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When shopping for car insurance online, you can save time and money by researching providers and comparing quotes. Get tips for buying coverage online
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Daniel is a MarketWatch Guides team writer and has written for numerous automotive news sites and marketing firms across the U.S., U.K., and Australia, specializing in auto finance and car care topics. Daniel is a MarketWatch Guides team authority on auto insurance, loans, warranty options, auto services and more.
Rashawn Mitchner is a MarketWatch Guides team editor with over 10 years of experience covering personal finance and insurance topics.
Is it better to purchase your car insurance online or work through an agent? That depends on your insurance needs and what you’re comfortable doing. In this article, we at the MarketWatch Guides team explain where you can purchase online car insurance and when you might be better off calling an agent.
If you already know you want to buy your car insurance online, use the tool above to get started by comparing free quotes from several of the best car insurance companies.
Compare Car Insurance Rates
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The MarketWatch Guides Team is committed to providing reliable information to help you make the best decision possible about insuring your vehicle. Because consumers rely on us to provide objective and accurate information, we created a comprehensive rating system to formulate our rankings of the best car insurance companies. We collected data on dozens of auto insurance providers to grade the companies on a wide range of ranking factors. After 800 hours of research, the end result was an overall rating for each provider, with the insurers that scored the most points topping the list.
Learn more about our methodology and editorial guidelines.
There are three ways you can purchase auto insurance: contacting a company agent, working with an independent broker or buying car insurance online. You can also use a free auto quote tool like ours to help you determine the best car insurance coverage, rate and provider.
Here are some steps to follow to get car insurance online:
The first step is to get a quote either through an insurer’s website or by using a free car insurance quote tool like the one below.
To receive your quote, you’ll need to provide the following information:
After you provide the necessary information, some sites may offer instant car insurance quotes that allow you to see the cost for the level of coverage you select. Other companies may ask for your telephone number or email address and have an agent contact you with your quotes and options. Reach out to a few companies so you can compare insurance plans.
Insurers that allow you to purchase a policy online will guide you through the purchase process, which should be straightforward. You’ll be asked to select the coverage you want as well as add-on options like roadside assistance, towing or accident forgiveness.
Set up a payment method and input the necessary information. Most insurers may allow you to pay with a credit card, though some will charge a fee for this. Your other option is to pay through a bank by providing your routing number and account information.
Finally, print your insurance card from home. Your insurer may also mail an I.D. card to you.
If you’ve decided that buying auto insurance online is right for you, there are some important things to consider.
Most major auto insurers offer coverage online. Providers that don’t offer online sign-ups and purchases require that you speak to an agent before finalizing your policy. However, most of the purchase process can still be completed on the insurer’s website.
It can take an hour or less if you’re prepared with basic information about yourself, your driving record and your vehicle. An online car insurance policy can go into effect as soon as you make the first payment.
Here’s a snapshot of which major insurance providers offer car insurance online:
Car Insurance Company
Online Car Insurance
Online Car Insurance
The online insurance purchase process is similar for most companies. If the insurer offers car insurance online, you can get any standard type of coverage you’d need right from your computer or phone. But if you’re looking for specialty auto coverages like classic car insurance, you may have to call an agent to explain your situation.
The standard types of car insurance include:
Bodily injury and property damage liability insurance are required in most states. If you’re found at fault for an accident, bodily injury liability will pay the medical bills of the other parties involved. Property damage will pay for repairs to the other parties’ cars. Neither type of liability coverage will pay for your own injuries or car repairs.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage helps with repairs and hospital bills when someone with no insurance or insufficient insurance causes an accident. Medical expense coverages like MedPay and PIP pay for your medical expenses after an accident, with varying regulations for at-fault and no-fault states.
A full-coverage car insurance policy includes both comprehensive coverage and collision coverage. Collision insurance pays for repairs to your vehicle regardless of who caused an accident. Comprehensive coverage protects your vehicle from damages related to the environment:
Take note that auto lenders and leasing companies typically require you to carry a full-coverage policy, but comprehensive and collision coverage are not required by any U.S. state.
The best way to buy insurance depends on your situation. Car insurance purchased online is usually about the same cost as car insurance purchased through an agent — though you might pay slightly more if you use an insurance broker.
Below are some key differences between buying insurance online versus through an agent:
We don’t recommend choosing an insurer based on whether or not you can purchase a policy entirely online. You should choose your insurer based on which company offers the best car insurance rates and coverage for your needs. If that insurer happens to offer online car insurance quotes, you may want to take advantage of it.
