How to compare auto insurance rates and find an affordable policy

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.

 

Why insurance comparison shopping is important

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.

 

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Compare car insurance rates by age and insurance company

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 U.S., GEICO, American Family and USAA are the most affordable insurance companies for teen drivers.

Teen Drivers Auto Insurance Rates.png
TEEN DRIVER CAR INSURANCE RATE COMPARISON
Insurance Company6-Month Insurance Premium
Allstate$2,945
American Family$1,600
Farmers$2,465
GEICO$1,553
Liberty Mutual$3,332
Nationwide$1,721
Progressive$2,547
State Farm$1,688
Travelers$1,835
USAA$1,666
 

For more car insurance rate comparisons by age bracket, reference our in-depth guides:

 
25-Year-Old Drivers Average Auto Insurance Rates.png
CAR INSURANCE PREMIUMS BY COMPANY — 25-YEAR-OLD DRIVER
Insurance Company6-Month Insurance Rate
Allstate$1,121
American Family$723
Farmers$859
GEICO$636
Liberty Mutual$888
Nationwide$612
Progressive$685
State Farm$734
Travelers$696
USAA$704
Nationwide is the least expensive car insurance company for 25-year-old drivers, with GEICO being a bit more expensive. Although State Farm and American Family are the more expensive options for older drivers, they could end up being affordable insurers for drivers with violations on their records.

If you’re looking for more information on how to find an affordable auto insurance policy in your 20s, see our additional articles:

 

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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 young drivers on their policy, GEICO and Nationwide offer the lowest rates with all other metrics constant.

Seniors Average Auto Insurance Rates.png
CAR INSURANCE PREMIUMS — SENIOR DRIVERS
Insurance company6-Month Car Insurance Rate
Allstate$950
American Family$586
Farmers$682
GEICO$527
Liberty Mutual$665
Nationwide$460
Progressive$559
State Farm$573
Travelers$558
USAA$535
 

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 $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.

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

After At-Fault Accident Average Auto Insurance Rates.png
CAR INSURANCE RATES AFTER AN ACCIDENT
Insurance CompanyRate Without CollisionRate After Collision
Allstate$1,013$1,706
American Family$708$884
Farmers$797$1,138
GEICO$615$982
Liberty Mutual$823$1,179
Nationwide$639$952
Progressive$644$1,088
State Farm$676$810
Travelers$684$923
USAA$567$767
 

Insurance rate 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 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.

After a DUI DWI Average Auto Insurance Rates.png
AVERAGE AUTO INSURANCE RATES AFTER A DUI
Insurance ProviderRate Without ViolationRate After DUI/DWI
Allstate$1,013$2,001
American Family$708$823
Farmers$797$1,244
GEICO$615$1,377
Liberty Mutual$823$1,317
Nationwide$639$1,479
Progressive$644$919
State Farm$676$940
Travelers$684$1,003
USAA$567$1,106
 

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 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.

After Reckless Driving Average Auto Insurance Rates.png
INSURANCE RATES AFTER A RECKLESS DRIVING VIOLATION
Insurance CompanyRate Without ViolationInsurance Premium After Reckless Driving
Allstate$1,013$1,949
American Family$708$988
Farmers$797$1,309
GEICO$615$1,225
Liberty Mutual$823$1,275
Nationwide$639$1,357
Progressive$644$1,015
State Farm$676$906
Travelers$684$955
USAA$567$841
 

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

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Compare car insurance rates 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 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.

Average Auto Insurance Rates — Bad Credit.png
AUTO INSURANCE RATES WITH BAD CREDIT
CompanyCredit Score: Very Poor (300-579)
Allstate$1,577
American Family$1,254
Farmers$1,179
GEICO$903
Liberty Mutual$714
Nationwide$785
Progressive$1,181
State Farm$1,481
Travelers$1,426
USAA$1,382

 


 

Six-month car insurance rates for drivers with fair credit

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.

Average Auto Insurance Rates — Fair Credit.png
AUTO INSURANCE RATES FOR A DRIVER WITH FAIR CREDIT
CompanyCredit Score: Fair (580-669)
Allstate$1,341
American Family$1,036
Farmers$1,006
GEICO$752
Liberty Mutual$704
Nationwide$711
Progressive$944
State Farm$1,132
Travelers$1,195
USAA$1,051

 


 

The best car insurance for drivers with good credit

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.

Average Auto Insurance Rates — Good Credit.png
AUTO INSURANCE RATES WITH GOOD CREDIT
CompanyCredit Score: Good (670-739)
Allstate$1,183
American Family$863
Farmers$892
GEICO$655
Liberty Mutual$652
Nationwide$652
Progressive$795
State Farm$878
Travelers$949
USAA$836

 


 

The top car insurance companies for a driver with very good credit

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.

