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How to get the cheapest car insurance


Cheap car insurance

Not all car insurance is the same. If you want cheap car insurance, you have to choose the lowest amount of coverage that’s legally required. This “bare bones” coverage usually consists of liability insurance at the lowest legal limits. If you cause an accident, it pays for others’ property damage and medical bills and that’s it. For more coverage, you have to raise the limits and buy optional coverages, which bring the price of insurance a lot higher.

To get the cheapest car insurance, choose the liability option with the lowest numbers, don’t buy optional coverages and ask about car insurance discounts. This will give you the cheapest car insurance quote from that insurer.

If you know what coverage you want to buy, start comparing quotes from multiple insurance companies. To find out more, keep reading.

Jump ahead:
Minimum car insurance rates by state
When it makes sense to buy the cheapest car insurance
Discounts
Frequently asked questions

Liability limits are usually written like this: 30/60/25. In this example, using Texas minimum requirements, the numbers show coverage that would pay:

  • medical expenses of up to $30,000 per person
  • medical expenses up to $60,000 per accident
  • up to $25,000 for property damage

To give you an idea of how much state minimum coverage costs, here are average annual rates for the cheapest car insurance coverage in every state.

Minimum car insurance rates by state

StateMinimum car insurance requirementsMinimum car insurance average rateGet average car insurance rates by ZIP code
AK 50/100/25 $318 Alaska car insurance
AL 25/50/25 $419 Alabama car insurance
AR 25/50/25 $397 Arkansas car insurance
AZ 15/30/10 $496 Arizona car insurance
CA 15/30/5 $491 California car insurance
CO 25/50/15 $506 Colorado car insurance
CT 20/40/10 $761 Connecticut car insurance
DC 25/50/10 $745 District of Columbia car insurance
DE 15/30/10 $805 Delaware car insurance
FL 10/20/10 $884 Florida car insurance
GA 25/50/25 $532 Georgia car insurance
HI 20/40/10 $555 Hawaii car insurance
IA 20/4015 $294 Iowa car insurance
ID 25/50/15 $319 Idaho car insurance
IL 25/50/20 $383 Illinois car insurance
IN 25/50/10 $400 Indiana car insurance
KS 25/50/25 $397 Kansas car insurance
KY 25/50/10 $745 Kentucky car insurance
LA 15/30/25 $705 Louisiana car insurance
MA 20/40/5 $539 Massachusetts car insurance
MD 30/60/15 $710 Maryland car insurance
ME 50/100/25 $359 Maine car insurance
MI 20/40/10 $2,012 Michigan car insurance
MN 30/60/10 $579 Minnesota car insurance
MO 25/50/10 $409 Missouri car insurance
MS 25/50/25 $398 Mississippi car insurance
MT 25/50/20 $323 Montana car insurance
NC 30/60/25 $347 North Carolina car insurance
ND 25/50/10 $363 North Dakota car insurance
NE 25/50/25 $329 Nebraska car insurance
NH 25/50/25* $485 New Hampshire car insurance
NJ 15/30/5 $677 New Jersey car insurance
NM 15/50/10 $424 New Mexico car insurance
NV 15/30/10 $623 Nevada car insurance
NY 25/15/10 $812 New York car insurance
OH 25/50/25 $383 Ohio car insurance
OK 25/50/25 $444 Oklahoma car insurance
OR 25/50/20 $690 Oregon car insurance
PA 15/30/5 $480 Pennsylvania car insurance
RI 25/50/25 $751 Rhode Island car insurance
SC 25/50/25 $484 South Carolina car insurance
SD 25/50/25 $267 South Dakota car insurance
TN 25/50/15 $404 Tennessee car insurance
TX 30/60/25 $465 Texas car insurance
UT 25/65/15 $531 Utah car insurance
VA 25/50/20 $372 Virginia car insurance
VT 25/50/10 $337 Vermont car insurance
WA 25/50/10 $466 Washington car insurance
WI 25/50/10 $373 Wisconsin car insurance
WV 25/50/25 $493 West Virginia car insurance
WY 25/50/20 $339 Wyoming car insurance

