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Buying Car Insurance

Every state has legal requirement that drivers obtain automobile insurance. If you have recently purchased a car, you must contact your insurance agent (or find an insurance agent) to obtain automobile insurance. Insurance is a complicated business, and if you have the following information ready for your agent, the process of buying car insurance will go much more smoothly.

Information About You and the Other Insureds

____ Your name

. Obviously, if you are going to obtain insurance your agent will need to know information about you, including your full legal name and some of the following checklist items. In addition, if you are going to have other individuals insured on your policy, such as your children, your agent will need to know basic information about them, as well.

Your Name:

Other Insureds' Names:


____ Your address

. This item is important, particularly if you are going to be insuring other individuals on your policy. Many automobile insurance policies allow for coverage for the “household” or “family.” If disputes arise as to whether a particular person is a member of your “household” or “family,” the address of that person may become one of many relevant factors.



____ Your telephone number

. Your agent or the insurance company may need to get in touch with you, so you will need to provide your telephone number.


____ Social security number

. Your social security number is a common way of identifying you, and is used for that purpose by insurance companies.


____ Date of birth

. How old you and other insured drivers are is relevant to how much your insurance will cost. For example, new drivers and elderly individuals often are charged higher premiums than other individuals because those groups of drivers are statistically more prone to being involved in accidents.



____ Your (or your children's) grades

. This may seem like a odd requirement, and it only applies to certain applicants for insurance. If you are a student, or if you are insuring a student (such as your child) on your policy, you may be able to receive a “good student discount” on your premiums. There is a well-researched and documented correlation between good grades and safe driving.

____ Your occupation and employer

. Your agent will need to know whether you (and other insured drivers) are employed, and who your employer is, in order to write your policy. Your agent will also need to know whether you plan on using your vehicle for business purposes, such as driving it on sales trips or to out-of-town meetings.




Information About Your Car

____ The make and model.

Automobile insurance rates vary depending upon the type of car that is being insured. For example, it is often cheaper to insure a Dodge K-car than it is to insure a Porsche 911. The rationale behind the different ratings is that the Porsche is likely much more expensive to repair than the Dodge, and the Porsche is also capable of being driven much faster.


____ The year.

In most, but not all, cases an older car is cheaper to insure than a newer car. Your agent will need to know the model year of the car you are insuring in order to look up the cost of insuring it per its standard tables.


____ The mileage.

In writing your insurance, the agent will also need to know how many miles are on your car. The higher the mileage on a car, the cheaper it may be to insure.

____ Features

. If the car you are insuring has features that are not standard on the make and model, you will need to let your insurance agent know that information. For example, if the standard make of the car has only a cassette player, but you had a multi-disc CD player installed, your premiums could be higher because the car's value may be greater than average for the model. Also you may be entitled to premium discounts based on features such as anti-theft protection, airbags, and anti-lock brakes (ABS system).




____ Whether you have other vehicles

. If you have more than one car insured you should let your agent know (or confirm that your agent knows you have other insured cars, if the insurance is written through that same company). In some cases, you may be entitled to receive a multi-car discount on your premiums for insuring more than one car.


____ The purpose for the car

. Tell your insurance agent how you plan on using the car. For example, many people purchase cars only to use them for short trips around town, and they rent cars or travel by other means if they are going long distances. If this is your situation, you may be able to obtain a discount on your insurance rates if you plan on driving the car less than a certain number of miles per month or per year. In addition, if you plan on using your car for business travel, your agent needs to be aware of that information as well.



____ The price paid for the car

. Your agent will need to know how much you paid for the car, because that figure is relevant in their determining the insurable value of the car.


Information On How Much Insurance You Desire

____ What kind of coverage you want

. There are many different types of automobile insurance which you can purchase. In some states, you have no choice about specific types of insurance which you must obtain. However, there may be additional types of insurance that you can request, if you desire. For example, comprehensive insurance, which is not necessarily a required type of insurance, allows you to recover for loss of or damage to your car in situations other than a collision or roll-over. For example, if the roof of your car is damaged in a hailstorm, comprehensive insurance coverage may allow you to recover the costs of repair from your own insurance company.




____ The amount of coverage you want

. Every state has a minimum amount of insurance that must be carried on each and every car. For some people, that minimum amount is deemed sufficient for their needs. For many people, that amount is nowhere close to enough to truly protect their interests. If you wish, you can insure your can for higher coverage amounts. Make sure that you discuss with your agent what amount of coverage you would like to obtain.


Next Steps
Contact a qualified consumer attorney to assist in your
lemon law or dealer fraud matter.
(e.g., Chicago, IL or 60611)

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