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Before you purchase a car or start driving, it's important to ask: what do you need for car insurance? Whether you're looking for car insurance coverage for the first time or looking to switch providers, this article will explain everything you need to know.

Shopping around for an auto insurance policy will help you find the best deals. Check out our review of the top car insurance companies to see which is best for you when it comes to coverage options, cost, customer service, and more. Enter your zip code below to compare free, personalized quotes.

 

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What Do You Need For Car Insurance?

To start a new car insurance policy, you'll need to provide the following:

  • Personal information
  • Information about your driving history
  • Vehicle information
  • Banking information
  • Supplemental information to qualify for discounts

Starting a car insurance policy does not have to be intimidating. As long as you are ready with all the information you need, the provider’s customer service agents will be there to support you and answer any questions you have.

Start by checking out what documents you need for car insurance. Then, visit the provider’s website, call the customer service line, or visit a local office to start your insurance policy.

You should be prepared to provide personal information like your driver's license, driving history, vehicle information, banking information, and any supplemental documents for discount purposes.

1. Personal Information

First, you’ll need to provide the car insurance company with personal information like your full name, date of birth, and address. You’ll also need to provide your social security number, as most companies will conduct a credit score check to determine your car insurance rates.

Providing your driver’s license number and state helps verify you are legally able to drive, and it allows insurance companies to review your driving history.

2. Information About Your Driving History

Next, you’ll answer questions about your driving history. The auto insurance company will need to know about recent tickets or citations, accidents, and any information about license suspension.

Insurance companies mostly ask for a history of three to five years, but this time frame will vary by state and provider.

3. Vehicle Information

You will then need to provide information about your car, including the year, make, and model to the insurer. You’ll also be asked for the vehicle identification number (VIN). This number is usually printed inside your car under the windshield on the driver’s side or inside the driver’s door.

In addition to this information about your vehicle, you may also be asked to provide: 

  • Vehicle mileage
  • Address where the car is garaged
  • Name of the registered owner
  • Date of purchase

To qualify for discounts, you can gather information about safety and security features installed on the car like anti-theft devices, airbags, and more.

If you already have an existing car insurance policy on the vehicle, you may need to provide your new insurance company with your declaration page for your existing policy.

This lets the provider know you’re not going with a lapse in coverage. It also shows the current coverage you have on the car, so the company can better assist you in purchasing similar coverage.

4. Banking Information

To start the policy, you will need to provide payment information. You may choose to enter credit card or bank account information to sign up for automatic payments. It may be a good idea to provide a voided check for verification purposes.

5. Supplemental Information To Qualify For Insurance Discounts

If you’d like to qualify for discounts, ask your insurance provider which ones it offers. You may need to show proof that you are eligible, like:

  • Proof of good grades with a recent report card
  • Military I.D. card
  • Proof of being a homeowner
  • Proof of membership to a qualifying organization (like a credit union, alumni association, etc.)
  • Completion certificate for a safe driving course or defensive driving course

 


 

What Documents Do You Need To Make Changes To Your Insurance Coverage?

For any new insurance policy, you will likely have to provide a driver’s license and social security number, bank information, and vehicle information at the minimum.

So, when adding a new driver or vehicle to your policy, the information and documents you need are similar to what you need to start a new policy.

1. Adding A New Driver To Your Policy

What do you need for car insurance to add a new driver?

  • New driver’s date of birth
  • Social security number
  • Driver’s license number
  • Information about their driving history

2. Adding A New Vehicle To Your Policy

To add a new vehicle to your policy, you will need:

  • Registration for the vehicle
  • VIN
  • Declaration page for that car’s existing policy

 


 

How To Get Car Insurance 

Before starting a car insurance policy, make sure to do your research, especially on coverage limits and deductibles. Below, we explain how to get car insurance by determining the coverage you need, getting an auto insurance quote, and choosing a car insurance company.

How Do I Get Car Insurance For The First Time?

First, you will need to learn about the types of car insurance coverage and determine the amount of coverage you need. You can work with an insurance agent to learn about coverage. Then, compare multiple car insurance quotes either through an agent or online and pick the one that works for you.

Each state has its own requirements for minimum coverage for bodily injury liability and property damage liability insurance. Beyond insurance requirements for liability coverage, it can also be a good idea to add optional coverage to protect yourself from other incidents.

  • Comprehensive coverage and collision coverage: Provides extra coverage in accidents and covers damage from events like theft or vandalism, fallen trees, or flooding.
  • Underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage: Protects you if you get into an accident with a driver who does not have sufficient insurance protection to cover the losses.
  • Roadside assistance: Helps you out if you ever get a flat tire, need a tow, or run out of gas.
  • Personal injury protection (PIP): Covers medical expenses, lost wages, and death benefits after an accident.