Methodology: The table shows the average annual rate for a 2016 Honda Accord for all ZIP codes in the state for minimum coverage from up to six major carriers including Progressive, Allstate, State Farm, Nationwide, GEICO and Farmers. In some states, uninsured motorist coverage and/or personal injury protection coverage is mandatory in addition to liability. For those states, these coverages are included in our average rate shown in the chart, though we list just the state minimum levels for liability. Data was provided for CarInsurance.com by Quadrant Information Services. New Hampshire doesn’t require drivers to have car insurance, but most drivers do, and we’ve listed what is mandated if you choose to carry coverage. Driver profile is male, age 40 with good credit and clean driving record.

Cheapest car insurance companies in your state

If you don't want bare-bones coverage, but want to know who has the lowest rates, you need to do some comparison shopping. Below you'll see how major car insurance companies compare for price for full coverage in your state. Enter your state in the search field to see major insurers ranked cheapest to most expensive.

StateCompanyAverage annual rate
Alaska State Farm $1,156
Alaska Geico $1,209
Alaska Progressive $1,387
Alaska Allstate $1,613
Alabama Geico $827
Alabama Allstate $1,451
Alabama Mid Century $1,604
Alabama Nationwide $1,610
Alabama State Farm $1,838
Alabama Progressive $2,267
Arkansas Geico $1,101
Arkansas State Farm $1,358
Arkansas Farmers $1,412
Arkansas Nationwide $1,820
Arkansas Progressive $2,025
Arkansas Allstate $2,081
Arizona Geico $995
Arizona Progressive $1,401
Arizona Farmers $1,444
Arizona State Farm $1,631
Arizona Nationwide $1,979
Arizona Allstate $2,045
California Geico $1,175
California United Financial $1,450
California Northbrook $1,595
California Amco $2,151
California State Farm $2,223
California Farmers $2,379
Colorado Geico $1,013
Colorado State Farm $1,441
Colorado Progressive $1,704
Colorado Farmers Insurance Exchange $1,770
Colorado Allstate $2,251
Connecticut Geico $1,072
Connecticut Nationwide $1,551
Connecticut State Farm $1,711
Connecticut Progressive $2,583
Connecticut Allstate $2,781
Connecticut Foremost $2,974
DC Geico $840
DC State Farm $1,803
DC Progressive $1,922
DC Nationwide $2,339
DC Allstate $3,164
Delaware Geico $1,319
Delaware Progressive $1,663
Delaware Nationwide $1,923
Delaware State Farm $2,143
Delaware Allstate $2,677
Florida Geico $1,327
Florida State Farm $1,818
Florida 21st Century Centennial $2,149
Florida Progressive $2,158
Florida Allstate $2,911
Georgia Geico $899
Georgia State Farm $1,578
Georgia Nationwide $1,706
Georgia Allstate $2,011
Georgia Progressive $2,016
Hawaii Geico $857
Hawaii State Farm $1,023
Hawaii Allstate $1,389
Hawaii Progressive $1,646
Hawaii Farmers $2,387
Iowa Geico $771
Iowa Amco $823
Iowa Farmers $1,065
Iowa State Farm $1,077
Iowa Progressive $1,670
Iowa Allstate $1,698
Idaho Geico $822
Idaho Farmers Ins Exch $973
Idaho State Farm $985
Idaho Depositors Ins Co $1,063
Idaho Progressive $1,088
Idaho Allstate $1,773
Illinois Geico $704
Illinois Amco $831
Illinois State Farm $1,173
Illinois Illinois Farmers $1,423
Illinois Progressive $1,621
Illinois Allstate $1,772
Indiana Geico $718
Indiana Illinois Farmers $860
Indiana Nationwide $1,069
Indiana Progressive $1,092
Indiana State Farm $1,281
Indiana Allstate $1,694
Kansas Geico $917
Kansas Nationwide Affinity Co of Amer $1,015
Kansas State Farm $1,311
Kansas Farmers $1,476
Kansas Allstate $1,869
Kansas Progressive $2,057
Kentucky Geico $1,019
Kentucky Nationwide $1,886
Kentucky State Farm $1,976
Kentucky Progressive $2,206
Kentucky Allstate $3,198
Louisiana Geico $1,598
Louisiana State Farm $2,327
Louisiana Allstate $2,661
Louisiana Progressive $3,508
Massachusetts Geico $927
Massachusetts State Farm $973
Massachusetts Progressive $1,512
Massachusetts Allstate $2,107
Maryland Nationwide $1,279
Maryland Geico $1,295
Maryland Progressive  $1,353
Maryland State Farm $1,548
Maryland Allstate Ind Co $2,366
Maine Geico $592
Maine State Farm $1,114
Maine Allstate $1,386
Maine Progressive $1,409
Michigan Geico  $1,280
Michigan Progressive $1,892
Michigan Titan  $2,375
Michigan Allstate $3,264
