Buckle your seatbelt – we’re about to shop for car insurance.

 
 

Shopping for car insurance can be difficult—between comparing rates, providers, and coverage options, there is a lot of information to consider. This article will help you navigate the important details. We'll explain how to find the lowest rates while securing the coverage you need. Our review team has already reviewed dozens of providers and compiled a list of the best car insurance companies in the business, ranking insurers based on price, customer service, and financial stability. When you're ready to start comparing options, this list is a good place to start.

If you are looking for a step-by-step walkthrough to help you purchase a car insurance policy, check out our nine easy steps on how to buy car insuranceTo start shopping for car insurance right away, enter your zip code into our free tool above.

 

In this article:

Types Of Car Insurance Coverage

One of the first things you need to decide when shopping for car insurance the type and amount of coverage you'll need. While each state has minimum coverage requirements, most people purchase more than the minimum to protect themselves financially.

Here are the main types of car insurance you will be offered:

  • Liability coverage is a combination of bodily injury liability (BI) and property damage liability (PD). This type of insurance covers you against costs associated with damages to other people and their property. It's also an insurance requirement in most states.
  • Collision insurance covers the cost of damages to your car in the case that you get into a collision with another car or an object.
  • Comprehensive coverage protects your car against damages that aren’t due to a collision, such as theft, vandalism, natural disasters, civil disturbances, and more.
  • Medical payments insurance (MedPay) covers the costs of vehicle-related medical treatments for both yourself and your passengers, regardless of who was at fault in the case of an accident (not available in all states).
  • Personal injury protection (PIP) covers medical treatments, similarly to MedPay, but it also covers other injury-related losses, such as lost wages from days you were unable to work.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM) covers you when you get into an accident with a motorist who doesn’t have sufficient insurance and can’t cover your expenses.

While shopping for car insurance, you may also see coverage for things like roadside assistance plans, accident forgiveness insurance, gap insurance, and rental car reimbursement. You can add raise or lower your coverage limits for each type of insurance, though you can’t elect coverages below state minimum requirements.

If the quote looks too expensive, don’t panic. You can edit your coverage levels to adjust your total price. However, while you might save money with less coverage, you’ll increase your risk.

 


 

What Car Insurance Coverage Do I Need?

The amount of coverage you need depends largely on two factors: your state and your vehicle. At the very least, you will need to purchase the state minimum-required coverage. In most states, this includes liability coverage. Some states also require uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and/or personal injury protection policies. Check with your local DMV to learn what coverage is required in your state.

Comprehensive and collision coverage is not required, but a good idea for most drivers. These policies are worth the cost if you couldn't afford to replace your car yourself should the worst happen. If your vehicle is not especially valuable, the cost of comprehensive and collision insurance may not be worth it. As a general rule of thumb, you should consider skipping this coverage if the amount you pay for coverage each year exceeds ten percent of your car's total value.

 


 

How Much Does Car Insurance Cost?

When shopping for car insurance, it pays to understand average prices as well as how prices are calculated. Car insurance rates vary widely based on many factors related to the driver and vehicle being insured. Every company uses a different formula to calculate rates, meaning car insurance quotes will vary from insurer to insurer. Different drivers will find the lowest rates with different companies which is why it’s important to get multiple quotes before you purchase a policy.

Factors That Affect Your Car Insurance Quote

Some common factors that car insurance providers consider when setting rates are:

  • Age: Younger drivers are typically charged more for auto insurance. Drivers will start to see lower rates after the age of 25. Rates tend to decrease until around 50.
  • Credit score: A better credit score can net you better rates. California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, and New Jersey have banned the practice of using credit scores to determine auto insurance rates.
  • Coverage needed: Every state has its own minimum coverage requirements, but drivers can always purchase more than the state-required coverage. Higher policy limits and more add-ons will increase your premiums.
  • Deductible: Collision and comprehensive car insurance policies typically come with a deductible that must be paid before the insurer will reimburse claims. The higher this deductible is set, the lower your monthly premiums will be.
  • Driving record: Drivers with a clean driving record receive the lowest rates. Speeding violations, at-fault accidents, and DUIs can drastically increase your rates.
  • Gender: In some states, men are charged more for can insurance than women and in others women are charged more than men. California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania have banned insurers from setting rates based on gender.
  • Location: Every state has different insurance regulations and requirements, meaning premiums vary from state to state. Premiums are also different from city to city. If you live in a city with high accident or theft rates, expect the auto insurance rates to be higher as well.
  • Miles driven: The more you drive, the higher your rates may be. Those who don't drive very often are typically eligible for low-mileage discounts.
  • Vehicle: The value, safety ratings, and theft rates for your particular vehicle may be used to set rates. Expensive cars are more costly to replace and therefore will have higher collision and comprehensive premiums. Cars that are more commonly involved in accidents or with high theft rates are also more costly to insure.