It is generally cheaper to buy car insurance online, as there are no agent fees or markups. However, an agent can guide you through the purchase process and help you select the best coverage. Agents may also help you find car insurance discounts you might not otherwise know about.
Either way, research any provider before committing to a policy. Even if you want to work through an insurance agent, it can be a good idea to compare quotes online first. This way, you can get a better feel for the cost of car insurance and which insurers to contact.
According to our rate estimates, full coverage car insurance costs an average of about $167 per month or $2,008 per year for good drivers. These estimates don’t include policy discounts you may qualify for, such as a homeowners discount or a discount for bundling auto with home insurance, renters insurance or life insurance.
Other common discounts include:
Also, keep in mind that rates change over time. Car insurance premiums can be affected by state regulations, the rate of claims in a location, population growth and more. In our January 2022 car insurance survey, we found that 41% of respondents had experienced a rate increase without an obvious cause. According to our research, auto insurance rates will likely keep rising in 2023.
Car insurance prices also vary by provider, of course. Here’s how major providers rank based on cost for full-coverage policies:
Buying coverage online usually involves getting a free car insurance quote online. Quotes are based on a number of factors.
The cost of any auto insurance policy will depend on a number of factors, including your:
*Car insurance companies in California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Michigan can’t use credit scores to set premiums.
Even if you purchase car insurance online, costs can vary considerably by location. Here are annual and monthly car insurance cost estimates by state.
Annual cost estimate
Monthly cost estimate
District of Columbia
In this article, we reviewed the process of purchasing car insurance online, provided tips for how to buy car insurance and highlighted some of the best places to find auto insurance on the internet.
Whether you’re buying car insurance online or in person, it’s important to compare several options so you find the best rates. Use the tool below to compare online car insurance quotes from top companies in your area, or read on to learn more about three of our recommended providers: State Farm, Geico and USAA.
State Farm earns our Best Customer Experience award for its extensive coverage options, affordable rates and excellent customer service. Drive Safe & Save™, the company’s usage-based program, offers a sign-up bonus and can save good drivers up to 30% on their premiums upon policy renewal.
Along with what standard auto insurance covers, State Farm offers optional protection like:
In an August 2022 consumer survey, we polled nearly 7,000 car insurance customers on their experiences with their auto insurers. Of the 19% of respondents that had a State Farm policy, the majority were generally happy with the company:
Keep reading: State Farm insurance review
In our industry-wide review, we rated Geico among the top car insurance providers in the country. Geico policies can be purchased online and are often the cheapest car insurance option for drivers. Discounts like those for being a good driver (up to 26% off), being a good student (up to 15% off) and having multiple vehicles on your policy (up to 25% off) are only a few of the ways to save with Geico.
In addition to standard car insurance coverage, Geico offers add-on policy options such as:
In our car insurance survey, about 16% of respondents had a policy with Geico. Over 80% of these respondents gave Geico a satisfaction rating of four stars or higher:
Keep reading: Geico insurance review
To be eligible for a car insurance policy with USAA, you must be a member or veteran of the United States military or have a family member or spouse that is a USAA member. If you are eligible, you can purchase a USAA policy entirely online.
In addition to standard insurance coverages, USAA customers can purchase:
In our August 2022 car insurance survey, we found that over half of USAA policyholders were satisfied with their car insurance, giving the company four stars or above:
Keep reading: USAA insurance review
To compare these providers in more detail, check out State Farm vs. Geico, USAA vs. Geico and USAA vs. State Farm.
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Below are some frequently asked questions about buying car insurance online:
As long as you’re shopping with a legitimate insurance company, it’s safe to buy auto coverage entirely online. Many of the top auto insurers in the country allow you to buy coverage through their websites.
Our research shows USAA typically offers the cheapest car insurance, with rates about 42% cheaper than the national average. Drivers also tend to find cheap rates from Erie Insurance, Auto-Owners Insurance, State Farm and Geico.
Yes, nearly every major insurer offers a way to get quotes for car insurance online, though some require you to contact an agent before you can finalize your purchase. However, many companies allow you to complete the entire process on the internet, from quote to purchase.
You can get the same type of insurance coverage whether you buy car insurance online, call an agent or visit a company in person. While the online quotes and purchasing process can offer convenience, some people prefer to call insurers directly or visit local agents.
Because consumers rely on us to provide objective and accurate information, we created a comprehensive rating system to formulate our rankings of the best car insurance companies. We collected data on dozens of auto insurance providers to grade the companies on a wide range of ranking factors. The end result was an overall rating for each provider, with the insurers that scored the most points topping the list.
Here are the factors our ratings take into account:
*Data accurate at time of publication.
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