f 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.
Find the Cheapest Insurance Quotes in Your Area
Table of Contents
Cheapest Car Insurance
Car Insurance by State
The Best Car Insurance
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.
Graph shows the five cheapest car insurance companies in the United States
In the table below, you can see how the average annual rates for the 15 most affordable large auto insurers in the country compared based on quotes we obtained for an example 30 year old driver.
Rank Company Annual Rate
1 Erie $1,052
2 GEICO $1,067
3 American Family $1,099
4 Auto Owners $1,201
5 Progressive $1,241
6 Farmers $1,249
7 State Farm $1,372
8 State Auto $1,397
9 Nationwide $1,404
10 Allied $1,470
11 Allstate $1,718
12 Safe Auto $1,855
13 MetLife $1,957
14 Victoria $2,057
15 Encompass $2,129
*Premiums based on our sample driver
The Three Cheapest Car Insurance Companies
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.
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%.
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.
Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas California Colorado Connecticut Delaware Florida Georgia Hawaii Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas Utah Vermont Virginia Washington West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming
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
Find the Cheapest Insurance Quotes in Your Area
Currently Insured?Find Insurers
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.
Rank Company Starting Rate After Accident Rate Percent Change
1 Progressive $1,241 $1,605 29%
2 Sentry $2,397 $3,220 35%
3 State Farm $1,372 $1,788 35%
4 Erie $1,052 $1,489 41%
5 Safe Auto $1,855 $2,634 42%
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 considered.
Rank Company Initial Claims Process Service Appraisal Repair Process Settlement Overall
The Hartford 5 5 4 5 5 5
2 USAA 5 3 4 4 5 5
3 NJM Insurance Co. 5 5 5 3 5 5
4 Erie Insurance 5 5 5 5 5 5
5 Auto-Owners Insurance 5 5 4 4 5 5
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.
Rank Company Policy Offerings Contentment w/ Pricing Local Agent Overall
1 Liberty Mutual 5 4 5 5
2 Erie 4 5 4 5
USAA 5 5 NA 5
4 The Hartford 5 5 3 5
5 American Family 4 4 4 4
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.
State Average annual price: Minimum required coverage Average annual price: Full coverage Annual difference
Average $699 $1,537 $838
Alabama $563 $1,367 $804
Alaska $419 $1,105 $686
Arizona $684 $1,527 $843
Arkansas $578 $1,449 $871
California $629 $1,654 $1,025
Colorado $713 $1,738 $1,025
Connecticut $1,029 $1,984 $955
Delaware $1,209 $2,350 $1,141
District of Columbia $842 $1,558 $716
Florida $1,253 $2,355 $1,102
Georgia $727 $1,523 $796
Hawaii $676 $1,637 $961
Idaho $389 $990 $601
Illinois $706 $1,389 $683
Indiana $493 $1,091 $598
Iowa $309 $968 $659
Kansas $585 $1,297 $712
Kentucky $1,092 $2,185 $1,093
Louisiana $995 $2,789 $1,794
Maine $431 $961 $530
Maryland $924 $1,644 $720
Massachusetts $540 $1,179 $639
Michigan $2,696 $3,986 $1,290
Minnesota $824 $1,598 $774
Mississippi $612 $1,669 $1,057
Missouri $683 $1,581 $898
Montana $428 $1,457 $1,029
Nebraska $431 $1,126 $695
Nevada $679 $1,721 $1,042
New Hampshire $495 $1,041 $546
New Jersey $1,095 $2,069 $974
New Mexico $576 $1,416 $840
New York $1,161 $2,017 $856
North Carolina $527 $1,027 $500
North Dakota $393 $1,148 $755
Ohio $548 $1,106 $558
Oklahoma $561 $1,645 $1,084
Oregon $1,063 $1,782 $719
Pennsylvania $475 $1,303 $828
Rhode Island $977 $2,017 $1,040
South Carolina $524 $1,167 $643
South Dakota $330 $1,083 $753
Tennessee $499 $1,294 $795
Texas $826 $2,452 $1,626
Utah $695 $1,284 $589
Vermont $396 $1,035 $639
Virginia $431 $1,039 $608
Washington $545 $1,009 $464
West Virginia $635 $1,501 $866
Wisconsin $491 $1,084 $593
Wyoming $329 $1,085 $756
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.
