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Estimating car insurance rates: What you need to know


To get estimated car insurance costs right now for your ZIP code and preferred coverage level, use the car insurance cost calculator below.

CarInsurance.com’s  auto  insurance estimator calculator provides average auto insurance rates for nearly every ZIP code in the U.S for six age groups and three coverage levels. It allows you to do a car insurance comparison by showing the highest and lowest rate fielded for the exact same policy. The difference is how much you can save -- or overpay -- if you don't compare costs.

Car Insurance Estimator


By their nature, averages and estimates don't apply specifically to you. For that, you can use our online quote comparison tool and get matched with multiple car insurance providers, who will give you a quote

For ballpark estimates on your car insurance costs, read our explanations here. For more details, we have several helpful articles listed below.

Most and least expensive ZIP codes for car insurance: Why location matters

How your car insurance is affected by tickets and points

Average car insurance rates by age

Average car insurance savings in every state

How to estimate car insurance cost

We advise that you do an auto insurance quotes comparison  before making life changes, so you'll be aware of how your premium may change and can budget for it appropriately, or switch to a provider that offers a better price given your new situation. Here’s how:

1. Decide how much car insurance you need

The three main types of car insurance you should understand are:

Liability car insurance – Covers others’ property damage and medical expenses. If you have few assets, you don’t need high limits. If you own a home or have savings, you do --  100/300/30 is recommended. That means $100,000 per person, up to $300,000 an accident and $30,000 for property damage costs.

If you want  the cheapest car insurance possible when comparison shopping, look for liability coverage only, and in the amount your state requires for you to legally drive. Be warned, however, that many state minimum liability requirements are typically so  low that an accident might leave any assets you have, such as a home or savings, vulnerable to lawsuits. Also, liability insurance doesn’t cover damage to your car.

Collision coverage – Covers damage to your car. This pays out only up to the actual cash value of your car.

Comprehensive insurance – Covers theft and damage to your car from hail, floods, fire, vandalism and animal strikes. Like collision coverage, this will pay you up to the amount your car is valued by the insurance company.

You may not need comprehensive and collision if your car is more than ten-years-old and not worth much. But, comprehensive and collision coverage are typically very affordable, so it may be wise to carry these optional coverages. A comprehensive car insurance analysis by CarInsurance.com shows the national average cost per year is $172. For collision, it’s $488.

Also, decide now what deductible makes sense for your situation. One of the best ways to save on car insurance is to raise your deductible for collision and comprehensive insurance, but remember that if you have a claim, that deductible will be your out-of-pocket expense to repair or replace your car. If you have more than one claim, you'll have to pay the deductible each time. We recommend you choose an amount that you can pay from savings. Your car won’t be repaired until you pay your share.

2. How to get accurate estimates: Compare car insurance quotes on the same coverage from at least three companies

Request rates from at least three different insurers. Be sure to compare the same coverage by using the same liability limits, identical deductibles and optional coverages.

Now that you know what coverages and limits you need, start now by finding car insurance companies in your area.

Factors that affect your rate you should know when getting cheap car insurance

As we mentioned earlier, the actual amount you pay for coverage will depend on a host of variables that car insurance companies take into account when pricing a policy. An educated car insurance shopper should be aware of how these influence cost.

How much does my age affect my car insurance rates?

Auto insurers penalize inexperience rather than age. Of course, the vast majority of inexperienced drivers are teenagers. Rates for 16-year-olds can double or even triple their parents’ car insurance annual premiums.  CarInsurance.com rate data show  the following:

  • Adding a 16-year-old girl to  parents’ policy hikes rates by 125 percent, or $1,872,n average, a year
  • Adding a 16-year-old boy to parents’ policy increases rates by 160 percent, or $2,292 on average, a year

The less experienced the driver, the higher the rates. Among drivers with clean records and no accidents, no other factor changes rates more.

Statistically, inexperienced drivers crash – a lot – and so they are the riskiest category of drivers to insure. Car insurance rates reflect this high risk.

