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  • Car Insurance Quotes vs. Calculators

    Shopping for Car Insurance: Comparing Calculators and Quotes

    Many consumers today go online when they are beginning to search for products and investigate prices. The search for car insurance is no different. Online research can help you determine not only the appropriate coverage for you, but also provide you with a cost estimate.

    You can research auto insurance rates online in 2 ways: via a car insurance calculator or by getting a full quote.

    What Is a Car Insurance Calculator?

    A car insurance calculator is a simple online tool for estimating car insurance rates that typically reflect rates in your state, country, or zip code.

    Calculators use aggregated data to give you an estimate of rates in your area. You may need to set aside only a minute or two to receive an estimate using an online calculator, and you do not need to provide much personal information like your name and social security number.

    Since the amount and type of coverage that you are legally required to have is determined by the state that you live in, car insurance calculators typically ask you to provide your state or zip code, as well as your age and gender.

    More sophisticated calculators may ask for some of the following additional information to provide more accurate rate estimates.

    • The type of car you drive.
    • The number of drivers that you want to insure.
    • Your history of accidents and incidents.
    • Your risk tolerance.
    • Whether you own a home.

    What Is an Online Quote?

    Unlike a car insurance calculator, an online quote is generated from a car insurance company’s rating engine.

    It is a more accurate estimate than the number generated by a car insurance calculator because it takes your personal information and driving history and uses them to provide a much closer estimate of your premium.

    You may receive a quote from a single insurance provider if you go directly to that provider’s website. However, if you intend to compare several quotes and are looking to save time, you can utilize a website that offers a price comparison tool that gives rates from multiple car insurance providers.

    Comparing prices online can save you time by preventing you from needing to make multiple phone calls or visit multiple websites and fill out separate quote forms.

    The information that you provide to receive a quote is more detailed than the information that you put into a calculator. Information commonly required to get a quote includes:

    • Age.
    • Gender.
    • Zip code.
    • Year, model, and make of your car.
    • Whether you currently have insurance and the name of your insurance company.
    • Whether you own or lease your car.
    • Whether you primarily use your car for commuting, pleasure, or business.
    • Your daily or annual mileage.
    • Your education level.
    • Number of people in your household.
    • Your Social Security number and driver’s license number (to access your driving history).

    To learn more about why these questions are asked, please visit our page on What You Need for a Car Insurance Quote.

    Calculator vs. Quote: Which One Provides the Best Quote?

    Car Insurance Calculators

    Calculators and quotes each have their advantages when you are looking online for car insurance estimates.

    A car insurance calculator is faster and easier to use, and customers who are worried about sharing their personal information often prefer them because they only require very basic data.

    However, calculators only provide a rough estimate. When you are first starting to look for car insurance, a calculator can help provide realistic expectations about how much you might pay for premiums in your area.

    NOTE: Car insurance companies rate customers on a number of factors, including their driving records. Because calculators don’t look at your record or other personal data, you can end up paying a rate outside the range of rates given by the calculator.

    Car Insurance Quotes

    An auto insurance quote leads to a more accurate estimate, but it takes longer than a calculator. It also requires more personal data to be entered (see above). However, providing such information allows the quote to be more accurate because it can account for your driving history and other personal factors.

    Remember, you can choose which method works best for your needs. If you’re only interested in getting a sense of average premiums in your area, a calculator may be all you need. However, if you’re interested in buying a policy immediately, it may make more sense to get a full quote. Whichever method you choose, make sure you comparison-shop to get the best possible prices. It’s smart to obtain at least 3 quotes before settling on a car insurance company.