NerdWallet’s rating: 4.0 / 5
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
2. State Farm
State Farm car insurance
NerdWallet’s rating: 4.0 / 5
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
NerdWallet’s rating: 3.5 / 5
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
NerdWallet’s rating: 4.0 / 5
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
NerdWallet’s rating: 4.5 / 5
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.
Cheapest car insurance in your state
Click your state to find the cheapest car insurance there
Alabama Alaska Arizona
Arkansas California Colorado
Connecticut Delaware District of Columbia
Florida Georgia Hawaii
Idaho Illinois Indiana
Iowa Kansas Kentucky
Louisiana Maine Maryland
Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota
Mississippi Missouri Montana
Nebraska Nevada New Hampshire
New Jersey New Mexico New York
North Carolina North Dakota Ohio
Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania
Rhode Island South Carolina South Dakota
Tennessee Texas Utah
Vermont Virginia Washington
West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming
How to get the cheapest possible insurance
No matter who your auto insurance company is, here are tips for saving on your policy:
Look for discounts — even ask for them. There could be discounts you’re not taking advantage of. For instance, maybe you retired and are driving less than when you bought your policy. Mention it and you might get a low-mileage discount.
Rethink insurance limits and deductibles. A higher collision and comprehensive deductible might make sense if you rarely drive or are financially comfortable with the risk. Raising deductibles means you’d owe more out of pocket if you had to file a comprehensive or collision claim, but it’s a surefire way to get cheaper car insurance.
Know when to cut coverage. Don’t strip away coverage just for the sake of a lower price. You’ll need full coverage car insurance to satisfy the terms of an auto loan, and you’ll want it as long as your car would be a financial burden to replace. But for older cars, you can drop comprehensive and collision coverage, which only pay out up to your car’s current value, minus the deductible.
Cash in on major life changes. Certain life events could translate to cheaper car insurance. For instance, many companies offer a lower rate for married couples or domestic partners. Or perhaps you moved to a suburb with lower accident and crime rates. If your risk for accidents goes down, your rates just might, too.
How I Chose the Best Cheap Car Insurance Companies
First, I found the top five to seven insurance providers in each state by selecting companies with above-average customer satisfaction ratings from J.D. Power and high financial strength marks from A.M. Best. Why? Because cheap auto insurance policies are great, but purchasing them from unreliable or fickle insurers could wind up being far more expensive down the road.
Then, with some help from the team at The Simple Dollar, we applied for over 250 quotes both online and over the phone from my pool of auto insurance companies from all 50 states. Each member of the team used personal information during the quote process to ensure that we could see who was consistently cheapest across the country with a handful of scenarios. What did remain the same, however, was the amount coverage we applied for: each state’s minimum coverage. No frills, no extras; just the absolute minimum coverage to legally drive on the road.
Next, I tallied and compared how many times each company had the first, second, or third cheapest yearly premium. I awarded five points for first place, three points for second place, and one point for third place.
As it turns out, the cheap car insurance market is dominated by three main providers: GEICO, State Farm, and Progressive. (The other 25 insurers didn’t even score high enough to register in my test.) And, as you can see below, GEICO was the overwhelming victor.
Insurer # of 1st Place Awards # of 2nd Place Awards # of 3rd Place Awards Total Score
GEICO 19 16 2 145
State Farm 12 14 12 114
Progressive 7 5 3 53
GEICO was the cheapest option in 19 of the 50 states. It was also one of the three most affordable options 75 percent of the time, and its best offer was often hundreds of dollars cheaper than the next-best competitor. Take these annual quotes for New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington for example.
New York Pennsylvania Washington
GEICO: $329 GEICO: $225 GEICO: $623
Allstate: $538 State Farm: $394 Allstate: $898
*Note: Occasionally, the reason GEICO was able to beat its competition by such a large margin was because the other insurers required slightly more coverage than the state mandated.
