Cheap insurance companies

If you own a car, car insurance is a required expense in 48 of the 50 states. A lack of diligence when shopping for your car insurance could lead to a hefty monthly bill, as well as headaches if you actually need to file a claim. We researched and explored quotes from over 128 companies in 2,700 cities to determine which insurers had the lowest costs, nationally and in each state. Our team also evaluated which companies had the best track record for customer service and the claims process.

What is the Cheapest Car Insurance Company?

After our analysis of 2,700 cities and 128 companies, we found that Erie was the most affordable major insurer in the country with an average yearly rate of $1,052 based on our sample driver — about 31% cheaper than the national average across every insurer. The very largest of the five is GEICO, the second largest auto insurer in the U.S. by market share.

Erie

Erie is the United States’ 13th largest insurer despite being found in only nine states. Overall, it was frequently the cheapest insurer for drivers in its market, beating state averages by 28%. In states like Virginia and Pennsylvania, drivers could find Erie for 40% less than the state average.

GEICO

The nation’s second largest insurer is the second least expensive one as well. Though found in every state, drivers in New York and Utah can save up to 50% by going with GEICO. On average, GEICO beat state averages by 28%.

American Family

Though not the most well known brand of auto insurance, we still found American Family in nearly 1,000 cities nationwide where it beat state averages by 14%. Drivers in Washington and Colorado can even reap premiums 32% and 29% under their state averages.

The Cheapest Insurers By State

The price of car insurance can vary greatly between states. One company may be expensive in Utah, but inexpensive in New York. In some states, a small, local company could even offer the best price. Below, click through to your state to see which company and cities have the least expensive car insurance based on the numerous studies we’ve conducted.

What Is The Best Car Insurance Company?

We identified the auto insurance companies with the cheapest rates, but, as with anything, you want to be sure you are getting high quality service from your insurance company. Reliable car insurance companies are critical in ensuring a smooth customer-insurer relationship. There are a few factors we deemed most important to evaluate a company on which affect policy holders’ satisfaction, such as, the average shopping experience, customer service, ability to resolve complaints, and quote filing process.

The Best Car Insurance Companies

Erie: Best Overall Company

State Farm: Best Large Company

Progressive: Best Company After Getting into an Accident

USAA: Best Company for Military Families

Metromile: Best Company for Low Mileage Drivers

The Hartford: Best Company for Handling Claims

Liberty Mutual: Best For the Shopping Experience

Best Overall Car Insurance Company: Erie

Erie is the cheapest insurance company, and arguably the most reliable insurance company as well. They score points by allowing customers to start their quote online, which we personally found to be a streamlined and fast process. Erie also scored the highest marks from the number of policies they offer. Erie offers pet coverage, free accident forgiveness, free vanishing deductibles, roadside assistance, and many more, essentially giving its customers a degree of flexibility not even found amongst the largest insurers. Customers of Erie may also be eligible for its Rate Lock program. This is a unique program where customers won’t see their rates increase except for three reasons: you move to a different area, add or remove someone from your policy, or add or subtract a car. Lastly, despite its smaller size, Erie offers the same types of discounts larger national insurers provide such as bundling, anti-lock brakes, anti-theft, young driver and senior driver among others.

The biggest downside to Erie is that it is only available in Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. As well, Erie still relies strongly on its agent network; which isn’t always a bad thing. A strong agent network is usually key to ensuring a smooth claims process. If you want to quickly buy car insurance without speaking to anyone though, Erie may not be the company for you. While you can start the process online, you ultimately will have to speak with an agent to finalize your quote. Erie will be ideal for any customers within its market, who do not mind putting in some extra effort to get quality and cheap auto insurance.

Best Large Car Insurance Company: State Farm

Of the biggest auto insurers in the U.S. — State Farm, GEICO, Allstate, Progressive and Farmers — State Farm ranks as the greatest overall. State Farm was rated 4/5 stars by customers and policyholders in a JD Power survey on companies shopping experience. State Farm is best known for its large agent network; they boast over 18,000 across the nation. It shouldn’t be surprising then that State Farm gets 5/5 stars for how its agents interact with customers. As well, State Farm is great when it comes to offering discounts. If you go with State Farm you will have up to 15 discounts to be eligible for which can equal hundreds of dollars worth of savings.

While State Farm’s shopping experience is well-reviewed, customers did not feel as strongly about it’s claims handling process. The company scored about the same as the other four large companies, but was still mediocre. A large national company may be expected to not be very efficient because of the various departments involved in handling individual claims. If you want the assurances guaranteed to you by a large, «legacy» carrier, then State Farm is the best to go with.

