Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Benjamin Carr was a licensed insurance agent in Georgia and has two years’ experience in life, health, property and casualty coverage. He has worked with State Farm and other risk management firms. He is also a strategic writer and editor with a background in branding, marketing, and quality assurance. He has been in military newsrooms — literally on the frontline of journalism.

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Reviewed by Benji Carr
Former Licensed Life Insurance Agent Benji Carr

UPDATED: Mar 7, 2018

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Purchasing budget insurance coverage on the web can seem to be rather challenging for drivers not familiar with online price comparisons. With more and more online companies available, how are drivers able to even start to compare every insurance coverage company to find the lowest rates?

Smart buyers know how to buy car insurance cheaper

Many things are part of the equation when pricing auto insurance. A few of the factors are predictable like an MVR report, but some are not as apparent like your continuous coverage or how financially stable you are.

The list below includes a partial list of the pieces used by insurance companies to determine your prices.

  • What are your coverage deductibles? – Physical damage protection, also called comprehensive and collision insurance, helps pay for damage to your vehicle. Examples of covered claims are a windshield shattered by a rock, vandalism, and damage caused by flying debris. The deductibles define the amount you are willing to pay if a covered claim is submitted. The more money you are required to pay out-of-pocket, the lower your rates will be for 3 Series insurance.
  • Accidents increase prices – Your driving citation history has a lot to do with how much you pay for insurance. Only having one speeding ticket can bump up the cost to the point where it’s not affordable. Drivers with clean records get better rates than bad drivers. Drivers with serious violations like hit and run, DWI or reckless driving convictions are required to prove financial responsibility with the DMV in their state in order to prevent a license revocation.
  • Always keep your policy in force – Having an insurance coverage lapse can be a quick way to pay more for car insurance. Not only will rates go up, failure to provide proof of insurance may earn you a hefty fine and possibly a revoked license.
  • Do you know you’re credit history? – Credit history can be an important factor in determining premium rates. So if your credit history is not that good, you could be paying less to insure your 1998 BMW 3 Series by repairing your credit. Insureds that have high credit scores tend to be better drivers and file fewer claims than those with lower ratings.
  • Expect high rates for teens – Older, more experienced drivers are shown to be more cautious, statistically cause fewer accidents .Young drivers are proven to be more careless when driving so car insurance rates are higher.

Enter your zip code below to view companies that have cheap auto insurance rates.

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Insurance discounts are available to lower your rates

Insurance is not an enjoyable expense, but you might be missing out on some discounts to reduce the price significantly. Certain reductions will be credited when you quote, but a few need to be inquired about before you get the savings.

  • Sign Online – A few companies may give you up to $50 simply for signing on the web.
  • Pay Now and Pay Less – By paying your policy upfront rather than paying monthly you can avoid monthly service charges.
  • Save with More Vehicles Insured – Buying coverage for multiple vehicles on one policy can reduce the rates for all insured vehicles.
  • Own a Home and Save – Simply owning a home can help you save on insurance because maintaining a house means you have a higher level of financial diligence.
  • Discount for Multiple Policies – When you combine your auto and home insurance with one company you could save nearly 15% which can help you find low cost auto insurance.
  • Clubs and Organizations – Belonging to certain professional organizations is a good way to get lower rates on your next renewal.
  • New Vehicle Savings – Insuring a new car can cost up to 25% less since new vehicles have better safety ratings.
  • Seat Belt Discounts – Drivers who require all vehicle occupants to buckle up could save 15% off PIP or medical payments premium.
  • Discount for Good Grades – Excelling in school could provide a savings of up to 20% or more. Earning this discount can benefit you until age 25.
  • Lower Rates for Military – Being on active deployment in the military can result in better rates.

As a sidenote, most of the big mark downs will not be given to your bottom line cost. Most only apply to the cost of specific coverages such as collision or personal injury protection. Just because you may think it’s possible to get free car insurance, it doesn’t quite work that way.

Companies and some of the premium reductions they offer include:

  • State Farm offers discounts for safe vehicle, good driver, good student, Steer Clear safe driver discount, multiple policy, defensive driving training, and student away at school.
  • Esurance may have discounts that include Switch & Save, online shopper, renters, safety device, anti-lock brakes, and good student.
  • Progressive may offer discounts for continuous coverage, multi-vehicle, multi-policy, online signing, and homeowner.
  • Liberty Mutual may include discounts for new vehicle discount, new move discount, exclusive group savings, newly retired, teen driver discount, newly married, and new graduate.
  • Auto-Owners Insurance has savings for mature driver, student away at school, multi-policy, safe vehicle, and paperless.
  • GEICO discounts include five-year accident-free, defensive driver, emergency military deployment, air bags, and multi-policy.

If you want low cost auto insurance quotes, ask every company what discounts are available to you. Some discounts may not apply to policyholders in your area.