The gecko-loving company is without a doubt the most consistently affordable option out there, so it deserves a shopper’s consideration. And, it’s true, according to my research, it is safe to say that 15 minutes could often save you “15 percent or more” on a state-minimum policy. However, its range of coverages and discounts don’t particularly shine when compared to a competitor like Allstate. Allstate customers enjoy prepay discounts, low-mileage discounts, interior vehicle coverage, and new car replacement — all of which are not offered at GEICO.
When it comes to customer service ratings, GEICO doesn’t have anything to write home about. (It fell just under the industry average according to JD Power.) But, if you’re dead-set on purchasing the least amount of insurance that you possibly need, then GEICO is your best bet.
State Farm had a lower overall score than GEICO, but wound up in the top three a total of 38 times (GEICO only placed 37 times). When State Farm placed, it usually fell between $30 to $50 dollars of the competition. Though, it occasionally would surprise me with a GEICO-like rate. The two best examples of this are Minnesota and South Carolina. In Minnesota, State Farm was $120 cheaper than American Family, and in South Carolina it beat GEICO by a whopping $223.
Quotes aside, State Farm is the nation’s largest auto insurer. It ranks consistently well for customer satisfaction and rates above average in most of the regions of the J.D. Power survey. It also earns A.M. Best’s top marks (A++) for financial strength. All that’s to say it is a great choice if you can spare a few extra dollars each month. Plus, it has the best tools of any auto insurance provider out there, including mobile bill pay, mobile claim filing, and a pay-by-bank account option.
Progressive only placed 1st in seven states, and when it did, it was usually less than $20 ahead of the runner-up (which was usually GEICO). That doesn’t mean Progressive is never a viable option, though. Consider the state of Montana, where Progressive came in $22 cheaper for the year. So for less than $2 more each month, a Montana driver could take advantage of mobile claims filing, loyalty discounts, prepay discounts, and low-mileage discounts that GEICO doesn’t offer.
Where to Find Car Insurance Discounts
Once you’ve seen some quotes, you need to master discounts — the key to cheap car insurance rates. Many insurers have a wide variety of overlooked deductions that go beyond bundling or insuring multiple vehicles, and some of them are less obvious than you may think.
Driving education is a discount opportunity many don’t know exist. Drivers who pass an accredited driver’s ed class or defensive driving training are eligible for a sizeable price reduction. The amount of this discount isn’t standardized across the nation or with insurers, but according to DriversEd.com, some drivers might welcome as much as a 10% decrease in their bill. Plus, if you’ve recently received a ticket, enrolling in a defensive driving course can prevent the premium hike on your insurance (most companies only let you do this once every 12 months).
Defensive driving courses cover topics such as traffic laws, drug- and alcohol-impaired driving, and inclement-weather driving and are often available online or at commercial driving schools. Courses for defensive driving can be found through your local DMV or community center. Most run about six hours long and cost anywhere from $50 to $300 a person.
After completing a defensive driving course, participants will receive a certificate that can be presented to insurance companies to qualify for a discount. Depending on the insurance company, drivers may also have to retake the course and be current on their certification in order to continue receiving the discount.
If you aren’t the only person covered on your auto policy, consider getting all the drivers on your policy — especially teens, as they are expensive to insure — to take a defensive driving course and you will be eligible for additional discounts.
Good Student Discounts
These discounts are typically given to drivers under the age of 25 who are enrolled full time at a high school or college or university and are maintaining at least a 3.0 grade point average (or are on the honor roll or dean’s list).
What about the savings? According to CarInsurance.com, the discount can range anywhere from 5% to 10%, making it one of the most profitable and achievable discounts of all. Consider Travelers, which offers good students up to 8% off.
In order to prove satisfactory academic achievement and receive the discount, students need a current transcript or a letter signed by a school administrator. Students who are homeschooled can present standardized test results, such as their SAT or ACT scores, that are within a desired percentile range in order to qualify. Good grades can continue saving you money after graduation as some insurance companies extend this discount to post-grads for a limited time.
If you’re a student, or the parent of a student, you can learn even more at The Simple Dollar’s student guide to car insurance.
Drivers with a clean driving record — a standard that is determined by each individual insurance provider — are eligible for hefty discounts. Having a squeaky clean record not only gives you a discount opportunity; it can also save you a lot more money in the short term.
There is no universal definition of safe driving, though. Insurance companies generally mean avoiding collisions and accidents for which you can be found at fault, and moving violations such as speeding, driving under the influence, or reckless driving.
