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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 for those you injure in an accident
  • medical expenses up to $60,000 per accident for others' injuries
  • up to $25,000 for property damage to another driver's vehicle or property

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
AK50/100/25$318Alaska car insurance
AL25/50/25$419Alabama car insurance
AR25/50/25$397Arkansas car insurance
AZ15/30/10$496Arizona car insurance
CA15/30/5$491California car insurance
CO25/50/15$506Colorado car insurance
CT25/50/25$761Connecticut car insurance
DC25/50/10$745District of Columbia car insurance
DE25/50/25$805Delaware car insurance
FL10/20/10$884Florida car insurance
GA25/50/25$532Georgia car insurance
HI20/40/10$555Hawaii car insurance
IA20/4015$294Iowa car insurance
ID25/50/15 (effective 7/1/2018: 25/50/25)$319Idaho car insurance
IL25/50/20$383Illinois car insurance
IN25/50/10$400Indiana car insurance
KS25/50/25$397Kansas car insurance
KY25/50/25$745Kentucky car insurance
LA15/30/25$705Louisiana car insurance
MA20/40/5$539Massachusetts car insurance
MD30/60/15$710Maryland car insurance
ME50/100/25$359Maine car insurance
MI20/40/10$2,012Michigan car insurance
MN30/60/10$579Minnesota car insurance
MO25/50/10$409Missouri car insurance
MS25/50/25$398Mississippi car insurance
MT25/50/20$323Montana car insurance
NC30/60/25$347North Carolina car insurance
ND25/50/10$363North Dakota car insurance
NE25/50/25$329Nebraska car insurance
NH25/50/25*$485New Hampshire car insurance
NJ15/30/5$677New Jersey car insurance
NM15/50/10$424New Mexico car insurance
NV15/30/10 (effective 7/1/2018: 25/50/20)$623Nevada car insurance
NY25/15/10$812New York car insurance
OH25/50/25$383Ohio car insurance
OK25/50/25$444Oklahoma car insurance
OR25/50/20$690Oregon car insurance
PA15/30/5$480Pennsylvania car insurance
RI25/50/25$751Rhode Island car insurance
SC25/50/25$484South Carolina car insurance
SD25/50/25$267South Dakota car insurance
TN25/50/15$404Tennessee car insurance
TX30/60/25$465Texas car insurance
UT25/65/15$531Utah car insurance
VA25/50/20$372Virginia car insurance
VT25/50/10$337Vermont car insurance
WA25/50/10$466Washington car insurance
WI25/50/10$373Wisconsin car insurance
WV25/50/25$493West Virginia car insurance
WY25/50/20$339Wyoming car insurance

Methodology: The table shows the average annual rate for a 2016 Honda Accord for nearly 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.

Who has the cheapest car insurance in your state?

If you want to see how companies compare on price, below are average rates by company, for each state's minimum liability coverage, the amount you need to drive legally. Based on CarInsurance'com's rate analysis of six major insurers, Geico was the cheapest car insurance company in 37 states and in the District of Columbia. Enter your state in the search field to find the cheapest car insurance company for minimum coverage where you live.

