What is auto insurance? Auto insurance protects you against financial loss if you have an accident. It is a contract between you and the insurance company. You agree to pay the premium and the insurance company agrees to pay your losses as defined in your policy. Auto insurance provides property, liability and medical coverage: Property coverage pays for damage to or theft of your car. Liability coverage pays for your legal responsibility to others for bodily injury or property damage. Medical coverage pays for the cost of treating injuries, rehabilitation and sometimes lost wages and funeral expenses. An auto insurance policy is comprised of six different kinds of coverage. Most states require you to buy some, but not all, of these coverages. If you're financing a car, your lender may also have requirements. Most auto policies are for six months to a year. Your insurance company should notify you by mail when it’s time to renew the policy and to pay your premium. You’ve already earned a discount on auto insurance It’s true! You’re getting a discount just for starting your auto insurance quote online. In fact, our average online discount is over 7%.** Sign documents online, and you’ll get another discount. That’s two discounts already...and you’re just getting started. More car insurance discounts built in to your quote! We offer lots of built-in car insurance discounts, such as safe driver, pay-in-full, multi-car, etc. You’ll automatically get these during your auto insurance quote no matter if you buy online or on the phone. Just get a free car insurance quote, and we’ll find savings for you. Easy. You can quickly rack up hundreds in savings. But if you want to save more during your auto insurance quote, try our extra savings tools. Extra savings tools: Do a bit more. Save a bunch more. Plug-in Snapshot® Just plug Snapshot into your car and tailor your rate to your driving. The safer you drive, the more you save on car insurance. See how Snapshot works. Try Name Your Price® Tool Use Progressive’s Name Your Price Tool and tell us what you want to pay for auto insurance. We’ll do our best to build a policy that fits your needs. Home + Auto Insurance†† Bundle your insurance policies and you could save 8% extra on car insurance. Add a homeowners, renters or condo insurance policy to your auto insurance quote today.† Get just what you pay for: guaranteed repairs We guarantee your repairs at our trusted network of repair shops and Progressive Service Centers—for as long as you own your car. Just drop your car off, pick up your rental and go. This is included in your car insurance coverage and part of the Progressive experience that you'll love. Car insurance is inherently tricky to navigate because you don't find out just how well it works (or doesn't) until you have an accident. And if you're lucky, that doesn't happen too often. So how do you know if you have the right kind of car insurance for your budget and lifestyle? U.S. News interviewed a handful of car insurance experts to find out what you should do before making a final decision on your policy in order to get a good deal and decrease the chance of being surprised by unexpected costs after an incident. Here's their best advice: When choosing a policy, start by asking friends for recommendations. "It always makes sense to first ask people who you respect who they have auto insurance with, and if they were happy when they had a claim," says Jeanne Salvatore, spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute, an industry group. [See: 10 Unexpected Costs of Driving.] Strangers can also offer useful advice. People often take their complaints about car insurance to social media, blogs and other websites. Search for posts on Twitter using the hashtag for the company you are considering. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners and the Center for Insurance Policy and Research makes it easy to find formal complaints that have been lodged against companies as well. State buyer's guides are another resource. States release detailed guides for purchasing auto insurance that explain the ins and out of property damage as well as collision and comprehensive coverage. "Get the buyer's guide – don't just go to some agent," recommends Bob Hunter, director of insurance at the Consumer Federation of America. Those buyer's guides also outline the minimum required coverage and what factors influence your insurance rates, from driving records to how you use the vehicle. When comparing policy prices, be sure to compare similar policies, cautions Phil Reed, senior consumer advice editor at Edmunds.com. Auto policies vary by length of time, level of service and an array of add-ons, he says. Instead of just searching the Internet to compare quotes, Reed recommends getting on the phone with companies and asking questions, too. Certain car safety features, such as alarm systems or anti-lock breaks, can help lower your rate. [Read: Blue-Collar Workers Pay More for Car Insurance.] At the same time, there's no need to obsess about constantly chasing a better deal. Jeff Blyskal, senior writer at Consumer Reports, says when the magazine asked readers to try to get a better deal with a competing insurance provider, only 12 percent of respondents were able to do so. That's despite the slew of auto insurance advertisements that would have you think a better deal is always just around the corner. Once you've settled on an insurance provider, you'll have the chance to consider various add-ons to your policy. In general, the more you pay upfront, the greater the coverage you'll have. For example, you can opt for a higher deductible in order to minimize your rates – probably a good move for anyone who considers themselves a careful driver and can afford the higher deductible in the event of an accident. You might also want to consider rental coverage. Auto insurance policies often allow you to add on coverage for renting a vehicle while your car is getting fixed after an accident, and if you only have one car, that kind of coverage can pay off. "Every customer who didn't have rental coverage wished they had it," says Richard Arca, senior manager of pricing at Edmunds.com and a former insurance adjuster. It typically adds about $20 for six months to a policy, he says. On new and leased cars, GAP insurance can also make sense. You've might have heard that when you buy a new car, it loses value as soon as you drive it out of the lot. Leased vehicles also often carry a lower fair market value than what you owe on the vehicle. That means in either of those cases, if you total the car, the insurance company will only reimburse you for the car's fair market value – and you could be out a lot of cash. GAP coverage, which stands for "guaranteed auto protection," safeguards people from that problem. "It's highly recommended for people who lease vehicles," Arca says.
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