There are dozens of different auto insurance providers that currently do business in the United States. Each of them adheres to a slightly different business model. Some discount providers specialize in offering bare-bones policies at surprisingly affordable monthly rates. These policies tend to include basic coverages like "liability" and "uninsured motorist" according to the laws of the jurisdictions in which they're issued.
Since most states maintain "minimum coverage" requirements to ensure that all of the insurance policies issued within their borders are adequate to cover the costs associated with serious accidents, these policies typically cost at least several hundred dollars per year. However, they may not be adequate to cover all of the costs associated with catastrophic accidents that result in life-changing injuries or widespread property damage.
Other full-service insurance companies specialize in gold-plated policies that have high coverage limits. Most of these types of policies have coverage limits that exceed the value of bare-bones policies' coverage limits by several orders of magnitude. They also tend to have extensive "personal property" coverages that carry maximum disbursement limits of $1,000,000 or more. These exist to offset any costs associated with accident-related damage to private and public buildings and structures. Over the years, "personal property" coverages have helped to prevent thousands of costly lawsuits.
Some insurance providers offer both kinds of insurance policies. Most of the providers that have the pricing power to offer discount and full-service policies are national concerns like Progressive and Nationwide. These major insurance companies use dozens of different criteria to determine the cost of their policies. If you're looking to open a policy with one such company, you'll need to give your prospective provider certain pertinent facts about your demographic profile and driving history.
Among other factors, the cost of your policy will depend upon your age and the number of accidents and moving violations in which you've been involved during the recent past. Most states require all of the insurance companies that do business within their borders to disregard any incidents or citations that occurred more than five years prior to the current date.
Once your insurance provider has calculated the final cost of your policy, you'll be provided with a unique policy number that won't change until you choose to terminate your coverage. This number can be found on the insurance card that you'll receive once your policy goes into effect. Both Progressive and Nationwide typically use nine-digit policy numbers that contain three digits, a dash, six more digits and an effective date.