Michigan State Farm $3,620
Michigan Farmers Insurance Exchange $4,010
Minnesota Geico $1,038
Minnesota Illinois Farmers $1,213
Minnesota State Farm $1,311
Minnesota Allied $1,400
Minnesota Progressive $1,616
Minnesota Allstate $1,814
Missouri Geico $814
Missouri Allied $909
Missouri Farmers $1,268
Missouri State Farm $1,459
Missouri Progressive $1,690
Missouri Allstate $1,890
Mississippi Geico $1,016
Mississippi Nationwide $1,320
Mississippi State Farm $1,558
Mississippi Progressive $1,654
Mississippi Allstate $2,241
Montana Geico $1,031
Montana State Farm $1,303
Montana Progressive $1,310
Montana Mid Century $1,442
Montana Depositors  $1,447
Montana Allstate $1,945
North Carolina Progressive $667
North Carolina Geico $733
North Carolina State Farm $895
North Carolina Farmers Ins Exch $1,044
North Carolina Nationwide $1,102
North Carolina Nationwide $1,205
North Carolina Allstate $1,206
North Dakota Allied $902
North Dakota Geico $1,110
North Dakota State Farm $1,297
North Dakota Progressive $1,347
North Dakota Allstate $1,682
North Dakota Mid Century $2,963
Nebraska Allied $860
Nebraska Geico $1,113
Nebraska State Farm $1,154
Nebraska Mid Century $1,306
Nebraska Allstate $1,502
Nebraska Progressive $1,788
New Hampshire Geico $630
New Hampshire Nationwide $1,009
New Hampshire State Farm $1,206
New Hampshire Allstate $1,773
New Hampshire Progressive $2,012
New Jersey 21st Century Centennial  $890
New Jersey Geico $1,163
New Jersey Progressive  $1,661
New Jersey State Farm $2,089
New Jersey Allstate $2,118
New Mexico Geico $1,037
New Mexico State Farm $1,330
New Mexico Progressive $1,399
New Mexico Farmers $1,460
New Mexico Allstate $2,275
Nevada Geico $1,403
Nevada Mid Century $1,736
Nevada State Farm $2,011
Nevada Progressive $2,194
Nevada Victoria $2,438
Nevada Allstate $2,523
New York Geico $1,074
New York Progressive $1,506
New York Allstate $1,853
New York State Farm $2,125
New York Nationwide $2,491
New York Foremost $3,236
Ohio Geico $705
Ohio State Farm $1,034
Ohio Farmers $1,075
Ohio Nationwide $1,292
Ohio Progressive $1,360
Ohio Allstate $1,439
Oklahoma Geico $1,090
Oklahoma Farmers $1,550
Oklahoma State Farm $1,611
Oklahoma Allstate $2,100
Oklahoma Progressive $2,959
Oregon Geico $1,034
Oregon State Farm $1,238
Oregon Nationwide $1,302
Oregon Progressive $1,609
Oregon Farmers $1,904
Oregon Allstate $1,920
Pennsylvania Geico $808
Pennsylvania Nationwide $857
Pennsylvania State Farm $1,527
Pennsylvania Allstate $2,007
Pennsylvania Allstate $2,595
Rhode Island State Farm $1,317
Rhode Island Geico $1,550
Rhode Island Nationwide $1,989
Rhode Island Progressive $2,674
Rhode Island Progressive $3,488
South Carolina Geico $1,222
South Carolina Allstate $1,395
South Carolina Nationwide $1,463
South Carolina Progressive $1,793
South Carolina State Farm $1,889
South Dakota Geico $789
South Dakota Amco $1,135
South Dakota Mid Century $1,147
South Dakota State Farm $1,206
South Dakota Progressive $1,267
South Dakota Allstate $1,757
Tennessee Geico $938
Tennessee Nationwide $990
Tennessee State Farm $1,328
Tennessee Progressive  $1,650
Tennessee Mid Century $1,759
Tennessee Allstate $2,054
Texas Farmers $1,037
Texas Geico $1,407
Texas Colonial $1,525
Texas State Farm $1,540
Texas Progressive  $1,749
Texas Allstate $2,399
Utah Geico $717
Utah Mid Century $1,235
Utah Allied $1,383
Utah Allstate $1,530
Utah State Farm $1,774
Utah Progressive $1,941
Virginia Nationwide $864
Virginia Geico $1,076
Virginia State Farm $1,134
Virginia Allstate $1,472
Virginia Progressive $1,475
Vermont Geico $558
Vermont Nationwide $944
Vermont State Farm $1,460
Vermont Allstate $1,471
Vermont Progressive $1,529
Washington Geico $1,203
Washington Nationwide $1,269
Washington State Farm $1,317
Washington Progressive $1,405
Washington Farmers $1,517
Washington Allstate $1,660
Wisconsin Geico $697
Wisconsin State Farm $1,063
Wisconsin Mid Century $1,226
Wisconsin Artisan and Truckers $1,450
Wisconsin Allstate $1,539
Wisconsin Amco $3,133
West Virginia Geico $1,280
West Virginia State Farm $1,521
West Virginia Progressive $1,566
West Virginia Nationwide $1,584
West Virginia Allstate $2,148
Wyoming State Farm $1,314
Wyoming Geico $1,465
Wyoming Allstate $1,981
Wyoming Farmers $2,022