If you keep a clean record after age 25, rates typically stay relatively stable until you become a senior driver, when crash rates go up and premiums begin to rise again. Below you’ll find estimates for average increases  by age.

AgeState minimum50/100/50100/300/100
20$1,102$1,261$3,214
21$875$1,001$2,516
22$794$906$2,288
23$732$834$2,116
24$684$779$1,982
25$608$691$1,745
35$552$627$1,564
45$525$596$1,469
55$494$560$1,363
65$515$585$1,402
75$630$718$1,651
85$778$887$1,987

Does my address affect what I pay for insurance?

If you live in a highly populated urban area, congestion, accidents and insurance claims are more prevalent.  Living and driving in a metro area will make your rates higher than if you live in a rural area, where having an auto accident is less likely.

Car insurance companies look at factors such as the rate of stolen cars in your area, and the number of cases of vandalism, claims and fraudulent claims. All of this helps insurers discern the risk associated with insuring you and your car in that ZIP code, whether you ever have made a claim or not.

All other factors equal, your ZIP code can change your rate by hundreds of dollars. 

Are some cars cheaper to insure than others? Why?

Auto insurers track which cars have the most wrecks and the worst injury records. Those factors impact the cost you pay for liability insurance -- which covers the damage you cause to others.

Insurers also know which cars are expensive to buy, expensive to repair or more easily stolen. Those factors drive up the cost of collision and comprehensive coverage, which repairs or replaces your own car.

The calculations about the risk of a certain car are made independently. For example, if you are an inexperienced driver in a car with a poor claims record, you are penalized twice. A more mature driver in the same car would pay a surcharge for the car, but not one for inexperience.

Insurers can also choose not to cover certain types or brands of cars. For example, some won’t insure a lifted pickup truck, a kit car or certain exotic cars.

How does my marital status affect my car insurance rate?

Married couples have been found to have fewer accidents and claims than single drivers do.

Rates can be from 5 percent to 15 percent lower for married couples just because of their marital status. But there are also other discounts married couples can look forward to when they combine their policies, such as a multicar discount, or a multipolicy discount if they have a renters or homeowners policy with the same insurer.

An insurer considers you single if you have never been married, or are widowed or divorced.

How much does my driving record impact my car insurance rate?

Your driving record is paramount to your car insurance company. Safe drivers get a discount from standard rates for keeping a clean driving record. On the flip side, individuals who have a moving violation (speeding or a DUI, for example) or an accident on their motor vehicle record are more of a risk and can face a surcharge on top of standard rates.

If you have enough violations or accidents, you can become uninsurable according to some car insurance companies’ underwriting rules. For example, some insurers reject anyone with four or more chargeable accidents in three years, or more than three DUIs in seven years, or more than 15 points on the driver’s motor vehicle record.

In general, a minor violation such as a speeding ticket can boost your rates, on average, by 20 percent to 43 percent. If you have a major violation like a DUI, your rates can go up 80 percent or more. The more risk you appear to be to your auto insurer, the more you will pay. That’s why it’s important to how to check your driving record and fix any errors.

How much does my commute matter?

You car’s annual mileage is a rating factor for many car insurance companies. The less you drive, the less risk you have of being in an accident. Also, how far you drive for your commute lets the insurer know what kind of risk you are during the congested, high-risk hours.

Your insurer can also use the length of your commute to determine if you head into a metro area from your rural or suburban home. If you live outside of Los Angeles, but your commute is 30 miles, your insurer can predict that although your local area is low-risk, your commute into the heart of a very populated metropolitan area pushes your risk factor much higher.

Why should my credit history count?

Insurance companies routinely check your credit rating as part of your application process, except in California, Massachusetts and Hawaii, where state law prohibits credit from being a pricing factor.

Credit scores help the insurance companies assess the risk level of a potential customer. Research has shown that those with lower credit scores (typically under 600) are more likely to file claims..

