If you’re reading this, then you probably just graduated college and your parents just gave you the lovely gift of cutting you off from their auto insurance policy. Try not to panic. We know shopping for insurance for the first time can be stressful, so we created a step-by-step list to help you out on your first solo insurance shopping experience. Always remember: When in doubt, call Mom and Dad. We won’t tell.
Know which coverage is mandatory
By law it is mandatory that a driver purchases liability insurance. Liability insurance covers bodily injury— like if you hurt another person in an auto accident, and it covers property damage— like if you wreck into someone’s car. Be aware that this doesn’t cover you or your car. To cover yourself and your car, you have to purchase an optional coverage.
Know which coverage is optional
Ok, so we know it says optional, but it really is in your best interest to purchase at least one of these coverages. These optional coverages protect your vehicle in case of an auto accident caused by you or by someone with a bad insurance policy.
Here is a list of optional coverages:
Collision Insurance: If you run into someone’s vehicle with your vehicle, the insurance company will help pay.
Comprehensive Insurance: This covers you in instances like if a robber tries to take your car, someone spray-paints weird stuff on it, your crazy ex-girlfriend/boyfriend takes a baseball bat to it, or a natural disaster strikes.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage: Your vehicle is covered if you get hit by someone who has a cheapo insurance policy that won’t cover all the damages made to your car.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage: Your vehicle is covered in the event that the person who hit you doesn’t have any insurance.
Personal Injury Protection: This covers your medical expenses in case you crash into someone or they crash into you and you get whiplash or some other injury.
Calculate your rate
A fancy word for the money you pay to the insurance company every month for car insurance coverage is “premium”. The amount of money you pay on your premium each month depends on a few things:
- The amount and types of coverage you need
- Your driving record or motor vehicle record
—If you stink at driving, your premium will be higher because you are a big risk to everyone on the road.
- Your vehicle
- The make and model
—How expensive it is AKA how likely someone will want to steal it.
—How old it is AKA how much of a risk it is to you or others on the road if it’s falling apart.
- Where you live
—Urban vehicles are more expensive to insure because there is more potential of getting in a wreck on freeways.
- How often you drive
—If you don’t drive that much you are less likely to get in a wreck, so your premium is lower.
- Your credit score
- Personal information like age and gender
—For example, drivers over age 25 are statistically less likely to get into a wreck so their premiums are cheaper.
Important definitions to know
Insurance Limit—The highest amount of money your insurance company can give you on a specific coverage.
Insurance Deductible—the amount of cash you have to pay out of pocket before the insurance company will hand over their cash.
How to get a quote
- Call an insurance agent
- Have important information on hand
- SS number
- VIN number (you can find this by opening the driver’s side door and looking at the door post where the door latches)
- Make and model
- Daily mileage
- Ask about “bundling”—like if you buy car insurance and property insurance at the same time.
- Look for a good-driver reward program.
- Ask about claims-free discounts.
- Keep a clean driving record.
- Learn about discounts for good grades.
- Drive a safer car.