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You’ll never know if you’re paying too much for car insurance until you compare quotes.

Car insurance rates change every day, and you could be leaving money on the table if you’re not comparison shopping. With car prices and repair expenses shifting, so does the cost of auto insurance. Insurers use these market changes plus other factors, like your age and driving history, when underwriting policies — that's why a different carrier may charge less for the same coverage.

Until you compare quotes, you’ll never know if you’re paying too much for car insurance.

But shopping around can be a tedious chore. Imagine calling each company one-by-one and repeating your information each time. Doing the legwork yourself might waste hours (possibly days) of work. Or you can complete one convenient form to compare big carriers alongside smaller local ones for free by shopping with SmartFinancial.

The Basics of Car Insurance

Featured Guide

How Does My Car Insurance Policy Work?

Auto Insurance is required by law in all 50 states. Learn more about how it works and if minimum coverage is right for you.

Key Terms to Know

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Auto Insurance is a contract between the insured and an insurance company. If the insured suffers a covered loss, the insurance company will help pay for expenses. A policy lists all coverages and limits as well as a deductible amount if you have collision and/or comprehensive coverage.

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Car insurance premiums are the amount you pay your insurance company to receive auto insurance coverage. In order to keep your policy from lapsing, you must pay your monthly, bi-monthly or annual premium.

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An insurance deductible is the amount you must pay before your insurance plan covers the difference. A $500 car insurance deductible leaves you responsible to pay $500 out-of-pocket before your insurance picks up the remaining balance for repairs and other losses.

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A car insurance claim is a formal request for payment to the car insurance company to help pay for damages, loss or liability from a covered incident.

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Also called a rider, an endorsement can add coverage, exclude coverage or modify an insurance policy in some other way. Some common types of endorsements include gap coverage, mechanical breakdown coverage and accident forgiveness.

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Auto liability insurance is required in most states so that your insurance policy can help cover losses if you cause damage or injury to another driver, their passengers and/or their property or if you injure pedestrians. There are two components to liability coverage: bodily injury liability and property damage liability.

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Collision insurance can pay to repair or replace your car after a collision-related car accident, even if you are the at-fault driver. Collision coverage is optional and is typically bought along with comprehensive coverage for individuals who require full coverage auto insurance. It is required when financing or leasing a car.

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Comprehensive insurance covers damages to your car that result from non-collision related losses like car theft, vandalism, falling objects and storm damage. It is required when financing or leasing a car but is otherwise optional.

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Full Coverage

Insurers, agents, and lenders use the term "full coverage" to describe auto insurance that covers you for damages even if an accident is your fault and if something outside of your control, like a hail storm, causes damage to your car. Full coverage means that you carry collision and comprehensive coverages along with state required coverage.

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Declaration Page

The declarations page is the front page of a policy that specifies the name of the insured person, their residence, the policy period and coverages. It also lists deductibles, limits, your user ID and other key data. Insurers informally refer to this document as the dec page.

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Named Insured

A named insured is someone, like a spouse or child, who is listed on a car insurance policy. People who often use the insured vehicle should be listed on the policy to ensure coverage.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the types of car insurance?

Liability insurance is required in nearly every state. In some states, personal injury protection and uninsured motorist coverage are required as well. Collision coverage is optional and covers your car even if an accident is your fault. Comprehensive coverage, which is also optional, will pay for losses for accidents and events that are not collision-related, like damage as a result of a storm, theft or vandalism. If you are leasing or financing a car, you will be required to carry collision and comprehensive insurance in addition to state required coverages.

What is the cheapest car insurance?

The cheapest way to insure a car is to buy your states minimum requirements and limits. In some states that means buying only liability coverage. In other states, you may have to buy personal injury protection and/or uninsured motorist coverage as well as liability protection. Keep in mind, however, that if your car is worth more than a few thousand dollars, it’s cheaper in the long run to protect that vehicle with optional coverages like collision and comprehensive in case you’re at fault in an accident or if something out of your control, like a falling object, damages it. Paying for repairs out of pocket is always the most expensive option.

How to get car insurance?

The best way to buy car insurance is to compare rates. Not only do car insurance rates change daily, but you will get different pricing from each insurer. Why not compare all the rates available to you so you can afford to buy the right amount of coverage and save some money too?

More Resources

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Car Insurance by Make and Model

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Car Insurance Company Reviews

With hundreds of companies and coverage options it can be a bit overwhelming. We wanted to make things easier so we researched and reviewed some of the top companies around.

How Much is Auto Insurance in Your State?

We compiled our insurance data from thousands of insurance quotes across the country. Here is the average cost of coverage in each state.

Car Insurance by Age

Are you paying too much for car insurance? Check out the average rates that drivers in your age group are paying.


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