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: Jun 1, 2018

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Have you fallen victim to overpriced auto insurance? Trust us when we tell you there are many drivers thinking the same thing.

You have multiple car insurance companies to choose from, and though it is a good thing to be able to choose, it can be more challenging to compare rates and find the lowest cost auto insurance.

Good decisions result in lower insurance prices

Lots of things are part of the equation when pricing auto insurance. Some are obvious like an MVR report, but other criteria are less obvious such as your credit history or your commute time.When buying insurance coverage it’s important to understand some of the factors that help calculate your policy premiums. If you know what determines premiums, this enables informed choices that may result in lower premium levels.

Shown below are a few of the things companies use to determine your prices.

  • Better credit means lower premiums – Credit score will be a significant factor in determining premium rates. Drivers with good credit tend to be more responsible as compared to drivers with lower ratings. If your credit can use some improvement, you could save money insuring your 2000 BMW 3 Series by improving your rating.
  • Only buy what you need – There are quite a few extra bells and whistles that sound like a good idea at the time if you don’t pay attention. Add-on coverages like rental car coverage, high-cost glass coverage, and membership fees are some examples. They may seem like a good idea initially, but if they’re wasting money eliminate the coverages to reduce your premium.
  • Keep insurance coverage claims to a minimum – Companies give the best rates to drivers who only file infrequent claims. If you tend to file frequent claims, you can pretty much guarantee higher rates. Auto insurance is designed for major claims that would cause financial hardship.
  • Higher comp and collision deductibles are cheaper – Comprehensive and collision coverage deductibles tell how much the insured will be required to pay if a covered claim is submitted. Insurance for physical damage, also known as collision and other-than-collision, protects your car from damage. Some examples of claims that would be covered could be colliding with a stationary object, animal collisions, or theft of your vehicle. The more damage repair cost you are required to pay out-of-pocket, the lower your rates will be on 3 Series coverage.
  • Discounts for married drivers – Getting married actually saves money on your policy. Having a significant other demonstrates that you tend to be more responsible and statistics show married drivers get in fewer accidents.
  • Optional features that cut premiums – Choosing to buy a car with an alarm system can help lower your rates. Advanced theft deterrents like vehicle immobilizer systems, General Motors OnStar and LoJack tracking systems all help stop car theft and help bring rates down.
  • Better drivers pay better costs – How you drive has a lot to do with how much you pay for insurance. Even a single ticket can boost insurance rates by as much as thirty percent. Careful drivers get better prices as compared to careless drivers. Drivers unfortunate enough to have multiple citations such as DUI, reckless driving or excessive speeding are required to file a SR-22 to the state department of motor vehicles in order to continue driving.
  • Choose high NHTSA crash test ratings and save – Vehicles with good safety scores are cheaper to insure. Vehicles built for safety protect occupants better and any reduction in injury severity means lower claim amounts and lower rates for you. If the BMW 3 Series has ratings of a minimum four stars on you may be receiving a better rate.

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

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How to compare free auto insurance price quotes

The majority of larger companies provide prices for coverage direct online. Getting quotes doesn’t take much effort as all you need to do is type in the amount of coverage you want on the page. When the form is submitted, their system orders your credit score and driving record and generates a price. Quoting online makes comparing rates easy, but the work required to visit multiple sites and enter the same data into a form can be a bit repetitive. Unfortunately, it is important to compare as many rates as possible if you want to get better auto insurance pricing.

A less time-consuming method to find better auto insurance pricing uses one simple form to return rates from a lot of companies. The form is fast, requires much less work on your part, and makes quoting online much more efficient. After sending the form, it is rated and you are able to buy any or none of the returned quotes. If the quotes result in lower rates, it’s easy to complete the application and purchase the new policy. The whole process takes 15 minutes at the most and you’ll know if lower rates are available.

In order to use this form to compare rates, click here and submit your coverage information. If you currently have coverage, we recommend you type in the coverage information exactly as shown on your declarations page. This makes sure you will have a price comparison based on similar coverages.

More discounts mean lower-cost premiums

Insuring your fleet can be pricey, but discounts can save money and there are some available that can help lower your rates. Many of these discounts will be applied automatically at the time of quoting, but a few must be manually applied before you will receive the discount. If you do not double check each discount you qualify for, you’re just leaving money on the table.

