How to compare auto insurance rates and find an affordable policy

If you’ve ever compared car insurance rates, you know how many options are available. Depending on a variety of individual rating factors, certain companies will price your auto insurance policy differently. You could end up paying more by choosing the wrong company or failing to compare car insurance quotes from a diverse collection of companies.

This in-depth guide — written by one of The Zebra's licensed insurance experts — outlines the factors that go into car insurance premiums, along with some tips to help you find the best insurance rates. 

 

Comparing car insurance rates: basics and info

  1. What goes into auto insurance prices
  2. How to shop for a car insurance policy
  3. Methodology
  4. FAQs

 

What goes into car insurance rates?

Your auto insurance rate depends on your track record as a driver, as well as your age, your credit, your vehicle, and your location. 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.

Our analysis of major rating factors shows how premiums shift from company to company.

 

Car insurance rate comparison by:

  1. Age
  2. Driving record
  3. Credit score
  4. Vehicle
  5. Location

 

To compare car insurance quotes for free online today, enter your ZIP code below.  

 

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Comparing car insurance rates by age and insurance provider

Car insurance rates for teenage drivers

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 US, State Farm, GEICO, and USAA are the cheapest coverage options for teen drivers.

TeenDriversAverageRates.png

TEEN DRIVER CAR INSURANCE RATE COMPARISON
Insurance company6-month premium
Allstate$3,607
Farmers$3,635
GEICO$1,835
Liberty Mutual$3,789
Nationwide$2,367
Progressive$4,294
State Farm$1,820
USAA$1,629

For more info on car insurance rate comparisons by age, reference these resources:


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Car insurance comparison: young adult drivers

The age of 25 is a turning point for car insurance savings. But no matter how much you save, you’re probably still paying more than you’d like. In order to find the cheapest car insurance for 25-year-olds, we created a default user profile and gathered rates from eight popular auto insurance companies.

25yearold_averagerates.png

CAR INSURANCE PREMIUMS BY COMPANY — 25-YEAR-OLD DRIVER
Insurance provider6-month premium
Allstate$1,117
Farmers$919
GEICO$680
Liberty Mutual$888
Nationwide$794
Progressive$885
State Farm$726
USAA$605

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USAA is the cheapest car insurance company for 25-year-old drivers, with GEICO being a bit more expensive. Although Liberty Mutual and State Farm are the more expensive options for older drivers, they could end up being affordable insurers for drivers with violations on their records (read on for more info).

If you’re looking for more information on how to get car insurance as a young driver, see our additional articles:



Car insurance for seniors

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 children drivers, GEICO and USAA offer the cheapest rates, all other metrics constant.


Average Auto Insurance Rates — Senior Drivers.png

CAR INSURANCE PREMIUMS — SENIOR DRIVERS
Insurance Provider6-month Premium
Allstate$918
Farmers$713
GEICO$544
Liberty Mutual$665
Nationwide$626
Progressive$721
State Farm$582
USAA$460

Looking for more information? See our additional articles.


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Car insurance comparison by driving history

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.


At-fault accidents and car insurance rates

On average, an at-fault property damage accident will raise your premium by an average of $767 per year. Because most insurance providers will charge you for three years after an accident, this $767 increase equates to more than $2,301 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 $2,301 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.

If you have an at-fault accident on your insurance history, consider USAA or State Farm.

Average Auto Insurance Rates — After At-Fault Accident.png

AUTO INSURANCE COMPARISON AFTER AN AT-FAULT COLLISION
Insurance providerNo accidentAfter at-fault accident
Allstate$944$1,508
Farmers$762$1,113
GEICO$638$998
Liberty Mutual$823$1,179
Nationwide$673$1,087
Progressive$802$1,386
State Farm$656$808
USAA$474$644

 


Insurance cost comparison after a DUI conviction

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 10 years. Based on our analysis of the most popular car insurance companies, this could set you back an average of $1,200 per year in insurance rate increases during that 10-year period. To limit costs, do your due diligence and compare rates. State Farm and USAA are the cheapest insurance options after a DUI — consider starting your comparison process with those providers.


