As a rule of thumb, consumers should include the cost of insurance in their auto-buying budget since it’s such a vital aspect of owning a car. Many people may not realize that they should buy the insurance before buying the car.

It’s an even lesser known fact, that buying insurance online is where the biggest discounts are. But before you buy car insurance on or some other website, check out some insurance comparison websites and keep in mind these important items:

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1. Some of the best coverage is the least expensive.

Protect your investment. Most consumers accept the big-ticket items when it comes to selecting car insurance but get squeamish when it comes to the add-ons. Optional coverage is usually not expensive, and it includes features such as roadside assistance, gap coverage and uninsured/underinsured coverage.

2. Many factors determine the insurance rate.

Each insurance company has different criteria and guidelines, and these can fluctuate based on the risk that the insurance company is holding and other factors. Driving history will always be the most important factor, but it is worthwhile to shop around.

3. Insurance prices vary a great deal.

Another reason it is worthwhile to comparison-shop is that prices vary a lot. The insurance companies are not all conspiring with each other. Note, however, that the price of a policy with the same company is consistent and actually governed by law, so it will not help to simply shop with a different agent.

4. Policy lapses cost a lot in the end.

In addition to state fees and fines, a policy lapse will cause your insurance to rise. Insurance companies view drivers who have a vehicle but no insurance to be irresponsible and a great risk. This penalty can be costly and will stick with you for at least a year.

5. Higher deductibles do lower the premium.

If the insurance company has to pay less for damages, the insurance will be cheaper. For a responsible and financially stable person, raising deductibles makes sense. However, you have to be certain that you can afford the damages in the event that they occur.

6. Discounts make a big difference.

There are many discounts available, including for safety courses, good credit, anti-theft devices, going paperless, paying the full amount and so forth. Discounts may seem like a bit of a hassle, especially when it involves taking a course, but they can be well worth it in the long run.

7. Coverage is the bulk of the premium.

The majority of what you pay for insurance is due to the coverage, much of which is legally required. There are opportunities to save money here. For instance, those who drive older cars might be better off without collision and comprehensive. They can simply bank the money and buy a new old car when the time comes.

8. The car you drive makes a big difference.

The insurance world does almost everything based on statistics. They know exactly how many accidents that model has been in last year and every year that it has been in production. You can find information on the most expensive cars to insure. Use it to avoid cars that have risk premiums.