When it makes sense to buy the cheapest car insurance

Going with the minimum liability car insurance required by your state is rarely recommended. The amount of coverage required by state law is low, which means even a minor accident can exceed the amount your insurer will pay out. "You should be careful to have adequate coverage to fully protect your vehicle and other assets so you don't get stuck with out-of-pocket expenses," says Penny Gusner, consumer analyst for CarInsurance.com. But there are a few scenarios in which having minimum coverage may be a good strategy. Here are four:

1. Your car is old and not very valuable, so you skip comprehensive and collision

Collision coverage pays to repair your car if you're in an accident. Comprehensive coverage pays to replace your car if it’s stolen and pays for damages from fallen objects, like a tree, and from fire, floods, animal strikes and vandalism. Both of these types of protection are optional. Comprehensive and collision only pay out up to the actual cash value of your car. That’s why these coverages may be unnecessary if the vehicle isn't worth much.

"This is especially true for a car that you aren't driving as much, such as an extra car that sits most of the time and you want to pay as little as possible for insurance," says Gusner. “If you are looking to save to buy a newer car, then by dropping down coverage to state minimum you can put away the money saved for the replacement car."

William Harris, an independent insurance agent in Los Angeles, echoes Gusner, but points out the consequences. "Dropping comp and collision could be reasonable, but remember that, if it's your only car, you'll have to pay for any body work or be prepared to drive around a car that looks like a wreck."

2. You don't drive very much.

If you log few miles on your car, Gusner says minimum coverage may suffice, simply because the less you drive, the less risky your driving experience will be.

"If you are retired, work from home or otherwise don't drive much, then dropping liability coverage to the lowest possible limits can save you money," she says. "You aren't as likely to be in an accident as someone who commutes to and from work each day or drives for work."

She adds that consistently driving few miles each year will likely snag a low-mileage discount.