Resident student discounts
These discounts can be offered to students attending college more than 100 miles away from home. They are intended to be used exclusively by those students who are not planning to drive the insured vehicle while at school but may use it while they are home for vacations.
Other Discounts to Consider
Active-duty military and veterans discounts
Car alarm systems or other safety equipment discounts
Paid-in-full or prepay discounts
Occupation and member discounts
Low mileage discounts
One of the most important things you can do while shopping is to ask the insurance company for a complete list of discounts because not all may be advertised.
Major Car Insurance Types
Though companies offer several more nuanced options and add-ons, the three major types of auto insurance boil down to:
Liability coverage, required by law in most states, covers the other driver’s personal injury and property damage in a crash where you’re found to be at fault. It does not cover your own injuries or property damage. Buying only liability insurance is always going to be your cheapest option, though not necessarily the wisest. (Sometimes it makes sense to carry only liability coverage, and sometimes it doesn’t.)
You’ll probably see your liability coverage written like this on your quote or car insurance policy: $50,000/$100,000/$50,000 (or 50/100/50). That means you have $50,000 in bodily injury coverage for each person, $100,000 in bodily injury coverage total, and $50,000 in coverage for property damage. Each state requires its own minimum amount of liability insurance.
Buying the bare minimum is tempting since it will keep your rates as low as possible. Unfortunately, that’s a bad idea — a bad crash can mean your costs will easily surpass low state minimums, and then you’ll have to pay up. In North Carolina for example, its minimum for bodily injury is $30,000, but the average cost of a non-fatal disabling auto-wreck injury is over $60,000. If you only have the state’s minimum coverage, you could wind up paying over $30,000 out of pocket. And if you don’t have that kind of money laying around, your other assets become vulnerable.
Collision coverage covers the damage to your car sustained in a crash. This most commonly covers accidents when you’re found to be at fault, but it may also pay in certain circumstances when another driver is at fault, or in scenarios not covered under your other policies.
The cost of your collision coverage will largely depend on your car’s value, but you do control the deductible — the amount you pay out of pocket before your insurance company picks up the rest of the tab.
True to its name, comprehensive car insurance covers almost any car-related calamity you can think of minus damage resulting from a crash. Instead, comprehensive policies pay for things like auto theft, damage from severe weather, or needed repairs after a late-night rendezvous with a disoriented deer.
Comprehensive coverage is meant to complement collision coverage, not replace it. Like collision coverage, the cost will depend on your car, but you control your deductible.
What types of car insurance do I really need?
Comprehensive and collision coverage seem like a smart choice, but they come with a much heftier price tag than liability-only insurance. If you took out a loan to pay for your car, you probably don’t have a choice — your lender will require proof of comprehensive and collision coverage. Dropping this coverage usually isn’t a good idea for anyone without the savings to pay for repairs out of pocket.
But, there are situations when opting only for liability makes sense. For instance, if you drive an older, paid-off vehicle that you can easily fix or replace, keeping only liability coverage can mean significant savings. Comprehensive and collision coverage may also be overkill on any car you drive sparingly.
To see how much I would save on auto insurance by nixing all coverage but liability, I plugged a few stats into a quote generator. I used the persona of a married male in his early 30s driving a paid-off 2011 Hyundai Sonata. I said he lives in a small Southern city, has a clean driving record, and averages 12,000 miles a year. A policy with 50/100/50 in liability, as well as comprehensive and collision policies with $250 deductibles, would set him back $45 a month. Dropping the comprehensive and collision policies would bring my bill down to just $24 a month — almost half the the cost.
Would I personally drop my comprehensive and collision policies? No, because my 2013 Jeep Patriot is still relatively new and would cost a significant sum to repair or replace. My brother, however, drives a 1984 Ford F150. At best, it’s worth around $3,000 — and his policy is only $19 a month! For him, dropping comprehensive and collision coverage made a lot more sense.
The bottom line: Liability coverage is your cheapest option and meets the legal requirement, but dropping collision and comprehensive coverage might be a risky move if it would be a major financial hardship to fix or replace your car after an accident.
