How to Buy Cheap Car Insurance Online

How to Buy Cheap Car Insurance Online

Drivers could save 9% on their auto insurance by buying a policy online.

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Many insurance companies let you buy policies completely online without going through an agent. Some insurers, like Progressive, even offer a discount for buying a policy online. You can also save hundreds of dollars by comparing insurance prices online.

By comparing online quotes from multiple insurers, you could save more than $465 per year.

Best place to buy car insurance online

The cheapest place to buy car insurance online is from Geico or Progressive. Both insurers allow customers to purchase car insurance online without going through an agent.

Cheapest car insurance quotes online

Find Cheap Auto Insurance Quotes Online

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Best online car insurance quotes

Rank
Company
Annual rate
1Geico$780
2Progressive$789
3Nationwide$931
4Farmers$1,107
5Travelers$1,245
N/A*USAA$427

*USAA is only available to current and former military members and their families.

While Geico's rates are the cheapest, some people might find the best rates with Progressive, which offers a discount for purchasing a policy online.

Though you can get a quote online from State Farm, Allstate and American Family, you'll still have to talk to an agent to finalize your policy.

Insurer
Can I get an online quote?
Can I buy online?
State FarmYesNo
GeicoYesYes
ProgressiveYesYes
AllstateYesNo
USAAYesYes
FarmersYesYes
NationwideYesYes
American FamilyYesNo
TravelersYesYes

How to buy car insurance online

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1. Determine how much coverage you need

When shopping for the best auto insurance online, you should start by evaluating your coverage needs. The amount of coverage that will best suit you depends on multiple factors, including the value of your car, how much you can afford to spend in out-of-pocket expenses and what you want to be covered.

First-time drivers or drivers looking for the cheapest policy option. You should find your state’s minimum insurance requirement, which is the lowest amount of coverage needed to legally drive.

While the minimum coverage policy is the most inexpensive option, it may not be the best for your needs. You want to strike a balance between having affordable costs and sufficient coverage.

Drivers switching from an existing policy. You should identify features and coverages from your existing car insurance policy you'd like to carry over to your new insurer.

You can find a summary of your existing auto insurance coverage in the declaration page that comes with your policy.


checklist

2. Prepare the necessary information to receive a quote

After you're familiar with your existing policy or what kind of policy you would like, you can start searching for quotes online. The process is simple, as most insurers have online forms that you can fill out to obtain a quote for free.

Many insurers allow you to buy insurance online without going through an agent. The information you might need to get a quote includes:

  • Address
  • Driver’s license number
  • Occupation
  • Social Security number
  • Previous violations or accidents
  • Personal info for other drivers on the policy
  • Your car's year, make and model
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Anti-theft features
  • Current mileage
  • Date you want your coverage to begin
  • Previous insurer
  • Current policy end date

comparison

3. Get multiple online quotes

In order to receive the cheapest car insurance quote online for your driving profile, you should ideally compare quotes from at least three insurance companies. While cost is important to factor in when shopping for auto insurance, you should also compare coverage options and the quality of customer service.

Most insurers, particularly large ones, offer a wide range of discounts for car insurance. These range from discounts for being accident-free, completing a defensive driving course or having anti-theft devices. These discounts can stack up and make your policy substantially cheaper.

You can also check out reviews of the best car insurance companies. Our reviews consider many factors such as ratings from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), J.D. Power and AM Best to help you evaluate customer support and financial strength.

Once you pick the best company for you, you can sign up online and start your policy the same day or the next day in some states.

How to save money when buying car insurance online

Aside from comparing quotes across multiple companies, there are other methods drivers can utilize to ensure they buy the cheapest coverage available online.

Drivers switching companies for cost reasons should reach out to their current insurer to ask for discounts. While it isn't a guarantee, the agents at your current insurer might be able to help you identify discounts that would lower your premium.

You can also save a lot of money by bundling your auto and home insurance online.

A few other ways to reduce your car insurance rate include:

  • Select a higher deductible: This reduces the price of your premium.
  • Pay up front: Pay for your policy in a lump sum instead of monthly payments, and you'll typically save up to 10%.
  • Maintain a clean driving record: Most companies offer discounts of around 10% if you keep a clean driving record.
  • Evaluate your current coverage: You can save hundreds of dollars by dropping coverages you don't need anymore.
  • Shop ahead: Some companies offer an advanced quote discount of up to 5% if you get a quote before your old policy expires.
  • Teens: You can save up to 44% by joining a parent's policy.

Should I purchase insurance online or use an agent?

When purchasing auto insurance at a physical location, you'll choose between a captive agent and an independent agent. Captive agents can get quotes from one insurance company, while an independent agent offers rates from multiple companies.

Buy car insurance online

Pros

  • Cheap and convenient

Cons

  • Less guidance when choosing a car insurance company
  • Online options vary by company

Purchasing insurance online is cheap and convenient, since you can save time and money by comparing quotes from multiple insurers at home.

The only downside is that you receive less guidance when choosing a car insurance policy, which could result in fewer discounts and less assistance if you have complex coverage needs. While you can connect with an agent, you won’t always be speaking with the same person.

When buying online, you should have a solid understanding of what you want covered under your auto insurance policy. And to make sure you're receiving the best price, compare multiple quotes from insurance companies online with the same level of coverage.

Along with buying policies online, many insurance companies also offer the ability to file a claim, enroll in automatic billing, get monthly statements and update policy information online.

