When it comes to buying car insurance, what should be a pretty simple task can actually turn into a major challenge - even if you have been with the same insurance provider for years. With so many different companies, policies, and coverage options available, it's important that you choose a policy that protects you for the unexpected events that can happen on and off the road.

In this article, we'll give you the lowdown on what you need to know before you start shopping for car insurance quotes so that you can get the best deal possible without compromising on coverage.

1. How Much Coverage Do You Need?

The first question you should ask yourself before picking up the phone or checking comparison websites is how much coverage you need. Minimum insurance requirements vary from state to state, so it is a good idea to check the requirements for where you live.

Whether you are a first-time driver or you've been on the road for years, experts recommend that you buy enough liability coverage to protect the assets you own. For example, if you have $50,000 in coverage for bodily injury liability, but $100,000 in personal assets (house, car, etc.), the other party's attorney could go after you for an extra $50,000.

As a general rule, recommendations for liability limits are $50,000 in bodily injury liability coverage for one injured person, $100,000 to cover all injured persons and $25,000 to cover property damage. But of course, your situation is unique. The amount of coverage to buy is ultimately a personal decision.

2. Check Your Driving Record

Some drivers have a huge shock when they call for an insurance quote only to be given a figure that is sky high. The reason? They didn't check their driving record. Parking tickets, speeding tickets and other misdemeanors can all make it onto your driving record and could be a red flag to insurers who need to protect their bottom line.

You can check with your state's department of motor vehicles to see what is showing on your record. At the very least, you can be prepared to pay a higher premium and avoid a nasty shock. If you have points or a ticket on your record that are due to disappear soon, it's worth waiting or this to happen before you get quotes.

3. Review Your Existing Insurance Policy

Isn't it great when you have the confidence to drive down the price and get a better deal? That confidence comes with knowledge, which is why we recommend reviewing your current insurance policy before you get a new quote.

Take note of the coverage you currently have and how much you are paying over both yearly and monthly periods as you will be quoted for both. Now you have a figure for insurance companies to beat.

Call your existing company first, especially if you have been with them for many years. If you haven't made a claim in that time, highlight that fact and quote the amount you are currently paying. It's amazing how a deal can be made when you have knowledge on your side and your provider knows you could easily skip off somewhere else for a better quote.

4. Look For Discounts

Did you know that you can get discounts if you use the same insurance provider for your home and car insurance? This is just one of the many kinds of discounts available.

Some companies will give you substantial discounts if young drivers in your family have high-grade point averages. A clean driving record and your car's security and safety equipment can also lower your premium. If you pay your insurance in one go rather than monthly installments there are usually discounts to be had, too.

When you're comparing insurers. make sure to get the lowest price by digging for discounts!

  1. Assess Insurance Companies

You may already have a good idea about the company you want to obtain a quote from, but it's always good to do some research. Look into the companies you're considering so that you can make an informed decision and be confident in that choice.

Consumer reviews, word-of-mouth recommendations and provider websites are all good sources of information. You can also use websites like A.M.Best to check out financial strength ratings.

While you are carrying out your research, make a few notes about coverage and price comparisons. In particular, note:

  • Monthly and annual rates for the different types of insurance coverage available. Make sure to use the same coverage limits so that you always make an apples-for-apples comparison for coverage and cost.
  • The company's 800 number so that you can ask questions that aren't answered online.
  • The payment policy. When are payments due? What payment plans are on offer? What happens if you make a late payment?

One last tip: It might seem obvious, but many people forget to cancel their old policy when their new one comes into play. If you don't tell your existing insurance provider that you are leaving them, they may automatically renew your policy. You only need one!

Final Thoughts

If your car insurance is coming up for renewal or you are buying a policy for the first time, these tips should help you to prepare before you start shopping around for quotes. Knowing your stuff will ensure you don't fall foul to scams, that you give providers the most accurate information, and that you have a better chance of getting the best possible deal.