Add-Ons and Other Types of Coverages
There are a number of other coverage types and add-ons, some of which may be required in certain states. Of particular note is personal injury protection, which pays your medical expenses after a crash.
If you’re trying to keep your bill low, personal injury coverage probably isn’t a smart buy as long as you have a good health insurance plan — there would be too much overlap between the two policies.
There are also uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages, which get you off the hook after a crash where the other driver is at fault but doesn’t carry enough (or any) insurance and can’t afford to pay. Other add-ons pay for rental cars while your car is being fixed and for roadside assistance.
As for other little add-ons, consider skipping them. If you can cover the cost of a rental (or borrow a car from a friend while you’re in a jam), rental-car riders are unnecessary, and a AAA membership is often a better deal than roadside assistance coverage if you have an older vehicle.
What car insurance is required in my state?
Each state has different requirements when it comes to car insurance. Many simply require liability insurance (both bodily injury and property damage). Others go a step or two further, requiring add-ons such as personal injury protection and uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Visit the table below and locate your state to find your state’s requirements.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, here are the kinds of insurance each state requires as of September 2015, as well as the minimum required amounts of liability insurance. The only state that does not require liability insurance is New Hampshire; however, that state still mandates that you show you have sufficient funds to meet state requirements if you’re at fault in a crash.
Types of insurance required Minimum required liability insurance
Alabama Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 25/50/25
Alaska Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 50/100/25
Arizona Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 15/30/10
Arkansas Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection 25/50/25
California Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 15/30/5
Colorado Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 25/50/15
Connecticut Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist 20/40/10
Delaware Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection 15/30/10
District of Columbia Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection, uninsured motorist 25/50/10
Florida Property damage liability, personal injury protection 10/20/10
Georgia Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 25/50/25
Hawaii Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection 20/40/10
Idaho Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 25/50/15
Illinois Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist 25/50/20
Indiana Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 25/50/10
Iowa Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 20/40/15
Kansas Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist 25/50/10
Kentucky Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection 25/50/10
Louisiana Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 15/30/25
Maine Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist, medical payments 50/100/25
Maryland Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist 30/60/15
Massachusetts Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist 20/40/5
Michigan Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection 20/40/10
Minnesota Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist 30/60/10
Mississippi Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 25/50/25
Missouri Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist 25/50/10
Montana Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 25/50/10
Nebraska Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist 25/50/25
Nevada Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 15/30/10
New Hampshire Uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist, medical payments 25/50/25 (minimum available in NH, but not required by state law if you show sufficient funds)
New Jersey Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist 15/30/5
New Mexico Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 25/50/10
New York Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection, uninsured motorist,wrongful death 25/50/10
North Carolina Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist 30/60/25
North Dakota Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist 25/50/25
Ohio Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 25/50/25
Oklahoma Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 25/50/25
Oregon Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist 25/50/25
Pennsylvania Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection 15/30/5
Rhode Island Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 25/50/25
South Carolina Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist 25/50/25
South Dakota Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist 25/50/25
Tennessee Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 25/50/15
Texas Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 30/60/25
Utah Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection 25/65/15
Vermont Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist 25/50/10
Virginia Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist 25/50/20
Washington Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 25/50/10
West Virginia Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist 25/40/10
Wisconsin Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist 25/50/10
Wyoming Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 25/50/20
Six Tips to Find Cheap Auto Insurance
Certain factors that affect your car insurance rates are largely beyond your control. These include basic demographics such as your age, gender, marital status, location, and job.
But other factors, including what and how you drive, are easier to change. So, comparison shop, exploit discounts, and consider bundling policies to find the cheapest car insurance companies, too.
It’s a no-brainer, but it always pays to shop around for cheaper car insurance. Instead of wasting time making endless phone calls or filling out the same information on dozens of websites, save time by using an online quote tool. Online quote tools help you get a quick snapshot of potential rates from several auto-insurance companies at once.
More importantly, getting multiple auto insurance quotes helps you avoid becoming a victim to something called price optimization. Price optimization is the devious practice of of establishing rates based upon how much insurance companies think customers are comfortable paying.
Earnix, a pricing analytics platform, found that 45% of larger insurance companies use this tactic to maximize their profits. These insurers mine and analyze a ton of personal data, like credit scores and web shopping habits, to determine how likely you are to leave them for another auto insurance company. The bottom line is this: Auto insurance companies are going to charge you based upon how much money they believe they can comfortably squeeze from your pocket, not who you are as a driver.
