How to Get Car Insurance for the First Time

Updated December 13, 2022 | Reading time: 6 minutes

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Buying car insurance for the first time doesn’t have to be overwhelming. While it’s usually more expensive to get insured when you’re a new driver, you can still find plenty of ways to save. Make sure to take the time to compare quotes online and explore what discounts you might qualify for.

How to buy car insurance

You can buy car insurance online, over the phone, or in person. Whichever method you choose, it’s a good idea to get quotes from multiple car insurance companies since rates can vary widely from one to the next. The easiest way to get multiple quotes quickly is to compare quotes online

Another good way to get quotes is by going through a licensed independent insurance broker who doesn’t work for any particular insurance company. This type of insurance agent costs you nothing to use; they make a commission on whatever car insurance company you eventually choose.

If you’re a first-time driver, you’ll want to have your driver’s license and your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) when you start shopping for car insurance. This info helps car insurance companies provide you with more accurate quotes. Your VIN can be found on your vehicle registration paperwork from the DMV and on the driver’s side of the dashboard of your vehicle.

Learn More: How to Compare Car Insurance Rates (2022)

Types of car insurance coverage

While shopping for car insurance for the first time, you may encounter some unfamiliar terms. Understanding what they mean and how they apply to you can help you get the coverage you need for the best possible price. Let’s explore the different coverage types below.

Liability coverage

Liability coverage consists of two types of protection: bodily injury liability and property damage liability. Bodily injury liability covers any costs associated with injuries or death caused by the driver of your car, while property damage liability protects you financially against damage caused to another vehicle or property, such as a garage or fence.

Every state except for New Hampshire requires you to carry a minimum amount of liability coverage.[1] Even if you live in New Hampshire, it’s a good idea to have some liability coverage on your policy, especially as a new driver. If you do cause an accident, it will cover whatever damage you cause, up to your policy’s limits.

Full coverage

Full-coverage car insurance includes the state minimum liability coverage, collision coverage, and comprehensive coverage. Collision insurance will reimburse you for damage to your car if you’re in an accident or hit an object like a telephone pole, while comprehensive insurance will cover damage against theft and non-accident damage, like hail.

Full coverage typically costs more than liability coverage, but it can save you a great deal of money and stress if you need to make repairs to your car. However, if your car is old and not worth much, full coverage may not be worth it since the cost of repairs might exceed the value of your vehicle.

Uninsured motorist coverage

Uninsured motorist coverage protects you in the event of a hit-and-run or an accident with someone who has no car insurance. It can be a useful coverage to add to your policy if you can’t afford to repair your car or cover your medical expenses after an accident.

Underinsured motorist coverage

Underinsured motorist coverage protects you in the case of an accident with someone who doesn’t have adequate coverage and typically comes into play in the event of a serious car accident.

Medical bills can add up quickly and could go beyond many drivers’ coverage limits in a bad car crash. You’ll want to consider adding this if you don’t have excellent health insurance or frequently have passengers with no health insurance. You’ll definitely want to consider adding this type of coverage if you drive a luxury vehicle.

PIP coverage

Personal injury protection (PIP) coverage reimburses medical expenses and sometimes lost wages to you and your passengers after an accident. It’s required in some states but not all. It’s a good idea to add PIP coverage to a policy if you don’t have robust health insurance or you frequently have passengers with no health insurance.

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What to look for in a car insurance policy

You should look for a car insurance policy that provides the coverage you need at a price you can afford. Before you choose a company, take the time to compare quotes and read reviews to understand the quality of the insurers you’re considering.

Another factor to consider is what discounts each insurer offers. Some insurers offer discounts for bundling your car insurance with another policy, like renters or homeowners insurance. Ultimately, everyone has different priorities when it comes to car insurance, so it’s important to shop around and find the insurer that best suits your needs.

Why first-time drivers pay more for car insurance than experienced drivers

First-time drivers pay more than experienced drivers because they’re more likely to be in car accidents.[2] Insurance companies charge you more to cover the risk they’re taking on. But even with higher insurance premiums, you can still save as a new driver.

How to find cheap car insurance as a first-time driver

If you’re a first-time driver, here are some things you can do to lower your car insurance costs.

Compare quotes

Comparing quotes is the best and easiest way to save money on car insurance as a first-time driver. It allows you to make sure you’re getting the best deal possible. You should compare quotes from at least three different insurers before making a selection.

Maximize discounts

Every insurance company has discounts available. Make sure that you take advantage of any and all discounts available to you; it can save you quite a bit of money. Some common discounts include:

  • Bundling discounts: You can often get a discount for having multiple insurance policies with the same company, such as car insurance and renters insurance.

  • Paperless discounts: You can get this discount by agreeing to receive digital communications instead of paper statements in the mail.

