Being an insurance agent myself, I feel I can shed some light on the subject of insurance shopping. Like you would shop around for just the right deal on a car, you need to check with as many insurance companies as you can to get the absolute best policy for your specific situation.
Most companies have a specific group of clientele that they cater to and discount more. Some companies do credit checks while others only check your driving record. It may seem time consuming to have to go through twenty quotes but it will be well worth it in the long run. You can get a quote in person, online, or even by phone. A good day’s worth of time would be more than sufficient to cover all your bases.
The main thing you want to know when getting an accurate quote is you MUST be upfront about any tickets or accidents you have had in the past. If you are completely honest about tickets, accidents, young drivers, and any other questions an agent may ask you then that gives them a better idea of what company to place you with so you will have the best rate available. You also need to know exactly what type of insurance is required by any lending institution that you may have had to go through to purchase your vehicle and make sure that is known when getting your quote. Differences in the type of insurance needed can make a drastic difference in prices. Limits and extras on a policy need to be discussed in detail with the agent you get your quote from to make sure you have all that you need and want on your policy. There is medical, life insurance, uninsured motorists, liablilty, and comprehension/collision that needs to be gone over in much much detail with you so you are aware of what is available to you in the state where you live.
Online shopping is definitely more convenient since it can be done in the privacy of your own home but you need not stop there. An independent agency will have dozens of companies they write policies through that are not on the internet. Those companies may have a better rate for your specific needs than a company that might be easier to access from home.
Multiple vehicles, other types of insurance(home, health, life) with the same company, and other discounts need to be discussed with an agent before purchasing a policy. Excellent grades in school, completing a course in a driving school, paying a policy in full, and many safety options on your vehicle can give you many discounts which can decrease your payments drastically.
Basically you need to take your time and really take a look at all of your options before settling on any one policy or agent. Again you would never want to rush through a major decision when it has to do with your finances and your responsibility as a driver. A day’s worth of your time will go a long way with getting you your money’s worth in insurance.