Getting new quotes on the regular is the best way to avoid price optimization because, just like other personal data, insurers can see how often you shop around. The more you do it, the less likely they are to risk upping your premium and lose you as a customer.
Search Affordable Car Insurance Options Near You
Enter your ZIP code below and be sure to click at least 2-3 companies to find the very best rate.
Many car insurance companies will give you a discount if you have other policies with them. For instance, you may get a break on car insurance if you use the same provider for life, home, or renter’s policies. Bundled policies are convenient, too; you’ll be dealing with only one bill and one company.
A note of caution: Don’t automatically assume bundles will save you money. Companies that offer only auto insurance may offer compelling discounts to keep your business. Sometimes that means you get cheaper car insurance if you keep policies with separate insurers.
Boost Your Deductible
Your deductible is what you pay out of pocket before your insurance covers the rest of the cost to fix or replace your car. A plan with a $250 deductible will generally cost more than one with a $1,000 deductible.
For a real-world example, I plugged my mock persona into a quote generator from Progressive, changing only the deductible to see how it would affect my rate. As mentioned earlier, I used a married male in his early 30s driving a 2011 Hyundai Sonata. He lives in a small Southern city, has a clean driving record, and averages 12,000 miles a year.
With a $100 deductible on comprehensive and collision coverage, he would pay roughly $120 a month. Raising that deductible to $250 brought the bill down to about $100 a month. A $500 deductible reduced the monthly bill to $90, and a $1,000 deductible pushed it all the way down to $82. That means he could save $456 a year by choosing the $1,000 deductible instead of the $100 deductible — not a bad sum.
However, raising your deductible is only a good move if you have cash stashed away to pay the higher deductible in case of a crash or other calamity. Also keep in mind that factors such as your age and driving record will affect how much raising your deductible will actually save you.
Drive a Low-Risk Car
Luxury cars are always the most expensive to insure. These cars have the power to go extremely fast, and insurance companies know their drivers are more likely to get into trouble. These cars also cost a lot more to fix and are attractive targets for thieves — all situations your insurance company wants to avoid.
The most expensive 2015 car to insure, the 600-horsepower Nissan GT-R Nismo, will set you back about $3,574 a year in car insurance, according to Insure.com. Right behind it are a slew of high-powered or luxury rides including the Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Convertible, Dodge SRT Viper, Porsche 911 Carrera S Cabriolet, and Audi R8 5.2 Spyder Quattro, all of which still top $3,000 a year.
If you don’t have six figures to drop on a car, here’s some good news: Family-friendly vehicles including minivans, sedans, and smaller SUVs cost the least to insure. Their drivers tend to be more careful, ultimately filing fewer claims. These vehicles are simpler to fix and they aren’t quite as tempting for thieves.
The cheapest car to insure, the Jeep Wrangler Sport, will set you back only about $1,134 a year in premiums. The Jeep Patriot Sport, Honda CR-V LX, Dodge Journey SXT, and Honda Odyssey EX-L are similarly easy on the wallet.
Ultimately, the choice is yours, but a less-glamorous ride can help you nab cheap auto insurance.
Change Your Driving Habits
Insurance is all about risk. If you get a speeding ticket every month, your bill will skyrocket. If you’ve had a clean driving record for years, you will have cheaper car insurance. Unfortunately, cleaning up a spotty driving record can take time.
Driving less is the simplest, easiest way to change your driving habits. Consider your options carefully: Can you carpool? Work from home? Use mass transit or even move closer to your job? All of these options can help you save since less time behind the wheel means less chance of a claim. Be sure to tell your insurer about your new habits.
Maintain Good Credit
It may seem unfair, but the vast majority of car insurance companies look at your credit score to help determine your rate. If you have good credit, your insurer assumes you’ll be more responsible behind the wheel. Bad credit means you’re statistically more likely to file a claim, insurers say.
According to consumer advocacy group United Policyholders, a rock-bottom credit score could mean you’ll pay double, triple, or even quadruple over someone with a perfect credit score. This controversial practice is illegal in four states: California, Hawaii, Maryland, and Massachusetts. If you don’t live in those states, you’ll want to work on your credit score in your quest for cheap auto insurance.
