Buying Car Insurance Doesn’t Have to Be Confusing

Shopping for car insurance can be confusing. But it doesn’t have to be. Once you have a good understanding of the most common car insurance types and how buying it actually works, buying car insurance really isn’t such a confusing process.

A young man driving a car through the mountains
Before driving your new car home, make sure you have car insurance | Rich Pearce/Total 911 Magazine/Future via Getty Images

The most common types of car insurance coverage

First things first, it’s important to understand there are different types of car insurance coverage. While all coverage types are made to protect drivers, different coverage options will provide you and your vehicle with varying protection levels. Liability insurance, for instance, will protect you and your vehicle. It will also help you cover any damages caused to a third-party vehicle and may cover hospitalization and treatments resulting from the accident.

Collision coverage and personal injury protection coverage can also be useful. With collision coverage, if you get into an accident with another vehicle, it can help pay to repair or replace your car. On the other hand, personal injury protection coverage will help cover not only your own medical bills but also those of other passengers, regardless of who is at fault for the accident. There’s uninsured motorist insurance, too, which will protect you if you’re in an accident and the other driver doesn’t have liability insurance.

Last, but certainly not least, is comprehensive coverage. According to Kelley Blue Book, the main advantage of comprehensive car insurance is that it covers a variety of dangers beyond vehicle collisions. In most states, this type of coverage is optional. However, if you are leasing a new vehicle, you may be required to purchase it.

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Do you buy car insurance before or after buying a car?

According to Policygenius, yes. You’re going to need insurance before taking home your new vehicle home from the dealership. In fact, most car dealerships won’t even let you drive off of the lot if you don’t have proof of insurance. Fortunately, you can shop for a car insurance policy before heading to the dealership.

And if you don’t have the time to shop ahead? Does this mean you can’t drive a car home without insurance if you just bought it? Pretty much. Most states require that you have a minimum amount of car insurance before hitting the road. And why would you want to drive an uninsured car anyway? What if something happens?

A row of sedans in a parking lot at a car dealership.
Vehicles in a dealership lot. | Andrew Spear for The Washington Post via Getty Images

How does buying car insurance work?

Before getting started, it’s important to know your state’s minimum requirements. This will give you an understanding of what type of coverage you need and how much you should anticipate spending on car insurance each month. Then take into consideration your current driving record. Have you had any tickets recently? Been in an accident? These are all things that can impact your monthly rate.

Once you’ve got this information on hand, give your current car insurance company a call. They should be able to give you an updated quote based on the VIN of the vehicle you plan on buying. Then? It’s time to shop around. While doing so may feel tedious and time-consuming, shopping around for car insurance can and likely will save you money. Once you’ve found the ideal coverage plan for you, sign up! Just make sure your plan doesn’t begin until the day you purchase your car.

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Just one of the many aspects of what it means to own a car

There’s a heck of a lot that goes into owning a car. First, you have to pick one out, and we all know how tedious it can be to shop for a new car. Then you have to insure it before taking it home. And after that? Well, then you’re the proud owner of an insured vehicle. And that’s not so bad, right?