how to buy car insurance online

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Is it better to purchase your car insurance online or work through an agent? That depends on your needs and what you’re comfortable doing. In this article, we at the Home Media reviews team explain where you can purchase online car insurance and when you might be better off calling an agent.

If you already know you want to buy your car insurance online, use the tool above to get started by comparing free quotes from several of the best car insurance companies.

Where to purchase car insurance online

Nearly every major insurer offers a way to get quotes for car insurance online, though some require you to contact an agent before you can finalize your purchase. Many companies, however, allow you to complete the entire process on the internet, from quote to purchase.

Here’s a snapshot of which major insurance providers offer car insurance online:

Car Insurance Company Online Car Insurance

Quotes

Online Car Insurance

Purchase

Geico
USAA
Progressive
The Hartford
Nationwide
State Farm
Liberty Mutual
AAA
Allstate
Farmers

Providers that do not offer online purchases require that you speak to an agent before finalizing your policy. However, most of the purchase process can still be completed on the insurer’s website.

Online auto insurance purchase process

The online insurance purchase process is similar for most companies. If the insurer offers car insurance online, you can get any standard type of coverage you’d need right from your computer or phone. But if you’re looking for specialty coverage like classic car insurance, you may have to call an agent to explain your situation.

The standard types of car insurance include:

  • Bodily injury liability insurance
  • Property damage liability
  • Underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage
  • Medical expense coverage (MedPay or personal injury protection)
  • Comprehensive insurance
  • Collision insurance

Here are some steps to follow to get car insurance online:

1. Get an online car insurance quote

The first step is to get a quote either through an insurer’s website or by using a free car insurance quote tool like the one below.

To receive your quote, you’ll need to provide the following information:

  • Name and address
  • Driver’s license number
  • Make, model and year of your vehicle
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Description of accidents, tickets or insurance claims filed in the last several years

2. Compare quotes

After you provide the necessary information, some sites may offer instant car insurance quotes that allow you to see the cost for the level of coverage you select. Other companies may ask for your telephone number or email address and have an agent contact you with your quotes and options. Reach out to a few companies so you can compare insurance plans.

3. Select coverage

Insurers that allow you to purchase a policy online will guide you through the purchase process, which should be straightforward. You’ll be asked to select the coverage you want as well as add-on options like roadside assistance or accident forgiveness.

4. Pay

Set up a payment method and input the necessary information. Most insurers may allow you to pay with a credit card, though some will charge a fee for this. Your other option is to pay through a bank by providing your routing number and account information.

5. Print your card

Finally, print your insurance card from home. Your insurer may also mail a card to you.

Cost of online car insurance

According to our rate estimates, full coverage car insurance costs an average of about $144 per month ($1,732 per year) for good drivers. Car insurance purchased online is about the same cost as car insurance purchased through an agent, though you might pay slightly more if you use an insurance broker.

Car insurance prices vary by provider, of course. Here’s how major providers rank based on cost:

Car Insurance Provider Average Annual Cost Estimate
USAA $1,013
Erie Insurance $1,113
Auto-Owners Insurance $1,229
State Farm $1,339
Geico $1,352
Progressive $1,397
Nationwide $1,533
Travelers $1,617
Farmers Insurance $2,032
The Hartford $2,166
Allstate $2,430

These estimates don’t include policy discounts you may qualify for, such as a homeowners discount or a discount for bundling auto with home insurance or life insurance. Other common discounts include:

  • Teen driver discount
  • Safe driving discount
  • Good student discount
  • Military discount
  • Defensive driving course
  • Safety features

Also, keep in mind that car insurance rates change over time. Premiums can be affected by state regulations, the rate of claims in a location, population growth and more. In our January 2022 car insurance survey, we found 41% of respondents had experienced a rate increase without an obvious cause.

What affects the cost of car insurance?

The cost of any auto insurance policy will depend on a number of factors, including your:

  • Location
  • Driving history
  • Credit score (except in California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Michigan)
  • Vehicle
  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Coverage selection
  • Deductible

Is it cheaper to buy insurance online or through an agent?

