Comparing car insurance companies is important if you want to get the best deal to meet your insurance needs. Car insurance companies evaluate and appeal to different drivers: Some companies specialize in low income families, others in older drivers, and some in drivers with less-than-perfect driving records, so comparing car insurance companies is just as important as comparing car insurance quotes.

You can save yourself hundreds of dollars a year by comparing car insurance companies and rates before making a choice. Insurance.com has a quote comparison tool that lets you see side-by-side car insurance rates. You can complete a form and get car insurance quotes from several providers at once. Multiple quotes are presented on one page for easy cross-referencing.

Check for car insurance discounts

Before you begin comparing car insurance quotes, make sure you know about your potential car insurance discounts for certain instances such as bundling home and auto insurance with the same company, if you have a good driving record, or you have special anti-theft devices.

Use the same information about yourself and your vehicle when comparing car insurance companies. The best way to save on your car insurance is to buy only what you need. You don’t necessarily need collision insurance if you have an older car, for example. According to J. Robert Hunter, Director of Insurance for the Consumer Federation of America, most people should have liability coverage and uninsured motorist coverage of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per occurrence.

Establish your desired coverage limits before shopping and then be sure to use those same limits for every car insurance quote. You can also raise your car insurance deductible on collision and comprehensive coverage to reduce your premiums. If you do this, make sure you are using the same deductible with each company so that your rate comparison is accurate.

Find out about the car insurance company’s consumer track record

Start with your state insurance commission's website. State complaint ratios are more important than financial ratings for car insurance. Every state has an insurance guaranty fund that will pay some claims if the insurance company goes bust. It's still prudent, though, to check up on the insurer's financial health.

Compare complaint ratios

After you’ve narrowed down your list to five or six companies you can check their complaint records on the National Association of Insurance Commissioner's website or on your state’s insurance department website. It’s also worth checking the most recent Consumer Reports survey of car insurance providers.

Compare optional car insurance coverage

You can always get more coverage if you choose. Optional coverage is offered by many insurance companies for occasions like rental car coverage while your car is being repaired, towing and labor coverage or even CD/DVD replacement costs if these items are stolen from your car.

However, if one company offers optional coverage that you want at the same price or close to the price of another company's insurance policy without the optional extras, it may be worth choosing the policy with the options, says Hunter.

This article is adapted with approval from carinsurance.com: http://www.insurance.com/auto-insurance/car-insurance-comparison-quotes/5-ways-to-compare-car-insurance-companies.aspx

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Compare Car Insurance Companies and was authored by Emily Edwards.


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