 

Average Car Insurance Rates Based On Age

Age can have a huge influence on your car insurance rates, as young drivers and teen drivers are statically more likely to get into a car accident, thereby posing a higher risk to insurance providers. To give you a better idea of what your car insurance premium may look like, we included this data from The Zebra’s State of Auto Insurance report. The average premiums are on policies with 50/100/50 liability limits and a $500 deductible for comprehensive and collision coverage.

Age Group

Average Yearly Premium

16 to 17 

$6,100

18 to 19 

$4,334

20 to 24

$2,350

25 to 29

$1,608

30 to 39

$1,449

40 to 49

$1,396

50 to 59

$1,296

60 to 69

$1,325

70 to 79

$1,556

80+

$2,847

 

Drivers between the ages of 30 and 65 typically find the best car insurance rates on average, as this age group generally has many years of driving experience but do not yet have problems with vision and cognitive abilities that may come with old age.

 


 

Average Car Insurance Rates Based On Location

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) releases a report each year that measure the average cost of auto insurance by state. Data is collected from three years prior so the most recent (2021) NAIC cost report measures averages from 2018. The table below shows average premiums by state.

State

Liability Average Premium

Collision Average Premium

Comprehensive Average Premium

Combined Average Premium

Alabama $511.13 $380.51 $175.28 $1,066.92
Alaska $576.09 $387.12 $147.87 $1,111.07
Arizona $646.75 $326.28 $208.25 $1,181.29
Arkansas $486.72 $375.25 $235.36 $1,097.33
California $616.51 $483.60 $94.72 $1,194.83
Colorado $687.40 $330.50 $272.44 $1,290.34
Connecticut $784.70 $407.54 $133.86 $1,326.09
Delaware $900.32 $352.86 $140.52 $1,393.70
District of Columbia $809.41 $535.96 $228.71 $1,574.09
Florida $1,009.94 $361.79 $149.26 $1,520.99
Georgia $797.80 $408.41 $176.31 $1,382.52
Hawaii $479.27 $357.78 $107.66 $944.70
Idaho $425.89 $262.67 $139.75 $828.32
Illinois $515.94 $339.04 $140.57 $995.55
Indiana $442.69 $286.49 $135.63 $864.82
Iowa $348.87 $252.65 $214.65 $816.18
Kansas $421.78 $287.24 $276.33 $985.34
Kentucky $611.54 $312.51 $164.68 $1,088.73
Louisiana $1,015.36 $487.44 $248.57 $1,751.37
Maine $374.59 $294.80 $113.33 $782.72
Maryland $737.73 $422.06 $167.61 $1,327.40
Massachusetts $658.47 $440.55 $147.06 $1,246.08
Michigan $952.15 $479.11 $159.08 $1,590.35
Minnesota $499.48 $265.74 $206.45 $971.66
Mississippi $538.35 $372.17 $239.34 $1,149.85
Missouri $520.45 $315.49 $216.92 $1,052.86
Montana $435.81 $283.65 $306.00 $1,025.46
Nebraska $429.35 $272.48 $260.97 $962.79
Nevada $900.40 $366.54 $119.28 $1,386.22
New Hampshire $436.76 $327.30 $118.58 $882.65
New Jersey $955.93 $414.39 $130.26 $1,500.58
New Mexico $576.81 $311.24 $214.10 $1,102.15
New York $920.25 $457.77 $180.64 $1,558.66
North Carolina $391.29 $342.13 $137.45 $870.87
North Dakota $307.97 $279.45 $256.76 $844.18
Ohio $448.59 $302.57 $130.74 $881.91
Oklahoma $508.89 $346.73 $267.99 $1,123.61
Oregon $689.74 $280.61 $106.87 $1,077.22
Pennsylvania $555.42 $376.21 $169.21 $1,100.84
Rhode Island $885.33 $474.58 $140.40 $1,500.31
South Carolina $702.37 $318.08 $207.09 $1,227.54
South Dakota $333.44 $244.47 $327.11 $905.02
Tennessee $477.07 $355.01 $163.83 $995.91
Texas $659.47 $442.88 $269.90 $1,372.25
Utah $601.77 $309.20 $127.53 $1,038.50
Vermont $376.99 $329.47 $147.81 $854.27
Virginia $492.68 $316.05 $ 148.25 $956.98
Washington $689.18 $312.65 $118.19 $1,120.02
West Virginia $521.74 $350.20 $224.86 $1,096.80
Wisconsin $422.28 $247.95 $159.82 $830.06
Wyoming $356.25 $297.61 $317.22 $971.07

