UPDATED: Nov 1, 2016

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Written By: Jeffrey JohnsonReviewed By: Sara RouthierUPDATED: Nov 1, 2016Fact Checked

Getting auto insurance is one of the things that we may grumble about but know that we need to do. After all, insurance is required in nearly every US state. While there is one state that does not require an insurance policy, New Hampshire still requires proof of financial responsibility.  Simply put, that means that if there is an accident, you would have to be able to prove that you are able to pay for the damages and other issues that may arise from that accident. That can include penalties and fines if there are any.

To get the best price for your auto insurance, it is important to do a little bit of comparison shopping first. The easiest and fastest way to do that is with an auto insurance calculator online. You don’t have to deal with the insurance agents who are trying to sell you more insurance than you need. Instead, you can compare coverage amounts and prices, making some changes here and there, until you get the coverage that you actually need and want.

Insurance Coverage: Need vs. Want 

Step-by-Step Guide to Using the Auto Insurance Calculator

Before you start looking for quotes, you need to know who much insurance you are legally required to have. Each state that requires insurance for each resident has a different amount that they require, but in most cases the insurance requirements will require:

  • Coverage for the other person’s vehicle
  • Coverage for personal property that might be damaged in an accident, such as a fence or other structure
  • Coverage for medical expenses that might arise from the accident

Liability insurance is typically all that is required with some exceptions. Keep in mind that liability insurance does not protect your own vehicle or personal property; it only fulfills your own legal obligation to anyone else who is injured or suffers property damage as a result of your driving.

Exceptions to the liability only rule:

  • People who have had certain moving vehicle violations may have to have an additional type of insurance, called a SR 22, which is more expensive.
  • People who do not own their car outright, such as those who have financed through the car dealership, may be required to have full coverage insurance on the vehicle to protect the interests of the lien holder.

The more value you have in your car, the more likely you are to want to have better and better insurance coverage. The more work you put into it, the more you want to protect that investment in time and in money. There are some limitations for how much you can actually cover with insurance, but you can discuss the fine details with an agent. First, you need to have an idea of the insurance that you will need.

Using the Online Insurance Calculator Before You Buy

To learn what kind of insurance quotes are reasonable, familiarize yourself with the numbers by accessing the online insurance calculator of your choice. The easiest way to get an insurance quote is via these calculators, which let you get an idea of the insurance numbers and costs but keeps you from having to answer a million questions or worse, deal with pushy insurance agents.

The online calculator tool will ask a minimum of questions, which means that you can generate an insurance quote in mere minutes. In most cases, you will only be asked these questions:

  • The city and state
  • The make and model of the car
  • Income and assets

There is no personal information that is entered and no obligation until you are actually ready to make the purchase, but even then, you still have a few days to reconsider your insurance needs.

After Contacting the Insurance Agent

Once you have contacted the insurance agent, you might find that your insurance needs are not being met. Even though you have started an insurance policy, you typically have a special period that allows you to end the policy without penalty. That period is usually three days from the day that you sign the policy. After that three days, though, any changes that you make to the policy can become a problem and may result in additional charges and fees.

Warning: the policy is not universal. Each agency may have a longer or shorter review period that must conform with the rules of insurance in the where state the policy is applicable.

Resources for the Insurance Calculator

There are a number of resources that you can use for the insurance calculator- from many insurance companies’ websites to independent insurance review sites.  Simple and easy to use, they allow you to review of your insurance needs without having to deal directly with an agency or an agent until you are ready to buy a policy.

Should You Review Your Insurance Needs?

After you have had a policy through one agency for a long time, it is easy to get complacent and just continue to renew the same coverage at the same rate (or higher) year after year. However, you should review your insurance needs and policies frequently especially in certain situations. These include:

  • A change in the value of the car
  • A change in ownership of the car (for instance, if you have paid off a lien)
  • A change in your family makeup (marriage, divorce, etc)
  • A new driver is being added to the policy

Before you automatically renew a policy, always use the online auto insurance calculator to determine whether it is still your best value or if you would be better suited with a different policy.

Does Loyalty Pay?

Some people are not happy switching insurance companies, but the truth is, unless they are willing to give you a loyalty discount, then you do not need to be concerned- always shop for your best price on the policy that fulfills your needs.

When you are talking about switching, tell your agent that you have compared prices and he or she may make sure to offer new discounts to you.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about auto insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything auto insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by auto insurance experts.

Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

Sara Routhier, Managing Editor and Outreach Director, has professional experience as an educator, SEO specialist, and content marketer. She has over five years of experience in the insurance industry. As a researcher, data nerd, writer, and editor she strives to curate educational, enlightening articles that provide you with the must-know facts and best-kept secrets within the overwhelming world o...

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Reviewed by Sara Routhier
Director of Outreach Sara Routhier