Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health in...

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Written by Rachael Brennan
Licensed Insurance Agent Rachael Brennan

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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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jun 29, 2022

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In a nutshell...

  • Before you can sign up for auto insurance, you need to take time to get a handful of quotes to compare pricing
  • Every company has different rates and it’s your duty as a consumer to find the carrier with the best rates for you
  • After you get insurance quotes, you’ll have to decide on the policy and coverage options you’d like to apply for
  • It’s important to have all of the information that you need when you’re getting quotes so the pricing is accurate
  • When you fill out your application, you need to give ID numbers and other specific details that will be verified

If you ever plan on buying your own car, you’re going to have to learn about auto insurance and how to sign up for it.

Many teens who are allowed to test for their license before they reach 18 let their parents handle their auto insurance until they graduate high school or even sometimes until they graduate college.

Compare car insurance quotes to find the best policy for the best price.

There are no longer high school classes that help prepare teens for the everyday tasks they will have to do when they move out and begin to live an adult life.

That’s why it’s important for everyone to set aside their free time to learn about things like money management and insurance. If you’ve never applied for coverage on your own, here’s a guide on how to sign for auto insurance.

Step 1: Gather The Information That You Need for a Quote


Most of the information that you have to provide to get a quote can be found in your memory bank.

You don’t have to give specifics as to the VIN or your driver’s license when you’re soliciting quotes, but it is important to answer all of the questions you’re asked for quoting purposes accurately.

If you don’t have the right information available during the quoting process and your information presented isn’t accurate, the estimates that you’re given could also be impacted. Most of the questions you’re asked are directly related to your rating factors.

If anything changes from your quote to your application, the cost of your coverage could change.

– Information That You Must Provide

Every quoting form is different. If you’re getting a quote directly from an agent, you’ll have to answer personal questions that help assign you to a risk class and also help you choose an adequate amount of coverage.

If you’re getting your quotes online, you’ll enter your information into fields. Here’s what you typically need:

  • Name of all drivers in the home
  • Date of birth and years licensed for all drivers
  • Occupations and levels of educational attainment
  • Estimate of your credit rating
  • Dates of at-fault claims
  • Dates of driving infractions and type of violation
  • Year, make, and model of vehicles
  • Zip code of physical address
  • Eligibility for discounts like Good Student, Driver Training, Away at School

– Understand Why Quotes Are So Important

A quote is an estimate of how much you’ll pay to insure a specific car and specific drivers in your household.

You have to not only answer rating questions to get an accurate quote, you’ll have to select the type of coverage you’d like to carry and also the limits you want on your policy.

If you’re trying to find the best deal when you’re signing up for insurance, the most effective way to get a good rate is to get several quotes.

Insurance isn’t something that’s priced like a one-size-fits-all consumer good you’d find on the shelves at a retail store.

You have to understand how insurance is priced to understand why comparison shopping matters.

Every company has its own rating system in place. The carrier must comply with the state’s laws concerning fair rating policies and procedures, but as long as a rate can be justified the carrier can set its own pricing.

Some insurance companies would prefer to charge significantly more to high-risk drivers than others. Some companies want to do business with the riskier drivers. You need to identify which carrier is priced right for your demographic.

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– Are quotes guaranteed?

When you get quotes you should be actively looking for coverage. You can’t rely on a quote you were given months ago to set your auto insurance budget because rates are constantly changing.

If you’re getting quotes direct from the insurer, most of the time the rate you’re given isn’t guaranteed.

Some consumers who shop around by getting quotes through a brokerage will have a small window to secure their coverage before a quote guarantee expires.

The longest guarantee you’re given to apply for your quote before the pricing changes is 30 days. You should look on the quote form to see if there’s any guarantee.

– Are quotes binding?

When you get a quote, you’ve taken the first step to buying insurance. That doesn’t mean, however, that you have any type of coverage.

When someone uses the term binding, it means that the coverage you asked for is bound for a stated period of time.

Quotes are never binding. You will get a temporary binder during the underwriting phase when you submit an application for your coverage.

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Step 2: Decide How to Get Quotes


There are several different ways that you can request insurance quotes. You’ll have to decide which option is best for you based on your personal preferences and when you’re available. Here are some methods to consider along with the benefits of choosing this method:

  • Agent Office  a good option for consumers who like personalized face-to-face service
  • District Office  fast face-to-face service available on weekdays and often weekends
  • Toll-free By Phone  convenient option to get quotes from any phone at any time of the day
  • Brokerage  receive multiple quotes from an expert agent who represents you and not a specific company
  • Direct Online  visit the carrier’s website online for convenient online quotes at any time of day
  • Comparison Site  get several quotes instantly in minutes any time of the day without providing your information multiple times

Step 3: Decide How Much Coverage You Need

You can’t get a quote if you don’t know how much coverage you’re getting quotes for. If you speak with an agent or you use a quoting tool, you can get assistance in picking which type of coverage options you need and how much liability insurance is appropriate.

When consumers don’t know how much auto insurance to purchase they can use a needs assessment tool online. There’s not a rule of thumb that will work in every scenario but most agents recommend carrying at least 100/300/100 for liability limits.

These limits refer to thousand dollar increments. Other coverage to consider in addition to the required liability limits includes:

  • Comprehensive
  • Collision
  • Uninsured Motorist Protection
  • Medical Payments
  • Rental Reimbursement
  • Towing and Labor

Step 4: Choose a Quote

Once you’ve solicited at least four quotes, you can start to compare the pricing and make a decision. Don’t overlook the importance of choosing a financially stable carrier.

You should look up each insurer’s financial stability ranking through AM Best or another reputable consumer agency before making any decisions.

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Step 5: Submit Your Application


When you settle on a specific quote, you can submit your application for coverage. The application you submit will include all the specific information on your vehicle and the drivers in the home.

After underwriting the policy, the carrier will issue your insurance at the final rate. Rates are guaranteed for the term when the policy is fully underwritten.

Signing up for auto insurance is a process. You need to gather your information, price the products, compare companies, and then finally submit your application.

If you’re ready to get started, you can use the information that you’ve gathered to get dozens of instant quotes on our online comparison tool right now.