Saving money is a prime concern when it comes to auto insurance. What really pays is comparing coverage in relation to cost.

The current national average for auto insurance is a little more than $900 per year, a number that can rise to well above $1,200 in metropolitan New York. It’s a bad expense to forego; accidents can lead to costly repair, medical, and legal bills or revocation of the right to drive. You are required by law to have liability, PIP, UIM in NY. Nevertheless, data from the Insurance Research Council found that about 1 in 8 drivers were uninsured.

If you’ve made the smart (and usually law-abiding) move and decided to ensure your vehicle, your next concern is getting the best deal on your auto insurance quote comparison. There’s more to that decision than finding which provider is the cheapest. Let’s walk through the process of getting the best quote in the right way.

What comparing apples to apples really means

When you compare two auto insurance policies, you must place similar terms and coverage side by side. The key to success here is to know which kinds of insurance you truly need because it’s tempting to load up your policy basket with every available option “just in case.”

More and more customers are taking care of their insurance needs online without speaking to an advisor in person. While this has the perceived virtue of speeding up the review/purchase process (slow application processes are a big turn off for those without auto insurance), it sacrifices the in-depth comparisons gained from speaking with a qualified insurer.

By reviewing your personal, family, vehicular, and financial situations you’ll gain a better idea of what you can afford monthly. When you do, that figure can be used to set up your coverage limits. Don’t forget to ask insurers about any possible discounts based on your driving habits, record, and vehicle condition as well as multiple policies.

The main types of coverage to compare

Some of the top factors to consider during your auto insurance comparison:

  • Uninsured/Underinsured motorist insurance – These two are separate forms of insurance, but it’s not uncommon to see them bundled together. Remember the earlier statistic about 1 in 8 drivers being uninsured? Uninsured motorist coverage protects you against these people, while underinsured coverage can help meet excess costs if the other driver’s insurance is too little to cover the accident.
  • Collision coverage – If you collide with another vehicle or a stationary object such as a street sign, tree, or guardrail, then collision insurance is the option that will help cover repair or replacement. Running into road hazards like potholes or ditches are also covered events, as is if your car is flipped. This kind of claim often goes faster – from filing to reimbursement – due to the transparency of who is at fault. Collision will only cover the damage to your own vehicle and won’t apply to any resulting medical expenses on either side.
  • Comprehensive insurance – This offers wider coverage for drivers over and above collision insurance, which solely covers the repair or replacement costs of your damaged vehicle. Comprehensive may also offer weather protection, theft/vandalism coverage, and protection against weather hazards.
  • Liability insurance – This is mandatory in many states. Examples of liability insurance are PDL (Property Damage Liability) and BIL (Bodily Injury Liability). BIL doesn’t pay out to cover you or your passengers. Instead, it provides for the medical expenses of anyone else you injure while driving. PDL helps cover damage to another driver’s car.
  • Personal Injury Protection – PIP is recommended by some insurers but not others and may be required by law. This can depend on the quality of your current medical insurance plan. If that offers quality coverage already then you may be able to pass on PIP. If you don’t have medical insurance in place, then PIP is a worthwhile consideration.

How to compare auto insurance quotes

When you’ve considered your finances and the types of coverage you need, it’s time to look at quotes and the insurers who offer them. There are plenty out there to choose from. The big household names may sell only their own insurance coverage, while independent insurance providers aren’t tied down to any one company.

Independents will work with you to find the best deal regardless of who provides it. There are also direct insurers who may be more selective about which drivers to give coverage to. Generally, the larger the provider, the more amenable they will be to a less than perfect record.

The more, the merrier

You’ll want to gather price data on your coverage types from several insurers. Calling a customer service advisor to ask pertinent questions is always wise, but this method tends to see callers moved along the line with little real depth to the interaction, speaking with a licensed professional is advised.

It’s important to find out how much of a deductible you’ll have to pay out of pocket if you make a claim, and then compare that not only to other insurers but within each insurer by themselves. Deductibles are often not universal within a single policy and may vary depending on the nature of the claim.

The reputation of an insurer matter. The best prices in the world won’t make up for a provider with a less than respectable reputation. Check out provider ratings on websites like J.D Power or the Better Business Bureau.

Minimum coverage can mean minimum peace of mind

When you’ve picked a winner in your auto insurance comparison, it’s wise to settle on a coverage amount that is equal to the total value of your assets. If a costly event occurs on the road, you may lose personal assets if your auto insurance coverage is less than the required payout.

To mitigate risk, calculate the combined value of your vehicle, your home and any savings or investments you have put aside. When your auto insurance liability coverage is equal to or greater than their combined worth you can enjoy a peace of mind that may not be present under minimum coverage. An insurance agent may suggest an umbrella policy too!

Your takeaway on auto insurance comparison

Knowing what you really need and making plenty of accurate comparisons are the paths to success. You may benefit from this resource from the Insurance Information Institute. It details 10 questions to ask about your insurance status, many of which can affect your auto insurance.