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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Ross Martin

Insurance Writer

Credentials
  • 4+ years in the Insurance Industry

Ross joined The Zebra as a writer and researcher in 2019. He specializes in writing insurance content to help shoppers make informed decisions.

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Renata Balasco

Senior Content Strategist

Credentials
  • Licensed Insurance Agent — Property and Casualty

Renata joined The Zebra in 2020 as a Customer Experience Agent. Since 2021, she has worked as licensed insurance professional and content strategist.…

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.

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.

 
Age

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

Additional resources

Vehicle

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.

Additional resources

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Location

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. 

Additional resources:

 
Homeownership

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.

Homeowner Status Avg. Annual Premium
Condo Owner $1,730
Condo Owner With Multi-Policy $1,592
Home Owner $1,728
Home Owner With Multi-Policy $1,562
Renter $1,760
Renter With Multi-Policy $1,677

The Zebra’s Dynamic Insurance Rating Tool data methodology

The Zebra’s Dynamic Insurance Rating Tool for home and auto insurance rates utilizes the latest ZIP code-level rate filings from across the U.S., sourced from Quadrant Information Services and S&P Global. These filings, typically updated annually or biennially by insurers, are verified through Quadrant’s QA process and then integrated into The Zebra’s estimator.

The displayed rates are based on a dynamic home and auto profile designed to reflect the content of the page. This profile is tailored to match specific factors such as age, location, and coverage level, which are adjusted based on the page content to show how these variables can impact premiums.

For a comprehensive understanding, see our detailed methodology.


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 $75 less per policy period than do single insurance clients.

Marital Status Avg. Annual Premium
Single $1,760
Divorced $1,759
Widowed $1,665
Married $1,611

Additional resources

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 $693 more per policy period 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.

Credit Tier Avg. Annual Premium
Poor $3,147
Fair $2,071
Good $1,760
Very Good $1,627
Excellent $1,506

Additional resources

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. 

Violation type Avg. Annual Premium
None $1,759
Texting while driving $2,140
Speeding in school zone $2,157
Speeding $2,188
Accident $2,429
Reckless driving $3,187
Racing $3,291
DUI $3,441
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 $335 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.

Accident/violation Avg. Annual Premium
None $1,759
One Med/PIP claim $1,769
Two Med/PIP claims $1,847
One comp claim $1,849
Two comp claims $1,936
At-fault accident $2,429

Additional resources


Raising your 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.

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 editorial 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.