January 6, 2022

How to Get Car Insurance in 5 Easy Steps

Getting car insurance doesn’t have to be stressful or time-consuming.

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Whether you’re getting car insurance for the first time or merely switching providers, getting a new policy doesn’t have to be a big hassle. In five easy steps, you can be well on your way to cheaper, more reliable car insurance.

How to Get Car Insurance

Do your research and you can get a new policy in no time, whether you’re buying a new car or switching insurance for an existing vehicle.

  1. Choose coverages. Before you even think about specific providers, decide what coverages you want. That way, you can compare quotes apples-to-apples in terms of coverage options. We recommend full coverage, which is more than state auto insurance requirements. Read our auto insurance guide to see the minimum coverage your state requires.
  2. Compare quotes. Now that you’ve settled on coverages, compare quotes from multiple providers using the exact same information. There are no-credit-check quotes, no-personal-information quotes, online quotes, and non-owner quotes. But note that the less information you input, the less accurate your quote will be when you shop for car insurance. Things like a low credit score from overdue credit cards and a poor driving history or driving record could make your auto insurance more expensive.
  3. Speak to agents. Once you’ve researched the companies behind the quotes, speak to an agent at a car insurance company to learn more. We also recommend reading auto insurance company reviews online, like this State Farm review.
  4. Apply for a policy. If you’ve found a company you like, apply for a policy to see what your premiums will be. Set a deductible that you could reasonably pay and determine your limits.
  5. Pay your premium. To put your policy into effect, you’ll need to pay your first premium. Your coverage will begin on the policy’s effective date.

Why You Need Car Insurance

“Why do I need car insurance?” is a frequently asked auto insurance question. The short answer is that, in every state except New Hampshire and Virginia, auto insurance is a legal requirement. But even if it weren’t, we’d still recommend it.

To Fulfill State Requirements

You need a minimum amount of auto insurance in every state but Virginia and New Hampshire, as mentioned above. Otherwise, you could run into trouble with the law, as detailed below.

To Avoid Legal Penalties and Fines

If you drive without insurance, you could be forced to pay a fine, or your license or registration could be suspended.

State Fine for the first offense Other penalties
Alabama $500 Registration suspension
Alaska $500 License suspension
Arizona $500 License and registration suspension
Arkansas $50 Registration suspension
California $100 None
Colorado $500 License suspension
Connecticut $100 License and registration suspension
Delaware $1,500 License suspension
District of Columbia $150 License suspension
Florida $150 License suspension
Georgia $200 License and registration suspension
Hawaii $500 License suspension
Idaho $75 None
Illinois $500 License suspension
Indiana $250 License suspension
Iowa $250 None
Kansas $300 License and registration suspension
Kentucky $500 Registration suspension
Louisiana $500 None
Maine $100 License and registration suspension
Maryland $1,000 None
Massachusetts $500 License and registration suspension
Michigan $200 License suspension
Minnesota $200 License and registration suspension
Mississippi $500 License suspension
Missouri $20 License suspension
Montana $250 None
Nebraska $100 License suspension
Nevada $250 License suspension
New Hampshire $125 License and registration suspension
New Jersey $300 License suspension
New Mexico $300 License and registration suspension
New York $150 License and registration suspension
North Carolina $50 License suspension
North Dakota $300 License suspension
Ohio $100 License suspension
Oklahoma $250 License suspension
Oregon $130 License and registration suspension
Pennsylvania $300 License and registration suspension
Rhode Island $100 License and registration suspension
South Carolina $550 License suspension
South Dakota $100 License suspension
Tennessee $300 License suspension
Texas $175 None
Utah $400 License suspension
Vermont $250 License suspension
Virginia $600 License suspension
Washington $550 None
West Virginia $200 License suspension
Wisconsin $500 None
Wyoming $250 License suspension

FYI

The average fine for a first offense of driving without insurance is $318.

To Register Your Vehicle

You’ll need insurance to register your vehicle unless you live in one of these states:

  • Arizona
  • Mississippi
  • New Hampshire
  • North Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin1

To Cover At-Fault Accident Costs

If you get into a car accident and don’t have insurance, you’ll have to pay out of pocket for the injuries and property damage of everyone involved. Most people don’t have thousands of dollars lying around for potential at-fault accidents, so the best defense is bodily injury and property damage liability coverage. Otherwise, you risk getting sued.

TIP

It’s even worth insuring a broken-down car with comprehensive coverage to avoid a lapse in coverage that’ll lead to higher auto insurance prices or to get reimbursed for auto theft, weather-related incidents, or vandalism.2

Car Insurance Discounts

Just because auto insurance is a necessity doesn’t mean you have to pay an arm and a leg for it. You can save money and get cheap car insurance rates by using auto insurance discounts for the following:

  • Being accident-free
  • Always paying on time
  • Being a federal employee, good student, homeowner, employee of the auto insurance provider, active military personnel, student away from home, young driver, or veteran
  • Enrolling in automatic or paperless billing
  • Getting a quote early
  • Having a hybrid or electric vehicle
  • Having a new car
  • Having continuous insurance
  • Having multiple cars or people on your policy
  • Installing safety equipment like teen driver monitoring or anti-theft devices
  • Having a low annual mileage
  • Paying annually
  • Driving safely
  • Signing early
  • Taking a defensive driver course or driver training course

Recap

No one really wants to spend money on something that’s just preventative. But if you get into a car accident and it’s your fault, you’ll appreciate every penny you’ve spent on auto insurance premiums. Learn more about where to start in our guide to the best auto insurance.

Citations

  1. Can You Register a Car Without Insurance? Kelley Blue Book. (2021, Oct 7).
    https://www.kbb.com/car-advice/insurance/register-car-without-insurance/

  2. Do you need insurance for a car in storage? Progressive. (2022).
    https://www.progressive.com/answers/insurance-car-in-storage/