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Shopping for auto insurance has never been easier. Technology enables us to get a quote from anywhere in the world via personal computer, laptop, tablet or smart phone; while also allowing us to compare prices of multiple companies at the same time. It is important to know what information is needed to get the most accurate quote and to avoid potential fraud, should you choose to purchase a policy online.
Where do I start?
If you currently have an auto policy in force, a copy of that policy should contain most of the information you will need for a quote. If you do not have a copy of your policy available, or you are shopping for insurance for the first time, it will be helpful to gather the following information ahead of time.
- Vehicle information– The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is unique for every vehicle. It codes most of the information about your vehicle into a 17-digit number including year, make, model, and trim package needed for an accurate quote. This information is needed for every vehicle you plan to insure on the policy. If you are shopping for a vehicle or comparing insurance costs for more than one vehicle, dealerships and private sellers are often willing to share that information with you. Listing the accurate annual mileage for each vehicle you insure may also impact rates. Companies often offer discounts for those who drive less because their chance of being involved in an accident is lower. Likewise, a company may surcharge those who commute long distances. It is also helpful to know if your vehicle is equipped with safety and anti-theft features, which may result in lower rates.
- Personal Information– You will need to provide significant personal details in to obtain an accurate quote. Your full name, date of birth, physical address, mailing address, email address, driver’s license number, social security number, marital status, student status, job title, homeownership and employment history are common questions on an application or quote. You will also need to provide this information for a spouse or co-applicant, if you have one. Many people are reluctant to reveal such private information online, however, a good rule of thumb to follow is to never provide information unless you initiate contact. Phishing usually occurs when a company sends an unsolicited email with a link to their website. While, you are not obligated to provide all information for a quote, note that omitting any requested information can significantly impact a quote.
- Driver Information– Every household member and regular drivers of your vehicle should be disclosed. You will need to provide the same personal information, previously noted, for each driver. There may be times when a household member does not drive your vehicle, such as a non-driving child or a family member who has their own vehicle and auto policy. In theory, every person living in your home has access to your vehicle, therefore many companies will rate them on your policy. If a household member does not drive your vehicle, has a poor driving record or is not of driving age, they can be listed as a non-driver or excluded driver to prevent rating of that individual. It is important to note that if you purchase a policy and have listed an excluded driver, no coverage will be extended to that driver if they do drive your car.
- Driving History– All minor traffic violations in the past three years, major offenses (DUI, Driving Under Suspension, Reckless Driving, Failure to Carry Insurance, Failure to Report an Accident, etc.) in the past 5 years, accidents and/or claims need to be disclosed and is needed for each driver listed on the policy. If you do not disclose this information, quoting systems will automatically pull this information when they pull driving records and Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) reports. Accidents, claims history and prior insurance history are all included on the CLUE report, including this information about vehicles you may no longer own.
- Prior Insurance– If you have a current auto policy and have been insured continuously for at least six months, it is important to disclose policy numbers and effective dates for that policy. Significant discounts are available from most companies if you have had continuous coverage, with no lapses. It is important to initiate a policy before a current policy expires to prevent not only a lapse in coverage but to avoid related surcharges.
- Lienholders– If you have a loan or will be taking out a loan for the vehicle you are quoting, your lender will likely require that you have “full-coverage” auto insurance. Full Coverage includes: liability, collision and comprehensive insurance. Depending on the amount you owe against the loan, you may wish to also purchase supplemental GAP coverage (Guaranteed Auto Protection) which will cover the difference between the current market value of the vehicle and the amount you owe in the event of a total loss.
- Coverages– Once you have provided all personal and vehicle information for your quote, you will need to choose coverage levels and options you want.
- Liability insurance is mandatory in most states. This coverage is designed to protect you in the event you are found to be responsible for an accident or if someone is injured. Each state sets forth minimum liability limits, but understand that if property damages or injuries exceed your policy limits, you will be left to pay the difference of any judgement or settlement not covered by your insurance company. It is best to choose the highest limits you can afford.
- Comprehensive and Collision coverage is optional unless you have a loan on a vehicle. It is important to note that without this coverage, you will not have physical damage protection in the event of a loss. For example, if you hit a deer and do not have comprehensive coverage in place you will be responsible for the costs of those repairs.
- Additional coverages such as GAP (previously mentioned), roadside assistance, rental car coverage, glass only coverage, and special equipment coverage are just a few of the additional coverages many companies offer to further protect your vehicle.
That’s it! You are ready to quote your auto insurance online. By quoting with multiple companies, you increase your chances of finding the most affordable coverages to suit your individual needs. It’s important to remember that companies will weight certain factors differently, so obtaining 3 or more quotes could save you hundreds of dollars in premium.