How often should you shop for auto insurance? Whether you're on the hunt for a better deal or expanded coverage, take a look at the best times to search for a new policy.

You've Had Insurance for More Than One Year

You haven't had any major changes or accidents. Does that mean your insurance should stay the same? Think of your insurance exploration as an annual wellness checkup. A conversation with an agent can help you to determine whether you have the best coverage possible. It's possible another company could save you money or your existing insurer has new options that you don't know about.

You've Had a Recent Accident

An accident can raise your insurance rates — especially if you're at fault. Some insurers offer customers accident forgiveness as part of their policy. If your coverage doesn't offer this benefit, an accident that includes bodily injury, property damage, or a comprehensive claim (when you're at fault) may result in a rate increase.

The specific dollar amount of the increase depends on your coverage, the accident (including the type of damage, the type of injury, and who was at fault), the number of accidents you've had, where you live, and the insurer.

While a policy or insurer change won't necessarily lower your rates, it's your best chance of getting a lower price. Keep in mind, even if your would-be future insurer didn't pay out to cover your last accident, you will have to notify them of past incidents. This may put you into a higher-rate category for a new policy.

You're Ready to Move

Are you about to move out of state? Every state requires auto insurance for drivers who own, lease, or use their car regularly. Even though you already have insurance, you may need to shop for a new policy. Contact your soon-to-be new state's motor vehicle enforcement agency to verify whether you need new insurance. You can also call an in-state insurance agency to ask about changes you're required to make.

If you do need new insurance, it's likely your new state will have a grace period to find new coverage. This doesn't mean you can drop your existing policy and drive uninsured during the grace period. Instead, keep your existing coverage as you search for a new auto insurance service.

After you choose a new policy, you can discontinue the old one. This strategy provides you with the constant, legally required coverage you need.

Whether you haven't reviewed your auto coverage in over a year, have had a recent accident, are moving out of state, or just aren't happy with your exiting policy, a licensed insurance agent can help you find the best options for your individual needs.