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Car Insurance

Last Updated Feb 5, 2010 11:46 AM EST

What's the best way to save on car insurance?

by Jane Bryant Quinn

Compare prices: Here lies your single biggest shot at saving money. In any city or any zip code, some insurers charge twice as much as others for exactly the same coverage.

Insurers don't advertise price, so you have to hunt for those that are lower cost. No single company always has the best rates. Each one prices differently, in different places, for different kinds of customers.

For quotes, begin online at sites such as InsWeb, Insure.com, Esurance, and InsureOne.com. Enter the coverage you want. You may have to give your name, phone number, and e-mail address to get quotes, but it's a convenient, easy way of getting a good range of comparisons. It helps to keep a special e-mail address for online shopping so that junk doesn't pile up in your personal account. Some quotes come instantly, others a couple of days later. A few companies sell online with no call from an agent. Some familiar companies, such as Allstate, Amica, Geico, Progressive, and State Farm Insurance, aren't on the Web comparison sites. You have to log on to them separately.

With these prices in hand, ask an independent insurance agent if he or she can do better for you sometimes the agent can turn up a lower rate, perhaps from a regional company or a company that's especially competitive for drivers of your age and sex. At the very least, the Web quotes tell you whether your agent is offering a competitive price.

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Excerpted from Making the Most of Your Money Now by Jane Bryant Quinn

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