  • Telematics program discounts: Companies like Progressive and Nationwide have telematics programs that track your driving behavior. If you drive safely, you can get a discount when it comes time to renew your policy.

  • Good student discounts: Some companies offer discounts based on good grades. You typically need to be enrolled for a set number of hours and maintain a certain GPA to qualify for this discount.

  • Pay-in-full discounts: Many companies offer discounts if you pay your auto insurance in a lump sum instead of monthly. You can often save quite a bit if you have the money to pay up front.

  • Autopay discounts: If you can’t pay in a lump sum, you may still be able to get a discount on your insurance if you set up automatic payments.

  • Affiliation discounts: You may be able to get discounts if you, a parent, or a spouse is affiliated with the military, a union, a credit union, a religious group, or a professional organization.

Check Out: Cheap Car Insurance for 2022

Get only the coverage you need

Determine how much coverage you really need, and drop any unnecessary coverages. For example, if your vehicle isn’t worth much, you may be able to drop comprehensive and collision coverage.

Raise your deductible

Your deductible is the amount you’ll pay in the event of a claim before your insurance kicks in. For example, if you have a $1,000 deductible and file a claim for $5,000, you’ll pay the initial $1,000 and your insurer will cover the remaining $4,000.

If you already have savings set aside in case of an accident, raising your deductibles is an easy way to save money on your premiums.

Take a driving course

Many insurance companies offer discounts for taking a defensive driving course from a registered school or instructor. Costs vary for classes but generally, you can expect to make up the cost of the course in reduced premiums in the first year.

Read More: The 10 Best Car Insurance Companies (2022)

First-time car insurance FAQs

Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about getting car insurance for the first time.

  • What do you need to get a car insurance policy?

    To get a car insurance policy for the first time, you’ll need your driver’s license or learner’s permit, the vehicle info for your car (year, make, model, and VIN), a permanent address where the car will be parked, and the mileage on your car.

    You’ll also need to know things like when and where the car was purchased, as well as the prior insurance provider’s information if it was previously insured by a different company by someone else in your household.

  • How much should you pay for car insurance?

    Car insurance rates vary significantly based on things like the value of the car you’re driving, the city you live in, the type of coverage you choose, deductibles, policy limits, and your driving history. You should compare as many quotes as possible to make sure you’re paying a rate you’re comfortable with.

  • What is the best way to compare car insurance?

    The best way to compare car insurance is by using an online quote-comparison tool. These allow you to get quotes from dozens of insurance companies within minutes so you can compare them side by side.

  • Why is car insurance so expensive for young drivers?

    Young drivers tend to cause the most accidents of any driver group. This means that insurance providers are more likely to have to pay out claims for young drivers, making them more expensive to insure. The insurance companies pass that cost on to drivers, making premiums for young drivers higher than most.

  • How long can you stay on your parents’ car insurance?

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Data scientists at Insurify analyzed more than 40 million real-time auto insurance rates from our partner providers across the United States to compile the car insurance quotes, statistics, and data visualizations displayed on this page. The car insurance data includes coverage analysis and details on drivers' vehicles, driving records, and demographic information. Quotes for Allstate, Farmers, GEICO, State Farm, and USAA are estimates based on Quadrant Information Service's database of auto insurance rates. With these insights, Insurify is able to offer drivers insight into how companies price their car insurance premiums.


  1. New Hampshire Insurance Department. "2022 Automobile Insurance Consumer Frequently Asked Questions." Accessed December 13, 2022
  2. Insurance Information Institute. "What determines the price of an auto insurance policy?." Accessed December 13, 2022
Rae Hartley Beck
Rae Hartley Beck

Rae got her start writing in finance with a column for her college newspaper on living, traveling, and budgeting with limited means in 2012. Her work has since appeared in Investopedia, Bankrate, and other financial news outlets. She was an early member of the Financial Independence, Retire Early (FIRE) movement and went from having her family home foreclosed on in high school to becoming a homeowner herself at age 24.
Rae was an award-winning claims specialist for the Social Security Administration for almost six years before leaving to share her knowledge with the public as a full-time writer and editor. Her insider knowledge and experience explaining and applying policies to thousands of beneficiaries gives her unique insight into retirement and disability topics.

When not writing Rae can be found backpacking in the desert with her retired racing sled dog, reading an average of 200 books annually, and helping teens and women gain control of their financial lives through organizations like Women's Personal Finance and Girl Scouts of America.

Expertise: Real estate, mortgages, auto lending, homeowner's insurance, auto insurance

Education: BA, History and Education Studies, Berea College

Rae Hartley Beck's Top Finance Tip: "Five years of diligence and budgeting at the beginning of your career can save you 20 years at the end of it."