Which auto insurance company has the cheapest rates?

Your car insurance premium is priced to fit you like a glove. Insurers evaluate your driving history, demographic data, and other metrics to determine what kind of customer you'll be. But from a consumer's perspective, the primary question is which company offers the cheapest insurance?

On average, USAA offers America's cheapest auto insurance rates — just $474 per six-month policy, or $948 per year. The caveat here is that USAA's coverage is only available to active-duty military, veterans, or their family members.

The Zebra surveyed top auto insurance companies and assessed common rating factors to determine which insurer provides the lowest-priced car insurance quotes — even for young motorists or high-risk drivers. Find out the average yearly rate of some of the top carriers in the table below, or continue reading to see rates from major insurance companies for a host of common rating factors. 

 

CompanyAverage 6-month premium
USAA$474
GEICO$638
State Farm$656
Nationwide$673
Farmers$762
Progressive$802
Liberty Mutual$923
Allstate$944

 

 

Ready to save? Compare insurance rates today!

or
Location pin icon
Your information is secure.

 

The cheapest car insurance:

How to find low car insurance rates

 

How to find cheap insurance after a car accident

Accidents and other incidents can raise car insurance premiums substantially. Most property damage or collision claims will be ruled by your insurance company as an at-fault accident. An at-fault accident can raise your premium by between $137 and $558 per six-month policy period.

 
Company6-month premium without out claim
Premium after a car accident
Allstate $944$1,423
GEICO $638$923
Farmers $763$1,010
Liberty Mutual $823$1,144
Nationwide $673$935
Progressive $802$1,360
State Farm $656$793

 

No matter which insurance company you choose, being involved in an at-fault accident will raise your rates. If you have a recent at-fault collision on your driving record, look to State Farm for the cheapest car insurance rates.

It's the "golden rule" of car insurance: as your driving profile changes, so will your premium. Not every company will assess your profile and apply rate changes in the same way. If you’ve been involved in a collision and your rate increases, shop around to find a company that views your accident as less costly than does your current company.

Ready to see personalized insurance rates?

or
Location pin icon
Your information is secure.

 

Car insurance rates after driving violations

"Violation" is a broad term comprising a number of offenses. Included in our insurance price analysis are violations with major financial implications: a DUI or DWI, driving with a suspended license, hit-and-run, and reckless driving. Here's how popular companies' rates stack up for drivers with recent infractions.

 

Insurance after a DUI, DWI, or OWI

Aside from the legal implications of a DUI, having one on your insurance record will, on average, raise your premium by $624 every six months. Farmers, the company with the second-lowest insurance rates for drivers without a DUI infraction, raises rates by the most after a DUI — $1,316.

6-month premium with and without a DUI (2) (1).png

Company6-month premium w/out DUI
Premium with DUI
Allstate 
$944
$1,817
GEICO 
$638
$1,323
Farmers 
$763
$1,316
Liberty Mutual 
$823
$1,317
Nationwide 
$673
$1,546
Progressive 
$802
$1,002
State Farm 
$656
$987

 

After a DUI, premiums for Nationwide and Allstate increased by just under $900, while State Farm became the cheapest. While Progressive isn't the cheapest auto insurer without a DUI, the $200 increase is the smallest financial penalty for drinking and driving.

This is why it’s important to not become complacent with your insurance company. Just because GEICO was the cheapest insurance company before a DUI doesn't mean things will stay as-is with a serious violation on your record.

 

Additional resources

Learn more about car insurance after a DUI.

 

Where to find low car insurance rates after a driving with a suspended license offense

While the average annual increase from driving with a suspended license is about $483, rates vary substantially by company. While State Farm's rates are already quite cheap for drivers without violations, they tend to remain the cheapest after a citation for driving with a suspended license.

