Best Insurance for a Used Car

Keep these tips in mind when shopping for insurance for your pre-owned vehicle.

What's the best insurance for a used car?

Purchasing a used car — or a “pre-owned vehicle,” in dealership-speak — involves a different process than does buying a new car. Depending on the value of the vehicle and your manner of purchase, your car insurance premiums may be impacted as well. Let’s explore the ins and outs of buying insurance for a used car or truck, as well as which car insurance company is cheapest for you.

Buying car insurance for a used vehicle
  1. What to do before you buy a used car
  2. Getting car insurance quotes for a used vehicle
  3. Cheapest insurance company for a used car
  4. Ways to save on car insurance
  5. Additional resources

What to know when buying a used car

Although buyers often overlook this step, it is vital to get a used car inspection before purchasing the vehicle. Most dealers and private sellers will allow you to take the car for an inspection or host a mobile session at their home or dealership. If they don’t allow you to do this, consider it a warning sign, i.e., there’s something the seller doesn't want you to know.

What you need to get car insurance for a used vehicle

If the vehicle passes inspection and everything seems in order, your next step is to purchase an insurance policy for your used car. If you buy your car from a dealership, the dealer will most likely require proof of insurance prior to your driving the vehicle off the lot. If this is the case, you'll want all the information necessary to get insured as soon as possible. Here’s what you will need:

  • Date of birth of drivers using the vehicle
  • Driver’s license numbers of drivers using the vehicle
  • Garaging address of vehicle (most likely your address)
  • Insurance history of drivers using the vehicle
  • Driving history of drivers using the vehicle
  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which will provide the vehicle’s vital information, including make/model

VIN’s are especially important for used vehicles, as they show the vehicle’s entire history. If the vehicle has been previously totaled and salvaged, this would show up on the VIN. This is another important reason to get your used vehicle inspected prior to purchasing. Some car insurance companies will deny coverage if a vehicle has been salvaged, based on the risk presented by a repaired vehicle.

Helpful hint!

Once you find the vehicle you want, you can get a used car insurance quote prior to actually purchasing the vehicle by using the VIN. Dealerships often list the VIN on their websites, providing an accurate estimate of your car insurance quote. Most insurance companies will then supply a quote number, which you can use to retrieve the saved quote.

Once you activate the policy, your new insurance company will send the proof of insurance to the car dealer and you, and you’ll be able to drive off the lot. Simple as that!

Cheapest insurance companies for a used car

In order to find the cheapest car insurance companies for a used vehicle, we surveyed the policies offered by top US companies on a 2013 Honda Accord. While this vehicle and driving profile won’t match you exactly, the data should function as a jumping off point in the search for cheap car insurance. Here are the results.

6 Month Average Cost With Top Car Insurance Companies

Liberty Mutual$736
State Farm$748

As you can see, with all other metrics constant, Nationwide offers the cheapest car insurance company for a used car. Use this data as a baseline and start your search for cheap car insurance here.

Compare over 200 insurance companies at once!

Other ways to save on used car insurance

In addition to shopping around to find the lowest used car insurance rates, we’ve outlined some other policy initiatives you can take while trying to keep your premium affordable. Let’s get started.

Use your insurance coverage sparingly

Unless you have accident forgiveness built into your policy, car insurance companies tend to financially penalize you for filing a claim. So, if you’ve been in a collision-type accident and are thinking about filing a claim, consider our advice first.

  • Get an estimate for the repairs at a local mechanic shop
  • Use our State of Insurance analysis to see how much an at-fault accident (what this would be considered as) would raise your premium in your state. Consider this increase each year for 3 years - as that’s how long most insurance companies would charge you. Include your collision deductible in this, if it applies. Below, we've outlined a general US average of the rate increase you can expect for filing an at-fault accident.
  • Choose the cheapest long-term option.

Average Increase After at At-Fault Claim

Increase at 6 monthsIncrease at 12 monthsIncrease at 3 Years

In this example, we’re only talking about collision claims. Comprehensive, uninsured motorist claims, or not-at-fault accidents typically don’t raise your premium as dramatically as collision claims. If, however, your insurance company rates your not-at-fault accidents as at-fault accidents, consider it as a good opportunity to explore other companies.

If you were the at-fault party and the other driver wants to involve insurance companies, you don't have an option.

Choose suitable insurance coverage

By this, we are referring to modifying your insurance coverage to suit the value of your vehicle. Most insurance experts advise if your vehicle is paid off and worth less than $4,000, you may not physical coverage on it. By physical coverage, we are referring to comprehensive and collision coverage. Unlike your liability coverage, these are designed to protect your vehicle and are merited based on a presumed value of your vehicle. You can determine the value of your vehicle by using Kelley Blue Book or NADA guide online.

If your vehicle is worth more than $4,000 but you still want to save, consider increasing your deductible. Because your premium and deductible are inversely related, you can lower your premium by raising your deductible.

Average Annual Premium by Coverage Level

Coverage LevelAverage Annual Premium
Liability Only$672
$500 Deductible$1,427
$1,000 Deductible$1,268

Another benefit of this is your decreased incentive to use your deductible, rather than paying out for damages yourself. As we learned from the section above, using your collision coverage can have long-lasting effects on your insurance. By decreasing the dollar value you would receive as compensation, there is less of an incentive to file a claim.

Double check for discounts

While most of these discounts are small (3-5% average savings), they can add up to make your premium more affordable.

  • Multi-policy discount
  • Good driver discount
  • Paperless discount
  • Payment by bank account
  • Paid in full discount (paying your premium in one payment)
  • Multi-vehicle discount
  • Participate in telematic programs (dependent on your state and insurance company)

Shop around

After it’s all said and done, you might be paying too much because your car insurance company simply isn’t that affordable. The best way to find cheap car insurance is by weighing as many options as possible. Only with The Zebra can you shop hundreds of insurance companies at once. Get started today.

Additional resources and ways to save

Still have questions awaiting answers? See our additional articles!

Method to our madness: how we do it

Between September and December 2017, The Zebra conducted comprehensive auto insurance pricing analysis using its proprietary quote engine, comprising data from insurance rating platforms and public rate filings. The Zebra examined nearly 53 million rates to explore trends for specific auto insurance rating factors across all United States zip codes, averaged by state, including Washington, DC.

Analysis used a consistent base profile for the insured driver: a 30-year-old single male driving a 2013 Honda Accord EX with a good driving history and coverage limits of $50,000 bodily injury liability per person/$100,000 bodily injury liability per accident/$50,000 property damage liability per accident with a $500 deductible for collision and comprehensive coverage. For coverage level data, optional coverage (that must be rejected in writing) is included where applicable, including uninsured motorist coverage and personal injury protection.

National property and casualty losses information is from the Insurance Information Institute and the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information U.S. Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters report.

For vehicle make and model data, analysis referenced the most popular vehicles in the U.S. by 2016 year-end sales according to’s automakers’ data.

Finally, some rate data may vary slightly throughout report based on rounding.