Auto insurance companies sell in one of three ways:
Through independent agents that sell their policies from various companies.
Through their own agents.
Direct to the individual with toll-free phone numbers or via online sales.
The direct sellers that use their own agents or the toll-free numbers are usually the least expensive but they typically only accept drivers with almost spotless records. For example, if your license has been suspended within the last three years you probably will not be accepted for coverage. Also you can check with your state insurance department, they may be able to provide you with a price comparison that shows the rates of various companies in the state for your type of coverage. These comparisons will not fit your situation exactly but they will help you determine which company will probably offer the best rates.
Some companies also provide insurance to members of an organization or to individuals who meet special qualifications. Auto insurance rates are generally lower through these organizations than in the general auto insurance market. Examples include alumni associations, warehouse clubs and professional organizations.
Once you have selected two or three of the best offers you want to make sure the companies you are considering will be able to pay your claim if you ever have to file one. The easiest way to do this is to look up the company's financial strength ratings. These ratings are easily accessible through the Internet. All the companies use the same letter and number grades. The following is the rating scale:
AAA to BBB = Strong to good.
BB to CC = Marginal to weak.
The quality of service is another consideration. However, since this is difficult to determine before purchasing a policy it is best to ask people you know about their experiences with the various companies. In addition to price lists, most state insurance departments also have complaint ratios that show when a company was slow or refused to pay a claim.
Once you have found one or two companies with low rates, a good financial strength and reasonable service records don't stop your research. Think carefully about whether or not you are eligible for discounts that can further lower your bill. Once you have made a list of discounts call the companies back and find out which ones offer the best discounts based on your eligibility. After going through all these steps you should be left with only one company that offers low rates and good service.