StateCompany NameAverage annual rate
AlaskaGeico$270
AlaskaState Farm$277
AlaskaAllstate$312
AlaskaProgressive$413
AlabamaGeico$294
AlabamaFarmers$368
AlabamaNationwide $408
AlabamaProgressive$434
AlabamaState Farm$465
AlabamaAllstate$542
ArkansasGeico$255
ArkansasState Farm$299
ArkansasProgressive$354
ArkansasFarmers$381
ArkansasNationwide$499
ArkansasAllstate$593
ArizonaGeico$331
ArizonaState Farm$460
ArizonaProgressive$471
ArizonaAllstate$550
ArizonaFarmers$569
ArizonaNationwide$594
CaliforniaGeico$253
CaliforniaProgressive$441
CaliforniaAllstate$496
CaliforniaNationwide$575
CaliforniaState Farm$576
CaliforniaFarmers$604
ColoradoGeico$335
ColoradoState Farm$356
ColoradoFarmers$464
ColoradoProgressive$681
ColoradoAllstate$695
ConnecticutGeico$455
ConnecticutState Farm$603
ConnecticutNationwide$723
ConnecticutAllstate$892
ConnecticutProgressive$900
ConnecticutFarmers$996
DCGeico$344
DCState Farm$577
DCNationwide$908
DCAllstate$944
DCProgressive$951
DelawareGeico$530
DelawareProgressive$789
DelawareNationwide$790
DelawareState Farm$885
DelawareAllstate$1,032
FloridaGeico$422
FloridaProgressive$650
FloridaState Farm$719
FloridaAllstate$1,207
FloridaFarmers$1,421
GeorgiaGeico$265
GeorgiaNationwide$411
GeorgiaState Farm$535
GeorgiaProgressive $573
GeorgiaAllstate$875
HawaiiGeico$303
HawaiiState Farm$407
HawaiiAllstate$453
HawaiiFarmers $787
HawaiiProgressive$826
IowaNationwide$196
IowaState Farm$222
IowaGeico$235
IowaProgressive$307
IowaFarmers$369
IowaAllstate$435
IdahoGeico$235
IdahoProgressive$241
IdahoState Farm$244
IdahoFarmers$301
IdahoNationwide$380
IdahoAllstate$514
IllinoisState Farm$221
IllinoisGeico$288
IllinoisProgressive$356
IllinoisNationwide$360
IllinoisAllstate$474
IllinoisIllinois$596
IndianaGeico$294
IndianaIllinois$305
IndianaState Farm$345
IndianaNationwide$350
IndianaProgressive$414
IndianaAllstate$693
KansasGeico$228
KansasState Farm$307
KansasNationwide$341
KansasProgressive$455
KansasFarmers$478
KansasAllstate$572
KentuckyGeico$346
KentuckyState Farm$652
KentuckyNationwide$873
KentuckyProgressive$896
KentuckyAllstate$959
LouisianaGeico$525
LouisianaState Farm$614
LouisianaAllstate$796
LouisianaProgressive$885
MassachusettsState Farm$278
MassachusettsGeico$429
MassachusettsProgressive$694
MassachusettsAllstate$755
MarylandNationwide$596
MarylandState Farm$607
MarylandGeico$648
MarylandProgressive $720
MarylandAllstate$978
MaineGeico$225
MaineProgressive$345
MaineState Farm$370
MaineAllstate$497
MichiganGeico Ind Co$568
MichiganProgressive$1,094
MichiganNationwide$1,501
MichiganState Farm$1,824
MichiganAllstate$1,923
MichiganFarmers$5,162
MinnesotaGeico$368
MinnesotaState Farm$504
MinnesotaAllstate $560
MinnesotaIllinois $629
MinnesotaNationwide$655
MinnesotaProgressive $757
MissouriGeico$268
MissouriNationwide$346
MissouriState Farm$362
MissouriProgressive$390
MissouriFarmers$454
MissouriAllstate$636
MississippiGeico$241
MississippiProgressive$349
MississippiState Farm$356
MississippiNationwide$412
MississippiAllstate$630
MontanaGeico$170
MontanaState Farm$242
MontanaFarmers$311
MontanaProgressive$316
MontanaNationwide$345
MontanaAllstate$553
North CarolinaProgressive$245
North CarolinaState Farm$257
North CarolinaGeico$289
North CarolinaFarmers$394
North CarolinaNationwide$404
North CarolinaAllstate$413
North CarolinaNationwide$425
North DakotaState Farm$283
North DakotaNationwide$299
North DakotaGeico$312
North DakotaProgressive$361
North DakotaAllstate$415
North DakotaFarmers$505
NebraskaGeico$255
NebraskaState Farm$262
NebraskaNationwide$286
NebraskaProgressive$374
NebraskaFarmers$389
NebraskaAllstate$406
New HampshireGeico$231
New HampshireState Farm$378
New HampshireNationwide$481
New HampshireAllstate$556
New HampshireProgressive$777
New JerseyFarmers$443
New JerseyGeico$508
New JerseyProgressive$755
New JerseyAllstate$781
New JerseyState Farm$897
New MexicoGeico$273
New MexicoState Farm$347
New MexicoFarmers$387
New MexicoProgressive$431
New MexicoAllstate$684
NevadaNationwide$442
NevadaProgressive$531
NevadaState Farm$574
NevadaGeico$654
NevadaFarmers$662
NevadaAllstate$873
New YorkGeico$424
New YorkProgressive$530
New YorkState Farm$872
New YorkAllstate$903
New YorkNationwide$996
New YorkFarmers$1,150
OhioState Farm$264
OhioGeico$312
OhioProgressive$325
OhioFarmers$342
OhioAllstate$527
OhioNationwide$528
OklahomaGeico$325
OklahomaState Farm$331
OklahomaFarmers$377
OklahomaProgressive$532
OklahomaAllstate$655
OregonState Farm$476
OregonGeico$570
OregonFarmers $637
OregonNationwide$680
OregonProgressive$858
OregonAllstate$920
PennsylvaniaNationwide$266
PennsylvaniaGeico$288
PennsylvaniaState Farm$364
PennsylvaniaAllstate$676
PennsylvaniaProgressive$806
Rhode IslandState Farm$398
Rhode IslandGeico$607
Rhode IslandProgressive$799
Rhode IslandNationwide$879
Rhode IslandAllstate$1,070
South CarolinaGeico$368
South CarolinaAllstate$426
South CarolinaProgressive$477
South CarolinaState Farm$568
South CarolinaNationwide $579
South DakotaGeico$166
South DakotaProgressive$173
South DakotaState Farm$236
South DakotaFarmers$291
South DakotaNationwide$309
South DakotaAllstate$425
TennesseeGeico$251
TennesseeNationwide$308
TennesseeState Farm$329
TennesseeProgressive $333
TennesseeFarmers$526
TennesseeAllstate$676
TexasGeico$348
TexasFarmers $370
TexasState Farm$438
TexasAllstate$475
TexasNationwide$527
TexasProgressive $629
UtahGeico$318
UtahFarmers$477
UtahNationwide$549
UtahState Farm$611
UtahProgressive$613
UtahAllstate$618
VirginiaState Farm$320
VirginiaGeico$326
VirginiaAllstate$326
VirginiaNationwide$398
VirginiaProgressive $487
VermontGeico$168
VermontAllstate$302
VermontNationwide$360
VermontState Farm$419
VermontProgressive$436
WashingtonGeico$337
WashingtonState Farm$351
WashingtonFarmers$468
WashingtonNationwide$469
WashingtonProgressive$485
WashingtonAllstate$684
WisconsinGeico$237
WisconsinState Farm$263
WisconsinProgressive$331
WisconsinFarmers$415
WisconsinNationwide$482
WisconsinAllstate$510
West VirginiaGeico$374
West VirginiaState Farm$374
West VirginiaNationwide$510
West VirginiaAllstate$578
West VirginiaProgressive$628
WyomingGeico$174
WyomingState Farm$235
WyomingFarmers$389
WyomingAllstate$558

