What Is an Auto Insurance Quote?

Auto Insurance Quotes Explained

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Auto insurance quotes are initial estimates of your premium or what you’ll pay for an insurance policy. When shopping for auto insurance, you can get several quotes from insurers.

Auto insurance quotes are based on information about your driving history, the type of automobile being insured, and other factors. Quotes may differ from the final rate the insurance company offers. Find out how auto insurance quotes work, what to expect with the quote process, and how to use insurance quotes to get the best rates for you.

Definition and Examples of Auto Insurance Quotes

Auto insurance quotes are estimates of how much you will pay for a certain type and amount of auto insurance coverage, based on the information you provide. 

  • Alternate names: Auto premium quote, car insurance quote, auto quote

You can collect quotes from different auto insurers through agents or through websites before you decide which insurance is right for you―and they are free. You might even get more than one quote from an insurer for different coverage amounts or types of insurance. 

So, if you want both auto liability coverage and comprehensive and collision coverage for your 2020 Honda Civic, an insurer will provide you with an estimate. You can ask other insurers what it would cost for the same coverage, then compare those quotes to find the best rate. 

Quotes are typically for six months or 12 months of coverage. Be aware of the terms of the quotes you’re comparing, so you can compare them correctly. 

How Auto Insurance Quotes Work

What happens when you request a quote from an agent or via an insurance company’s website? Let’s review the quote process from both the insurer’s and consumer’s point of view. 

Quotes from Insurer’s Perspective

Quotes are based on the insurance company’s initial estimation of your risk as a driver, in combination with any discounts you might qualify for. 

The risk equation depends on various factors, including the insurance regulations in your state. For example, in some states, insurers can take your credit history into account. In other states, insurers aren’t allowed to consider your credit history. 

In general, these factors could influence your quote:

  • Your driving record, marital status, gender, and age
  • Your location and how you use your vehicle 
  • Prior insurance coverage
  • Any discounts you qualify for (such as combined auto and home coverage)
  • Your choice of deductible 
  • Optional coverage, such as rental car reimbursement coverage

Insurers weigh factors differently, so their quotes will vary. To make accurate comparisons of rates from different insurers, you should provide the same information to each one. 

Your final auto insurance rate can be different from the quote you receive.  That’s because the insurer will likely request your official driving history and a report from CLUE (Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange) before issuing you a policy. CLUE is an insurers’ information database that collects past and present claim histories. The information in these reports can affect the final policy cost. 

Quotes from Consumer Perspective

When you get a quote, be specific about what kind of auto insurance coverage you need and discuss any concerns with the agent. 

The California Department of Insurance suggests avoiding asking for “the best coverage,” as the agent will guess at what you need. Also avoid asking for “full coverage,” which isn’t an actual type of coverage. Instead, ensure you understand your state’s minimum coverage, your coverage needs, and what auto coverage you’d like to add on. 

You’ll need to provide either the agent or an online site with several pieces of information like your date of birth, car’s VIN, your driving history, and other personal details. Have these details handy when gathering auto insurance quotes. 

Providing your Social Security number may be optional for getting a quote, but helps the insurance company to verify your identity and provide you with a more accurate quote.

When researching the quote, ensure you understand what the quote includes, such as:

  • Coverage: How much liability and other coverage are you buying?
  • Deductibles: Your portion of the payment when your vehicle is damaged
  • Discounts: Which discounts are available 
  • Payments: Payments can be made in one lump sum or in monthly or quarterly installments, although these smaller payments may be accompanied by fees or other costs
  • Optional coverages: In some states, insurers must offer you particular coverages but allow you to reject the coverage. Make sure you understand what’s optional and what isn’t in your state.

Consider gathering at least three to four quotes for the same coverage and with the same deductibles and discounts. With this information, you can more accurately compare costs, as well as customer service approaches

If you get a quote on the phone, ask the agent to send you the quote in writing. This way, you can easily compare policies and check for any inaccuracies. If you spot errors, ask for a correction in writing.  

The quote you receive may be different from the actual policy price, especially if you provide information that is different from the official records the insurer reviews. Quotes can change based on new or updated information you provide or the insurer discovers. 

If you have more accidents, claims, or traffic violations on your driving record than your reported for your quote, you’ll likely face higher rates. The price of your policy can also change if you change your coverage options.  

Before you finalize your coverage, call or check the website of your state’s insurance regulator to ensure the agent is licensed. 

Key Takeaways

  • An auto insurance quote is an estimate (not final) of the amount you’ll pay for a policy period.
  • Familiarize yourself with the coverage types you need and want before you request auto insurance quotes.
  • Consider getting quotes from at least three insurers, whether through a website or through an agent.
  • Insurance companies may change their quoted price with new information, including information they get from driving records. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get a free quote for auto insurance? 

Auto insurance quotes are usually free, whether provided online, by phone, or in-person with an agent. Ask friends and family for recommended insurers or agents providing good service at a reasonable price. 

What information is needed for an auto insurance quote? 

Information you may be asked to provide will likely include: 

  • Vehicle year, make, model and VIN, and whether you finance, lease, or own the vehicle
  • Any safety systems in your car such as airbags or specially installed after-market equipment 
  • Household drivers’ (and potentially non-drivers) details, including their name, date of birth, gender, marital status, phone number, license number, and driving history
  • How much and types of coverage desired

What is an advance quote discount?

An advance quote discount is only offered by some auto insurers in some states. You might receive an advance quote discount when you shop for a new auto policy a certain number of days (such as one to eight days) before your current policy ends. However, if you want an insurance policy that begins immediately, an advance quote discount may not be available. 

Can I get an auto insurance quote without owning a car? 

If you don’t have a car, you can get a quote for non-owner car insurance, which provides liability coverage for bodily injury and damage to property. Non-owner car insurance does not cover your own injuries. In the U.S., liability insurance often follows the car and the driver.. However, if you’re paying someone to use their vehicle—even if it’s insured—you’d need to have your own coverage.  

How can I find my previous tickets or claims to include when getting an auto insurance quote? 

You can get your driving record from your state’s entity governing such records, such as the department of motor vehicles. You can also see a complete history of your claims information history by ordering a Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange report, or CLUE report, from LexisNexus.

Should I get an auto insurance quote when shopping for a new car?

Comparing insurance quotes before you buy a car may help you decide which car you want to buy. High-performance and luxury cars often come with higher insurance premiums, as can other cars that cost more to repair. Vehicles frequently stolen—such as a 2000 Honda Civic or 2018 Toyota Corolla—may also cost more than other cars.