle makes the most sense when you lease or buy a brand-new car that’s less than three years old and/or put a small down payment with a longer loan or lease term. You will no longer need gap insurance when you owe less on your loan than your vehicle’s market value. 

How does car insurance deductibles work?

Your auto insurance deductible is the amount you pay out of pocket after an at-fault accident before your insurance kicks in to cover the rest. For example, if you have a deductible of $500 and are in a covered accident with damages worth $3,000, you would need to pay $500 before your insurance company pays the remaining $2,500. Your deductible amount varies based on your policy terms. Typically, the higher your deductible, the lower your monthly premiums, but the more you’re required to pay in the event of an accident. 

Do red cars cost more to insure?

No, red cars do not cost more to insure than other colors. While this is a common misconception, the Insurance Information Institute reassures drivers that the color of your car does not factor into the cost of auto insurance. Nevertheless, other vehicle characteristics do play a role in the price of your policy, including the age and cost of your car.  

Car insurance coverage FAQs

How does car insurance pricing work?

Car insurance pricing is based on a few key factors. Insurance companies consider things like your age, driving record, type of car, and where you live when determining the price you pay for car insurance. Younger drivers or those with accidents on their record might pay more for insurance. The make and model of your car can also affect the price, as some cars are more expensive to repair or replace. Your location matters, too, as some areas have higher rates of accidents or theft. By looking at all of these factors, insurance companies determine how much risk you pose and set your premium accordingly.

What types of coverage are available for car insurance?

There are different types of coverage available for car insurance, such as liability, which helps pay for damage you cause to others, and collision, which helps cover damage to your own car from accidents. Comprehensive coverage can help with other damages, like theft or natural disasters. Medical coverage can help with medical expenses for you or passengers. Some policies also offer uninsured motorist protection in case you’re in an accident with someone who doesn’t have insurance. It’s important to choose the right types of coverage based on your needs, budget, and state laws.

How often should I review and update my car insurance policy?

It’s a good idea to review your car insurance policy at least once a year to make sure it still fits your needs. You should also update it whenever you have major life changes, like moving to a new place or buying a new car. It’s important to check your coverage to make sure you have enough protection in case of an accident. You also may find that you can save money by switching providers. By reviewing and updating your policy regularly, you can make sure you have the right coverage at the best price.

Does my car insurance cover towing and roadside assistance?

Many car insurance policies offer towing and roadside assistance as optional add-ons for an extra cost. You should check your policy or contact your insurance company to see if you have this coverage. If you have it, you can usually use it if your car breaks down or you need a tow. If you don’t have this coverage, you may be able to purchase it separately from a roadside assistance provider. It’s important to know what your policy includes so you can be prepared in case of an emergency on the road.

Do I need special insurance for rental cars?

Yes, you may need special insurance for rental cars. Your current auto insurance may cover rental cars, but it’s important to check with your insurance provider to be sure. If you don’t have enough coverage, you can purchase additional insurance from the rental car company. This will protect you in case of an accident or damages to the rental car. It’s always better to be safe and have the right insurance rather than facing unexpected costs later on.

What happens if I move to a different state with my car insurance policy?

If you move to a different state with your car insurance policy, you will need to update your policy to meet the new state’s requirements. You may need to get a new policy from a car insurance company that operates in the state you are moving to. Your rates could change based on factors like where you live and drive. It’s important to inform your insurance company of your move as soon as possible to ensure you have proper coverage in your new state. Failure to update your policy could result in penalties or even denial of coverage.

Can I cancel my car insurance policy at any time?

Yes, you can usually cancel your car insurance policy at any time. However, there may be fees or penalties for canceling before the end of your policy term. It’s important to read your policy carefully and check with your insurance company to understand the cancellation process. Make sure you have a new insurance policy in place before canceling your current one to avoid a lapse in coverage, which could lead to fines or legal trouble. It’s always a good idea to discuss any changes to your insurance with your agent or representative.

What happens if I miss a car insurance payment?

