It can be difficult to shop for car insurance. 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 researched 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 insurance.
In this article:
- Cheapest Car Insurance Providers
- Shop Car Insurance In 4 Steps
- 1. Determine Your Coverage Needs
- 2. Request Car Insurance Quotes
- 3. Compare Rates
- 4. Purchase Your Policy
- Tips For Getting The Best Car Insurance Rates
- How Often Should You Shop For Car Insurance?
- Providers To Consider When Shopping For Car Insurance
- FAQ: Shop Car Insurance
Cheapest Car Insurance Providers
Here are the 10 cheapest car insurance providers according to our rate estimates. These estimates apply to full coverage insurance for 35-year-old drivers with good driving records. Our estimates also combine multiple driving profiles from across all 50 states.
|Car Insurance Provider||Average Annual Cost Estimate|
Shop Car Insurance In 4 Steps
To shop for car insurance, you'll need to determine your coverage needs, request car insurance quotes, compare those quotes to find the best rate, and then make your purchase.
1. Determine Your Coverage Needs
One of the first things you need to decide when shopping for car insurance is 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.
Below is a breakdown of the main types of car insurance and what they entail:
- 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 event 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. Examples include theft, vandalism, natural disasters, and civil disturbances.
- Medical payments insurance (MedPay) covers the costs of vehicle-related medical treatments for both you and your passengers, regardless of who was at fault in the case of an accident (not available in all states). This coverage is required in some no-fault insurance 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. This coverage is required in some no-fault insurance states.
- 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. This coverage is required in some no-fault insurance states.
While shopping for car insurance, you may also see coverage for things such as roadside assistance plans, accident forgiveness insurance, gap insurance, and rental car reimbursement. Not every insurer offers these types of coverage, but no reputable insurance company will sell you a policy that doesn’t meet your state’s minimum insurance requirements.
Comprehensive and collision coverage is not required but a good idea for most drivers. These policies are worth the cost if you can't afford to replace your car in the event of a worst-case scenario. 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 10 percent of your car's total value.
2. Request Car Insurance Quotes
An auto insurance quote is 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 shopping for car insurance, you’ll want to compare quotes from several providers to see which offer the best deals for your particular state, vehicle, and driver profile. There are several ways to request a quote:
- Reach out to an independent insurance agent. This is a good idea if you have any questions about the process or want some assistance. A local agent can also make sure 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.
3. Compare Rates
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.
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. 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.
- 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 Location
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) releases a report each year that measures 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.
Liability Average Premium
Collision Average Premium
Comprehensive Average Premium
Combined Average Premium
|District of Columbia||$809.41||$535.96||$228.71||$1,574.09|
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.
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:
Paid in full
Student away at school
The next time you look at your insurance documents, see if you can find your original price before discounts were 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.
4. Purchase Your Policy
Once you’ve found a provider and a policy that you’re happy with, it’s time to purchase your policy. Most insurers will sell policies online, but you can also buy car insurance in person from a local agent or over the phone.
After you’ve bought your policy, your insurer should mail you a proof-of-insurance card, which you need to keep in your vehicle. You can also print this card from home, and many insurers even offer mobile apps that can be used to display your insurance ID card.
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.
The more quotes you get, the better you can compare them and see 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 your deductible is something you can afford to pay.
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.
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.
How Often Should You Shop For Car Insurance?
If you wish, 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 should 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 recently 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 you can compare. Getting more quotes gives you a better idea of what’s available. We wouldn’t recommend buying a policy without comparing at least three providers. You should 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.
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.
USAA: Best For Military
USAA is our top overall pick for car insurance, although you’ll need to meet certain criteria for eligibility. The following types of people can get USAA:
- United States military members who 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 keep 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 2021 Auto Insurance StudySM and its 2021 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: 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 Insurance 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: 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 kinds of 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 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. Find out more by reading our State Farm auto insurance review.
In an effort to provide accurate and unbiased information to consumers, our expert review team collects data from dozens of auto insurance providers to formulate rankings of the best insurers. Companies receive a score in each of the following categories, as well as an overall weighted score out of 5.0 stars.
- Industry Standing: Insurers with strong financial ratings and customer-first business practices receive the highest scores in this category.
- Availability: We consider availability by state as well as exclusions for specific groups of drivers.
- Coverage: This rating is based on types of insurance available, maximum coverage limits, and add-on policies.
- Cost and Discounts: Our research team reviews sample quotes for a variety of drivers in every state. Companies with lower prices and many car insurance discount opportunities receive the best scores.
- Customer Service: We comb through customer reviews and consumer feedback studies from experts like J.D. Power.
- Technology: Auto insurers with mobile apps, advanced online services and telematics are more likely to meet consumer needs.
Read our other insurance articles:
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- Basic Car Insurance
- States Where Car Insurance Is Not Mandatory
- How Much Is Auto Insurance?
- Does Car Insurance Cover Theft?
- Allstate Insurance Review
- How Does Car Insurance Work?
- Short-Term Car Insurance
- Broad Form Insurance
- One-Day Car Insurance
- Month-to-Month Car Insurance
- Stacked vs Unstacked Insurance