Gianetta Palmer is a writer for, copywriter, and essayist. Her work has appeared in, Healthline, and The Dyrt Magazine. She is the author of Scrunchie-Fried and writes a lot about car insurance in her spare time.

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Melanie Musson is the fourth generation in her family to work in the insurance industry. She grew up with insurance talk as part of her everyday conversation and has studied to gain an in-depth knowledge of state-specific car insurance laws and dynamics as well as a broad understanding of how insurance fits into every person’s life, from budgets to coverage levels. She also specializes in automa...

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Reviewed by Melanie Musson
Published Insurance Expert

UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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Auto insurance is an unavoidable cost for most people in the modern world. If you want to own and operate a vehicle, you must carry at least the state minimum of liability insurance. Additional coverage may be advisable as well as a protection against accidents. Carrying sufficient insurance coverage is important, but it’s equally important to purchase a policy that you can afford.

In order to match your coverage needs with your budget, you need to find a way to customize your coverage and get an estimate for insurance costs. Depending on the insurance company you currently have, you have several options for estimating car insurance costs.

Free Online Quotes

One way to check the cost of insurance against numerous different carriers is by obtaining a free quote online. You will fill out a brief form that will review various factors that influence the cost of your insurance. You will need to note what kind of vehicle you drive, your age and marital status, where you live and who has access to your vehicles.

You will then be matched with multiple insurance companies that can provide coverage for your needs. You are able to review your options and see what company can offer the most affordable coverage this way. The figure you receive at this point may not be wholly accurate, however, and a representative will need to call to provide the final quote.

The reason that this quote will not be accurate is that the online form cannot take into account all of the factors that influence auto insurance. Only by checking your credit and reviewing your driving history can an insurance company provide a personalized quote that will reflect the actual cost of auto insurance.

Be aware that whenever you request a quote from an insurance company, the representative from the insurance company will do a background check to review your credit and driving history. This may require the company to call your current insurer, so your insurance company may become aware that you are shopping around for new coverage.

Insurance Company’s Website

If you already have auto insurance, you may be able to estimate the cost of different coverage combinations by using the company’s website. If your insurance company has a website, you might be able to log in and review your coverage and update the coverage listed on the policy. You should be able to review these coverage changes before approving them, allowing you to try several coverage combinations to review the effects on the premiums before settling on a change.

For example, you may wish to experiment with increasing deductibles, dropping coverages or lowering limits of liability. The price difference of an increased deductible may be larger than lowering a liability limit, and dropping a single coverage from the policy may save more money than altering anything else.

When making changes to your own insurance policy, beware of dropping below the state insurance requirements. The website may allow you to reduce your policy beyond the legal limits imposed by the state. If your coverage drops below the legal limits, your insurance company may report this to the DMV and you might be penalized for carrying insufficient insurance. In some cases this might even lead to a suspended driver’s license and it could be difficult to reinstate it. It’s best to avoid this situation whenever possible by maintaining sufficient coverage at all times.

Although reviewing your coverage and estimating the cost of premiums online is a good budgeting tool, you may not want to make any changes to your policy without reviewing the choices with your agent first. If you are not familiar with your policy and the state insurance requirements, making changes to your policy might lead to you dropping coverage that you need.

If in doubt, you can always contact the insurance company to assess the cost of a policy and make necessary changes to your coverage to fit the needs of your budget. Whether calling your existing insurance company or contacting a new insurer for a quote, you can discuss your specific needs with the agent to customize your policy. This way you can avoid losing necessary coverage while still staying within the confines of your budget.