Best Auto Insurance Company after an Accident: Progressive

We found Progressive was the most affordable car insurance rates after a recent accident compared to the many auto insurance companies we surveyed. From the $1,241 average we state above, rates increased by 29% after an at-fault accident. While that may still seem high, it was the smallest rate increase we saw of any company including Erie, State Farm, GEICO and American Family.

Other pros of Progressive include it being an online company. You can get a quote directly from the Progressive website without having to speak to an agent. Cons of Progressive involve its customer service. Customers in the J.D. Power survey only gave mediocre remarks for Progressive for its buying experience and claims handling process. It isn’t the worst, but Progressive is far from the best in the field. Because of this, Progressive might be the best insurer ideally for customers prioritizing low rates, especially after an accident, and do not mind a bit more cumbersome claims handling process.

Best Car Insurance Company for Military Members: USAA

If you are or were in the military, or if your parents, parent-in-law, or spouse was in the military you are eligible for USAA auto insurance, and they may just be the best company for you. USAA scores 5/5 stars for the both shopping experience, and claims handling process in the J.D. Power study. They do particularly well on how you can report your claims to the company. You should also be highly satisfied with their final settlement claims. For more information, read here.

Best Car Insurance for Low-Mileage Drivers: Metromile

If you find yourself away from the wheel more times than not, a pay-per mile auto insurance company like Metromile may be the best company to go with. Metromile is one of the first companies in the U.S. where a bulk of a driver’s premium is determined by how much they drive. How much is too much? We found that generally for Metromile to be a good deal, drivers should only drive 7,500 miles or less per year. The biggest downsides to Metromile is a mediocre record of claims handling, in addition to the company only being available in seven states: CA, IL, NJ, OR, PA, VA, WA.

Best Auto Insurance for Handling Claims: The Hartford

Also known as AARP, The Hartford was the recipient of the 2016 J.D. Power study for car insurance companies ability to handle claims. The Hartford scored 5/5 stars for nearly every step of the claims process; from notifying them, to the repair process, and the final settlement. Those who think a smooth claims process is the most important factor for car insurance, The Hartford should definitely be

Best Company for the Shopping Experience: Liberty Mutual

Liberty Mutual actually tied Erie insurance for this category, but since we already called Erie the best overall company, we’ll describe how Liberty Mutual is well known for a strong shopping experience. Customers of Liberty Mutual report in the study they were particularly satisfied with the flexibility of policies offered by Liberty Mutual, as well as their relationship with Liberty Mutual agents. If Erie is not located in your state, Liberty Mutual can be a good alternative if you can get a competitive rate.

The Best Car Insurance Coverage for You

To determine how much auto insurance is best for you comes down to understanding your current economic circumstances and how the different types of coverage work together. If you own a car, buying car insurance is inevitable, so it is really important you are getting the right amount for the right price. The following table gives a quick summary of what types of insurance you should have.

Type of Coverage       Should You Have It?

Bodily Injury Liability

Required in mostly every state except FL

Property Damage Liability     Required in every state

Uninsured Motorist    Required in 22 states and/or you do not have PIP or Collision insurance

Collision and Comprehensive            Recommended only if your car is worth more than $2,000

Person Injury Protection/Medical Payments Required in 15 states and/or you do not have health insurance

As to how much coverage you should have will depend on your economic situation. High net worth individuals should get high liability limits, as in those well above the minimum mandated by the state. In fact, they should have limits that equal their net worth. To read more in-depth about how much coverage you need, you should read on here.

Methodology: How We Got Our Info

We collected quotes from a variety of insurance companies across 2,700 towns and cities in the U.S, for 128 insurance companies. Our sample driver was a 30 year old male who drove a 2011 Toyota Camry. To obtain quotes, we kept parameters for getting coverage the same, such as that he was single, and had a clean driving record. The only parameter that changed was the zip code where he lived in the U.S. The amount of coverage we opted for gave our driver bit more than what is required of state minimums.

Whether you’re looking for a full coverage car insurance policy or liability coverage only, nobody wants to overpay. And the best way to get the cheapest car insurance possible is by comparing car insurance quotes — and the companies offering them.

SIGN UP: Find savings on your car expenses

To get you started, NerdWallet looked at car insurance prices across the country for different driver profiles and coverage levels. We’ve sliced the data in several ways to give you an idea of average costs and what factors might nudge your car insurance rate up — or even better, down.

Cheapest overall: Liability-only car insurance

Cheapest of the big car insurance companies

Check out smaller insurers, too

Cheapest car insurance in your state

How to get the cheapest possible insurance

Cheapest overall: Liability-only car insurance

The cheapest car insurance will often be the minimum coverage required in your state, which in most states is liability insurance. Liability insurance covers property damage and medical bills for others due to accidents you cause. Some states require additional or alternative coverage, such as personal injury protection.