Your own rates may vary depending on your driver profile. Use the table above to get some idea of average rates by which you can compare any offers you may receive. Keep in mind that if you live in a populated city with a lot of traffic, your rates are likely to be higher than the state average.

 


 

Common Discounts

While car insurance can seem very expensive, many insurance providers offer extensive insurance discounts which can help lower the overall cost of your insurance premium. Discounts vary between companies, but here are a few common ones:

Accident-free

Claim-free

Low mileage

Defensive driving

Safe driver

Military

Usage-based

Good student

Corporate

Academic

Senior

Homeowner

Paid in full

Paperless billing

Student away at school

Company loyalty

Safety features

Multi-policy

Autopay

New car

Anti-lock brakes

Anti-theft device

Multi-car

 

The next time you look at your insurance documents, see if you can find what your original price was before discounts are applied. It might surprise you. If you're looking for cheap car insurance, it's always best to leverage discounts.

Keep in mind that the cheapest car insurance is not necessarily your best option. Be sure to pick a provider that has a proven history of paying customer claims.

 


 

How To Get A Car Insurance Quote

An auto insurance quote an estimate of what you will pay for a car insurance policy with a potential carrier. Car insurance quotes are based on several factors related to the driver, the vehicle, and the location. Pricing differs between providers and is subject to change based on what information you choose to share.

When looking to get an insurance quote, you have three options:

  • Reach out to an independent insurance agent. This is a good idea if you have any questions about the process or just want some assistance. The local agent can also make sure that you’re getting all the discounts possible. An agent can work for one company, or they can be a broker and connect you with several insurance companies. If you use an insurance broker, you might have to pay a brokerage fee when you buy a policy.
  • Use an online comparison quote tool, such as the one above. This option is great for any individual who wants to compare multiple quotes on their own, as these quote forms give you insurance rates from providers in your area.
  • Go to the provider's website. If you already have a specific provider in mind, you can also go straight to its website and use its quote form. For example, if you're interested in Progressive car insurance or Esurance auto insurance, both companies have comparison tools on their sites, which allows you to compare the provider's quote to competitors' prices.

 


 

What Information Do You Need When Getting A Quote?

As mentioned, you will need to provide some personal information when getting a quote. The more information you provide during the quote process, the closer the estimate will be to your actual car insurance premium. Here’s what you'll need to shop for car insurance:

    • Information about you: You'll need to supply your date of birth, address, and driver’s license number. You’ll answer questions about your driving record and your insurance history. You might be asked about your military service, student status, and corporate affiliations for discount purposes.
    • Information about other drivers: You'll have to declare family members who live with you on your policy. This can include spouses, partners, and teenagers. You’ll have to provide their dates of birth, driver profiles, and insurance history.
    • Information about your vehicle(s): You’ll need to provide vehicle information including your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) and the address where it is stored. You’ll also answer questions about safety and anti-theft features on the vehicle for discount purposes.

 


 

Sample Quotes

We reached out for a car insurance quote for a married couple, ages 30 and 31, with no at-fault accidents in the last three years. Our test drivers owned a 2016 Chevrolet Colorado with 70,000 miles and a 2012 Toyota RAV4 with 110,000 miles. The quotes we received were for full coverage policies, and roadside assistance and rental car reimbursement were included. Keep in mind that these quotes do not include any discounts, which could drastically change the price for each provider.