Buy car insurance from a captive agent

Pros

  • Comprehensive knowledge of one company's policy options

Cons

  • Only offers policies from one insurer

Captive agents can offer in-depth product knowledge since they only offer policies from one insurance company. These agents also have the added benefit of providing in-person support.

The downside when using a captive agent is that they're only able to offer policies from one insurer. If you're unfamiliar with auto insurance or have a specific insurer in mind, this may be a good option for you.

However, you won’t know if you’re getting competitive rates for your auto insurance. To make sure you’re getting the best price, gather multiple quotes from different captive and independent agents before making a decision.

Buy car insurance from a broker or independent agent

Pros:

  • Offers rates from multiple companies for auto insurance

Cons:

  • Could try to upsell you for higher commissions
  • Can't offer quotes from companies that have captive agents or work directly with customers

Independent agents, also known as insurance brokers, have the benefit of being able to offer rates from multiple companies for auto insurance. You can often get in-person and personalized support from these agents.

The drawback is a dishonest agent could try to sell you more coverage than you need because their commissions are often based on a percent of your premiums. This is less of a risk with captive agents, who usually receive a salary on top of commission.

Another drawback is that insurance brokers won’t have relationships with insurance companies that employ captive agents or work directly with consumers. You'd have to contact captive agents in your area, and potentially go online, to compare prices for those insurers.

Purchasing auto insurance through an independent agent is a good option if you want the ability to compare multiple quotes with minimal effort while still getting in-person guidance. Before you sign up for a policy, ask about any broker fees you might pay or that might be lumped in with your premiums.

Should I purchase insurance online or use an agent?

When purchasing auto insurance at a physical location, you'll choose between a captive agent and an independent agent. Captive agents can get quotes from one insurance company, while an independent agent offers rates from multiple companies.

Buy car insurance online

Pros

  • Cheap and convenient

Cons

  • Less guidance when choosing a car insurance company
  • Online options vary by company

Purchasing insurance online is cheap and convenient since you can save time and money by comparing quotes from multiple insurers at home.

The only downside is that you receive less guidance when choosing a car insurance policy, which could result in fewer discounts and less assistance if you have complex coverage needs. While you can connect with an agent, you won’t always be speaking with the same person.

When buying online, you should have a solid understanding of what you want to be covered under your auto insurance policy. And to make sure you're receiving the best price, compare multiple quotes from insurance companies online with the same level of coverage.

Along with buying policies online, many insurance companies also offer the ability to file a claim, enroll in automatic billing, get monthly statements and update policy information online.

Buy car insurance from a captive agent

Pros

  • Comprehensive knowledge of one company's policy options

Cons

  • Only offers policies from one insurer

Captive agents can offer in-depth product knowledge since they only offer policies from one insurance company. These agents also have the added benefit of providing in-person support.

The downside when using a captive agent is that they're only able to offer policies from one insurer. If you're unfamiliar with auto insurance or have a specific insurer in mind, this may be a good option for you.

However, you won’t know if you’re getting competitive rates for your auto insurance. To make sure you’re getting the best price, gather multiple quotes from different captive and independent agents before making a decision.

Buy car insurance from a broker or independent agent

Pros

  • Offers rates from multiple companies for auto insurance

Cons

  • Could try to upsell you for higher commissions
  • Can't offer quotes from companies that have captive agents or work directly with customers

Independent agents, also known as insurance brokers, have the benefit of being able to offer rates from multiple companies for auto insurance. You can often get in-person and personalized support from these agents.

The drawback is a dishonest agent could try to sell you more coverage than you need because their commissions are often based on a percentage of your premiums. This is less of a risk with captive agents, who usually receive a salary on top of commission.

Another drawback is that insurance brokers won’t have relationships with insurance companies that employ captive agents or work directly with consumers. You'd have to contact captive agents in your area, and potentially go online, to compare prices for those insurers.

Purchasing auto insurance through an independent agent is a good option if you want the ability to compare multiple quotes with minimal effort while still getting in-person guidance. Before you sign up for a policy, ask about any broker fees you might pay or that might be lumped in with your premiums.

Frequently asked questions about buying car insurance online

Can I buy car insurance online?

While most insurers let you get car insurance quotes online, only some companies let you sign up for your policy online without talking to an agent. For example, Geico and Progressive let you buy car insurance policies online, but State Farm and Allstate require you to finalize your policy with an agent.

Is it cheaper to buy insurance online?

Some insurance companies offer a discount for buying car insurance online. And buying car insurance online can be cheaper than buying through an agent. Brokers or agents might charge an extra fee or commission for finding you a policy. Also, an unscrupulous agent might try to convince you to buy more coverage than you need if their commission is based on your premiums.

Can I cancel my auto insurance policy online?

It's rare to find an insurance company that lets you cancel a policy online, even if you purchased a policy online. Instead, you can cancel by calling an agent, sending a letter or stopping by one of the insurer's locations in person.

Methodology

To calculate rates for a minimum coverage policy, ValuePenguin collected quotes from the biggest insurance companies across all 50 states. The sample driver was a 30-year-old male who drove a 2015 Honda Civic EX.

Our analysis used insurance rate data from Quadrant Information Services. These quotes were publicly sourced from insurer filings and therefore should be used only for comparative purposes. Your own quotes might be different from our rates.