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Car Insurance Faqs: How to Buy Car Insurance

From lowering your insurance premiums to adding a teen driver to your policy, buying car insurance can be a confusing, overwhelming, and expensive process. However, it is a necessary part of life, and can save you a lot of stress and money in the future. It may seem like a daunting task, but there is an easier way to shop for car insurance quotes and rates. Before shopping for car insurance, read these frequently asked questions to ensure you get the best possible car insurance rate.

Q: Am I required to have car insurance?

A: Almost every state requires that you carry liability car insurance, which pays when you do damage to others. States that require liability car insurance each set minimum limits that you must have; even in states that don't require car insurance, you must show proof of financial responsibility, meaning evidence that you can pay for any damage you cause.

Buying collision and comprehensive car insurance, and other optional coverage to protect yourself financially, is your own choice.

Q: Do I need to buy car insurance before I buy a new car?

A: If this is your first car and you don't already have car insurance, you'll need it before you drive the car off the lot. In addition, if you're financing the vehicle, your lender will likely require you to have insurance at the time of the purchase.

If you have car insurance and you're replacing your car, you generally have 14 to 30 days to notify your car insurance company of the purchase. Your car insurance rate will then be adjusted based on the new vehicle model. Make sure you inform your car insurance company about the new car within the appropriate window, or you could be driving without coverage.

If you're adding a new car, rules vary by car insurance company. For example, some car insurers provide automatic coverage for the additional car, but you must still notify them within 30 days, while other car insurers provide no automatic coverage for additional cars.

Q: How can I lower my car insurance rates?

A: First, comparison shop for car insurance quotes to make sure you're not overpaying. Then, always make sure you are getting all the discounts to which you're entitled.

When you're shopping for a new car, you can ask your insurer how much your car insurance rates will go up or down based on the vehicles you're considering. For example, vehicles with high theft rates will cost more to insure.

There are other ways to reduce car insurance rates, although you'll increase your potential financial risk. For example, you can increase your deductibles if you can pay more out-of-pocket in the event of an accident. And on older cars you might consider dropping collision or comprehensive coverage if repair costs will likely exceed the value of the car.

It's generally not a good idea to save money by reducing your liability limits to your state minimums - that opens you up to substantial financial risk.

Q: How can I lower my car insurance rates for my teen driver?

A: First, don't rush out to add your child to your policy when he/she is just starting to learn; you may be able to wait until he has his permanent license, which buys you some time before you start paying car insurance premiums on your teenager.

Second, find out if there are discounts your teen may be able to get, such as a "good grades" discount.

Third, consider buying an older, low-profile car for your teen to drive that will be less expensive to insure.

Most importantly, your teen driver needs to keep a clean record and follow any "graduated licensing" laws in your state; a teen with an accident record is an expensive proposition, no matter how much you comparison shop for a car insurance quote.

Shopping for car insurance can be much easier for you with the advice and tips above. Car insurance companies provide you with a very valuable service, but that doesn't mean you should have to pay top dollar. Comparing car insurance rates can be time-consuming, but it will save you a lot of money in the future.