How To Shop For Auto Insurance

How To Shop For Automobile Insurance in California

The Disclaimer

This is not intended to be a primer on automobile insurance. It is not Insurance 101. We do not recommend coverage nor do we go into deep detail describing the available coverage. In order for us to do that we would need to write a book (which would probably not be read anyway)


A broker's fee is an additional charge by a broker of insurance to your insurance policy. This fee should be disclosed to you before you buy any insurance. Ask if you are being charged a fee to write the policy. If so then figure that into your total cost of insurance for that quote since not all agents charge a broker's fee. Beware!! Many brokers will charge a very high fee sometimes as high as $300 and then also charge you a fee anytime you make a change to your policy. Ask them upfront about any fees being charged and then add that into your annual insurance cost.

Preferred Insurance vs. Non-Standard Insurance

There are usually two types of auto insurance. Preferred and Non-Standard.  A better way of stating this would be a Preferred driving record only and Non-Standard driving records also written. This only refers to the type of auto insurance clients a company will write and not the type of insurance company they are. Almost all auto insurance companies are financially strong and the preferred vs non-standard has nothing to do with their financially strenghth or type of service you get. A Preferred auto carrier will usually only take drivers that have good driving records so they can give a lower insurance rate since most preferred drivers do not have accidents. No more than one DMV point is typical.  A Non-Standard auto carrier will write clients that have tickets and/or accidents but they will write insurance at a higher premium. This does not make a person a bad driver but rather they have some blemishes on their driving records.


Whenever you shop for any type of insurance always compare the same type of coverages with the rates you are provided. This is the only way to compare rates from one insurance agent or company to the next. You cannot compare a Ford to a Chevy. Both are good vehicles but not the same. Prices from different agents are not the same just as vehicle values from auto dealer to auto dealer.

What is full coverage? First of all, there is no such coverage. No one covers everything fully. Yet this term gets more and more people confused than any two words in the automobile insurance business. Never, ever, use the term full coverage when asking for a quote! This term will mean different things to different agents and companies so you are not getting quoted the same. 

Some of the coverage’s that may be available are:

Liability which covers the other driver and objects you have hit and is required by State law.

Auto medical which covers someone in your vehicle being injured regardless of who was at fault in the accident.

Collision covers your vehicle when you hit something or something hits you.

Comprehensive covers your vehicle for everything else including theft and broken glass.

Comprehensive and collision coverages are required when a vehicle is financed.

Uninsured motorist will protect you and your car when someone hits you and they do not have the proper insurance. Approximately 25% of drivers in California do not have auto insurance.

Towing or roadside assistance covers your vehicle when it has broken down and needs to be taken to the shop.

Rental car reimbursement will help you pay for a rental car when your vehicle is in the shop for accident related repairs.

There are also other coverages that some companies will offer and you can go over those with your agent.