  • Distant College Student Discount – Any of your kids living away from home attending college and do not have access to a covered vehicle could qualify for this discount.
  • Discount for Good Grades – A discount for being a good student can be rewarded with saving of up to 25%. Earning this discount can benefit you until age 25.
  • Senior Discount – If you’re over the age of 55, you may qualify for a small discount on rates on 3 Series coverage.
  • Air Bags and Passive Restraints – Factory air bags or automatic seat belts may earn rate discounts as much as 30%.
  • Low Miles Discount – Low annual miles could earn discounted rates on garaged vehicles.
  • Defensive Driving Course – Participating in a course teaching defensive driver skills could cut 5% off your bill if your company offers it.
  • Discount for Swiching Early – A few larger companies allow discounts for buying a new policy early. This can save 10% or more.
  • E-sign Discounts – A handful of companies may give you up to $50 for buying your policy online.

While discounts sound great, it’s important to understand that some of the credits will not apply to the entire policy premium. Most only reduce the cost of specific coverages such as comprehensive or collision. Even though it appears you could get a free insurance policy, companies don’t profit that way. But all discounts should help lower your premiums.

To see a list of companies that can offer you the previously mentioned discounts, click here to view.

It’s not one size fits all

When it comes to choosing the right insurance coverage for your personal vehicles, there is no single plan that fits everyone. Everyone’s needs are different and your policy should reflect that. For example, these questions can help discover if you will benefit from professional help.

  • If I drive on a suspended license am I covered?
  • Does having multiple vehicles earn me a discount?
  • Does car insurance cover theft of personal property?
  • I don’t drive much so do I pay less?
  • Why does it cost so much to insure a teen driver?
  • Do I need special endorsements for business use of my vehicle?
  • Does coverage extend to Mexico or Canada?
  • Is my cargo covered for damage or theft?
  • Are my friends covered when driving my car?

If you’re not sure about those questions but one or more may apply to you, you may need to chat with an insurance agent. To find lower rates from a local agent, fill out this quick form or go to this page to view a list of companies.

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

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Specific coverage details

Having a good grasp of your policy helps when choosing appropriate coverage and the correct deductibles and limits. Policy terminology can be ambiguous and nobody wants to actually read their policy. Shown next are the normal coverages offered by car insurance companies.

UM/UIM (Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist) coverage – Your UM/UIM coverage protects you and your vehicle from other drivers when they are uninsured or don’t have enough coverage. Covered losses include medical payments for you and your occupants and damage to your BMW 3 Series.

Since many drivers have only the minimum liability required by law, it only takes a small accident to exceed their coverage. So UM/UIM coverage is a good idea.

Comprehensive auto coverage – This coverage will pay to fix damage caused by mother nature, theft, vandalism and other events. A deductible will apply then your comprehensive coverage will pay.

Comprehensive insurance covers things like fire damage, vandalism, hail damage, theft and a broken windshield. The maximum amount your car insurance company will pay is the cash value of the vehicle, so if the vehicle is not worth much consider removing comprehensive coverage.

Auto liability – Liability coverage will cover damages or injuries you inflict on a person or their property. It protects YOU against other people’s claims. It does not cover damage to your own property or vehicle.

Coverage consists of three different limits, per person bodily injury, per accident bodily injury, and a property damage limit. As an example, you may have policy limits of 50/100/50 that translate to a limit of $50,000 per injured person, a total of $100,000 of bodily injury coverage per accident, and property damage coverage for $50,000.

Liability insurance covers things like attorney fees, funeral expenses and structural damage. How much coverage you buy is your choice, but it’s cheap coverage so purchase as large an amount as possible.

Collision coverage – This pays for damage to your 3 Series resulting from colliding with another car or object. You have to pay a deductible and then insurance will cover the remainder.

Collision can pay for claims like rolling your car, hitting a mailbox, driving through your garage door and scraping a guard rail. Collision is rather expensive coverage, so analyze the benefit of dropping coverage from vehicles that are older. Another option is to raise the deductible to get cheaper collision coverage.

Medical payments and PIP coverage – Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and medical payments coverage provide coverage for bills for things like chiropractic care, rehabilitation expenses, EMT expenses, prosthetic devices and nursing services. They are often used to fill the gap from your health insurance program or if there is no health insurance coverage. It covers both the driver and occupants and also covers any family member struck as a pedestrian. PIP is only offered in select states and gives slightly broader coverage than med pay

A fool and his money are soon parted

When you buy car insurance online, never buy poor coverage just to save money. There have been many cases where an accident victim reduced uninsured motorist or liability limits only to regret at claim time they didn’t purchase enough coverage. Your objective should be to buy enough coverage for the lowest price, but don’t skip important coverages to save money.

Lower-priced insurance is possible on the web and from local agencies, and you need to comparison shop both to have the best chance of lowering rates. Some insurance companies do not provide the ability to get quotes online and usually these regional carriers sell through independent agents.

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