The Internet has made our lives monumentally simpler. Today, you can buy clothing, order concert tickets, and transfer money between bank accounts without having to get into your car and drive all over town. And ironically, you can even purchase the insurance you need that allows you to drive all over town without ever having to get into your car.
Almost every auto insurer lets you apply for a free car insurance quote right from your computer. But unlike shopping for cool stuff online, you can’t just visit a website on a whim and expect to get what you want. You need to do a little planning and gather some information first — and then know what to expect once you have that quote.
Here are 10 pieces of information you should have with you before you start the online quote process:
- Your vehicle’s mileage. This is the total miles for the vehicle itself, not the amount you have driven it (if you bought it used). That means you’ll have to turn on your ignition to check the odometer reading.
- Driver’s license number. Lots of people don’t have this number memorized. And insurance companies will use your driver’s license number to access your driving history.
- Vehicle identification number. For some sites, you’ll only need the make, model, and model year of your vehicle; but others ask for the specific VIN number. This number is on your current auto insurance policy or on your vehicle’s windshield.
- Driving distance to work. This number helps insurers estimate how many miles per year you drive. So go to an online mapping site and figure out how many miles there are between you and your office.
- Employer address and telephone. Some people don’t know this off the top of their head. Grab your business card or look it up online.
- Your accident/ticket history. You don’t need all of the details, just how many traffic citations and collisions (and perhaps insurance claims) are currently on your driving record. The insurance companies will check this out, of course — but providing it up front helps you get a more accurate quote.
- Your existing insurance policy. This will give you an idea of that amount of coverage you currently have and what the deductibles are. Tip: you can lower your quote by agreeing to pay higher deductibles.
- Other insurance policies. This is only applicable if you are asking for an online quote from a company with whom you already have some type of insurance. In order to receive a multi-line discount, you may be asked for the policy numbers of those insurance plans.
- Lien holder info. This is the entity to whom you send you monthly auto payments. It could be a dealer, a bank, or some other type of financial holding company.
- Other driver’s names. You must decide if you are asking for coverage only for yourself or for your spouse and other family members. This will affect your insurance rates. Finally, here are five more things to keep in mind after you receive your online auto insurance quote.
- You are under no obligation to purchase insurance from a company from which you request a quote.
- The quote you obtain is not a guaranteed price offered by the insurer; it will still have to verify the information you have submitted before you are given a final premium amount.
- Generally, the rate you are quoted is good for between 48 and 72 hours after you receive it (though this time period varies by company; check the fine print of the quote itself to find out).
- It is wise to print out the quote information so you can have it for your records in case there’s a mix-up with the insurance company later.
- Be prepared to receive a follow up phone call from a representative of the insurer to ask you whether you want to purchase the insurance policy you requested a quote from.