As you can see, among top insurers from whom rates were commissioned, Geico is the cheapest car insurance company in the nation's capital and every state, except the following, for state minimum liability coverage:

  • Iowa
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • Maryland
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • New Jersey
  • Nevada
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Virginia

Here are nationwide average car insurance rates by company for state required minimum liability coverage:

  • Geico -- $338
  • State Farm -- $454
  • Nationwide -- $523
  • Progressive -- $552
  • Farmers -- $659
  • Allstate -- $667

Cheapest car insurance companies in your state for full coverage

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.

As you can see, among top insurers from whom rates were commissioned, Geico is the cheapest car insurance company in the nation's capital and every state, except the following, for full coverage:

  • Alaska
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Maryland
  • Missouri
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Nebraska
  • New Jersey
  • Rhode Island
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wyoming

Here are nationwide average car insurance rates by company, for full coverage:

  • Geico: $901
  • Nationwide/Allied; $1,227
  • State Farm: $1,313
  • Farmers: $1, 351
  • Progressive: $1,415
  • Allstate: $1,758

StateCompanyAverage annual rate
AlaskaState Farm$979
AlaskaGeico$1,075
AlaskaProgressive$1,080
AlaskaAllstate$1,304
AlabamaGeico$759
AlabamaMid Century$1,172
AlabamaNationwide$1,197
AlabamaAllstate$1,257
AlabamaState Farm$1,572
AlabamaProgressive$1,840
ArkansasGeico$980
ArkansasState Farm$1,165
ArkansasFarmers$1,176
ArkansasNationwide$1,483
ArkansasProgressive$1,594
ArkansasAllstate$1,821
ArizonaGeico$977
ArizonaProgressive$1,047
ArizonaFarmers$1,195
ArizonaState Farm$1,392
ArizonaNationwide$1,719
ArizonaAllstate$1,807
CaliforniaGeico$944
CaliforniaUnited Financial$1,128
CaliforniaNationwide$1,379
CaliforniaNationwide$1,756
CaliforniaFarmers$1,932
CaliforniaState Farm$1,967
ColoradoGeico$813
ColoradoState Farm$1,241
ColoradoFarmers$1,516
ColoradoProgressive$1,559
ColoradoAllstate$1,889
ConnecticutGeico$946
ConnecticutNationwide$1,254
ConnecticutState Farm$1,463
ConnecticutProgressive$2,026
ConnecticutAllstate$2,462
ConnecticutForemost$2,478
DCGeico$713
DCProgressive$1,496
DCState Farm$1,518
DCNationwide$1,977
DCAllstate$2,913
DelawareGeico$1,134
DelawareProgressive$1,333
DelawareNationwide$1,492
DelawareState Farm$1,872
DelawareAllstate$2,398
FloridaGeico$1,192
FloridaState Farm$1,611
FloridaProgressive$1,754
Florida21st Century Centennial$1,972
FloridaAllstate$2,584
GeorgiaGeico$762
GeorgiaNationwide$1,303
GeorgiaState Farm$1,372
GeorgiaProgressive$1,563
GeorgiaAllstate$1,701
HawaiiGeico$857
HawaiiState Farm$1,023
HawaiiAllstate$1,389
HawaiiProgressive$1,646
HawaiiFarmers$2,376
IowaAmco Ins Co$645
IowaGeico$693
IowaFarmers$933
IowaState Farm$945
IowaProgressive$1,286
IowaAllstate$1,589
IdahoGeico$713
IdahoFarmers$800
IdahoState Farm$845
IdahoProgressive$848
IdahoDepositors Ins Co$863
IdahoAllstate$1,577
IllinoisGeico$590
IllinoisAmco Ins Co$678
IllinoisState Farm$1,011
IllinoisIllinois Farmers$1,170
IllinoisProgressive$1,193
IllinoisAllstate$1,375
IndianaGeico$651
IndianaIllinois Farmers$748
IndianaProgressive$854
IndianaNationwide$866
IndianaState Farm$1,095
IndianaAllstate$1,569
KansasNationwide$814
KansasGeico$823
KansasState Farm$1,166
KansasFarmers$1,249
KansasProgressive$1,682
KansasAllstate$1,718
KentuckyGeico$881
KentuckyNationwide$1,631
KentuckyProgressive$1,693
KentuckyState Farm$1,734
KentuckyAllstate$2,822
LouisianaGeico$1,540
LouisianaState Farm$2,023
LouisianaAllstate$2,316
LouisianaProgressive$2,881
MassachusettsGeico$865
MassachusettsState Farm$884
MassachusettsProgressive$1,272
MassachusettsAllstate$1,742
MarylandProgressive$1,102
MarylandNationwide$1,114
MarylandGeico$1,199
MarylandState Farm$1,357
MarylandAllstate$2,177
MaineGeico$517
MaineState Farm$948
MaineProgressive$1,025
MaineAllstate$1,212
MichiganGeico$1,027
MichiganProgressive$1,714
MichiganTitan$2,177
MichiganAllstate$2,849
MichiganState Farm$3,135
MichiganFarmers$3,999
MinnesotaGeico$935
MinnesotaIllinois Farmers$1,030
MinnesotaAllied$1,188
MinnesotaState Farm$1,190
MinnesotaProgressive$1,295
MinnesotaAllstate$1,483
MissouriAllied$724
MissouriGeico$800
MissouriFarmers$1,051
MissouriState Farm$1,279
MissouriProgressive$1,303
MissouriAllstate$1,769
MississippiGeico$894
MississippiNationwide$1,184
MississippiProgressive Gulf Ins Co$1,268
MississippiState Farm$1,353
MississippiAllstate$1,917
MontanaGeico$848
MontanaProgressive$1,112
MontanaState Farm$1,149
MontanaDepositors$1,238
MontanaMid Century$1,244
MontanaAllstate$1,753
North CarolinaProgressive$622
North CarolinaGeico$704
North CarolinaState Farm$845
North CarolinaFarmers$1,046
North CarolinaNationwide$1,071
North CarolinaNationwide$1,205
North CarolinaAllstate$1,230
North DakotaAllied$753
North DakotaGeico$897
North DakotaProgressive$1,047
North DakotaState Farm$1,132
North DakotaAllstate$1,502
North DakotaMid Century$2,560
NebraskaAllied$711
NebraskaGeico$978
NebraskaState Farm$1,003
NebraskaMid Century$1,192
NebraskaAllstate$1,393
NebraskaProgressive$1,403
New HampshireGeico$550
New HampshireNationwide$867
New HampshireState Farm$1,036
New HampshireProgressive$1,465
New HampshireAllstate$1,588
New Jersey21st Century Centennial$762
New JerseyGeico$1,104
New JerseyProgressive$1,255
New JerseyAllstate NJ$1,761
New JerseyState Farm$1,847
New MexicoGeico$894
New MexicoProgressive$998
New MexicoState Farm$1,177
New MexicoFarmers$1,251
New MexicoAllstate$1,948
NevadaGeico$1,342
NevadaMid Century$1,537
NevadaProgressive$1,663
NevadaState Farm$1,726
NevadaVictoria$1,955
NevadaAllstate$2,256
New YorkGeico$993
New YorkProgressive$1,160
New YorkAllstate$1,587
New YorkState Farm$1,855
New YorkNationwide$2,098
New YorkForemost$2,858
OhioGeico$619
OhioState Farm$881
OhioFarmers$887
OhioProgressive$999
OhioNationwide$1,015
OhioAllstate$1,310
OklahomaGeico$1,050
OklahomaFarmers$1,327
OklahomaState Farm$1,416
OklahomaAllstate$1,918
OklahomaProgressive$2,506
OregonGeico$933
OregonState Farm$1,043
OregonNationwide$1,121
OregonProgressive$1,238
OregonFarmers$1,594
OregonAllstate$1,656
PennsylvaniaGeico$703
PennsylvaniaNationwide$711
PennsylvaniaState Farm$1,284
PennsylvaniaAllstate$1,729
PennsylvaniaProgressive$3,183
Rhode IslandState Farm$1,132
Rhode IslandGeico$1,292
Rhode IslandNationwide$1,678
Rhode IslandProgressive$2,092
Rhode IslandAllstate$2,246
South CarolinaGeico$1,050
South CarolinaAllstate$1,178
South CarolinaNationwide$1,200
South CarolinaProgressive$1,359
South CarolinaState Farm$1,511
South DakotaGeico$708
South DakotaNationwide$938
South DakotaMid Century$982
South DakotaState Farm$1,052
South DakotaProgressive$1,110
South DakotaAllstate$1,562
TennesseeGeico$764
TennesseeNationwide$796
TennesseeState Farm$1,131
TennesseeProgressive$1,223
TennesseeMid Century$1,576
TennesseeAllstate$1,794
TexasFarmers$905
TexasGeico$1,027
TexasColonial$1,247
TexasProgressive$1,328
TexasState Farm$1,348
TexasAllstate$1,949
UtahGeico$684
UtahMid Century$1,016
UtahAllied$1,119
UtahAllstate$1,353
UtahProgressive$1,503
UtahState Farm$1,518
VirginiaNationwide$744
VirginiaGeico$894
VirginiaState Farm$969
VirginiaAllstate$1,102
VirginiaProgressive$1,150
VermontGeico$485
VermontNationwide$789
VermontProgressive$1,103
VermontAllstate$1,183
VermontState Farm$1,255
WashingtonNationwide$1,028
WashingtonGeico$1,075
WashingtonProgressive$1,092
WashingtonState Farm$1,160
WashingtonFarmers$1,335
WashingtonAllstate$1,455
WisconsinGeico$663
WisconsinState Farm$914
WisconsinMid Century$1,021
WisconsinArtisan$1,176
WisconsinAllstate$1,484
WisconsinNationwide$2,851
West VirginiaGeico$1,149
West VirginiaProgressive$1,238
West VirginiaState Farm$1,309
West VirginiaNationwide$1,327
West VirginiaAllstate$1,853
WyomingState Farm$1,128
WyomingGeico$1,287
WyomingFarmers$1,688
WyomingAllstate$1,874

*Rates were fielded by Quadrant Information Services from up to six major insurers in nearly every ZIP code of each state. Driver profile: male, age 40, married, clean record and good credit, driving 2016 Honda Accord.

 

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.

 

The cheapest car insurance company isn't always the best in terms of customer service

Everyone loves a bargain, but you should also consider customer service along with price when comparing car insurance companies. An Insure.com survey of 3,700 customers yielded the following results, with all scores out of 100.

Note that Geico was the cheapest car insurance company among those surveyed in CarInsurance.com's rate analysis, as outlined in the charts above. But in Insure.com's "Best Car Insurance Companies" survey, Allstate scored No. 1 in value for the price, customer service and claims handling. Allstate and Progressive have higher overall scores than Geico. Although by a narrow margin, Geico placed last on customer service, and was beat by Allstate, Nationwide and Farmers on claims handling. 

Auto insurance companies ranked on value, customer service and claims handling

CompanyOverall Score
Allstate88.34
Progressive86.56
Geico86
Farmers85.24
State Farm84.76
Nationwide84.4
CompanyValue for Price
Allstate84.8
Progressive84.24
Geico83.39
Farmers82.1
State Farm80.85
Nationwide78.25
CompanyCustomer Service
Allstate89.35
Progressive87.27
Farmers86.61
State Farm86.5
Nationwide86.49
Geico86.25
CompanyClaims
Allstate94
Nationwide92.82
Farmers90.64
Geico90.43
Progressive90.29
State Farm88.64

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