The Complete Guide to Researching and Buying Car Insurance

You may not associate shopping for car insurance with a high-stakes game of blackjack, but the truth is, both are a gamble. Picking the right policy is a game of risk: insurance carriers are constantly managing and mitigating unpredictable circumstances while policyholders are the ones actually living through the daily uncertainties of treacherous traffic jams, storms, and other hazardous road conditions.


Life is risky enough; there’s no need to up the ante and play games when it comes to insurance coverage. That’s why we’ve created this guide to walk you through researching and buying the best car insurance policy for you.

Things To Think About Before You Research Plans

Before you even start the research process, taking the time to think through these factors can save you time, money, and headaches down the road:

  • Factors that will affect your insurance cost and your overall insurability. How many tickets have you received lately? What’s your credit score? Is your car banged up? Have a teen driver in the family? All of these factors can and do affect your cost and insurability, so take stock of the important stuff and be prepared for it to shape your research.
  • What’s your budget? Be realistic about what you can spend per month by creating a spending spreadsheet that clearly indicates where your money’s going, what’s a non-negotiable expense, and what could potentially get cut so you can get the best coverage possible.
  • How do you use your car and how often do you use it? Do you commute hundreds of miles each week, or does your car sit parked on the street most days? The amount you’re actually using your vehicle-and what you’re using it for-should factor into your decision around how much to spend.
  • What type of coverages are most important to you? There’s no one-size-fits-all plan for every person; depending on where you live, what kinds of other insurance you have, the kind of car you drive, and more, the type of plan you choose will vary.

How to Choose the Best Carrier for You

Now that you’ve got your personal factors sorted out, it’s time to start comparing carriers. Here’s how to find the right one for you:

  • Look for a reliable insurer. It’s important to go with a company that’s credible. Check your state’s insurance department website and read consumer reviews to get a sense of who’s legit. Friends and family are also great sources of information and experience.
  • Offers the coverages you need. Not every insurer offers every type of plan. That’s why getting clear on your non-negotiables upfront is a critical time-saving step; if a company doesn’t offer the plan you need, move on.
  • Compare policies and insurers. Take the time to visit different insurers’ websites and call for more information. Take solid notes and consider creating a spreadsheet that lists each insurer’s quotes. Comparing will help you find the best deal, so be sure to run the numbers on at least four or five different carriers and policies to have a bigger pool of contenders.

Buying Your Car Insurance Policy: Things to Look Out For

One more major step in the buying process: be sure you’re covering all the legal bases and best practices.

  • State Minimums. Each state has its own list of minimum insurance requirements, so be sure to check yours before signing up for a plan.
  • Coverage recommendations. There are some general rules of thumb to follow when it comes to purchasing a policy, according to insurance experts. Do a bit of digging and talk to the pros at each company you’re considering signing up with.

Remember: do your research, check your current coverages, and compare all your options before making a decision on a new car insurance policy. If you have any questions we are always happy to help at Metromile. Feel free to give us a call or get a quick quote now.

Michelle Konstantinovsky is a San Francisco-based journalist/writer/editor and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumna. She’s written extensively on health, body image, entertainment, lifestyle, design, and tech for outlets like Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Teen Vogue, O: The Oprah Magazine, Seventeen, and a whole lot more. She’s also a contributing editor at Fitbit and the social media director at California Home + Design Magazine. She is an avid admirer of shiny objects, manatees, and preteen entertainment.