Full coverage car insurance is more expensive and often comes with a deductible, a set amount you are responsible for if you file a claim. But it also provides more expansive coverage for your car, like if it’s stolen or damaged, whether by you, a hit-and-run driver or a fallen tree.

To get an idea of the cheapest car insurance rates, period, we looked at quotes from available carriers for the minimum required insurance in each state. Then, we compared it to the average cost of full coverage car insurance to show the difference in cost.

Average rates can give you an idea of pricing in your state for minimum or full coverage car insurance policies, but that says little about the companies available to you.

Cheapest of the big car insurance companies

Just five car insurance companies make up more than 55% of the U.S. market. They include Allstate, Geico, Progressive and State Farm, which are available to anyone, as well as USAA, the insurer for active military members, veterans and their families.

MORE: NerdWallet’s ranking of the best car insurance companies

Since most people choose one of these large insurers, NerdWallet compared quotes from the five largest auto companies in ZIP codes across the country. Rates are for policies that include minimum coverage required in each state, plus collision and comprehensive coverage. Our “good driver” profile is a 30-year-old with no moving violations and credit in the “good” tier. Use the tabs to see rates for drivers with credit in the “poor” tier and those with one at-fault accident as reported to the insurer.

Keep in mind these are averages from across the country, so rates in your area will differ.

  1. Geico

Geico NW

NerdWallet’s rating: 4.0 / 5

 

4.0-stars

National average rates:

Good driver: $1,177/year

Good driver, poor credit: $1,901/year

One at-fault accident: $2,225/year

Among the biggest four car insurers, our data indicates Geico is often the cheapest. Not only was Geico the cheapest for drivers with good credit and no moving violations, it was also cheapest for drivers with poor credit. However, drivers with a recent at-fault accident might see significantly higher quotes from Geico compared to other insurers.

READ MORE: NerdWallet’s Geico review

  1. State Farm

State Farm car insurance

NerdWallet’s rating: 4.0 / 5

4.0-stars

National average rates:

Good driver: $1,366/year

Good driver, poor credit: $2,867/year

One at-fault accident: $1,637/year

State Farm was the second-cheapest for good drivers, but it also came in cheapest for drivers with one at-fault accident — nearly $600 per year cheaper than Geico in that category. State Farm also beats Geico, Progressive and Allstate in NerdWallet’s ranking of best car insurance companies.

READ MORE: NerdWallet’s State Farm review

  1. Progressive

Progressive_genericlogo

NerdWallet’s rating: 3.5 / 5

3.5-stars

National average rates:

Good driver: $1,726/year

Good driver, poor credit: $3,056/year

One at-fault accident: $3,024/year

Progressive isn’t the cheapest in this large national analysis, but that only illustrates the importance of shopping around. In many states, Progressive had some of the lowest rates for all of our 2018 driver profiles.

READ MORE: NerdWallet’s Progressive review

  1. Allstate

Allstate2018

NerdWallet’s rating: 4.0 / 5

4.0-stars

National average rates:

Good driver: $1,812/year

Good driver, poor credit: $3,054/year

One at-fault accident: $2,719/year

Allstate averaged more than others in this list for good drivers, but it was cheaper than Progressive for drivers with an at-fault accident or poor credit.

READ MORE: NerdWallet’s Allstate review

Cheapest for military-affiliated families: USAA

usaa-logo-320×229

NerdWallet’s rating: 4.5 / 5

4.5-stars

National average rates:

Good driver: $870/year

Good driver, poor credit: $1,654/year

One at-fault accident: $1,162/year

USAA is only available to veterans, active military members and their families, so we didn’t rank it against the others. Even so, we found it to be the cheapest, by far, among large companies for all categories.

READ MORE: NerdWallet’s USAA review

Check out smaller insurers, too

Finding cheap car insurance doesn’t mean you have to stick with large insurance companies. Regional and small insurers may beat the lowest offers from the big guys. For example:

Grange Insurance, which is available in 13 states through independent agents, came in cheaper than USAA in all three of the above categories. The average rate for good drivers was only $566 per year.

Erie Insurance, available in 12 states and the District of Columbia, had an average rate of $759 per year for good drivers. Bonus points: Erie locks in your initial rate for four years and ranks fourth among our best companies. Read our Erie Insurance review for more information.

Country Financial is available in 19 states and returned an average rate of $940 per year for good drivers. It was also cheaper than the big four (but not USAA) for drivers with at-fault accidents and poor credit.