There are many factors that affect your car insurance rates, including in most states your age, gender, where you live, your credit and driving history and the type of car you drive, among others. In addition, the types of car insurance you buy and car insurance discounts you qualify for also influence how much you pay.

Some of these variables, including your location, your age, your credit and driving history, can have a dramatic impact on what you pay. Other factors, such as if you’re married, or male or female, tip the scales less. Still, they all add up to what it costs for you to protect yourself with an auto insurance policy.

We’ll explain the key factors that affect your car insurance rates, as well as offer expert insight on how they influence costs.

Key Highlights
  • There are many factors that affect car insurance rates, including your age, gender, where you live, credit score and the type of car you drive.
  • It is possible to lower costs by combining policies with your spouse. Married people on average pay 4% less than single drivers.
  • Insurance companies consider how much you drive before they set your rates.
  • Insurance rates can differ by thousands or hundreds of dollars among insurers. Make sure you compare rates before you buy a policy.

Why is car insurance so expensive?

You might wonder why car insurance rates can be so high even with no accidents and an otherwise clean driving record. Car insurance rates, overall, are trending upward due to several reasons. Key among them:

  • Lower gas prices and a recovering economy means more people are driving more miles. With more drivers on the road, accident rates increase. That means more claims, which hike carriers’ costs, which in turn is passed on to policyholders. Consider this: Since 2012, the number of collision claims increased by over 9%. Between 2011 and 2016, the cost of collision claims rose by 30%, according to a September 2018 report by the Highway Loss Data Institute.
  • The cost to repair newer cars is getting more expensive, as even standard trim models come equipped with high-tech safety features that are pricey to fix.

But there are also variables related to your driver profile that can increase your rates, compared to what others pay without those circumstances. Factors that can significantly increase your rates include, but aren’t limited to the following, which we explain in more detail below:

  • Your age -- Drivers under age 24 pay much higher rates due to their inexperience and higher incidents of accidents.
  • Your driving record – If you have traffic violations, such as speeding tickets, or a more serious conviction, such as DUI, you will certainly pay more than those who have clean records, and accidents in most cases will also mean you have higher car insurance rates than those who don’t.
  • Your credit history – Drivers with bad credit pay significantly more than those with good credit, so this is another factor that can make your costs much higher than the typical driver.
  • Your location – Even with a clean driving record, if you live in an area where there is a high rate of accidents, thefts or vandalism, or one prone to severe weather damage, you will typically pay more compared to drivers who don’t.

What factors influence the rate someone pays for their car insurance?

Clearly, there are many variables that work together to shape what you pay for coverage. When you decide to shop for a new policy, you should be aware of the key factors that affect car insurance rates. Here we explain key factors car insurance companies asses when setting your rates.

How does your address affect car insurance rates?

Where you live (and park your car) will have a direct impact on your insurance premium. Of all the factors that affect car insurance rates, location is chief among them. Insurers probably know more about your neighborhood than you do. They study crime rates, neighborhood densities, the number and severity of claims made annually and even the weather patterns to assess the risk you present.

Find out how much you can expect to pay by entering your ZIP code into the average car insurance rates tool below. You'll see the highest and lowest rate for your neighborhood fielded from up to six insurers, which shows how much you can save by comparison shopping, as well as the average annual rate for six age groups and three coverage levels.

California Car Insurance Rates by ZIP Code

Enter ZIP for average rate. Then enter Age, Gender and Coverage Level for customized rate.
*Please enter valid Zip
State Minimum: Required liability coverage to drive legally in your state; some states mandate additional coverage, such as personal injury protection, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist.Liability Only 50/100/50: $50,000 per person/$100,000 maximum per accident for bodily injury; $50,000 for property damage. Liability pays for injuries/damage you cause others.Full Coverage 100/300/100: $100,000 per person/$300,000 maximum per accident for bodily injury; $100,000 for property damage; comprehensive and collision coverage with $500 deductible. Liability pays for injuries/damage you cause others. Comprehensive and collision pay for damage to your car.
94404 Foster City
For  30  Year Old   Male  (Type:  Liability - Minimum )
Average Monthly Premium
highest rate Highest Rate $56/mo.
lowest rate Lowest Rate $26/mo.
Compare personalized quotes from up to 20 companies in California now
91205 - Glendale: $91
90038 - Los Angeles: $91
90212 - Beverly Hills: $91
91203 - Glendale: $90
96107 - Coleville: $33
93513 - Big Pine: $34
96093 - Weaverville: $34
96027 - Etna: $34

The types of car insurance you buy and how much coverage you buy

The type and amount of car insurance you buy will play a role in how much you pay for a policy.