Insurance Provider Monthly Payment 6-Month Premium Coverage Details

Geico

$126.13

$738.71

100/300/50 BI/PD and UM/UIM, $500 collision deductible, $500 comprehensive deductible, $2,000 MedPay, roadside assistance, and rental car reimbursement

Progressive

$96.36 for the first month, $97.33 for the next five months

$486.65

100/300/50 BI/PD and UM/UIM, $500 collision deductible, $500 comprehensive deductible, $2,000 MedPay, roadside assistance, and rental car reimbursement

State Farm

$159.88

$959.30

100/300/50 BI/PD and UM/UIM, $500 collision deductible, $500 comprehensive deductible, $2,000 MedPay, roadside assistance, and rental car reimbursement

USAA

$164.46

$986.76

100/300/50 BI/PD and UM/UIM, $500 collision deductible, $500 comprehensive deductible, $2,000 MedPay, roadside assistance, and rental car reimbursement

 


 

How Often Should You Shop For Car Insurance?

If you want to, you can shop for car insurance as often as your policy is up for renewal, which could be every six or twelve months. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for insurance companies to raise rates after the first term. If your premium is going up next term and you haven’t filed any claims, you can feel free to shop for car insurance and drop your current insurer if needed.

It can also be a good idea to shop for car insurance every six months even if you’re happy with your policy. Who knows, maybe a competitor just lowered its prices, or a new company just entered your local market. While you can get a loyalty discount for being with the same insurance company over a long period, you might save more by switching.

 


 

How Many Quotes Should You Compare?

There’s really no limit to the number of quotes that you can compare, besides how full you want your inbox to be. Getting more quotes just gives you a better idea of what’s available for your situation. However, we wouldn’t recommend buying a policy without comparing at least three different providers. The goal is to shop for car insurance from multiple sources and compare car insurance rates, not buy the first policy you see.

Comparing three quotes from insurers in your area gives you a good idea of what’s out there, though you could compare more. If you’re feeling energized, try to go for five to seven providers. Remember, try to compare apples to apples. Don’t compare auto insurance with $25,000 in property damage coverage to a policy with $100,000 in coverage.

 
 

If you want to compare all the best options in your area, use this free quote comparison tool:

 

 


 

Tips For Getting The Best Auto Insurance Rates

While you can’t control everything that affects your rates, there are a few ways to find the best options when you shop for car insurance.

  • Shop around: The more quotes you get, the better you can compare them and get a realistic picture of what you should be paying.
  • Be a good driver: Auto insurance companies like to see that you are a responsible driver and have little to no at-fault claims or tickets. Claims will raise your rates, while a clean driving record will lead to a lower premium.
  • Work on your credit: Many states allow credit scores to influence car insurance rates. A poor credit history can increase your rate, while a good score can lower it.
  • Increase your deductible: A higher deductible will lower your insurance premiums, but make sure you can still pay it if you have to.
  • Bundle if you can: Depending on your situation, you could save by bundling your auto policy with a renters or homeowners policy.
  • Don’t move to the big city: If you’re looking to move somewhere new, consider a suburb or metro area away from downtown. Drivers in middle-class suburbs usually get better rates.
  • Choose the right car: If you’re looking to buy a car, take the time to find out which cars are the cheapest to insure. Right now, insurance companies prefer family-oriented SUVs.
  • Choose the right provider: While some providers may offer cheaper premiums, they may offer poor customer service or have a weak financial reputation.
  • Avoid a lapse in coverage: Prevent a lapse in coverage by always being enrolled in an auto insurance policy and making sure to pay your insurance premiums on time.

 


 

Choosing The Right Provider For Your Situation

When you shop for car insurance, it is important to pick the right company for your unique situation. For example, one insurance company might give cheap rates to good drivers but charge high-risk drivers a lot more. Another company might even out the difference by charging good drivers higher-than-average rates and charging high-risk drivers more affordable rates.