Advertising myths

Popular auto insurance providers such as Progressive, Allstate and GEICO endlessly run ads on television and other media. They all seem to convey the message about saving some big amount if you switch your policy. That’s great but how can every company lower your rates? Here is the trick they use.

Insurance providers quote their best rates for a prospective insured that will not have excessive claims. One example of this type of insured may be between the ages of 30 and 45, owns their home, and chooses high deductibles. Any new insured that matches those criteria will get a cheap rate quote and is almost guaranteed to save quite a bit of money when switching.

Potential insureds who don’t qualify for this ideal profile may be forced to pay a higher premium which results in business not being written. The ad wording is “customers that switch” not “everyone who quotes” can save as much as they claim. This is how companies can make it sound like they have such great prices. Each company has different criteria, so you absolutely need to get auto insurance quotes from several different companies. You cannot predict the company that will have the best premium rates at this point in time.

Everyone needs different insurance coverage coverages

When it comes to choosing adequate coverage for your personal vehicles, there really is no perfect coverage plan. Every situation is different.

For example, these questions can help discover if your insurance needs will benefit from professional help.

  • Am I covered when renting a car or should I buy coverage from the car rental agency?
  • Does coverage extend to a rental car in a foreign country?
  • When should I remove comp and collision on my 1998 BMW 3 Series?
  • Do I need an umbrella policy?
  • Why do I only qualify for high-risk insurance?
  • When should I buy a commercial auto policy?
  • Is borrowed equipment or tools covered if stolen or damaged?
  • How much underlying liability do I need for an umbrella policy?

If you can’t answer these questions but you think they might apply to your situation then you might want to talk to an insurance agent. To find lower rates from a local agent, simply complete this short form.

Enter your zip code below to view companies that have cheap auto insurance rates.

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Car insurance specifics

Having a good grasp of car insurance aids in choosing the right coverages and proper limits and deductibles. The terms used in a policy can be impossible to understand and even agents have difficulty translating policy wording.

Insurance for medical payments

Med pay and PIP coverage pay for bills for rehabilitation expenses, prosthetic devices, doctor visits and hospital visits. They can be used to fill the gap from your health insurance plan or if you are not covered by health insurance. It covers you and your occupants in addition to any family member struck as a pedestrian. PIP coverage is not universally available and may carry a deductible

Liability coverages

This will cover damage or injury you incur to people or other property. This insurance protects YOU against other people’s claims, and does not provide coverage for damage to your own property or vehicle.

Split limit liability has three limits of coverage: per person bodily injury, per accident bodily injury, and a property damage limit. As an example, you may have limits of 25/50/25 which stand for $25,000 bodily injury coverage, a limit of $50,000 in injury protection per accident, and a total limit of $25,000 for damage to vehicles and property.

Liability can pay for things like repair bills for other people’s vehicles, medical services, medical expenses, legal defense fees and court costs. How much liability should you purchase? That is your choice, but consider buying higher limits if possible.

Comprehensive coverage (or Other than Collision)

This coverage pays for damage OTHER than collision with another vehicle or object. You need to pay your deductible first and then insurance will cover the rest of the damage.

Comprehensive insurance covers things like damage from getting keyed, theft, fire damage and falling objects. The maximum amount you’ll receive from a claim is the actual cash value, so if your deductible is as high as the vehicle’s value it’s probably time to drop comprehensive insurance.

Collision insurance

This pays to fix your vehicle from damage caused by collision with a stationary object or other vehicle. You first must pay a deductible then your collision coverage will kick in.

Collision can pay for claims such as damaging your car on a curb, backing into a parked car, colliding with a tree and hitting a mailbox. This coverage can be expensive, so analyze the benefit of dropping coverage from older vehicles. Another option is to bump up the deductible to save money on collision insurance.

Uninsured Motorist or Underinsured Motorist insurance

This coverage provides protection from other drivers when they do not carry enough liability coverage. It can pay for injuries to you and your family as well as damage to your BMW 3 Series.

Due to the fact that many drivers carry very low liability coverage limits, their liability coverage can quickly be exhausted. For this reason, having high UM/UIM coverages is a good idea.

Quote often and quote early

As you restructure your insurance plan, never buy lower coverage limits just to save a few bucks. In many instances, an accident victim reduced comprehensive coverage or liability limits and discovered at claim time that their decision to reduce coverage ended up costing them more. Your goal should be to purchase plenty of coverage for the lowest price, not the least amount of coverage.

We’ve covered many ideas to save on 1998 BMW 3 Series insurance. The key concept to understand is the more times you quote, the better likelihood of getting low cost auto insurance. Consumers may even find the most savings is with some of the smallest insurance companies.

Consumers who switch companies do it for a number of reasons such as unfair underwriting practices, delays in paying claims, questionable increases in premium and not issuing a premium refund. It doesn’t matter why you want to switch finding the right insurance provider is easier than you think.

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