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August 2, 2018

5 tips for first-time car insurance buyers

Whether you’re buying your first car or simply moving off your parents’ insurance for the first time, you might have some questions about getting your own car insurance.

First, there’s the financial side of it, from figuring out what a fair price is to choosing coverages, limits, and deductibles that best fit your needs and situation. Then, there’s the protection side—understanding what coverages do what, filing a claim, and more. 

You should be able to feel confident about choosing your first car insurance policy. What’s more, it should be fast and easy to get started. But most importantly, it should be fair.  That’s why Root exists.

And in the spirit of simplicity and ease, here are 5 guiding tips for choosing your first car insurance.

1. Know your state’s minimum car insurance requirements

If you’re driving a car, then you’re legally required to have car insurance—specifically, liability coverage. Liability covers the costs for other people and property, if you cause an accident. 

In some states, liability is the minimum legal requirement. In other states, you’re required to have additional coverages as well. 

For example, Personal Injury Protection coverage (PIP) is optional in some states, but it’s required in others. It just depends on where you live. You can get a head start on your car insurance by seeing which coverages are required in your state here.

Also, keep in mind that you may be required to have additional coverage, if you're financing or leasing your car. Check with your lease or loan company to be sure.

The Root app makes sure you meet all your state’s minimum requirements when you purchase a policy. We also walk you through your coverage options, and show you how adding coverages, and choosing deductibles and limits will affect your rate—in real time. 

2. Learn about optional coverages, so you can make the best decision for your needs

Liability covers other people and property when you cause an accident. But what about paying for damages to your car and medical expenses for you and your passengers? How about if you get into an accident with someone who is uninsured or underinsured? There are other important coverages you might want to add, depending on your needs and situation. 

Here are some of the optional coverages you will come across:

The more coverages you have on your policy, the more your policy will cost. It’s a matter of weighing the amount of risk and the cost you are comfortable with—what you can afford to pay out of pocket for car insurance versus what you could afford to pay out of pocket for property damage or injuries without it.

For example, if you choose not to have Collision coverage and you cause an accident, you’ll have to pay for the damages to your car out of pocket. If you have collision coverage, your insurance would help with those costs.

3. Your good driving could help lower your rate

Traditional insurers base your rate primarily on things like your demographics and driving record. They assume younger or less experienced drivers aren’t as good behind the wheel and charge them more as a result. 

Many who are buying car insurance for the first time are young adults or teens leaving their parents’ coverage, or are just less experienced drivers. Falling into one of these categories can mean really high rates.

At Root, we’re not fans of using stereotypes to rate drivers. We believe that better drivers deserve better rates, and we’ve made it easier for good drivers—even those getting insurance for the first time—to get a better price. 

In fact, at Root, the No. 1 factor that goes into your car insurance rate is how well you drive—more than your driving record or age.

That means if you’re buying car insurance for the first time, you could likely benefit from a company that cares more about how you drive than how many years you’ve been doing it.

4. Read reviews for each car insurance company you consider

One of the best ways to help you choose a car insurance company is to read a company’s reviews.

Reviews will tell you how a car insurance company treats its customers, if they offer fair rates, or if they make handling stressful things—like claims—convenient and simple? Although you can learn a lot from a car insurance company’s website, see what their customers are saying about them to really get a picture of what choosing that company will look like in the long run. 

Look for reviews on Google, or if the company has an app, check their reviews on Google Play and the App Store. 

5. Understand what’s covered under your auto insurance policy

Once you’ve done all your research and compared different car insurance companies, it’s time to choose your policy. Make sure you understand what’s covered and what’s not. You don’t want to realize you’re not covered for something after you need it. 

If you have questions, reach out to the company, and have a customer service rep walk you through the policy. Or, have a parent or friend who has years of car insurance experience take a look.

Then, when you feel good about the policy—the price you’ll pay and what’s covered—you’ll know you’ve really done your due diligence and chosen the car insurance that’s right for you.

And, if for some reason you end up being dissatisfied with your coverage or want to add or remove coverages—remember, you can always change your car insurance later. For example, if, let’s say, you get married and want to add your spouse and their car, or you decide you no longer need certain coverages and want to pay less. 

What you choose for your first car insurance policy doesn’t have to be forever, so do your research and make the best choice for you now, knowing you can always change it later.

Ready to see if Root is the best option for your first car insurance policy?

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