It's also essential to take discounts into account. While someone may recommend a specific provider for their cheap rates, that person may be eligible for discounts that do not apply to you. The same can be true when you are eligible for specific discounts due to your circumstance.

Don’t Write Off The Little Guys

While there are many large, national providers, there are also countless small, local insurance providers that offer great auto insurance coverage at affordable prices. When you shop for car insurance, we encourage you to also get a quote from a local auto insurer to see if it may offer you the best rates and service. 

Keep in mind that if you shop for car insurance locally, you might not be able to find online reviews through websites like the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or Trustpilot. You might have to take the agent at their word when they describe the company’s track record for customer service.

If you’re looking to purchase a policy from a smaller provider, make sure you are clear on a couple of things:

Cancellations: Some providers offer a grace period. If you cancel during this time, you’ll get all your money back. However, others don’t. Different companies can charge cancellation fees, and some might even charge a non-refundable fee to purchase a policy. In certain cases, you may not get all your money back even if you cancel a policy on the same day you bought it.

Coverage specifics: You’d be surprised at how little “full coverage” actually covers sometimes. Does the company let you choose your repair shop? Does it cover whatever hourly rate your repair shop charges or just an average rate for your area? Will rental reimbursement cover a rental while your vehicle sits in the shop waiting for a repair authorization? It’s always important to read all your policy documents when you shop for auto insurance since an initial quote won’t have all the details.

 


 

Providers To Consider When Shopping For Car Insurance

When you're shopping for car insurance, we recommend getting quotes from some of our top car insurance providers. USAA, Geico, and State Farm came out on top when we compared over 30 of the best car insurance providers.  

Enter your zip code in the tool below or call (844) 246-8209 to collect and compare car insurance quotes from providers available in your state:

 

USAA Insurance logo

USAA: Best For Military

USAA is our top pick overall for car insurance, although you’ll need to meet certain criteria for eligibility. People with these qualifications can get USAA:

  • United States military members that are active, enlisted, honorably separated, or retired
  • Commissioning program members
  • Spouses and children of people who have had a USAA auto or home policy

USAA tends to be one of the cheapest options overall. It’s a great idea to include it when you shop for car insurance if you’re eligible. The company gives you a 15-percent discount if you garage your vehicle on base and a 60-percent discount during deployment. That’s important, as you still need car insurance during deployment if you own a car.

The company has an A++ financial rating from AM Best. USAA also performed very well in the J.D. Power 2020 Auto Claims Satisfaction StudySM and its 2020 Insurance Shopping Study. The company makes it easy to apply for a quote, buy a policy, and use your coverage.

Learn more by reading our full USAA auto insurance review.

Geico Insurance logo

Geico: Best Overall

Many people find that Geico offers the cheapest rates when they shop for car insurance. Geico has many discounts based on your driving history, your car, and your situation. The company’s full name is Government Employees Insurance Company, and it still gives a discount to federal government employees.

Geico is the second-largest car insurance company in the U.S. and has a rating of A++ from AM Best. The company has an A+ rating from the BBB, and it has above-average customer service ratings online. Geico also did outstanding in both the J.D. Power Claims Satisfaction Study and Shopping Study. 

With Geico, you can also get mechanical coverage for your car, which is rare among insurance companies. The program is called Mechanical Breakdown Insurance, and it’s similar to an extended car warranty.

Read more about the provider in our Geico auto insurance review.

State Farm Insurance logo

State Farm: Best For Students

State Farm is the largest auto insurance provider in the U.S., with over 16 percent of the market share, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. State Farm can be a great option for many different people, especially students. If you’re a good student, you could get up to 25 percent off your premium with State Farm. You won’t come across a discount on student car insurance that big when shopping for car insurance elsewhere. Also, you get to keep that discount until you’re 25 years old, even after you graduate college.

State Farm has four different apps that make claims easier and help people save money. One app, Steer Clear®, is for drivers under 25 to hone their skills. Drivers complete in-app courses and log driving hours. Drivers who complete the program get another discount on their premium.

This company also has a rating of A++ from AM Best and an A+ rating from the BBB. However, in the two studies by J.D. Power, it came in fifth place for its claims service and finished in the middle of the pack for its shopping experience.

Find out more by reading our State Farm auto insurance review.

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