Average Auto Insurance Rates — Very Good Credit.png
CAR INSURANCE RATES WITH VERY GOOD CREDIT
CompanyCredit Score: Very Good (740-799)
Allstate$1,055
American Family$733
Farmers$801
GEICO$585
Liberty Mutual$575
Nationwide$580
Progressive$659
State Farm$687
Travelers$742
USAA$673

 


 

Six-month insurance premium comparison for a driver with excellent credit

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.

Average Auto Insurance Rates — Great Credit.png
CAR INSURANCE RATES WITH GREAT CREDIT
CompanyCredit Score: Excellent (800-850)
Allstate$927
American Family$610
Farmers$706
GEICO$502
Liberty Mutual$524
Nationwide$500
Progressive$526
State Farm$544
Travelers$566
USAA$566

 

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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 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.

 

Compare rates to find car insurance in your location

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.

 

CityAverage 6-Month Insurance Rate
New York$1,555
Los Angeles$1,260
Chicago$840
Houston$876
Philadelphia$1,181
Phoenix$873
San Antonio$789
San Diego$865
Dallas$875
San Jose$896
Austin$752
Jacksonville$1,128
San Francisco$1,080
Indianapolis$643
Columbus$514
Fort Worth$755
Charlotte$589
Detroit$2,536
El Paso$774
Seattle$729
Denver$950
Washington$713
Memphis$801
Boston$765
Nashville$660
Baltimore$1,047
Oklahoma City$874
Portland$817
Las Vegas$1,146
Louisville$1,078
Milwaukee$725
Albuquerque$746
Tucson$733
Fresno$870
Sacramento$999
Long Beach$1,006
Kansas City$969
Mesa$762
Atlanta$930
Virginia Beach$529
Omaha$813
Colorado Springs$928
Raleigh$503
Miami$1,479
Oakland$1,069
Minneapolis$878
Tulsa$870
Cleveland$538
Wichita$837
New Orleans$1,782
 

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.

 

Average six-month premiums for every state in the U.S.:

 

StateAverage 6-Month Premium
Alaska$698
Alabama$648
Arkansas$851
Arizona$708
California$911
Colorado$849
Connecticut$771
Washington DC$713
Delaware$808
Florida$1,162
Georgia$769
Hawaii$540
Iowa$575
Idaho$628
Illinois$642
Indiana$594
Kansas$800
Kentucky$925
Louisiana$1,152
Massachusetts$651
Maryland$718
Maine$550
Michigan$1,267
Minnesota$699
Missouri$844
Mississippi$751
Montana$775
North Carolina$505
North Dakota$661
Nebraska$760
New Hampshire$480
New Jersey$751
New Mexico$637
Nevada$872
New York$846
Ohio$463
Oklahoma$773
Oregon$666
Pennsylvania$669
Rhode Island$937
South Carolina$733
South Dakota$720
Tennessee$629
Texas$749
Utah$657
Virginia$513
Vermont$528
Washington$604
Wisconsin$540
West Virginia$715
Wyoming$730

 

While factors decide whether a driver qualifies for affordable car insurance, 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 research pieces:
 

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 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 get car insurance quotes as quickly and easily as possible, 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

 

How does The Zebra make money? Is it legitimate?

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.

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How to compare car insurance policies

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.

  • 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 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:

 

What are the best car insurance comparison sites?

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:

  • ValuePenguin
  • InsuranceQuotes
  • NetQuote
  • EverQuote

Other insurance comparison sites include Nerdwallet, Compare.com, and Gabi. Some sites — like Insurify — claim to have no-spam policies, but partner with lead generation sites for insurance quotes.

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.

 

Rate comparison 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 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.


Recent Questions:

Auto Insurance

Can you get a 30 day waiver on your car insurance

I would call your car insurance company and speak to an agent or customer service representative. If your company is willing, you could probably work with them to pay your premium late and possibly have the late fee waived.

Who pays for damage I caused while using a company vehicle on company time

Unfortunately, fault can only be determined by the claims adjuster assigned to the accident. However, for the other part of your question, because you were driving your company's vehicle on company time, if you were to be found at fault then the company's insurance would take cover the damages.

Planning on selling old car do I still need insurance on it

There's a couple of things to look at here. Any grace period would depend on the exact policy details of your current policy.

My insurance was payroll deducted but my car was repo'ed and it's still deducted

Your best bet is to contact the insurance company with proof the very was repossessed at the time you claim. They may be able to refund you the amount that was deducted from your paychecks.

Ross Martin LinkedIn

As a licensed insurance agent, Ross is responsible for researching and writing about all matters related to insurance. He has a background in writing and education, as well as a master's degree from Royal Holloway, University of London. He has been quoted by CNET, iDriveSafely.com and Kin Insurance.

About The Zebra

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: