When buying car insurance, it's important to strike the right balance between saving money and get the right amount of coverage to protect yourself. Finding that balance will depend on your driving record, your coverage needs and how good you are at doing a little research.Here are five tips to get you started: 1. Shop around: The price of coverage you'll get varies greatly from provider to provider, sometimes by hundreds of dollars or more. The reason for the variation lies in differences among the rating systems used to price your policy. Different systems weigh the relative impact of factors such as your age, marital status and driving history. While a history of reckless driving will likely boost your premiums across the board, the rise won't be equal among each provider. Start your search at BankingMyWay.com's Insurance Center to find quotes from industry leaders, such as Allstate ( ALL), Progressive ( PGR) and Nationwide ( NFS). By getting as many rate quotes as possible, you'll increase your chances of getting the best coverage at the best price. 2. Adjust your coverage levels: The minimum requirement for insurance coverage varies from state to state. Check this list to see what your state requires. For coverage components such as personal liability, you can't lower your coverage below the minimum limit, but you may want to consider raising it higher in order to protect your personal assets if there's ever a claim against you. Alternatively, by raising the deductible on the collision and comprehensive components of your policy, you can lower your premium since you're agreeing to take on more of the costs should an accident occur.
3. Ask about discounts: Often times, membership in a professional organization - such as the American Automobile Association - can provide a discount up to 10% of your premiums. Other discounts involve being a homeowner, holding another type of insurance policy with the provider, holding a college degree or even working in a certain profession, such as a teacher or engineer. Discounts reduce your premium without affecting your coverage. 4. Check on accident forgiveness: With some insurers, submitting an accident claim results in higher premiums as you get bumped from a lower-risk group into a higher-risk group. However, some providers offer accident forgiveness. This benefit rewards safe, accident-free drivers; if you've got a clean record for a specified period of time (depends on the policy), your rate won't go up if you're at fault in an accident. Find out if a provider offers accident forgiveness, and if you qualify under their terms -- which usually means having a clean driving record to start with. 5. Research the company: While there's no harm in searching for cheap insurance coverage, it's also a good idea to make sure your insurance provider will be there when you need them. Check with your state's department of insurance ( click here for contact details) to make sure there aren't any major consumer complaints pending. BankingMyWay also has rankings of the 25 best auto insurance providers, ranked by financial strength. Once you've hit the right balance of low premiums, good coverage and a dependable provider, you'll be all set for some carefree cruising.