Obviously, a full coverage policy that includes the optional coverages of comprehensive and collision will cost more than the amount required to legally drive in your state, referred to as state minimum liability insurance.

Still, in some states even the mandated minimum coverage includes uninsured motorist coverage or personal injury protection insurance, which can make it more pricey than a state where those aren’t required.

Before you fire up your computer and start gathering quotes, you should determine your ideal policy limits. Minimum liability insurance limits vary by state, but usually are not nearly enough to fully protect you.

Gusner recommends carrying 100/300/100 in liability coverage, which translates into $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident for injuries to others in accidents you cause, and $100,000 to repair damage you do to other vehicles and property. If you have few assets, don't own a home and drive an old car that's not worth much, you can likely get by with liability limits of 50/100/50.

You will also need collision to pay for damage to your car in accidents you cause, and comprehensive insurance if you want your car repaired after damaged from fire, vandalism, striking an animal or severe weather events, like hail storms. Comprehensive insurance also reimburses you for the vehicle's value, minus your deductible, if the car is stolen.

Let's not forget the deductible. "While $500 is a common choice, you can save money if you go with a higher deductible, such as $1,000," advises Gusner.

The deductible applies to collision and comprehensive claims.

To give you an idea of what you can expect to pay, you can see details from our guide on how estimate car insurance costs, and for now, additionally, here's a comparison of the average yearly cost of the following coverage levels, by state:

  • State minimum liability
  • 50/100/50 liability
  • 100/300/100 liability
  • State minimum liability with comprehensive and collision, with $500 deductible
  • 50/100/50 liability, with $500 deductible on comprehensive and collision
  • 100/300/100 with $500 and $1,000 deductible on comprehensive and collision
Average Yearly Cost of the Coverage Levels by State
State State Minimum - Liability Only Liability Only - 50/100/50 Liability Only - 100/300/100 Full Coverage - State Minimum $500 Deductible Full Coverage - 50/100/50 $500 Deductible Full Coverage - 100/300/100 $500 Deductible Full Coverage - 100/300/100 $1,000 Deductible
North Carolina$506$555$631$1,054$1,104$1,181$1,108
North Dakota$358$388$421$1,180$1,209$1,243$1,070
New Hampshire$526$572$637$1,134$1,172$1,236$1,124
New Jersey$840$1,003$1,108$1,453$1,617$1,722$1,603
New Mexico$473$523$570$1,294$1,379$1,488$1,357
New York$805$886$990$1,735$1,816$1,920$1,729
Rhode Island$808$1,010$1,164$1,743$1,935$2,090$1,915
South Carolina$517$581$655$1,559$1,647$1,767$1,561
South Dakota$297$333$377$1,273$1,309$1,337$1,103
West Virginia$568$650$757$1,277$1,345$1,452$1,284

The table shows the average annual rate for a 2017 Honda Accord LX for a driver age 35 with a clean record and good credit, culled from 10 ZIP codes in the state for up to six major carrieres. Data was provided for 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.

How does credit score affect car insurance?

Nearly all insurance companies use your credit information as a factor to determine rates, so a low credit-based insurance score will raise your premium (unless you live in California, Hawaii or Massachusetts, which don't allow the practice). It all goes back to risk. Studies show that people with bad credit tend to file more and higher claims.

In states where a credit-based insurance score is allowed to influence rates, the impact of bad credit can significantly hike your policy price. commissioned Quadrant Information Services to compare full-coverage rates for drivers with good and poor credit. The research shows that, on average, drivers with bad credit pay 71 percent more than drivers with good credit, or about $1,000 a year.

How age affects car insurance rates

Your age will impact your premium, especially if you are young or in your twilight years. Statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) show that the fatal crash rate for teen drivers is three times those of drivers over the age of 20.