Average Auto Insurance Rates — After a DUI_DWI.png

AVERAGE AUTO INSURANCE RATES AFTER A DUI
Insurance providerNo violationAfter DUI/DWI
Allstate$944$1,817
Farmers$762$1,316
GEICO$638$1,323
Liberty Mutual$823$1,317
Nationwide$673$1,546
Progressive$802$1,002
State Farm$656$987
USAA$474$876


Auto insurance rate comparison: with a reckless driving citation

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 cheap 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.


Average Auto Insurance Rates — After Reckless Driving.png

INSURANCE RATES AFTER A RECKLESS DRIVING VIOLATION
CompanyNonePremium w/ reckless driving
Allstate$944$1,767
Farmers$762$1,432
GEICO$638$1,227
Liberty Mutual$823$1,275
Nationwide$673$1,481
Progressive$802$1,188
State Farm$656$965
USAA$474$681

For more information on insurance after a driving violation, check out our more in-depth articles:


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Compare car insurance by credit score

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:

 

Comparing car insurance premiums with very poor credit:

If you have very poor credit, the cheapest car insurance company is Nationwide. With this insurer, your premium could be $350 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!

Average Auto Insurance Rates — Bad Credit.png

AUTO INSURANCE RATES WITH BAD CREDIT
CompanyCredit score: Very Poor (300-579)
Allstate$1,692
Farmers$1,293
GEICO$1,087
Liberty Mutual$1,921
Nationwide$1,059
Progressive$1,658
State Farm$1,435
USAA$1,199

 

 


 

Six-month car insurance cost for fair credit

With rates $240 less than the group average, USAA offers the cheapest 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 $891, that's $257 more than those with "great" credit are paying, with all other metrics consistent.
Average Auto Insurance Rates — Fair Credit.png

AUTO INSURANCE RATES WITH FAIR CREDIT
CompanyCredit score: Fair (580-669)
Allstate$1,148
Farmers$898
GEICO$697
Liberty Mutual$1,074
Nationwide$840
Progressive$1,018
State Farm$804
USAA$651

 


 

Six-month car insurance rates with good credit

As a driver gets into the higher credit tiers, car insurance rates get a little more competitive between companies. Although a driver with a credit score between 670-739 is still paying $100-plus more than a driver in the absolute highest credit tier, it's possible to cut insurance costs by selecting USAA as your car insurance provider.

Average Auto Insurance Rates — Good Credit.png

AUTO INSURANCE RATES WITH GOOD CREDIT
CompanyCredit score: Good (670-739)
Allstate$1,011
Farmers$822
GEICO$602
Liberty$863
Nationwide$714
Progressive$809
State Farm$647
USAA$545

 


 

Six-month premium with very good credit

Between "very good" and "great" credit, there's an average of $116 in annual premium difference. For our user profile, USAA and GEICO are the cheapest for this credit level. On average, these companies charge between $85 and $158 per month for auto insurance.

Average Auto Insurance Rates — Very Good Credit.png

CAR INSURANCE RATES WITH VERY GOOD CREDIT
CompanyCredit score: Very Good (740-799)
Allstate$953
Farmers$759
GEICO$562
Liberty$778
Nationwide$675
Progressive$715
State Farm$583
USAA$511

 


 

Six-month insurance premium comparison with excellent credit

For drivers in the top credit tier, USAA remains the cheapest car insurance company. At $159 less per year than the group average, USAA auto insurance typically costs a driver with exceptional credit $950 per year — about $79 per month.

Average Auto Insurance Rates — Great Credit.png

CAR INSURANCE RATES WITH GREAT CREDIT
Company6-Month premium
Allstate$885
Farmers$714
GEICO$512
Liberty Mutual$705
Nationwide$637
Progressive$617
State Farm$527
USAA$475

 

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Compare car insurance costs by vehicle make and model

The type of vehicle you insure will impact your car insurance rate. Insuring a large 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. Simple as that.

 

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Compare car insurance rates by location

Your location can have a huge impact on your insurance premium. Like many industries in the US, 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.

