Can I find car insurance quotes by VIN number?

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Tonya Sisler has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of South Carolina in Journalism and has worked for 15+ years in management. She has also completed a proofreading certification and is currently...

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Brad Larson has been in the insurance industry for more than a dozen years. He started out as a claims adjuster for a national carrier. He has since switched to the agency side of the business...

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Reviewed byBrad Larsen
Licensed Auto Insurance Agent

UPDATED: Mar 13, 2020

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In order to get accurate car insurance quotes you must have the right information that is requested by the company to assess risk and to provide you with estimates.

For consumers who are requesting quotes via a direct website or another online quoting system, there will be several fields that you must fill in before the system can even compute your rates. These fields are all little pieces of information that help paint a bigger picture for the company before an application is submitted or officially underwritten.

Quotes may give you an idea of how much you can expect to pay with a company, but your actual rates are not official until underwriters review your information, order reports and then issue the policy.

Providing the wrong information or failing to provide the right details can lead to a misquote which ultimately leads to higher premiums.

Providing the right information from the time that you begin to compare quotes or fill out applications is a must. If you pay attention to details and you verify that all of the personal information and vehicle information that you provide is correct, you never have to worry about paying more than you were told you would pay.

A misquote can lead you to the wrong insurer and lead you away from a company that will charge you the best premiums. If you do not know everything that you need to know about your car, it is easy to worry that you are not prepared for a quote.

Read on, and learn how to find the right information and how agents and other channels might be able to help you when you are missing information that you need. Be sure to use our FREE rates comparison tool above!

Can you get quotes for vehicles with the make and model?

When you are shopping for a car, you should also take the time to shop for car insurance.

When you are pricing the true cost of ownership before buying a car, you should take the cost of insurance into consideration.

After all, insurance is one of the most regular costs you will need to budget for aside from your car note and the cost of gas.

If you are not quite sure which vehicle you want to buy, you should create a list of your options.

After you have a handful of models that you like best, you can begin to compare insurance rates by simply selecting the year, make and model in a quoting tool.

There is no need to have the exact VIN because the system will pre-populate the prefix of the VIN that is specific to the model and leave the remainder specific to an exact car blank.

This is how an insurance company is able to provide prospective clients with price quotes as they are at the dealership or when they are car shopping online at home. The applicant may not know which car they will definitely insurance, but they have all of the other details and can pinpoint the model or make they like the most.

This is enough for an applicant to decide if they want a sports car or a compact car based on the insurance costs.

Can you get a quote when all you have is a VIN?

It might look like a VIN is nothing more than a set of 17 numbers and letters. While VIN’s do consist of numbers and letters, there is more to this code than just gibberish. The numbers can easily be decoded by the insurance company to determine what the year, make and model of the car you want a quote on is.

If you are questionable about the year of a car or you do not know the sub-model or the engine size, having the VIN is really all you need.

It is actually in your best interest to provide the VIN even though it is optional because it takes away all of the guesswork when the number is decoded.

How is a VIN decoded?

The automobile manufacturer assigns a sequence of letters and numbers to each vehicle that they produce in their plants. Like snowflakes, no single VIN number can match another.

If you know which part of the VIN reveals details about your car, you can start to decode your own VIN to learn more about the features of your car. It is amazing that a sequence like this can say almost everything about the identity of a car aside from listing its color.

The first digit of the VIN tells where the car was assembled. American cars assembled in the US will have a 1.

The second digit will show who manufactured the car and the third translates the vehicle type.

Spaces 4 through 9 make up the Vehicle Descriptor Section where the body type, engine size, transmission, and other systems are listed.

Digits 10 through 17 then make up the Vehicle Identifier Section which shows the model year, location of plant and the production number of the car.

When you get a quote for a random vehicle that you have not yet purchased and you make selections based on the year, make and model, the VIN that will be populated will be missing digits 11 through 17.

Is there anything that a VIN will not show?

VIN’s seem like magical numbers that can display everything about a vehicle, but that is not always the case. A VIN may not always be accurate when a vehicle has had aftermarket systems and features installed.

This is why you need to verify the information that is listed in your quote and update that information if something is missing. Skim through a quote whenever you get one, look at the features, and then you can make updates when necessary.

The number itself may tell you the engine type, the vehicle type, where the airbags are located and what year the car was produced in, but it cannot always tell you if a car has an alarm system, aftermarket safety features, or aftermarket stereos.

This is something you need to disclose so that you can receive the discounts that you qualify for for having an active or passive alarm, a Lo-jack or On-Star. It can also help you if you choose the policy and if you need to file a claim where aftermarket parts were damaged or stolen.

Without informing the insurer, they may only be liable to pay for what came with the car as it was manufactured.

Why does the vehicle type affect the cost of insurance?

You might be wondering why vehicle type even matters when you are buying insurance that covers you as a driver. Insurance is a policy that will protect your finances and at times your property, and the type of vehicle that you are driving can affect risk.

No matter how safe of a driver you are, some cars are just statistically safer to drive.

Safer vehicles have less injured occupants in accidents, suffer less damage in collision, and cause less serious damage to other vehicles. This is why the insurance company will review the safety record and claims record of any vehicle before a policy is issued.

You can review the safety record of your car through the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety if you are concerned that the type of car that you own is having a negative affect on your premiums. If throughout the years the record changes for the car, premiums can change.

This could be one of the many causes for premiums increases when your policy renews.

What other factors will affect your insurance rates?

The VIN is not the only thing that is going to be requested to rate your policy. The insurer will ask for additional information about you as a driver, about your driving habits, and about your location to assess how much of a risk you would be to cover.

Here are pieces of information that will be reviewed when any application is being rated:

  • Driving record of each driver
  • Age, gender and marital status of drivers
  • Accident record of each driver
  • Years of driving experience
  • Vehicle usage of each vehicle
  • Annual mileage estimates for each vehicle
  • Storage zip code for each vehicle
  • Vehicle type and safety record information

As you can see, vehicle types matter, but they are not everything. Be sure that you know where discounts will be applied and how these can help you when you want to save money.

For consumers in all states, you need to price shop to find a licensed carrier that will provide you with the coverage that you need. You can price shop with or without a VIN, but having your VIN will help you avoid making errors when you are selecting a model or sub-model type.

Start to use our FREE online rating tool where you can simply type in your ZIP code, and you will be on your way to comparing pricing in an instant.

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