After you determine the type of coverage, the next step is to shop around for auto insurance quotes. It’s best to compare multiple insurance companies so you can determine which one offers the best value for you.

Compare aspects like a provider’s customer satisfaction, coverage, availability in your state, and car insurance cost. Use car insurance estimate tools to find out what you may pay for the coverage you’re looking for.

Once you decide which insurance company you wish to purchase a policy from, contact the provider online or over the phone. You can also start a policy in person by visiting a local office.

Then, provide the necessary information including your driving record, information about your car, and which coverage you need. Provide billing information and pay any necessary down payment, and you’ll be good to hit the road. Just make sure you keep proof of insurance on you at all times while you drive.

How To Get Car Insurance As A Teenager

When you’re a teenager, one of the most exciting milestones is learning how to drive and getting your first car. But, teens must also take steps to make sure they’re insured before getting behind the wheel.

Sometimes, this means being added as a driver on a parent’s policy, while other times, it means starting a new policy all on your own for the first time. Here’s how to find the best car insurance for teens:

  1. Shop around for the best car insurance providers. Many support high-risk or teenage drivers by offering lower insurance premiums than other companies.
  2. Find out what coverage your state requires, and speak with a local agent to see which additional coverages may benefit you. 
  3. Provide the necessary information to start your policy online, over the phone, or in person.
  4. Download the insurance company’s mobile app, if available. With this tool, you can keep your insurance ID card with you at all times and file an insurance claim if an accident occurs.

 


 

Our Recommendations For Car Insurance

After you collect what you need for car insurance and decide how much car insurance you need, shop around for car insurance to get the lowest quotes and compare providers. Enter your zip code below to compare multiple car insurance quotes from providers in your area.

 

#1 State Farm: Best For Students

State Farm Insurance logo

State Farm auto insurance earned a 4.5 rating overall after our research. The company has a reputation for great customer service. Its local agents support customers with knowledgeable and friendly service.

State Farm is also a great option for families with teens. Its teen driving program encourages good driving habits and rewards you with a discount when teens consistently drive safely. You can also get discounts for good grades and bundling multiple policies.

Read our full State Farm insurance review.

#2 USAA: Best For Military

USAA Insurance logo

USAA auto insurance is another great option with a 5.0 overall rating. The provider offers low rates for military members and their families, and it’s known for its high level of customer service. In addition to affordable rates, USAA offers a number of discounts for drivers with good grades and those who complete defensive driving courses.

Read our full USAA insurance review.

 


 

FAQ: What Do You Need For Car Insurance?

Do You Need A Title To Get Car Insurance?

Most of the time, auto insurance companies will need proof of ownership for the insured vehicle. However, if you buy a new car and do not yet have the lease or sale finalized, most insurance companies will allow you to start a policy without it. You can then provide proof of ownership within a certain amount of time after the sale is finalized.

How Do I Show Proof Of Insurance?

When you buy a car, you will be required to show proof of insurance. Many car insurance companies have a mobile app that you can download to your phone so you can quickly access insurance ID cards.

You can also print out these cards from the company’s website, or the insurance company can send you a copy of these cards in the mail. Keep your insurance card in your car or wallet, so it will be ready to show if you get pulled over.

What is recommended for car insurance coverage?

We recommend you carry a full-coverage policy with liability limits above your state minimum. Full coverage will cover damage to your car, and higher limits will provide protection against lawsuits if you cause high amounts of damage in an accident.

 


 

Methodology

In an effort to provide accurate and unbiased information to consumers, our expert review team collects data from dozens of auto insurance providers to formulate rankings of the best insurers. Companies receive a score in each of the following categories, as well as an overall weighted score out of 5.0 stars.

  • Industry Standing: Insurers with strong financial ratings and customer-first business practices receive the highest scores in this category.
  • Availability: We consider availability by state as well as exclusions for specific groups of drivers.
  • Coverage: This rating is based on types of insurance available, maximum coverage limits, and add-on policies.
  • Cost and Discounts: Our research team reviews sample quotes for a variety of drivers in every state. Companies with lower prices and many car insurance discount opportunities receive the best scores.
  • Customer Service: We comb through customer reviews and consumer feedback studies from experts like J.D. Power.
  • Technology: Auto insurers with mobile apps, advanced online services and telematics are more likely to meet consumer needs.

 

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