As you’re shopping for car insurance, you might wonder why insurers need certain information — some of it sensitive. But since auto insurers are highly regulated by the insurance departments in each state, there’s likely a good (and lawful!) reason behind the request.
Here’s what you should have on hand as you get car insurance quotes (and why we at Esurance ask about it in the first place).
1. Your social security number (SSN)
You’re not required to disclose your SSN just to get a car insurance quote, but if you refuse, your quote may not be as accurate. A large rating factor in nearly every state is your credit-based insurance score, and insurers can’t calculate that number without running a soft credit check using your social security number.
Esurance uses the latest technology and security strategies to protect your personal identifying information. But generally, you don’t have to worry about your info getting into the wrong hands as long as you’re quoting with reputable insurers. And if you’re leery of the online aspect, you can always call in and get a quote with a licensed agent.
2. Your vehicle’s identification number (VIN)
You’ve already entered your car’s year, make, and model. So why would an insurer request the car’s VIN too? Well, your vehicle’s VIN is its serial number, and each number and letter represent a specific piece of information about your ride.
So even though the car’s year, make, and model are enough to get a quote, you’ll get an even more accurate quote if you provide the VIN, which can indicate specific features of your car that could save you money (think anti-theft devices, car alarms, side airbags, etc.).
You can typically find your VIN on your vehicle’s dashboard near the windshield on the driver’s side (or in the driver’s-side door frame when you open the door). It’s also usually available on your car’s registration document as well as your car insurance ID cards.
3. How much you drive
Your average annual mileage is another important factor in determining your car insurance rates at most insurance companies. When comparing quotes, it’s important to be honest about the amount you drive, especially because auto insurers often get odometer readings from you each policy term renewal and adjust your rates accordingly. Being truthful up front can prevent significant sticker shock down the road.
Naturally, the more you drive, the more at-risk you are for getting into a crash or having to file any other type of claim. So if you put a lot of miles on your beloved ride, you statistically pose a larger financial risk to your insurance company and will likely pay higher premiums than someone whose car barely leaves the driveway.
4. What you use your car for
Most people use their cars for personal commuting — like getting to and from work — as well as pleasure-related driving like road trips or running errands. But let’s say you deliver pizzas for a living or work for a rideshare company. Your personal auto insurance typically won’t cover you while you’re using your vehicle for business purposes. When you’re getting quotes, be clear about what you use your car for so you can ensure you have the proper financial protection in place.
5. Your insurance history
One of the best ways to stay safe and keep your rates down at the same time is by maintaining consistent car insurance — that is, don’t let your coverage lapse. Even a gap in coverage of just a couple days can significantly impact the rates you qualify for once you secure car insurance again. Actuaries have found that people who maintain continuous auto insurance are statistically less likely to be involved in a crash.
6. Your driving record
This one’s a little more obvious. If you’ve maintained a clean driving record over the years (which means no at-fault collisions, moving violations, or other costly, at-fault claims), you’re generally going to pay less than someone who’s racked up some points against their license. Again, this comes down to how big of a financial risk you are to your insurer. So the safer you drive, the less you stand to pay for car coverage.
7. Your garaging address
Insurers ask where your car lives most of the time, which is typically your home address. Some neighborhoods have higher theft and vandalism rates than others, for example, and may result in you paying more for auto insurance. In addition, some locales have more traffic congestion than others, which could result in more stop-and-go traffic, and therefore, more collisions.
On the other hand, if you live in an area with lower crime rates, you’ll likely pay significantly less than someone who doesn’t. The fact is, your vehicle’s more or less likely to be damaged depending on the area in which it’s garaged — especially if you have to park on the street or under a carport as opposed to a closed garage.
8. How many drivers you have at home
The more drivers you have in your household, the more driving records you need to take into account while completing your auto insurance quote — especially because just one person’s bad driving history can make your policy rates skyrocket. Every driver in your household needs to be either included or excluded on your policy, and excluded drivers won’t be covered in the event of a claim if they’re specifically named on your policy.
9. Whether or not you own your car
Why would your auto insurer care whether or not you own your car? To put it simply, it helps your insurer know what coverages you likely need on your policy. If you’re financing or leasing your vehicle, you generally need to carry comprehensive and collision coverages on your policy while you’re still making payments. Once you’ve paid off your ride (woohoo!), you have the option of carrying these coverages.
10. If you’re a homeowner
Your car insurance company needs to know whether or not you’re a homeowner for a few reasons:
- Homeowners tend to drive more safely and therefore have a lower chance of being involved in a collision
- You likely need higher personal liability insurance limits if you own a home in order to financially protect all your assets
- You stand to save some cash on auto insurance just for being a homeowner
- Bundling your Esurance car insurance with your Esurance homeowners insurance can help you save big on both policies
And the savings don’t stop there with Esurance. See how much you could save when you get a free quote!
Esurance Insurance Company and its affliates: San Francisco, CA.