Happy couple shopping for insurance online from their kitchen

How to Buy Car Insurance for the First Time

There’s a lot to figure out when you buy car insurance for the first time. Terms such as deductibles, liability coverage, and personal injury protection can be confusing. Plus, you’ll quickly realize insurance rates are higher for first-time drivers since you don’t have a track record that proves you’re a low-risk driver. Don’t worry, though. We’re here to help you understand the insurance-buying process and how you can get affordable coverage as a first-time driver.

How to Get Car Insurance for the First Time

There are four simple steps to follow when getting car insurance for the first time:

  1. Gather personal and vehicle information.
  2. Find out how much coverage you need.
  3. Know how to improve
  4. Get a quote online or work with an insurance agent.

Information You’ll Need to Provide to Get Car Insurance

When you’re in the market for car insurance, you’ll need to have this information ready to provide to your insurance agent:

  • Driver’s license
  • Date of birth
  • Address
  • Occupation
  • Marital status
  • Education level
  • Driving history
  • Insurance history

Also, make sure to have your vehicle information on hand. This includes the make and model, vehicle identification number (VIN), person registered to the vehicle, and date of purchase. All this info will help ensure you get the best and most accurate policy possible.

Why Insurance is More Expensive for First-Time Drivers

When setting car insurance premiums, insurers look at various factors that affect costs, including demographic profile and location. However, driving experience and history is generally the most important factor.

It’s all about risk for insurance companies, and first-time drivers like teens are unproven on the roads. Therefore, insurers charge higher rates to take on the risk of them getting into an accident or filing a claim. Even if you’re an immigrant with a good driving record in your home country, insurers will still consider you a new driver because they only review domestic driving records when determining rates.

How Much Coverage Do You Need for Car Insurance?

The amount of coverage you need depends on your state’s minimum coverage requirements. There are various types of car insurance coverages, and each state is different in its requirements. For example, California requires all drivers to have minimum bodily injury liability — $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident — and minimum property damage liability — $5,000 per accident. Arizona requires the same coverage, but the amounts are different — $25,000/$50,000/$15,000.

You can always carry more coverage or add optional coverages — e.g., collision or comprehensive — to protect you in case of a serious car accident. However, this will raise your insurance rate. Stick with your state’s minimum coverage requirements to keep your rate as low as possible.

How to Improve Factors that Affect Insurance Rates for First-Time Drivers

Here are some ways you can help reduce your car insurance rate as a first-time driver:

  • Join an existing policy — If you’re a teen driver, you can join your parents’ insurance policy as long as you live with them and they own the vehicle you drive. Adults who start driving later in life can also join their spouse’s policy under the same conditions. Taking this route is generally more cost-effective than purchasing your own car insurance plan.
  • Insurance discounts — Take advantage of discounts to help lower your auto insurance rate. Mercury offers a wide variety of discounts, including the good student discount. Provide documentation proving you or your teen gets good grades, and we’ll reward you with great savings.
  • Stay safe on the road — Avoiding at-fault accidents and moving violations are one of the best ways to lower your rates as a first-time driver. Your rate will gradually lower after you have a few years of safe driving under your belt. Download the MercuryGO app to ensure you’re driving safely at all times. You’ll instantly get a 5% participation discount and up to 10% off when you add a teen driver to your policy.
  • Choose a higher deductible — One quick way to reduce your rate is to choose a higher deductible — the amount you’re responsible for paying after filing a claim. Generally, the higher your deductible, the lower your rate will be. However, don’t pick a higher deductible if you can’t actually afford to pay that amount out of pocket.
  • Have a good credit score — If you have a good credit score, you may see a reduction in your car insurance rate. Insurers usually see a low credit score as a sign you might file higher claims, which results in a higher premium.

Whether you’re new to the United States, a teen driver, or an adult ready to get behind the wheel, first-time drivers can count on Mercury Insurance. We provide best-in-class coverage at an affordable rate, a 24/7 claims hotline, guaranteed repairs, and dedicated local agents.