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Shopping for car insurance can be one of life’s more frustrating experiences. Let us help you find the best policy and price by avoiding common online mistakes.

Different car insurance companies often produce very different quotes for the same person, even if the policies being compared are identical. This makes comparison shopping a crucial part of buying auto insurance; wise shoppers will compare at least four or five different insurance providers to make sure they are getting a good deal.

Auto insurance comparison websites, which let you instantly compare quotes from multiple insurance providers, can be a huge help in your quest for affordable car insurance. They provide accurate, personalized rates, discounts, and coverage options all on one site—much like your favorite travel comparison site that gives you airline ticket or hotel room options all on a single page.

In order to provide an accurate list of options, comparison sites ask you for basic information such as your zip code, occupation, vehicle make and model, and driving history. These details allow the site to provide an accurate list of different insurance policies, options and rates.

There are two types of insurance comparison websites: quote comparison sites and lead generation sites. Auto quote comparison websites present users with rates based on information submitted during the shopping experience. You can then decide which quote to pursue, and the data you entered is transferred to the agent or company website, greatly shortening the purchasing process. These sites do not sell your information to insurance carriers or agencies.

Unlike quote comparison sites, lead generation sites simply sell your information to their advertising partners—typically insurance companies. These sites are not built to provide you with personalized quotes and are not much help when trying to compare car insurance rates. Avoid these sites unless you’re eager to receive tons of cold calls from insurance phone banks and desperate agents.

Insurance comparison websites can be further broken down into sites that provide real-time insurance quotes versus those that provide estimated ones.

insurance comparison website that provides real-time, accurate quotes from top insurance companies in the U.S. It is rated 4.8 out of 5 on ShopperApproved, where it has 735 user reviews.

online car insurance comparison tool that generates real-time quotes from multiple insurance providers. In addition to car insurance, Compare provides quotes for home, health, and small business insurance, as well as tools to help you choose car loans and mobile phone plans. The site is rated 4.5 out of 5 on eKomi, based 640 user reviews.