Those with low scores may face a surcharge. CarInsurance.com rate data show that the drivers with poor credit pay 69 percent more for a full coverage policy,  and  those with fair credit pay 18 percent more, on average. Rates for those with higher scores are typically unaffected.

Your credit score can also affect how an insurance company allows you to pay for your policy, since statistics show that people with lower credit scores are more likely to miss a payment. Customers with very poor credit scores may be required to pay the entire premium for a six-month policy up front. Customers with low credit scores sometimes won’t qualify for monthly billing, or they may need to pay a large percentage of the policy up front and the remainder monthly.

Are some types of coverage more expensive?

There are several types of car insurance. The more coverage you get, the more you will pay. If you get a bare-bones liability policy that covers only what the state requires, your car insurance costs are going to be less than if you bought coverage that would repair your own car, too.

Liability coverage tends to cost more because the amount the insurance company risks is higher. Coverage for collision and comprehensive insurance is limited by the replacement cost of the car itself. But medical bills and multiple-car accidents could push a liability claim into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

If you don’t have enough liability coverage, you could be sued for the difference by anyone you injure.

Comprehensive and collision damage is affected by the deductible you choose. The higher the deductible, the less the insurance company will have to pay -- and the lower your rates.

Medical coverage, such as uninsured motorist bodily injury, medical payments or personal injury protection (PIP), will cause your rates to go up. Without some kind of medical coverage, if you don’t have health insurance elsewhere, you might not be able to pay for treatment if you are injured in an accident you caused.

Here’s how much the average driver, with good credit and a clean driving record, would pay for the following coverage amounts,  based on Car Insurance.com’s analysis of rates from up to six major insurers for nearly all ZIP codes:

  • The nationwide average cost for state minimum liability coverage is $526
  • Increasing that coverage to 50/100/50 averages only $561. So, you only pay another $35 a year by increasing your coverage.
  • If you increase that to 100/300/100 with comprehensive and collision and a $500 deductible, that average goes up to $1,350, which is $824 more per year or $69 per month.

Is there any difference between insurance companies?

Insurance companies must follow state laws, but within those laws they price coverage based on their own underwriting rules and guidelines. One insurance company may look at your driving record for five years, another only for three. Or, one may hike your rates a lot more than another for a moving violation. For example,  CarInsurance.com data show that the surcharge for a speeding ticket may raise your insurance by 31 percent with one carrier but 19  percent with another.

And, because each insurer uses its formula to price policies, the difference in the cost between one company and another can be hundreds of dollars, even for drivers with a clean record. CarInsurance.com rate data show that you can save about $1,130, on average, just by comparing rates and choosing the lowest price for a full coverage policy. For just liability limits required by your state to drive legally, the average driver can save about $500 doing a car insurance comparison.

You should shop around and get quotes from several carriers. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples -- the same coverages with each insurer -- and check the reliability and financial stability of the insurance carrier.

Finally, some companies may be a better value, while others may be better at customer service or have more discounts for which you qualify. That's why you should take into account customer service, claims handling and other factors in addition to cost, when deciding on the best car insurance company for you. To help you decide, read the Best Car Insurance Companies 2018 customer service rankings, based on a survey of more than 3,000 policyholders.


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3 Responses to "Estimating car insurance rates: What you need to know"
  1. Sadie

    You are showing an estimate of $1,290 for my area; is that supposed to be for 6 months? A year? What is your time period?

      Reply»  
  2. Cathy

    Thank you for this. I was just trying to figure out what car to buy and this helped.

      Reply»  
    1. CarInsurance.com January 17, 2017 at 1:02 PM

      Sadie - The rates on our estimate tool are annual.

        Reply »  
Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided are for information purposes. They are not intended to substitute informed professional advice. These responses should not be interpreted as a recommendation to buy or sell any insurance product, or to provide financial or legal advice. Please refer to your insurance policy for specific coverage and exclusion information. Please read our Terms of Service.