What is an Auto Insurance Score?

Car insurance companies may not take an official auto insurance score into account, but you can take steps to improve your car insurance rates.

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Insurance score: what it is

A car insurance score is an arbitrary number not utilized by the insurance industry or individual insurance companies. However, the information that would comprise an insurance score — driving history, vehicle type, location, credit score, and other factors — is used by insurance companies to determine rates. Let’s review the ways insurance companies set their rates.

  1. Driver information
  2. Credit history
  3. Driving record
  4. Claims history
  5. How to raise your insurance score


Driver information

Age, location, vehicle type, and other personal information are important contributors to auto insurance premiums. Below are common characteristics that could result in a “poor” auto insurance score and expensive premiums.


If you’re a young driver, i.e, younger than 25, you can expect to pay a premium for your car insurance. Auto insurance companies see young drivers as more likely to take risks behind the wheel and more likely to file claims. Thus, young drivers are more expensive to insure.

chart of age group

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High-performance vehicles or vehicles with high MSRPs lead to more expensive premiums. Because the insurance company is responsible for any damage a vehicle causes (liability) and replacing or repairing (collision/comprehensive coverage), the value of a vehicle can contribute to its insurance costs.

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Insurance is independently regulated by each state and priced by ZIP code. Some states require high levels of minimum coverage (Michigan), leading to more expensive rates. Drivers in ZIP codes with substantial insurance losses and dense driving populations also face expensive rates. 

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Although it has relatively little impact on insurance rates, not being a homeowner may lead to more expensive premiums. Homeowners are seen as more financially stable and less risky to an insurance company. Thus, their auto insurance premiums are slightly lower than renters.

chart of bundle status

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Marital status

Married couples usually pay less for car insurance than do unmarried drivers. As with homeownership, marriage is seen as a risk-dampener in the eyes of an insurance company. Married drivers typically pay approximately $44 less per policy period than do single insurance clients.

chart of martial status

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Credit score

Unlike an “auto insurance score,” a credit score is an accredited report used to assess an individual's credit standing. Credit score is a major insurance rating factor, as insurance companies use it to gauge a potential client's reliability. On average, a driver with poor credit pays $552 more per six-month policy than a driver with good credit. FTC studies show drivers with poor credit file more claims — and more expensive claims — than do drivers with good credit.

chart of credit score

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Driving record

Driving record is utilized in every state to help determine auto insurance premiums. Speeding tickets, DUIs, and reckless driving citations have significant impacts on premiums. Most insurance companies will charge drivers for these violations for between three and 10 years. A driver's insurance score will suffer for a long while after they are cited for a serious violation. 

chart of driving record

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Claims history

Like driving history, insurance claims history is a primary contributor to car insurance rates. An at-fault accident will increase a driver's premium by $309 every six months. Like a DUI or speeding ticket, an accident tends to stay on a driver's insurance record for a while: between three and five years.

chart of claims history

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Should you get an insurance score?

An insurance score is an indirect way of estimating your auto insurance premium. Unlike a credit score, no major financial institutions recognize an insurance score as a unit of measurement. However, an insurance score should reflect how much you can expect to pay for insurance. For example, a low insurance score means you will pay more for auto insurance.

The best way to determine what you will pay for car insurance is simply to get a quote. Better yet, get as many quotes as you can. Getting an insurance quote will not affect your credit score or impact your current rate. Enter your ZIP code below to get started.


Compare auto insurance rates today!

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Ross Martin photo
Ross MartinManager, Content Quality

As a licensed insurance agent, Ross has spent the last three years with The Zebra researching and writing insurance content aimed at helping shoppers make informed decisions.

Ross's background is in writing and education. He holds a master's degree from Royal Holloway, University of London.

Ross's work has been cited by The New York Times, Investopedia, The Simple DollarThe BalanceCar and Driver and Fox Business. He has been quoted by CNET, I Drive Safely and Kin Insurance

About The Zebra

The Zebra is not an insurance company. We publish data-backed, expert-reviewed resources to help consumers make more informed insurance decisions.

  • The Zebra’s insurance content is written and reviewed for accuracy by licensed insurance agents.

  • The Zebra’s insurance content is not subject to review or alteration by insurance companies or partners.

  • The Zebra’s editorial team operates independently of the company’s partnerships and commercialization interests, publishing unbiased information for consumer benefit.

  • The auto insurance rates published on The Zebra’s pages are based on a comprehensive analysis of car insurance pricing data, evaluating more than 83 million insurance rates from across the United States.