3. You don't have a home, big savings or other assets to protect.

If you're in an accident, the other driver or drivers can sue you to cover damages beyond what your insurer pays out, which puts all your assets at risk. But if you don't have any assets to target, it's less likely you'll be sued, says Gusner.

But that comes with a strong warning: "Just because you don't have much doesn't mean a lien can't be placed against you, or that your license and registration can't be suspended if you cause an accident and can't pay for all damages," Gusner says. "If you don't want to end up in that type of situation, then it's wise to buy higher liability limits if you can afford it."

4. You want to wait until dings are off your record and full coverage becomes cheaper.

Points are placed on your traffic and insurance record for most moving violations and accidents that are your fault. These points figure into the mix that insurers use to determine how much you pay. High-risk drivers mean higher risks for insurance companies and higher rates for you if you have a less-than-stellar driving record.

These points usually follow you for a few years. Esurance, for one, says moving violations will be used when setting premiums for three years, which gives motorists the opportunity to get lower rates after that time. Most insurers follow similar guidelines.

Until your rates drop, however, you may decide to buy only minimum liability insurance to save money, Gusner says.

"Insurance may be costing you more than average due to violations or accidents on your record," she explains. "While it's always wise to carry higher liability limits if you can, carrying bare-bones basic car insurance is better than nothing.

Penny pull quote

Try to work on keeping a clean record and within three years your rates should drop so that you can afford higher limits."

There are other ways high-risk drivers can find affordable rates. One way to keep costs low is to buy a policy from a company that sells the majority of its policies to high-risk drivers. A company that provides coverage to just a few high-risk drivers will generally charge you more than a company that specializes in high-risk drivers, Gusner says. Typically, car insurance companies that cater to high-risk drivers offer policies with limits. For instance, they may just cover you, and not those you lend your car to, which helps keep their rates low.

How to get the cheapest car insurance: Frequently asked questions

But what if you want more than the state minimum coverage, and still want to save money? The savings are in the details. Car insurance discounts come when you’re different from the average driver. Sometimes it’s your profession, sometimQAes it’s your grades, and sometimes it’s your long accident-free record. But sometimes the cheapest car insurance simply means avoiding the most common car insurance pitfalls. If you don’t see the answer to your question here, ask Penny Gusner, our consumer analyst, your own question.

What car insurance discounts are available?

The most widespread car insurance discounts are:

  • Multi-vehicle: You insure more than one vehicle with the same company.
  • Multi-line: You have homeowners and car insurance through the same company.
  • Auto safety features: You have airbags, anti-lock brakes or stability control in your car.
  • Anti-theft devices: You have a car alarm, VIN-etched windows or GPS recovery system such as Lojack or OnStar.
  • Defensive driver courses: You have recently taken a defensive driver course (only available in certain states)dollar sign.
  • Safe driver: You have not had any accidents, tickets or claims in the last three to five years (depending on company guidelines).
  • Renewal: You have continuous insurance or renew your policy with the same carrier.

Note that not all discounts are available with all auto insurance companies or in all states, and discount eligibility rules can differ.

Can I take insurance off my car to save money? Will I pay more if I have a lapse in coverage?

Yes, you can take car insurance off your vehicle if you are not going to be driving it. This will of course save you money, but you will have to turn in your plates and registration in most states.

It will be harder to get cheap car insurance with a lapse in coverage. Most insurance carriers will charge you more if you have not had continuous coverage. There are some car insurance companies that require no lapse in coverage to get the more affordable car insurance rates under their preferred or standard driver rating.

Can I take my child off my policy if he or she moves out or goes off to college?

college capIf your child moves out and no longer uses your vehicles, then you can normally take him or her off of your policy. Your car insurance company may require you to prove that your child lives elsewhere or has an auto insurance policy of his own.

If your child has gone off to college, you may or may not be able to take them off your policy to get cheap car insurance prices; it will depend on the guidelines of your insurer. Many car insurance companies will reduce your premiums if your child is going to school more than 100 miles away from your home. If your child was a primary driver on a car, see if your insurer will let you bump him or her down to an occasional driver.

Should I raise my deductible to lower my rate?

