What Is the Process for Getting Auto Insurance?

To obtain an auto insurance policy, get quotes from various providers before you choose a company to use. You may find competitively priced insurance that meets your needs by doing so. Before purchasing a policy, decide on adequate coverage and prepare yourself for the purchase process so you know what to expect.

Determine Coverage Needs

Decide what kind of insurance coverage you need. You can check with an agent or your state motor vehicle department to determine the minimum liability requirements for your state. Liability insurance is the cheapest you can purchase. If you have a loan on your vehicle, your contract may require you to carry collision coverage during the term of your loan, which is the most expensive. You can also increase your bodily injury and property damage limits and lower or raise your deductible. Once you know the kind of coverage you need, obtain quotes accordingly.

Shopping Insurance Providers

Shopping around is optional, but you can benefit financially by taking the time to find a competitive price. If you have a limited driving history or previous tickets or accidents, you may fare better with a broker rather than one specific company. A broker is able to shop various insurance companies to obtain you the lowest rate based on the kind of insurance you want or need. An agent, such as those employed by State Farm, Allstate or Geico, can only offer you policies and discounts that the company allows.

Necessary Information

Before applying for a quote or a policy, have your information ready. Your agent needs your driver's license number to check your accident and driving history. Some insurance companies assess risk based on your credit rating, so have your Social Security number ready. Gather your vehicle information, such as its VIN (vehicle identification number), year, make and model. Note any vehicle safety options, such as anti-lock brakes, traction control, airbags or a passive alarm system. You'll also provide your home and work address so the agent can calculate how far you drive each week. If you have a loan for your vehicle, have your bank information handy; your lender is the listed as the policy’s loss-payee.

Payment and Policy Term

Many insurance providers allow you to pay your policy upfront and offer a discount for doing so. Or, expect to pay at least your first month's payment to start the policy. After your insurance is set up, you may have to complete a photo inspection for your insurance provider. Your agent may be able to take photos himself or you may have to go to a specific location to have your vehicle photographed. After your policy is purchased, your insurance company is responsible for notifying your state’s motor vehicle department and lender.