 

City6-Month premium
New York$1,501
Los Angeles$1,315
Chicago$855
Houston$835
Philadelphia$1,323
Phoenix$904
San Antonio$750
San Diego$886
Dallas$839
San Jose$931
Austin$711
Jacksonville$1,122
San Francisco$1,128
Indianapolis$641
Columbus$584
Fort Worth$723
Charlotte$554
Detroit$3,139
El Paso$721
Seattle$832
Denver$974
Washington$691
Memphis$974
Boston$882
Nashville$798
Baltimore$1,035
Oklahoma City$995
Portland$892
Las Vegas$1,319
Louisville$1,261
Milwaukee$793
Albuquerque$777
Tucson$760
Fresno$938
Sacramento$1,060
Long Beach$1,025
Kansas City$995
Mesa$791
Atlanta$961
Virginia Beach$520
Omaha$726
Colorado Springs$951
Raleigh$475
Miami$1,537
Oakland$1,121
Minneapolis$826
Tulsa$1,002
Cleveland$617
Wichita$857
New Orleans$1,867

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.

Below are average six-month premiums for every state in the US.

While many inputs comprise car insurance costs, we tried to touch on some of the major factors. If you’re interested in all the other rating factors, such as your homeowner status, education level, and more, consult our other resources:


Car insurance comparison FAQs

 

What's the best way to compare car insurance quotes online?

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.

How can you find car insurance quotes from multiple companies at once?

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.

Does The Zebra work well for comparing car insurance rates?

The Zebra provides the internet's most accurate insurance rates, gathering personalized quotes from more than 100 top insurance companies.

What factors go into car insurance rates?

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 rates is to use The Zebra to gather personalized pricing from more than 100 leading insurance companies.

What information do you need to compare auto insurance rates?

To make the process of getting car insurance quotes as quick and painless as possible, be sure to have the following information on hand:

  • Date of birth
  • Vehicle storage location
  • Drivers license number
  • Driving and insurance history
  • VIN of the vehicle to be insured

 

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How to compare car insurance rates

Now that you understand what contributes to car insurance rates, 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.

  • Personal information of anyone on the policy, including date of birth, driver’s license number, and address (if different from your own)
  • Driving history of all drivers on the policy
  • Insurance history of all drivers on the policy
  • Vehicle information of all vehicles on the policy including VIN
  • Payment: if you’re getting a policy for the first time, it’s likely the insurance company will require a down payment before the policy is bound (accepted).

While you might want to finish shopping for car insurance 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.

We’ve listed America's best auto insurance companies, according to J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Surveys, with corresponding average annual premiums.


Highest-ranked car insurance companies in the US

CompanyAverage annual premium
Amica Mutual$1,306
NJM Insurance Co.$1,252
USAA$948
Country Financial$1,070
Erie$831
GEICO$1,276

There isn’t a definitive answer to the question, “which company is the cheapest?”. Some companies are cheaper than others, plain and simple, but individual details of your driving profile can affect which companies offer you the cheapest rates. For example, while Nationwide wasn’t the cheapest for a driver with a clean record, it was relatively cheap for a driver following an at-fault accident. The best way to find cheap car insurance is to compare as many companies as possible using your driving profile.

While the J.D. Power-recommended companies above aren’t among the cheapest of the insurance companies we’ve examined, they might suit your needs. It’s important to think beyond price to find a comfortable middle ground between claims satisfaction and affordability. Use The Zebra’s side-by-side insurance comparisons to avoid some of the legwork involved in insurance shopping.


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Rate comparison calculations and methodology

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 US 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.

For more auto insurance information, please reference The Zebra's comprehensive State of Insurance study.

This article was written by one of The Zebra’s licensed insurance experts. Each article is thoroughly researched to ensure we provide accurate, unbiased, and useful information.


Recent Questions:

Auto Insurance

Should I get full coverage from a less well-known insurer?

Whether or not the company is a "mainstream" provider doesn't mean that you would have a bad claims experience. There are several companies out there that have been around for several years and just don't advertise like other companies.

If I cancel my insurance mid-month, will I get my money back?

Most companies, including Progressive, usually bill you ahead of time. Meaning, if you pay your bill on the 1st for the 1st-31st and cancel on the 10th, you would get the remaining days of the months of premium back.

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You can use our insurance calculator here in order to find insurance. Your status as a foreign driver does not impact this as long as you have your license.

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