On the other end of the spectrum, older drivers tend to be involved in more accidents. CDC stats show that fatal crash rates increase around 75 and skyrocket at age 80.

A data analysis of average car insurance rates by age shows that, in general, rates are cheapest for drivers in their 40s, 50s and 60s, and then increase again a bit at age 70.

Gender and car insurance

In most states, car insurance companies take your gender into account when calculating your rates. So, while gender does influence how much you pay, it typically doesn’t result in significantly different rates for men and women, after the age of 24. And, recently some states have banned the use of gender in setting costs for car insurance.

California in 2019 joined five other states that have either banned the use of gender in pricing auto insurance or that require unisex pricing, says Senior Consumer Analyst Penny Gusner. Insurers have until July to submit gender-neutral auto rating plans to the state's Insurance Department for review.

Using gender is somewhat controversial as insurance companies maintain it’s a fair practice based on their actuarial research, while consumer advocates argue it is discriminatory.

"The California ban comes on the heels of another law that went into effect there this year, which allows residents to choose ‘nonbinary’ rather than ‘male’ or ‘female’ on driver licenses. I wouldn’t be surprised if other states begin to consider prohibiting the use of gender when setting car insurance rates as more people and state legislators are challenging the notion of using just ‘male’ and ‘female’ on identity forms," says Gusner.

Novice female drivers will generally be impacted the most, by paying more, if gender is taken out of the rate calculation. Female drivers from age 16 to 24 pay, on average, around $500 less (15%) a year for car insurance compared to their male counterparts, according to’s rate analysis.

Our rate data show from age 25 to 65 rates for males and females are within 5% of each other, with rates for males a tad cheaper from age 45 to 75. After age 75, females start again to pay less, but only around 7%, or $100, annually.

The use of gender in setting auto rates highlights how much state insurance laws can differ. Another example: there are three states (California, Hawaii and Massachusetts) that prevent credit history from being used to set car insurance rates. There are also varying laws and rules on how rates, and rate hikes, are regulated.

Other states that ban use of gender in determining car insurance rates: Hawaii, Massachusetts, Montana, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. In Michigan the use of gender in setting rate is technically prohibited but reports suggest that a loophole in the law allows the practice.

Marital Status: Do married or single drivers pay more for insurance?

Statistics show that married drivers are involved in fewer accidents and are issued fewer tickets than single people. In some cases, insurers will even drop the rates of drivers under 25 if they tie the knot. Combining policies with your new spouse can also lower your costs even further.

On average, married drivers pay an average of about 4% less than single drivers, based on a rate analysis by’s team of industry experts. But in can be much more than that, up to 15%, depending on your insurance company’s formula for assessing risk.

Homeowner status

Like being married, homeowners tend to be safe drivers, which means they cost insurance companies less money. So, insurance companies consider whether or not you own a home when setting rates.

Typically, homeowners pay 3% less than those who don’t own a house. But if you buy your home insurance from the same company as your car insurance, called bundling, you can net a big discount, too.

Does the type of car you drive affect car insurance rates?

The type of car you drive will have an impact on your premium quote. For your vehicle model, they look at:

  • Purchase price
  • Theft rate
  • Cost of repairs
  • Accident rate
  • Safety tests

Insurers will take into account the car model's claims record. As a result, for instance, if a lot of younger drivers who have accidents drive the same model as you, you may pay a higher rate. Or, if you drive a minivan, typically driven by cautious parents who are middle-aged or older, so have fewer accidents, you may pay a lower rate.

If you’re buying a car, and want to know which models have insurance losses that are better or worse than average, you can research insurance losses by make and model, provided by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. If you want to see which vehicles earned high safety ratings, read our guide to cars with the best safety ratings that are cheapest to insure.

Car insurance companies also take into account the types of safety features your car has. So, for instance, if it has airbags and brake stabilization, it may mean you pay less for insurance.

However, cars with high-tech safety features, such as collision-warning systems, may add to the price of insurance if the cost to repair or replace the feature is expensive. For many insurers, there isn't enough proof the added features are worth a discount.

Vehicle use

How you use your car will impact your premium. If you use your vehicle for commercial purposes, even something as minor as a part-time pizza delivery job, you need to disclose this. Failure to do so could result in a denied claim if you are in an accident while on a delivery.

You’ll also typically pay more for coverage that includes business use. And, if you work nights, and frequently drive after midnight, expect your rate to be higher than those who don’t.

Miles driven

It makes sense that the more you drive, the higher your chance is of having an accident. That’s why insurance companies take how much you drive into account when setting rates. If you have a long commute or otherwise log a lot of miles, you will typically pay more because you are considered to more of risk compared to others who don’t.

Licensed drivers

Drivers you live with that may drive your car are also factor carriers consider when assessing your risk, and therefore, your rates.

List all licensed drivers living in your household, regardless of whether they drive your vehicle much. Omitting a driver could result in a denied claim or a cancellation if the unlisted driver is involved in an accident.

In terms of how it affects your rates, this means, for example, if your spouse has a safe driving record, your rates won’t be affected much, but if your spouse has recent tickets or accidents, it could increase your coverage costs.

Additionally, adding your teen driver to your policy will always hike your rates. As soon as your child has a valid driver's license, add the teen to your policy.

Expect to pay, on average, about 143% more to add a sixteen-year-old to your policy. While the cost to add a teen to your policy certainly stings, it's worth it to be sure that you're financially protected should your teen driver have an accident.

In general, the two exceptions to the "list all licensed drivers in your household" rule are an adult child who lives with you but has his own vehicle and a parent who lives with you but has his or her own car.

Driving record

Your driving record indicates how risky you are as a driver. A driving record packed with tickets or accidents is a red flag for any insurer.

Insurers will check your driving record when you apply for coverage, and again at renewal time. This is why it's wise to know how to check your driver record, and why it's so important to fix any errors.

If you have recent moving violations, such as speeding tickets, expect those violations to raise your rates for three to five years. How much insurance goes up for speeding tickets depends on how fast you're driving, your state laws and your insurance company, among other factors, but typically your rates will increase by about 20% to 30%, or about $300 to $450, yearly.

While it may be tempting to fudge the facts on your application, that is a bad idea. "If you give incorrect information on the quoting form, and the insurance company finds the error, it will recalculate your premium or may decide to rescind its policy offer," warns Gusner.

Accidents and claims history

Accidents and tickets aren't the only things that will ding your insurance rates; all claims can potentially have an effect on your rates. While at-fault claims will result in a surcharge (higher rates) and comprehensive claims generally will not, the number of claims you make matters.

Exactly how much your insurance rates increase after an accident also depends on your insurance company and other factors. But, data research shows a recent accident claim will hike rates by about 30%, or $450 a year.

If you have made a number of claims, of any kind, on your policy in a short period of time, such as three claims in three years, expect your car insurance rate quotes to be higher. A large number of claims will peg you as a higher risk and raise your premiums for at least two to three years.

Years of coverage, or prior insurance history

Proof of insurance verification, which shows that you had insurance coverage before applying for a new policy, is something every insurer will ask you to provide. In most states driving without car insurance is illegal so a lapse, or a number of gaps in your coverage, will be a concern. That means you’ll typically pay more when you do reinstate your coverage.

A lapse in coverage for a week up to 30 days will hike your car insurance rate by an average of 9%, or about $130, a year. A 60-day lapse gets you a 13% increase, about $190 more a year. But in some states a 60-day lapse can cost as much as 20% to 48% more.

Get cheaper car insurance by comparing quotes

While the variables insurance companies consider when pricing policies are fairly standard across the industry, each insurer uses its own formula for assessing risk and setting rates based on these variables. That's why the price of a policy can differ by hundreds or thousands of dollars among carriers -- and why it’s wise to compare insurance companies.

Comparing car insurance quotes to see which car insurance company is the cheapest will save you the most. For instance,’s rate analysis found the following potential savings, or the difference between the highest and lowest price, for the same policy:

  • State minimum liability – average savings of 153%, or $497
  • Full coverage – average savings of 178%, or $1,647

The data analysis indicates that many drivers who don't shop their policies could be paying too much for their car insurance.