It is generally cheaper to buy car insurance online, as there are no agent fees or markups. However, an agent can guide you through the purchase process and help you select the best coverage. Agents may also help you find car insurance discounts that you might not otherwise know about.

Car insurance costs by state

Even if you purchase car insurance online, costs can vary considerably by location. Here are annual and monthly car insurance cost estimates by state.

State Annual cost estimate Monthly cost estimate
Alabama $1,799 $150
Alaska $1,824 $152
Arizona $2,528 $211
Arkansas $2,000 $167
California $2,339 $195
Colorado $2,189 $182
Connecticut $2,683 $224
Delaware $2,747 $229
District of Columbia $2,417 $201
Florida $3,844 $320

Should you purchase car insurance online?

You should choose your insurer based on which company offers the best car insurance rates and coverage for your needs. If that insurer happens to offer online car insurance quotes, you may want to take advantage of it. However, we don’t recommend choosing an insurer based on whether or not you can purchase a policy entirely online.

  • Online: If you already know what auto insurance coverage you need, it can be a good idea to purchase car insurance online. Buying online can save time and money. Many of our recommended national providers offer online auto insurance quotes and purchasing.
  • Agent: If you aren’t sure what kind of car insurance you need, you may be better off working through an agent. An agent can answer your questions and help you figure out your best coverage options.

Either way, research any provider before committing to a policy. Even if you want to work through an insurance agent, it can be a good idea to compare quotes online first to get a feel for the cost of car insurance and which insurers to contact.

Our recommendations for car insurance

Whether you’re buying car insurance online or in person, it’s important to compare several options so you find the best rates. Use the tool below to compare online car insurance quotes from top companies in your area, or read on to learn more about two of our recommended providers, Geico and USAA.

Geico: Editor’s Choice

In our industry-wide review, we rated Geico among the top car insurance providers in the country. The insurer has an A++ financial strength rating from AM Best, an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and it ranks ranks above average in California and the Central and New England regions in the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Auto Insurance StudySM.

Geico policies can be purchased online and are often the cheapest car insurance option for drivers. Discounts like those for being a good driver (up to 26% off), being a good student (up to 15% off) and having multiple vehicles on your policy (up to 25% off) are only a few of the ways to save with Geico.

In addition to standard car insurance coverage, Geico offers add-on policy options such as:

  • Emergency roadside assistance
  • Rental reimbursement
  • Mechanical breakdown insurance (MBI)
  • Rideshare insurance

USAA: Low Rates for Military

USAA scored the highest in every region in the J.D. Power Auto Insurance Study. The company is also known for reliable claims service. It scored 909 out of 1,000 points in the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction StudySM, higher than all other providers.

To be eligible for a car insurance policy with USAA, you must be a member or veteran of the United States military or have a family member or spouse that is a USAA member. If you are eligible, you can purchase a USAA policy entirely online.

In addition to standard insurance coverages, USAA customers can purchase:

  • Roadside assistance
  • Rental car reimbursement
  • Accident forgiveness
  • Glass coverage
  • Guaranteed asset protection (GAP)
  • Car replacement assistance (CRA)
  • Rideshare insurance

Our methodology

Because consumers rely on us to provide objective and accurate information, we created a comprehensive rating system to formulate our rankings of the best car insurance companies. We collected data on dozens of auto insurance providers to grade the companies on a wide range of ranking factors. The end result was an overall rating for each provider, with the insurers that scored the most points topping the list.

Here are the factors our ratings take into account:

  • Cost (30% of total score): Auto insurance rate estimates generated by Quadrant Information Services and discount opportunities were both taken into consideration.
  • Coverage (30% of total score): Companies that offer a variety of choices for insurance coverage are more likely to meet consumer needs.
  • Reputation (15% of total score): Our research team considered market share, ratings from industry experts and years in business when giving this score.
  • Availability (10% of total score): Auto insurance companies with greater state availability and few eligibility requirements scored highest in this category.
  • Customer Experience (15% of total score): This score is based on volume of complaints reported by the NAIC and customer satisfaction ratings reported by J.D. Power. We also considered the responsiveness, friendliness and helpfulness of each insurance company’s customer service team based on our own shopper analysis.