 

 

Company6-month premium w/out license suspension
Premium after suspended license citation
Allstate 
$944
$1,269
GEICO 
$638
$1,109
Farmers 
$763
$1,386
Liberty Mutual 
$823
$1,258
Nationwide 
$673
$1,517
Progressive 
$802
$1,191
State Farm 
$656
$950

 

If you've been convicted of driving with a suspended license, your best bet for cheap auto insurance might be State Farm. After an incident, companies that were originally the cheapest without any prior claims or convictions may no longer be cheap options.

If you're looking for more information regarding car insurance after a suspended license, see our guide here.

 

Auto insurance rates after a hit-and-run violation

A hit-and-run on your insurance record is a doozy. In most states, it is the most expensive violation you can receive – even more costly than a DUI. If you’re ticketed as a result of a hit-and-run, finding affordable auto insurance quotes can be tricky.

new graph.png

 

Company6-month premium without out hit-and-run charge
Premium after hit-and-run
Allstate 
$944
$1,808
GEICO 
$638
$1,388
Farmers 
$763
$1,441
Liberty Mutual 
$823
$1,333
Nationwide 
$673
$1,563
Progressive 
$802
$1,192
State Farm  
$656
$971

State Farm is an affordable option after a hit-and-run. State Farm increases rates by just $315, $313 less than the average among other major insurers. Increases after a DUI ($572) and a license suspension ($483) are less expensive than the cost increase after a hit-and-run.

 

Car insurance costs after a reckless driving ticket

The definition of reckless driving can vary by state. In general, it is described as driving with a general disregard for the rules of the road and other drivers — and it comes with a pretty hefty fine. On average, a reckless driving charge will raise your six-month premium by nearly $576.

Premium-for-r-d.png

Company6-month premium without out reckless driving charge
Premium w/ Reckless Driving
Allstate $944$1,767
GEICO $638$1,227
Farmers $763$1,432
Liberty Mutual $823$1,275
Nationwide $673$1,481
Progressive $802$1,188
State Farm $656$967

While State Farm is the second cheapest company without any violations, it becomes the cheapest after a reckless driving charge. State Farm has a six-month premium of $967 – a $311 post-violation increase. If you have a reckless driving charge on your record, consider Progressive, GEICO, and State Farm in your search for an auto insurance policy.

 

Additional resources

If you're having trouble getting car insurance quotes with a bad driving record, see our breakdown of insurance for getting a car insurance policy for bad drivers and high-risk drivers.

If you have a clean driving record, review our analysis of car insurance for good drivers.

 

Get quotes based on your driving record!

or
Location pin icon
Your information is secure.

 

Adding teen drivers to your insurance policy

If a parent's greatest fear is their child getting behind the wheel, covering their car insurance premiums might be a close second. On average, adding a teen driver increases annual car insurance rates by about 83%. This is because of the risks posed by teen drivers: they're less experienced and more likely to take risks behind the wheel, leaving the insurance company vulnerable. We assessed premiums from top insurers after adding a teen to the car insurance policy of a married couple.

 
Insurance Company6-month premium w/out teen driver
Teen driver average
Allstate 
$944
$1,641
GEICO 
$638
$1,267
Farmers 
$763
$1,454
Liberty Mutual 
$823
$1,269
Nationwide 
$673
$1,062
Progressive 
$802
$1,427
State Farm 
$656
$1,220

 

GEICO is the cheapest company for adding a teen driver to your policy, with State Farm second-cheapest. Bear in mind, the data above was generated by averaging the projected premium for a teen male driver and a teen female driver. A male teenager, on average, costs $239 more in annual premium than a female driver. This is because of the additional risk presented by a young male driver compared to a female driver. GEICO is the cheapest insurer for a family with either a female or a male teen driver.

 

Additional resources

To find the cheapest auto insurance for teen drivers, consult our guides:

 

See car insurance quotes for teen drivers

or
Location pin icon
Your information is secure.

