First-Time Auto insurance Buyer’s Guide

If you’ve never had an auto insurance policy before—don’t worry. It isn’t as complicated as it seems. Understanding what you’re buying is important. But with a little research, Allstate’s online tools and your local agent, it can be easy.

Where Do You Start?

Before you start comparing auto insurance quotes and companies, take a little time to figure out what you need. The Bumper-to-Bumper BasicsSM tool helps you do exactly that. It only takes a couple minutes and any one of our virtual guides can explain auto insurance so it’s easy to understand.
After that, you’re ready to start a Ballpark estimate. It’s quick and you won’t even have to give your name. It’ll also help you quickly understand what rates you can expect to pay, along with what features and coverages are available.

What Coverages Should You Consider?

Every auto insurance policy has several different coverages that protect you, your passengers, other drivers and your vehicle. Some coverages are required by the state you live in, and some are optional. Here’s a short list of common auto insurance coverages, along with what they typically cover:

  • Bodily Injury Liability — Costs that you’re legally responsible for, resulting from bodily injury or death to another person.
  • Property Damage Liability Coverage — Damage to another person’s vehicle or property that you’re legally responsible to pay for.
  • Medical Payments Coverage & Personal Injury Protection Coverage — All reasonable medical expenses resulting from a bodily injury, sickness, disease or death of your passengers or a driver on your policy, as the result of an accident.
  • Underinsured / Uninsured Motorist Coverage — Costs resulting from bodily injury caused by another driver who doesn’t have enough insurance (or any at all).
  • Collision Coverage — Damage to your vehicle caused by a collision with another object or from the vehicle rolling over.
  • Comprehensive Coverage — Damage to your vehicle from anything other than a collision. Things like a windstorm, fire, theft, hail, flood or vandalism.
  • The insurance coverage you choose depends on your situation. Even though you’re just starting out, getting the bare minimum might not be right for you. Take a look at what each one covers, and decide whether or not that protection is something you need. Sometimes, adding an optional coverage only amounts to a few extra dollars a month.

How Much Auto insurance Coverage Should You Consider?

Once you know what you’re interested in, the next step is to choose how much insurance protection you want. Typically, you’ll be choosing a limit or a deductible.
A limit is the maximum amount an insurance company will pay out for a particular coverage. A higher limit means you’re better protected from high costs, and that protection will cost you more money.

A deductible is the amount you’ve agreed to pay out of your pocket before the insurance company pays for any other covered losses. You usually have to choose one when you get Collision or Comprehensive coverage. After you pay a deductible, the insurance company typically pays the rest, up to the actual cash value of your car. Choosing a higher deductible typically means your premium will be lower.

How Do You Know If You’re Paying Too Much?

Make sure you’re comparing “apples to apples” when you’re looking at rates from different auto insurance companies. In other words, when you get quotes to compare, make sure they include the same coverage, limits and deductibles. Even though a quote might look lower, it might not offer you the same protection as a more expensive one.

Most auto insurance companies, including Allstate, will offer a variety of discounts. Try using the personal quote tool to find out all the discounts you qualify for, or talk to your local agent.

Rethinking Your Auto insurance Coverage

Most insurance policies are renewed every six months, and some people go back over their policy then to make sure their needs are still being met. Others check it less often—when they have a major life change. Like getting married, having a baby, buying or selling a car, buying or selling a home—anything that affects their assets.

What If You Need to Make a Claim?

Making a claim is the exact reason you carry auto insurance—it’s what you do when you have a loss that’s covered by your policy. You might not be thinking about it now, but after an accident, having an experienced company with a smooth claims process can help get things back to normal much easier.

Allstate has a 24/7 Customer Information Center that is always available to help you with your claim, and your local agent is there for you too. If you sign up for Allstate’s free Customer Care website, you can even make and track your claim online anytime, anywhere.

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