Car Insurance / Car Insurance Buying Guide / How to get car insurance quotes

How to get car insurance quotes

There are literally thousands of factors which determine what you pay for car insurance (most of which you can’t control). There are also dozens of insurers in each state, many of whom you’ve never heard of, who are competing with well-known “Top 10” insurance companies, and each assigns prices according to their own data models and risk profile.

Reviewed by: Max Cho, Licensed Insurance Broker NPN 20377411

In this guide: Best car insurance / Recommended car insurance / When to buy / How to buy

Shopping for car insurance is not for the faint of heart or those short on time. That’s why we usually get 2-3 quotes and pick the best one. But if we’re not picking the right companies or even the right insurance in the first place?

This page covers the different ways to buy car insurance, but if you still aren’t sure what coverage to buy, check out some of our advice about what kind of car insurance you need for your financial situation.

Car insurance companies

Because so many insurers are competing for your business, most engage in myriad tactics to convince you that you’ll get the best deal from them — from promising discounts for which you may or may not qualify to providing you with carefully crafted quotes which optimize their profit and not your insurance benefit. And of course there’s the multi-policy bundling, just to make things even more complicated.

Before you go quote crazy, here are the ways to shop and buy car insurance directly from an insurer.

Insurance agents

Talking to a human insurance professional is a good way to learn about what your insurance needs might be. But an in-house agent has no incentive to tell you about insurance options that aren’t offered at their employer’s company. The broker is also incentivized to sell you more insurance than you need (they’ll use fear as a tactic) and they’re definitely not going to tell you if you can get the insurance at a better price somewhere else (why would they even know?).

Direct online quotes

While you don’t have to worry about the agent’s motives, you’re not really getting an impartial process when you submit for a quote through an insurer’s website. We’ve all been trained by the airline industry to go straight to the source for the best prices, but insurance doesn’t work that way.

Instead of getting the right policy for your needs, you’re likely to get quote options like: Basic, Better, Best and no option to change the policy recommendations without calling the company. This rigidity works well for the insurers but is a recipe for overpaying for car insurance or purchasing the wrong insurance.

Is there such a thing as “the best insurance company?” We don’t think so. Our founder, Max Cho, says that due to heavy regulation, personal insurance is almost identical between companies, so there really isn’t such a thing as the best insurance company.

So why stick with well-known insurers when there are so many to choose from? If you have a clean driving record and a good credit score, you might be eligible for surprisingly cheap car insurance from smaller companies. But how will you find them?

Independent brokers

Generally an independent broker can be a good choice for getting insurance prices from a broad array of insurance companies. Sometimes they work with a few of the big insurers and a few of the smaller ones, and they know before you call where to find the best prices. Unfortunately they’re still incentivized to sell you something, even if they don’t have a great option for you.

Near me

Finding an independent car insurance broker in your local area isn’t hard. The proverbial “car insurance broker near me” query at Google will get you all kinds of useful information about who to ask for insurance quotes.

Most independent brokers only work with a handful of companies, but they can’t work with everyone. I took a quick peek at a couple “near me” and found the following:

  • One works with Liberty Mutual, Mercury Insurance, MetLife, Nationwide, Progressive, Safeco, Kemper, The Hartford, and Travelers.
  • Another works with: Mercury, Travelers, Progressive, Liberty Mutual, Safeco, Kemper, The Hartford, and NationalGeneral.

Notice something similar about these two brokers? They only work with the same handful of insurance companies. Meanwhile third-party sites like Investopedia suggest that the best insurers in my state are Metromile (now part of Lemonade), Wawanesa, Safeco, The General (for high-risk drivers), State Farm (for teen drivers), and California Casualty (for frontline workers like nurses, teachers, and firefighters).

Third-party online quotes

In recent years there has been a boom for online insurance quote sites that aren’t the insurers themselves. Companies like The Zebra,, Insurify,, Gabi, Jerry, and PolicyGenius are all vying for your information to get you a “free” online car insurance quote.

Why is “free” in quotes, you ask? Have you ever heard the phrase, “if you’re not paying for the product, you ARE the product?” Companies who don’t charge you, but offer a valuable service, typically make money by selling your data — in addition to getting a commission for whatever they’ve sold to you.

If you’ve ever used one of these services — or asked for a quote for a car online — you know that there will be a parade of phone calls and emails for months trying to sell you car insurance. To add insult to injury, some sites promise free quotes but never show you an actual policy so you're forced to give up your information without getting what you need.

We’re different. We’ll tell you about the best policies we can find for your needs from any insurer, whether we can sell you the policy or not. We can do this because we believe in our process and we’ll sell enough policies where we earn fees to make up for the ones where we don’t.

Need help shopping for car insurance?

Coverage Cat shops for your insurance for you. We search across dozens of major insurers, and use data science to compare millions of real quotes, to find the best combination of policies, coverage, and price for your personal financial situation.

Our promise:

  • We will never share your personal information with anyone other than the insurance companies we get quotes from
  • You will not receive any phone calls from us or any other insurance companies
  • We will only send you a few emails while we find the perfect insurance for you

We can only optimize car insurance for people in: California, Florida, New York, Texas, and Washington state. More states are coming soon.

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