 

Credit score and auto insurance

Insurance companies place substantial weight on your credit score, using it to determine risk. Studies by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) show drivers with low credit scores not only file more claims than drivers with higher credit scores, but the actual dollar amount is greater than higher scoring drivers. Thus, those with better credit are safer clients — with more affordable premiums. On average, moving from one credit tier to the next among our selected insurers saves an average of $344 in annual premium payments.

Credit-history.png

Company6-mo. premium w/ poor credit 6-mo. premium w/ excellent credit
Farmers$1,203$714
Nationwide$1,006$637
Progressive$1,396$617
GEICO$947$512
State Farm$1,272$527
Liberty Mutual$1,707$705
Allstate$1,487$885

If you have bad credit, you should consider GEICO and Nationwide in your search. This is especially true considering the average cost of insurance for drivers with "bad credit" is $247 more expensive than premiums for those the "excellent" group. If you have excellent credit, GEICO is $144 cheaper than the average for that credit group.

For more information related to car insurance and your credit score, see our related articles:

 

Compare car insurance rates today!

or
Location pin icon
Your information is secure.

 

Insurance history and car insurance rates

As a general rule, the longer you have insurance the cheaper your premium will be. Insurance companies use data showing those who cover their vehicles above and beyond state minimum coverage requirements as less likely to file a claim or get into an accident. These drivers are also considered more financially stable.

Because of this decreased risk, insurance companies provide lower rates for longer-term clients. If you're new to the world of insurance, you should start your record with higher than state minimum bodily injury and property damage limits. This will protect your property and get you off on the right foot with insurance companies.

The data below is based on two 30-year-old drivers with either no history of liability insurance history or five years of high-liability limit car insurance coverage. With all other metrics constant, the same car insurance quote is $62 cheaper for the driver with a longer insurance history.

6-month premium by insurance history (2) (1).png

Insurance Company6-month premium without insurance history6-month premium w/100/300 BI Limits for 5 years
GEICO$752$596
Farmers$843$721
Liberty Mutual$1,050$752
Nationwide$727$657
Progressive$989$767
State Farm$664$664

If you're looking for insurance and you either don't have an insurance background or only have a history of carrying state-minimum coverage, Nationwide could be an affordable option.

For more information on car insurance coverage options, see our resources:

 

Find a policy today!

or
Location pin icon
Your information is secure.

 

Primary vehicle use

While the majority of people use their vehicle for pleasure, using your personal auto policy for business use can bump up your premium quite a bit. This has to do with the way your insurance company views the increased risk that comes with using the vehicle for business uses.

The best place to start your search for cheap business-use car insurance is Nationwide. A business-use policy isn't a commercial policy. Rather, it comprises the use of a car for personal and business purposes. Most insurance companies have their own versions of these rules, which can cover delivery drivers or salespeople.

Insurance Company

PleasureBusiness
Allstate$788$853
GEICO$710$781
Farmers$679$735
Liberty Mutual$735$810
Nationwide$643$715
Progressive$710$787
State Farm$754$759

If you're a driver for Uber or Lyft and would like to see this can impact what you pay for car insurance, see our related articles below:

 

How much you drive

How much you drive — or your annual mileage — is an influential rating factor in places like California but can still positively and negatively affect your premium in other states. If you live in California, you can expect a 25% gap in average annual premiums between those who drive up to 7,500 miles a year and those who drive more than 15,000 miles a year. On average, the less you drive, the more it saves you — but this impact is minor.

Insurance Company
0-7,500 miles per year
15,501+ miles per year
Allstate
$754
$801
GEICO
$678
$718
Farmers
$650
$732
Nationwide
$617
$645
Progressive
$698
$749
State Farm
$717
$752
Liberty Mutual
$706
$738

Car insurance companies can raise the rates of drivers who tally above-average annual mileage because more time on the road equates to additional risk. If you drive more than 12,000 miles a year, your best bet for affordable auto insurance is Nationwide.

 

Additional resources

For more information on annual mileage and car insurance, including which insurance providers offer low rates for low-mileage customers, see our guide to low-mileage auto insurance.

