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Car Insurance Calculator – Before You Renew or Buy a New Car


Car insurance rates are anything but static, especially if you have a six-month policy term. Most car insurance companies prefer a six-month policy rather than twelve months because it gives them the opportunity to adjust their rates (rarely ever down) twice a year.

Although it may be mildly painful, it makes good financial sense to shop your insurance rates before you renew your current policy and before you buy that new car.

We heard from a client recently who was shocked to find out that a used Kia Optima ES cost more to insure than a new SUV. It seems that the client never understood that a Kia Optima ES is considered a sports car rather than a four-door sedan. Oops!

Why not eliminate the guesswork? It only takes a few minutes to use an online car insurance calculator (they’re virtually everywhere) to get a preliminary quote for a new policy or a comparison with your current policy.




If It’s So Easy, Why Doesn’t Everyone Do It?


Although more and more car owners are getting used to buying car insurance online, many consumers are still holding back because they don’t understand car insurance coverage and prefer to have a licensed human being hold their hand through the process.

 They’re unfamiliar with all things car insurance consists of. Things like: 
  • Underwriting
  • Coverages
  • Optional Coverages
  • Mandatory Coverages
  • Fault or No-Fault
  • Discounts
  • Claims

We agree that all of this can be overwhelming, but with a little research in advance (like reading this entire article), consumers can be confident about purchasing car insurance online

Let’s take each of these scary issues one by one and see if we can relieve your anxiety and get you at your keyboard instead of calling every agent in your neighborhood.


What is Underwriting?


Simply put, underwriting is a fancy word for discovery. Underwriting is the process that insurance companies put every applicant through to determine the level of risk that you will present as a customer.

The lower the risk,  the lower the rates. It’s actually pretty simple when you think about it.

Car insurance underwriting is broken down into two primary categories; the driver(s) and the vehicle(s).

To understand the driver(s) risk, the insurance company will want to gather a certain amount of date about you and any other drivers that will be listed on the policy.

driver underwriting information

To understand the vehicle(s) risk, the insurance company will also want to gather information about the vehicle(s) you want to insure:

vehicle underwriting information

It’s important to note that with most online car insurance calculators, not all of the underwriting information can be entered (privacy issues) so the rate you get will be a preliminary rate. That’s okay though because you want to speak with a representative to see what discounts you’ll qualify for.


What about all the coverages I’ll need to know about?


Good question because this is where most people get a little intimidated when discussing car insurance coverages, limits, and deductibles. Most companies start with all the coverages provided in the Personal Auto Policy form and then go from there. Here’s what the basic coverage form provides but not every coverage is mandatory (hint: if you are insuring a Subaru WRX that’s paid for, physical damage coverage is optional).


Bodily Injury LiabilityPays for injuries to other drivers or passengers in an at-fault accident subject to the limits in the policy.
Property Damage LiabilityPays for repairs or replacement of another person's vehicle or property during an at-fault accident subject to the limits of the policy.
Medical PaymentsMedical Payments covers medical expenses for you and other passengers in your vehicle in an accident no matter who's at fault. This coverage will even cover you for injuries sustained in another person's vehicle or as a pedestrian up to the limit in the policy.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP)PIP covers the driver, all passengers, or a pedestrian involved in an accident no matter who's at fault. PIP helps pay for medical expenses, lost wages, loss of services, and funeral expenses up to the policy limits. This coverage is typically mandatory in "no-fault" states.
Uninsured/Underinsured MotoristUninsured/Underinsured motorist covers your medical expenses if the other driver (at-fault) is uninsured or underinsured. Some states also allow uninsured/underinsured property damage that covers your vehicle as well.
Comprehensive CoverageComprehensive coverage pays to repair or replace your vehicle after a non-collision event such as fire, vandalism, theft, or acts of nature subject to your deductible.
Collision CoverageCollision coverage pays to repair or replace your vehicle after an accident that involves another vehicle or object subject to your deductible.
Emergency Roadside AssistanceRoadside assistance is available if you are locked out of your vehicle or required roadside assistance like a tire change or fuel for an empty tank. Your coverage for each event is subject to the limit you purchased on your policy.
Rental ReimbursementRental reimbursement helps pay for rental expenses if you are in an at-fault accident or
hit by an uninsured driver. Most policies will have a limit per-day and per-accident.

What about liability limits? Aren’t there minimums to worry about?


Another good question. Yes, each state has there own minimum liability limits that you must carry (you can go higher and you should), some states have more mandatory coverages than others, and just to make it difficult, some states are no-fault states (see our article on no-fault insurance).


bodily injury liability limits by state

Shouldn’t I get some Discounts?


Yes indeed! Depending on the insurance company you use, there are many discounts that are available that can significantly impact the cost of your car insurance. Be mindful however, some discounts go away for various reasons. For example, if you are getting a Multi-policy discount but then change to a different homeowners’ or renters’ policy, you will lose that multi-policy discount in a heartbeat.

It’s the same way with a new customer discount. After you’ve had your policy a year, guess what, you’re no longer a new customer. Say bye-bye to that discount as well.

driver discount infographic
vehicle discount infographic


Can I get Optional Coverage Like Roadside Service and Rental Car?


Nowadays, unless you specifically reject these optional coverages, they’ll automatically be part of your policy and the additional premium (which is very little) will be in your quote,

Some companies offer more additional coverages like rideshare coverage, limited business use coverage, and additional equipment coverage if your car has some cool wheels or other neat stuff.


What about Claims, You Mentioned Claims?


Even though no car insurance company wants you to file a claim, with innovative technology most of them have made the process pretty darn easy, With many companies, you can file your claim online and upload pictures of your vehicle so the company can determine the extent of the damages to your car as fast as possible.

However, even with the new technology, there is still some negotiating that needs to go on with a human claims adjuster so you don’t get low-balled in the process.


In Conclusion


Hopefully, now that you have the information you need to help you understand auto insurance a little bit better, you can take off those handcuffs and starting using an online car insurance calculator to find the best deals from all the major companies.

In fact, you can start right now by using our car insurance calculator map at the beginning of this article or you can click or tap on the car insurance calculator on the right side (at the top or bottom on mobile) of this page.

Frequently asked Questions

Do all car insurance calculators give the same rates?

life insurance at 66

If you get an insurance quote XYZ insurance company from out insurance calculator and then go to the actual company’s car insurance calculator, the rates should be identical as long as the same information was entered into both calculators.

How come my rates are different after I talk to an agent?

question mark icon

Typically this happens because the agent asked you some additional underwriting questions that were not available on the car insurance calculator. Sometimes the rate is higher but most of the time it’s lower because the agent may have qualified you for a discount that you weren’t sure you qualified for. Also, your rates could change because your Motor Vehicle Report showed some violation activity that you did not enter into the calculator.

What if I have a customized or unusual style vehicle?

types of car insurance

We recommend that you try using the VIN from your car in the car insurance calculator first. If there is an issue with your vehicle or the calculator provides an error message, it’s time to call an agent to get a special quote for your customized vehicle.


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