It’s Time to Save on Car Insurance
A little legwork now can save you big in the long run, so remember to re-evaluate your car insurance at least annually. Your own changing circumstances and old-fashioned competition between insurers always has the potential to hook you a cheap car insurance policy.
How can I save on car insurance?
We all know those insurance commercials: they all advertise their «fantastic» rates and somehow they’re all the cheapest. But when you read between the lines, you begin to see that cheap isn’t always the way to go with protecting your car. Still, here at The Zebra, we believe there are always ways to save on insurance without having to sacrifice quality or service. So, if you want good coverage and a cheap rate, look no further than here.
In this article, we’ll discuss:
How can I get cheaper car insurance?
Why is my rate so high?
What are some ways I can get discounts on my insurance?
Is cheap always the way to go?
What’s the cheapest company for me?
Where to buy
If you’re in the market to buy car insurance, your best place to look is online. Because there are many factors that determine your rate, you shouldn’t get too attached to a company as the amount of variance is considerable. Your best bet is to shop multiple companies in order to see which company offers the best rate. Only with us can you shop hundreds of different companies at once using your specific information to get the best rate.
Your rate is very specific to you
There is a myriad of factors that determine your rate including your location, the specifics of you personally, your insurance history, your driving history, and what you drive. So, if you have lots of at-fault accidents or claims, it’s going to negatively affect your rate. Furthermore, if your credit history is poor or your zipcode has (which usually a higher amounts of uninsured motorists, you might not be able to find cheap auto insurance. So, that’s why we’re here. How can you get really cheap car insurance?
For more information what exactly goes into your rates, see here.
How you can save
We get it. You can’t just improve your credit score over night because it’s having a hard time finding cheap auto insurance. Just like there are times when you don’t want to sacrifice customer service and claims satisfaction just to save a few bucks. Let’s break down the most common discounts and how much you can save.
This discount refers to having two types of insurance policies under one insurer. Common policies are home/auto or renters/auto. Between a home/auto discount and a renters/auto discount, the discount is greater for the former — with homeowners saving an average of $110 per year while a renter typically saves an average of $72 on their car insurance rate. The discount affects both your policies, but the amount above refers to your auto insurance only.
Average Savings for Bundlings
Telematics, or usage-based insurance, is a growing trend in the insurance industry. Basically, it uses an in-car device to track your driving habits. And, based on how you drive, will determine an insurance premium that is more representative of the kind of risk you actually are to your insurer. Currently, your age, credit history, and location are all big rating factors in most states for your premium that aren’t directly tied to how you drive. Here are some insurers and corresponding potential discounts for telematics.
Company Estimated Savings
Progressive’s SnapShot Average of $130
Allstate’s Drivewise Average of 10-25%
State Farm’s Drive Safe & Save Up to 15%
Esurance’s DriveSense Varies
Nationwide’s SmartRide Up to 40%
Liberty Mutual’s RightTrack Average of 5-30%
Consider, however, that not every state participates in these programs. Check with your company to see if you are eligible.
Be smart with your coverage
By this, we are referring to the sad truth that your 03 Pontiac isn’t growing in value over time. So, if you have an older vehicle, it might not require the same coverage that a newer vehicle would — aka comprehensive and collision insurance. Here are some easy steps to consider when thinking about your coverage options.
Using Kelley Blue Book as well as the NADA (National Automobile Dealers Association), determine the market value of your vehicle.
Using the information from step 1, look at the difference in price between having full coverage (comprehensive and collision) and having only liability. If the amount of money you save in premium from losing full coverage is not enough to cover or replace your vehicle (which you determined from step 1), keep these coverages.
If you determine that you still need comprehensive and collision coverage, consider raising your deductible. By raising your deductible, you lower your premium as you assume a greater amount of financial responsibility if your vehicle is totaled.
Note: Even if you remove these optional coverages, you would still need to keep your bodily injury and property damage coverage, and we recommend keeping your uninsured/underinsured coverage as well.
