5 FAQs for Car Insurance Newbies

The iconic Ford Mustang heading into its 50th year -
The iconic Ford Mustang heading into its 50th year - "Have you driven a Ford lately?"

LONDON – LIVING – New drivers have an array of choices to make after getting their driver’s licenses. What kind of car will I buy? Should I get a new or pre-owned vehicle? Should I buy seat covers for my car? These are all very valid and exciting questions new drivers answer in the process of hitting the road, but let’s not put the cart ahead of the horse.

One of the first things new drivers must do before they can hit the road is sign up for car insurance coverage. Those who are new to driving might have some questions about exactly where to look, what kind of policy they need, and how their rates differ among different insurers. It is vital that drivers understand the process of obtaining car insurance before locking into a policy in order to get the coverage they need at a fair rate. Here are a few common questions car insurance rookies should strongly consider:

What Kinds of Coverage Do I Need?

When it comes to the types of coverage available for cars, the numerous options available can often be confusing. According to the  Insurance Information Institute, coverage breaks down into three categories:

Mandatory: Bodily Injury Liability (costs associated with injury or death to others), Property Damage Liability (costs associated with property damage to others)

Frequently Required, Varies by State: Personal Injury Protection (reimbursement for medical expenses for you and your passengers), Uninsured Motorist Coverage (reimburses you after a hit-and-run or if you’re hit by an uninsured motorist)

Optional: Collision (damage to your vehicle), Comprehensive (theft and damage from a natural disaster), Glass

Depending on your state and local regulations, the types of coverage needed to legally operate a vehicle can differ. Before finalizing your policy, make sure you understand the requirements needed to hit the road safely.

How Do Insurers Determine My Rate?

Car insurance companies take a wide range of factors into account when providing you with a rate quote. These vary from your driving record history and type of car to your age, gender or career field. Although new drivers may find this frustrating, the fact is that different groups of people pose different levels of risk and liability when on the road.

For example, as Ann Carrns reported for the New York Times, women who were married homeowners with stable careers paid 68 percent less than women who were single and non-homeowners, even with the same driving record. Unfortunately, you can’t change factors like age, marital status or homeownership overnight. However, there are things that new drivers can do to keep their rates low.

What Can I Do to Keep My Premiums Low?

With new drivers getting the short end of the stick when it comes to insurance rates, it’s important to know the different things you can do to help reduce premiums. For example, those who have yet to purchase a car may consider options that have high safety ratings, as these are likely to receive lower quotes than those that are considered to be unsafe.

For those who are still in school, maintaining good grades and attending a college or university can encourage companies to give a break on insurance rates. Students who receive high marks in class and are enrolled in school are perceived by insurers as being lower risk and more responsible, leading to more affordable quotes.

How Do I Start My Insurance Search?

New drivers are faced with dozens of insurance companies that are all promising lower rates and better coverage than their competitors. Naturally, this can cause confusion for recently-licensed drivers who haven’t had much experience in the car insurance game.

The best way to start is with head-to-head car insurance comparison quotes, allowing you to view multiple insurance companies at once to find the best package. Supplement these quotes with online research in regard to reviews, customer service, and policy options for each company.

Are There Different Payment Options?

While you’re researching different insurance providers to find the best match for you, asking about the available payment options can help reduce the financial burden of coverage costs. Most car insurance companies will provide either annual or six-month payment terms to drivers, giving them the option of making an outright payment or breaking the sum into two. Some insurers also allow for monthly payments, but be wary of potential surcharges that may be added when choosing this option.

New drivers have many decision to make once they become licensed. One of the most important decisions for drivers to consider carefully is that of their car insurance policy. Shopping around, comparing quotes, and asking the right questions can ensure that your coverage is one that is both comprehensive in coverage, and affordable in rates.

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