General car insurance FAQs
How do I get car 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 car 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:
- Decide what coverage you want with your next policy
- Check if your current provider charges cancellation penalties or fees
- Compare car insurance quotes from 3-5 insurance companies to find the best price for the coverage you want
- Research your new company and choose and purchase your policy
- Cancel your current policy once your new one starts to avoid a lapse in coverage
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.
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.
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.
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 a car insurance deductible 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
What does liability insurance cover?
Most states require drivers to carry liability insurance coverage. There are two types of liability car insurance: Bodily Injury Liability and Property Damage Liability.
Bodily injury liability insurance helps cover costs associated with any injuries to another person caused by an accident where you’re at fault. Property damage liability insurance helps cover any damage to property (i.e., a vehicle, building, streetlight, etc.) caused by an accident where you’re at fault.
In both cases, your liability insurance will not pay for your own property damage or bodily injuries caused by another driver. However, most states require all drivers to carry liability insurance coverage to some extent.
What is collision insurance? What does collision insurance cover?
Collision insurance coverage pays to repair or replace your car if it is damaged in an accident. This type of insurance helps cover damages if you are in an accident with another vehicle, person, or object, like a tree or a guardrail. It’s common for lienholders to require collision insurance if you lease or finance your car, but it often becomes optional once your vehicle is paid off.
Collision insurance typically covers any type of damage to your vehicle due to a collision with another vehicle, an object, or a person. Collision insurance also covers a single-car accident, where the car is damaged from incidents such as rolling.
Drivers with collision insurance must pay a deductible before the insurance “kicks in.” The cost of your deductible depends on your policy and the amount chosen when you purchase coverage. Collision insurance does not cover non-driving-related damages, such as hail or theft, damage to another person’s vehicle, or any medical bills.
Does car insurance cover theft?
Most car insurance providers cover theft as an add-on to your insurance policy. Although all states have their own minimum insurance coverage requirements, no state currently requires drivers to carry comprehensive coverage. However, purchasing comprehensive coverage is the best option for those who want their car insurance to cover theft. If your car is damaged for a reason other than a collision, comprehensive coverage helps pay for the damage. This includes theft, vandalism, hail, flood, fire, etc. Read more
Do I need insurance to rent a car?
Typically you don’t need insurance to rent a car from a rental company because the cars are already insured. However, if you rent a car without having your own personal car insurance, you are typically responsible to pay for any damages out of pocket. So, although you don’t need insurance to rent a car, it’s advisable to select a car rental protection plan to cover costs in the event of an accident during your rental period.
Does my car insurance cover rental cars?
In many cases, your car insurance does cover rental cars. However, there are some common exclusions, including renting a car outside of the U.S. or renting a vehicle for business purposes. It’s always a good idea to check with your provider so you know the coverage details, limitations to coverage, and any scenario in which you’d be required to pay for rental car damages out of pocket.
What does full coverage car insurance cover?
Full coverage car insurance typically combines bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured/underinsured motorist, personal injury protection, collision, and comprehensive coverage. This extra protection helps you in both at-fault and no-fault accidents, as well as if you collide with a driver that doesn’t have the proper amount of insurance to cover related expenses.
Currently, no state requires drivers to carry full coverage car insurance, but you can select full coverage if you desire. Additionally, if you lease or finance your vehicle, your lender may require you to carry full coverage until your vehicle is paid off.
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.
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.
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.
You say you don't limit results – why do I only see up to 12?
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.