 

Who offers the best insurance? Find out now!

or
Location pin icon
Your information is secure.

 

How to find the best car insurance for less

We all know those insurance commercials: they all advertise "fantastic" rates, and somehow every insurer is the cheapest. But when you read between the lines, it's clear cheap auto insurance isn’t always the way to go when your vehicle — and your money — is at stake. But there are ways to save on insurance without sacrificing quality or service.

 

How to find cheap car insurance — table of contents:
  1. How to find cheaper car insurance
  2. How to get car insurance discounts
  3. Is cheap insurance always the best option?

 


 

Where to find cheap car insurance

If you're in the market for car insurance, the best place to look is online. Your best bet is to compare quotes from multiple companies to see which offers the best coverage at the best rate.

 

Your car insurance rate is specific to you

Myriad factors determine car insurance rates, including location, your age, your insurance history, your driving history, and the car you drive. If you've accumulated at-fault accidents or claims, your rate will increase. If your credit history is poor or your ZIP code has a large number of uninsured motorists, you might not be able to find cheap auto insurance.

Learn more about how car insurance quotes are generated.

 


 

Popular auto insurance discounts

You can’t improve your credit score overnight, but there are some easy ways to reduce the cost of car insurance — like discounts.

 

Multi-policy/bundling auto insurance discount

Qualifying for this discount involves carrying two insurance policies with one company. Common bundling combinations include home-and-auto or renters-and-auto. The discount is greater for the former, with a homeowners-plus-auto combo saving an average of $110 per year, compared to $72 for a renters-and-auto pairing. The discount affects both policies. The estimated savings below refers only to the auto insurance policy discount.

AVERAGE MULTI-POLICY INSURANCE BUNDLE DISCOUNTS
RentersHomeowners
$72$110

 

Telematics- and usage-based insurance policies

Telematics — or usage-based insurance — is a growing trend in the insurance industry. These programs track your driving habits via an in-car device. Your car insurance rates will be determined by your driving habits, including speed, mileage, and other factors, rather than your age, credit history, or location. Some insurers offer major discounts for good drivers using telematics-based insurance.

 

CompanyEstimated Savings
Progressive SnapShotAverage of $130
Allstate DrivewiseAverage of 10-25%
State Farm Drive Safe & SaveUp to 15%
Esurance DriveSenseVaries
Nationwide SmartRideUp to 40%
Liberty Mutual RightTrackAverage of 5-30%
GEICO DriveEasyVaries

 

Not every state authorizes the use of telematics programs. Check with your company or insurance agent to gauge your eligibility.

 

Be smart with your coverage

Your 2003 Pontiac isn't gaining value over time. If you have an older vehicle, it might not require the same levels of coverage as a newer vehicle, i.e., comprehensive and collision insurance. Here are some easy steps to consider when thinking about your coverage options.

  • Using Kelley Blue Book and the NADA (National Automobile Dealers Association), determine the market value of your vehicle.
  • Using the information from step 1, look at the difference in price between having full coverage (comprehensive and collision) and having only liability. If the amount of money you save in premium from losing full coverage is not enough to cover or replace your vehicle (which you determined from step 1), keep these coverages.
  • If you determine that you still need comprehensive and collision coverage, consider raising your deductible. By raising your deductible, you lower your premium as you assume a greater amount of financial responsibility if your vehicle is totaled.

Note: Even if you remove these optional coverages, you should keep your bodily injury and property damage coverage. Consider keeping your uninsured/underinsured coverage as well.

Learn more about how to find the best cheap full coverage auto insurance.

 

Safe driving discount

This discount entails taking a defensive driving course and presenting your insurance company with proof — a receipt or transcript — of it. The logic behind this discount is clear: a safer driver is a cheaper client because they're less likely to file a claim. Consult our guide to auto insurance for good drivers to learn more about how to save.

 

Equipment discount

If your car comes with an anti-theft device or a service like LoJack, your insurance company may provide a discount. The discounts tend to be smaller than a multi-policy or defensive driver discount. On average, using a disabling anti-theft device can save you an average of $11 per year on car insurance.

