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Learn more about the factors that dictate your car insurance costs and compare rates from top companies.
Along with the type and amount of coverage that you choose, your auto insurance rates depend primarily on a number of personal factors including your driving record, your age, your credit history, your vehicle, and the risk level of your area. Insurance companies' weighting of these attributes is reflected in your premium. For example, having a limited driving history or a poor credit score can raise your rates dramatically.
Auto insurance companies use varying methods to underwrite policies. This means that the auto insurance rate you are quoted by one company might not match your quote from a competing company. However, you can expect that your individual driver profile is one of the primary factors used to determine how much you'll pay. Complicating matters even further, car insurance rates can fluctuate depending on trends in the wider insurance market. Because of the many variables at play, the best way to find cheap car insurance is to compare auto insurance rates from a number of companies, something that The Zebra can help with.
While shopping around can lead to cheaper rates for all motorists, this is especially important for those with a poor credit history or who lack a clean driving record. Rates for such drivers are already higher on average, even for the minimum coverage required by your state.
This unbiased guide — written by one of The Zebra's insurance experts — outlines the factors that comprise car insurance premiums and provides tips to help you find a car insurance policy.
If you have teenage dependents — or if you’re a teen driver yourself — you know insurance is expensive. In many cases, adding a teen to your car insurance plan can nearly double your premium. Of the most popular car insurance companies in the U.S., GEICO, American Family and USAA are the most affordable insurance companies for teen drivers.
|Insurance Company||6-Month Insurance Premium|
For more car insurance rate comparisons by age bracket, reference our in-depth guides:
|Insurance Company||6-Month Insurance Rate|
If you’re looking for more information on how to find an affordable auto insurance policy in your 20s, see our additional articles:
Between the ages of 30 and 60, car insurance rates don’t fluctuate much based only on age. As you reach your late 50s and 60s, age becomes a more important determinant of your rate. For a typical senior-aged married couple without young drivers on their policy, GEICO and Nationwide offer the lowest rates with all other metrics constant.
|Insurance company||6-Month Car Insurance Rate|
Looking for more information? See our additional articles.
Naturally, insurance companies use your driving past as an indicator of how you will drive in the future. It can be difficult to find affordable car insurance if you have a checkered driving history. While it’s very unlikely you will find an insurance company that won’t increase your premium after an at-fault accident or other violation, the degree of the rate increase will vary by company. Let’s compare rate increases for some common violations across major insurance companies.
On average, an at-fault property damage accident will raise your premium by an average of $658 per year. Because most insurance providers will charge you for three years after an accident, this $658 increase equates to more than $1,974 in total fees. If you’re thinking of filing a claim, consider the overall cost of the claim versus what the claim would cost to pay out-of-pocket. Compare this $1,974 penalty — plus your deductible (if applicable) — to the out-of-pocket expense. While this is nice information to know before filing a claim, it won’t help if you’ve already filed a claim.
|Insurance Company||Rate Without Collision||Rate After Collision|
In many states, a DUI is the most costly violation you can receive. In fact, in California, a DUI offense can stay on your insurance record for as long as ten years. Based on our analysis of the most popular insurance companies, this could set you back an average of $1,000 per year in insurance rate increases during that ten-year period. To limit costs, do your due diligence and compare rates. Progressive and American Family are solid insurance options after a DUI — consider starting your comparison process with one of these companies.
|Insurance Provider||Rate Without Violation||Rate After DUI/DWI|
Like a DUI, a reckless driving ticket can raise your car insurance rates. If you’ve received a reckless driving citation, your best bets for car insurance are USAA and State Farm, despite the latter being one of the more pricey insurance companies if you don’t have a violation. This shows the importance of comparing car insurance rates: your driving profile will be handled differently by every carrier.
|Insurance Company||Rate Without Violation||Insurance Premium After Reckless Driving|
For more information on insurance after a driving violation, check out our more in-depth articles:
Another major contributor to your car insurance rate is your credit score. While it's not directly related to your driving, car insurance companies believe your credit score says a lot about what kind of client you’ll be.
Compare how car insurance companies factor credit score into their rates:
If you have very poor credit, the cheapest car insurance company is Liberty Mutual. With this company, your premium could be $474 less than the average among major companies. Compared to drivers at the highest credit level, drivers with bad credit pay over $1,500 more per year for auto insurance. If you pay off a loan or otherwise improve your credit score, you should shop around for car insurance as your premium should change. This insurance benefit is yet another reason to keep your credit score up.
|Company||Credit Score: Very Poor (300-579)|
With rates $283 less than the group average, Liberty Mutual again offers the most affordable insurance for drivers with "fair" credit scores. Even so, a fair credit score will result in elevated rates. While the average premium for fair credit drivers is $1,128, that's almost $350 more than those with "very good" credit are paying, with all other metrics consistent.
|Company||Credit Score: Fair (580-669)|
As a driver improves their credit score, car insurance rates get more competitive between companies. Although a driver with a credit score between 670-739 is still paying $200-plus more than a driver in the highest credit tier, it's possible to cut insurance costs by selecting Liberty Mutual or Nationwide as your car insurance provider.