Defensive Driver Discount
This discount entails taking an actual defensive driving course and then presenting your insurance company with proof (sometimes a receipt or transcript) of it. The logic behind this discount is clear: a safer driver makes you a cheaper client because you’re less likely to have a claim. Before you take the course, however, make sure your insurance company offers the discount first. Not every insurance company will honor the discount and some have specific guidelines for the courses you are allowed to take.
If your car comes with anti-theft devices or if you have services like LoJack, your insurance company usually provides a discount. The discounts tend to be smaller than a multi-policy or defensive driver discount, but can still help with making premium payments. On average, using a disabling anti-theft device can save you an average of $11 per year.
Average Savings from Safety Devices
Safety/Anti-Theft Device Avg Annual Premium Discount
Passive Disabling Device $1,312 $10
Tracking Device $1,314 $9
Audible Alarm $1,317 $6
Electronic Stability Control $1,318 $5
Good Driver Discount
Naturally, this discount is offered to you if you have a clean driving record, meaning no accidents or citations. This is typically a 10% discount and a lot of times it is automatically added to your policy when your Motor Vehicle Report or CLUE report is pulled at the inception of your auto policy. Still, if you are sure you have a clean driving record (meaning no at-fault accidents or violations) and are not receiving any discount, speak with your insurance company and ask if they offer a discount for good drivers. The added bonus of this discount is how costly any type of violations or accident can be. So, by keeping a clean driving record, you get the discount as well as avoid these costly penalties, featured below.
Average Increase in Annual Premium in 2016
Accident/Violation 6 Month Premium Increase
Speeding 11 — 15 MPH Over Limit $141
Speeding 16 — 20 MPH Over Limit $153
Speeding 21 — 25 MPH Over Limit $165
At-Fault Accident $306
Reckless Driving $499
Many companies offer discounts for active or former military members and their families. The amount and qualifications differ per company but you should ask if your current company has this discount.
Like a multi-policy discount, a multi-car discount refers to having more than one car with a single insurance company. Typically, the discount is automatically added either at the policy inception (if two cars were originally added) or when you add the second vehicle to the policy.
Preferred Payment Discount
This discount refers to the manner in which you make your insurance payments and has tiers, typically. For example, if you pay your entire premium up front, you are often given a discount which is usually the highest preferred payment discount. On average, a paid in full discount can save $62 per year on your auto policy. Moreover, if you set up automatic payments from a bank account, you can often receive an “EFT discount.” Here, EFT refers to electronic funds transfer and can save about $28 annually. If you are able to pay upfront or through automatic payments, this is a discount worth considering.
Average Rates by Electronic Funds Transfer
Yes No Savings
$1,295 $1,322 $27
Average Rates by Payment Plans
Paid In Full Installments Savings
$1,261 $1,323 $61
This discount goes by many names but the idea is the same. Some insurance companies will offer a discount based on your occupation. Statistically, some occupations like teachers, physicians, or police officers are less likely to file a claim and thus pose less of a risk. Because of this, some insurance companies return the savings back to you. Usually, they will require you to submit some type of proof of your profession—a photocopy of your degree is common.
If you’d like more information on profession-based discounts, see our other articles here.
Good Student Discount
If you have a young driver, you understand how expensive they can be to your insurance policy. Given the number of claims they cause, teenagers look like considerable risks for insurance companies and they charge accordingly for them. If your son or daughter has the grades, typically above a 3.0 GPA, speak with your insurance company about a good student discount. Normally, they’ll ask for a transcript every policy period (6-12 months) as proof.
Average Savings for Good Student and Good Driver Discount
Average Teen Average Male Teen Average Female Teen
$283 $360 $207
Sometimes, cheap isn’t the best way to go
You’ve heard the phrase “you get what you pay for.” Well, it’s the same for car insurance. Sometimes an auto insurance company is cheap simply because they offer very little in terms of customer support or because they cut corners in their claims process—leaving you to pick up the pieces. This is something to consider if an easy and reliable claims process or customer satisfaction is important to you when looking for cheap auto insurance options.
At the end of the day, even with all the discounts, your car insurance rate can still be very expensive. You could be following all our advice and still be spending too much money on auto insurance. Because of this, we recommend you shop for car insurance every 6 months to ensure you’re getting the best possible rate.