 

Average insurance savings: safety devices

Safety/Anti-Theft DeviceAverage Annual PremiumDiscount
None$1,323
Passive Disabling Device$1,312$10
Tracking Device$1,314$9
Audible Alarm$1,317$6
Electronic Stability Control$1,318$5

 

Good driver discount

Naturally, this discount is offered for drivers with clean driving records. Good driver discounts can be added when your Motor Vehicle Report or CLUE report is pulled at the inception of your auto policy. If you're convinced you have a clean driving record — meaning no at-fault accidents or violations — and aren't receiving a discount, speak with your insurance company and ask if they offer a discount for good drivers. By keeping a clean slate, you can earn a discount of approximately 10% while avoiding the costly penalties listed below.

 

AVERAGE ANNUAL INSURANCE COST INCREASE BY VIOLATION
Accident/Violation6-Month Premium Increase
None
Speeding 11 - 15 MPH Over Limit$141
Speeding 16 - 20 MPH Over Limit$153
Speeding 21 - 25 MPH Over Limit$165
At-Fault Accident$306
Reckless Driving$499
Racing$523
DUI$529

 

Military discount

Many companies offer discounts for active or former military members and their families. The amount and qualifications differ per company but you should ask if your current company has this discount.

 

Multi-car discount

A multi-car discount involves insuring more than one car with a single insurance company. Typically, the discount is automatically added either at policy inception — if two cars were originally added — or when you add the second vehicle to the policy.

 

Preferred payment discount

This discount refers to the manner in which you make your insurance payments and has tiers, typically. For example, if you pay your entire premium up front, you are often given a discount: the highest preferred payment discount. A paid-in-full discount can save you $62 per year on your auto policy. Moreover, if you set up automatic payments from a bank account, you can often receive an Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) discount.” An EFT discount can lead to savings of about $28 annually. If you are able to pay upfront or through automatic payments, this is a great way to get cheaper car insurance.

AVERAGE RATES: ETF AUTO INSURANCE DISCOUNT
YesNoSavings
$1,295$1,322$27
AVERAGE RATES BY PAYMENT PLAN
Paid-in-FullInstallmentsSavings
$1,261$1,323$61

 

Profession discount

Some insurance companies will offer a discount based on your occupation. Statistically, some occupations — teachers, physicians, or police officers — are less likely to file a claim and thus pose less risk. Because of this, some insurance companies return the savings back to you. Usually, they will require proof of your profession, such as a photocopy of your professional degree or certification.

If you'd like more information on finding cheap car insurance via profession-based discounts, see our other articles:

Good student discount

If you're responsible for insuring a young driver, you understand how expensive this can be. Given the number of claims they cause, teen drivers are considerable risks for insurance companies. If your son or daughter has the grades — typically a GPA of 3.0 or better — speak with your insurance company about a good student discount. Normally, they’ll ask for a transcript every policy period (6-12 months) as proof.

GOOD STUDENT DISCOUNTS: AVERAGE SAVINGS
Average TeenAverage Male TeenAverage Female Teen
$283$360$207

 


 

Cheap car insurance: pros and cons

You’ve heard the phrase “you get what you pay for.” This sometimes applies to car insurance. Sometimes an auto insurance company is cheap because it offers minimal customer support or because it cuts corners in the claims process, leaving you to pick up the pieces. If an easy and reliable claims process or customer service are important to you, evaluate your cheap auto insurance options carefully.

 

Find affordable auto insurance online today!

or
Location pin icon
Your information is secure.

Get car insurance quotes today!

or
Location pin icon
Your information is secure.
Ava Lynch LinkedIn

Based in Austin, TX, Ava has been in the insurance industry as a licensed agent for 4-plus years. Ava is currently one of The Zebra’s resident property insurance experts and has been featured in publications such as US News Report, GasBuddy, and Yahoo! Finance.