|Company||Credit Score: Good (670-739)|
Between "very good" and "great" credit, there's an average of $275 in annual premium difference. For our user profile, Nationwide and Liberty Mutual are the best options for drivers in this credit tier. On average, these companies charge about $96 per month for auto insurance.
|Company||Credit Score: Very Good (740-799)|
For drivers in the top credit tier, GEICO and Nationwide are the most affordable car insurance companies. At $190 less per year than the group average, GEICO and Nationwide auto insurance typically cost a driver with exceptional credit $1,000 per year — about $83 per month.
|Company||Credit Score: Excellent (800-850)|
The type of vehicle you insure will impact your car insurance rate. Insuring a truck or luxury vehicle is more expensive than insuring a sedan with standard trim. This is because collision and comprehensive coverage are designed to replace your vehicle in the event of an accident. The more it costs to replace your vehicle, the more it costs to insure it.
Your location can have a huge impact on your insurance premium. Like many industries in the U.S., car insurance is regulated at the state level and is dictated by each state’s regulations. If you live in an area prone to floods, hurricanes or wildfires, your rates could be more expensive: insurance companies compensate for these risks with higher premiums.
Dive into the data below to find check out your expected costs, or check out our full list of car insurance rates by city.
|City||Average 6-Month Insurance Rate|
If you live in an area with unusual state regulations or heightened risk of weather-related claims, shopping for car insurance options will be vital. Not every car insurance company offers policies in every state, which can make pricing less competitive. If you live in a storm-prone state such as Louisiana or Florida, you might find it harder to get a competitive rate.
|State||Average 6-Month Premium|
The best way to compare auto insurance quotes online is to use an insurance comparison site such as The Zebra. The site makes insurance less complicated, allowing consumers to find the rates and information they need to make an informed decision on their insurance.
It's easy to compare auto insurance quotes from multiple companies simultaneously by using an insurance comparison site like The Zebra. The Zebra is an independent insurance quote comparison site that strives to act as a trusted partner for everyday insurance consumers.
The Zebra provides the internet's most accurate insurance rates, gathering personalized quotes from more than 100 top insurance companies.
Auto insurance rates depend on an array of factors, including a driver's age, credit score, vehicle type and location (among others). An easy way to compare car insurance is to use The Zebra to gather personalized pricing from more than 100 leading insurance companies.
To get car insurance quotes as quickly and easily as possible, have the following information on hand:
The Zebra earns money by helping you find insurance, whether you purchase a policy online or consult one of our insurance agents by phone. The Zebra's partnerships with insurance companies do not influence the editorial content that appears on the site.
Now that you understand what contributes to your car insurance premium, let’s talk about how to shop for car insurance. Unless you want to spend a significant amount of time talking to an insurance agent, make sure you have the following information ready when you begin your car insurance shopping process.
While you might want to finish shopping for car insurance coverage as quickly as possible, it’s important to do your due diligence and find the right company. At the end of the day, car insurance is designed to protect and benefit you. If you were to be injured or have your car totaled in an accident, your insurer’s customer service and claims satisfaction would be vital.
While property damage and bodily injury liability coverage are required in most states, it always pays to look into the optional coverage offered by your auto insurance company. Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage is a great way to protect yourself against drivers without insurance coverage. Comprehensive and collision coverage are also great ways to cover your vehicle if it becomes damaged.
Looking for more information to guide your auto insurance comparison decision? Consult the below resources, written by unbiased insurance experts:
In your search for auto insurance, you may come across insurance comparison sites online to avoid the tedious task of going through every insurance company's quoting process to compare your options. Much like The Zebra's comparison tool, these sites request your personal information to generate your quotes and help you shop for your next policy. However, not every comparison site keeps your data secure — and in many cases, lead generation sites will sell your data to insurance companies, who will contact you relentlessly in pursuit of your business.
If you want to avoid spam emails, texts and phone calls, it's in your best interest to find out how your information is handled before submitting your contact info for quotes. A site that will generate real insurance quotes without selling your information is the best way to find affordable insurance without sacrificing your sanity. Unfortunately, most of the quote comparison sites online use a lead-gen model, so exercise caution before offering up any personal information.
Below is a list of known lead generation sites:
The Zebra has a pledge to not sell your information to spammers. In fact, we don't ask for your phone number when you get a quote, unlike many comparison sites, and offer personalized quotes from more than 100 insurance providers. The Zebra also operates an in-house insurance agency to guide consumers through the process of obtaining auto insurance.
The auto insurance rates displayed in our articles are based on the results of The Zebra’s comprehensive car insurance pricing analysis. In our analysis of all U.S. ZIP codes — including Washington D.C. — the sample user profile consisted of a 30-year-old single male driving a Honda Accord. To generate pricing specific to particular rating factors, we adjusted the driving profile based on pricing factors commonly used by car insurance companies. Learn more about The Zebra's rate methodology.
For more auto insurance information, please reference The Zebra's comprehensive State of Insurance study.
The Zebra is not an insurance company. We’re an independent, unbiased partner for consumers, on a mission to help you compare insurance options apples-to-apples, so you can make a truly informed decision. We’re proud because: