It would be great to live in a world where nobody ever got into an accident. But that unfortunately is not our reality. So we need to keep ourselves protected against worst-case outcomes. On the road, this means auto insurance.

But to get the best policy possible, you need to start by asking a few questions. How much coverage is necessary? Should you get more than the minimum? How can you find the most savings? Which companies are the top providers in my market?

At the end of the day, it doesn’t actually take that much effort to sort it all out. Just start by knowing what to look for and you will be able to find great coverage at a great rate — no matter where you live.

1. What Coverage Is Mandatory vs. What Coverage Is Ideal?

Unlike some types of coverage, auto insurance is mandatory. You can’t drive without it. While the specifics vary by location — and so does the price — there is always some type of policy that you must have. Because of this, some drivers just opt for the least amount of coverage that they are required to obtain.

But this often proves penny wise and pound foolish. For just a little bit extra, you can usually get much broader coverage that will protect you for many more common incidents. So before you just get the absolute minimum, be sure to actually see how much more you can get for around the same price. It’s almost always worth it to pick up more peace of mind.

2. What Benefits and Incentives Are Available to Me?

Depending upon who you are, you might be eligible for certain programs and benefits that will improve your coverage. Military families and veterans, for example, can take advantage of the great auto insurance policies from USAA. Members of the AARP and certain trade unions can also get discounts in some areas.

So before you sign on the dotted line anywhere, think about all the associations or clubs you belong to and consider whether you may be able to take advantage. The savings — and improved coverage — could be substantial.

3. What Can I Learn by Shopping the Market?

Auto insurance is available from many different providers in many different locations. Some have worked to market themselves very well with fancy ads and now receive a ton of customers based upon those branding campaigns. Meanwhile, other financial services companies that are less known for their car policies offer even better coverage at better rates.

How do you sort it all out? The best part is that there is so much info online and so much competition that you can probably find the best possible coverage if you look hard enough. Don’t just go with the most popular option because of name recognition. Spend a little time and you might be able to save a lot over the next year. And who doesn’t want more money in their pocket?

Getting the Best Coverage at the Best Rate

Auto insurance isn’t all that complicated in the grand scheme of things. There are a few basic types of coverage and we all want as much as we can get at the lowest possible price.

In most cases, it pays to obtain coverage above and beyond the legal minimum. You may also be able to get very broad coverage at a great rate if you are an eligible member of various programs. And the more effort you spend shopping the market, the more likely you are to find some great savings.

There isn’t a lot more to know. Really, knowing this alone will help make sure you are safeguarded for the long haul. After all, you will probably be paying for auto insurance for the rest of your life. So it only makes sense to find the best option you can as soon as possible.