If you miss a car insurance payment, your coverage could be canceled, leaving you without protection if you get into an accident. It could also result in fines or fees from your insurance company. Additionally, your policy may also be marked as “lapsed,” which could make it more expensive to get coverage in the future. It is important to make your payments on time to avoid these consequences and ensure you are legally covered while driving. If you are having trouble making a payment, it’s best to contact your insurance company to discuss your options.

Is there a grace period for car insurance payments?

Some car insurance companies may offer a grace period for payments, which means that you may have some extra time to pay your bill without any penalties. This period can vary depending on the insurance company and your policy. It’s important to check with your insurance provider to see if they offer a grace period and how long it is. Remember to always make your payments on time to avoid any issues with your coverage.

How does the claims process work?

Typically, the car insurance claims process works by submitting a request for payment to your insurance company for something that is covered in your policy. You provide evidence, like receipts or documents, to support your claim. The insurance company will review the information and determine if they will pay you for the damage or loss. They may ask for more details or investigate further before making a decision. Once approved, you will receive payment for the claim amount. It’s important to be honest and thorough when submitting a claim to ensure it is processed quickly and accurately.

Rate Retriever FAQs

How is Rate Retriever different than other insurance websites?

The biggest difference between Rate Retriever and other comparison sites is that we are a free and impartial research tool NOT an insurance marketplace.​ This means you can’t purchase a policy directly through RateRetriever.com, but you can use our tool to independently research your options and seamlessly connect with the provider you choose.

Unlike other insurance comparison sites, we:

  • Use third-party data to give you more accurate rate estimates instead of inaccurate, suspiciously low quotes to get you in the door
  • Do not limit your list of results to paid advertisers
  • Do not collect your email or phone number before we let you see your results
  • Give you results after just five questions (however, your results will be more accurate if you complete your profile)

We like to think that Rate Retriever is your insurance companion, not just another insurance comparison site. Our values guide everything we do, which is why we strive to offer transparent, trustworthy insurance tools.

Read more about Rate Retriever

How does Rate Retriever make money?

Rate Retriever works with national and local insurance providers to provide our users with a seamless insurance shopping experience. We may earn a commission from our insurance provider partners when you click on a link, call, or purchase a policy from one of the providers listed on our site. That said, we’re committed to providing you with accurate, bias-free information, and we do not allow our partnerships to limit the results or influence the information we share with you.  

We do not sell your personal information, charge you for using our tools, or sell you insurance policies. Additionally, should you choose to purchase a policy from one of our partners, the price you pay will not be adversely affected. 

Read our full earnings disclosure  

Is Rate Retriever a corporate affiliate of any insurance company? ​

Rate Retriever is an independent company that is not owned by an insurance provider, nor do we provide insurance ourselves. This independence allows us to serve as an insurance research tool, allowing you to accurately and transparently compare insurance companies that can meet your unique needs at a price you can afford. We may earn a commission when you click one of the links or call one of the providers listed on our site; however, we do not allow our partnerships to influence the information we provide. 

Is it cheaper to buy insurance through Rate Retriever?

There is no such thing as discount insurance because insurance rates are regulated by law. However, insurance companies calculate risk and assign rates differently based on your driver profile. They outline how they use certain factors to calculate their rates in their rating plan, which must be approved by the state.

Rate Retriever uses this data to estimate what you’ll pay at top insurance companies in your state. By comparing rates for multiple companies in one place, you’re most likely to find the cheapest rates for you. 

At Rate Retriever, we want to help you compare as many companies as we can. However, to keep our comparison tools free to our users, we do have to limit the amount of data we display on each search. The list of companies you see represent top carriers in your geographic area based on the total premiums written. We are exploring ways to expand our search results in the future.

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No bait and switch – accurate rate estimates using better data

No low-ball quotes. We use the rating plans submitted by each insurance carrier to the state department of insurance plus any applicable discounts to more accurately calculate what you can expect to pay.

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Unlike other sites, our results are not limited to paid sponsors. Our results represent top carriers in your geographic area based on the total premiums written.

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We are the only insurance comparison tool that does not require your contact information to generate your estimates, so you can be sure you won’t get spam from us.

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