The cost-cutting can be significant if you go this route. Loretta Worters, the III's vice president of communications, says you can save as much as 15 to 30 percent on collision and comprehensive coverage by raising your deductible from $200 to $500. Hike it to $1,000, she adds, and the savings could reach 40 percent. Just remember paying that deductible is a big out-of-pocket expense if there's an accident. And there's no way to predict if you'll end up saving money in the long run. But, clearly, it does reduce the premium, so consider the consequences, both good and bad, before making a decision.

Will my credit history prevent me from getting cheap car insurance?

Your credit history can have a big impact on your car insurance. That means if you want the cheapest car insurance rates you can get, maintain good credit –- ideally a score of 700 or higher.

If you already have a poor credit history, try to improve it before you shop for a new policy. Here’s why: Drivers with good credit ratings are favored by insurers because they file fewer claims and tend to pay their bills promptly, studies show. In turn, insurance companies are likely to give the best rates to those with clean credit and good credit-based insurance scores. Your score is based on your payment history, outstanding debt, credit history length, pursuit of new credit and mix of credit. (Note that California, Hawaii and Massachusetts don't allow insurers to use credit information to set rates.)

CarInsurance.com commissioned Quadrant Information Services to compare full-coverage rates for drivers with average or better credit, fair credit and poor credit. Key findings show:

  • The average difference in rates between good credit and fair was 17 percent.
  • The difference between good credit and poor credit was 67 percent.

How do I improve my credit-based insurance score to get cheaper car insurance rates?

  • Pay your bills on time. Late payments and collections will hurt you.
  • Don’t max out your credit cards. Keep your credit card balances low. The insurance score considers the amount you owe in relation to your credit limits.
  • Don't open new credit card accounts. Too many new accounts signals trouble to insurers.
  • Don’t cancel all your credit cards. The longer you maintain a decent credit history, the better. Having no or little credit history will lower your score.
  • Check the accuracy of your credit report; errors will hurt your score. You can request free copies of your credit reports from the three national credit reporting agencies through AnnualCreditReport.com. Follow directions from the agencies to fix any errors.
  • If you're struggling financially and can’t pay your bills, get professional finance advice. You can find free or low-cost help through the nonprofit National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

When should I shop around for cheaper rates?

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Comparing car insurance rates can help you save hundreds of dollars. That’s because each car insurance company uses its own formula to calculate rates. This means the same policy can have prices that vary significantly among insurers. A rate analysis by CarInsurance.com shows the average car insurance savings you get from comparing rates ranges from about $3,000 to $350, depending on what state you live in. Gusner suggests comparing car insurance quotes to find the lowest rates at least once a year -- but certainly at these times, when your rates are most likely to change dramatically:

  • Purchasing a car
  • Putting cars on a multi-car insurance policy
  • Adding or removing a driver from a policy
  • Marriage or divorce
  • Moving
  • Adding a teen driver
  • Buying a house
  • DUI or major violation
  • Accident
  • Change in credit score

How do I know if I should buy comprehensive and collision?

Skip collision and comprehensive coverage and go for just liability if the cost for both, plus your deductible, is close to the actual cash value of your car.calculator

For example, if you have a $500 deductible and your car's value is $2,500, then the most you can recover in a total loss is $2,000. At this point, you need to decide if it is worth it for you to pay for collision and comprehensive coverage.

The annual average cost for comprehensive and collision combined is $440, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). You can find the actual cash value of your car by looking it up at Kelley Blue Book or the National Auto Dealers Association.

Penny Gusner, the consumer analyst for Insure.com, says the “10 percent rule” may also apply. Consider skipping the optional coverage if it costs more than 10 percent of what you'd get from your insurer following an accident that totals your car. The pay out after a claim would be the value of your vehicle minus your deductible.

Let’s say your car is worth $3,000 and you have a $500 deductible. Your potential payout would only be $2,500 if your car was totaled and you placed a collision claim. Using the 10 percent rule, if your collision and comprehensive premiums cost $250 or more a year, it's time to consider dropping the coverage.

 


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