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Our experts crunched the numbers to find 2021's best cheap car insurance companies.
On average, USAA offers America's cheapest auto insurance rates, at just $94 per month ($1,133 per year). The caveat here is that USAA's coverage is only available to active-duty military, veterans, or their family members.
Your car insurance premium is priced to fit you. Insurers evaluate your driving history, demographic data and other factors to determine what kind of customer you'll be. The Zebra surveyed top 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 six-month 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.
|Company||Average 6-Month Insurance Premium|
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. Depending on your insurer, an at-fault accident can raise your premium by between $134 and $693 per six-month policy period.
|Company||6-Month Premium Without Claim||Premium After a Car Accident|
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 USAA for the cheapest car insurance rates. If you don't qualify for USAA coverage, consider State Farm.
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.
"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.
Aside from the legal implications of a DUI, having one on your insurance record will, on average, raise your premium by $485 every six months. Allstate raises rates the most after a DUI citation — by over $900 every six months.
|Company||6-Month Premium Without DUI||Premium After DUI|
After a DUI, premiums for Progressive and State Farm increased by under $300, the smallest financial penalty for drinking and driving among these insurers. While Progressive isn't the cheapest auto insurer without a DUI, the $275 increase is well under the national average rate hike following a DUI conviction.
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.
While the average annual increase from driving with a suspended license is about $909, 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.
|Company||6-Month Premium Without License Suspension||Premium After Suspended License Citation|
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.
In most states, a hit-and-run incident is the most expensive citation 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 difficult.
|Company||6-Month Premium Without Hit-and-Run Charge||Premium After Hit-and-Run|
State Farm is an affordable option after a hit-and-run. State Farm increases rates by just $243, $349 less than the average among other major insurance companies. Rate increases after a DUI ($485 every six months) and a license suspension ($455) are less expensive than the cost increase after a hit-and-run.
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 over $450.
|Company||6-Month Premium Without Reckless Driving Charge||Premium After Reckless Driving|
If you don't qualify for USAA — the cheapest insurance company after a reckless driving violation — State Farm is the second-cheapest insurer. State Farm has a six-month premium of $906 — a $230 post-violation increase. If you have a reckless driving charge on your record, consider USAA, State Farm and Progressive in your search for an auto insurance policy.
If you're having trouble getting car insurance quotes with a bad driving record, see our breakdown of how to find a car insurance policy for high-risk drivers.
If you have a clean driving record, review our analysis of auto insurance coverage options for good drivers.
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 Company||6-Month Premium Without Teen Driver||Premium After Adding Teen Driver|
USAA is the cheapest company for adding a teen driver to your policy, with Nationwide coming in as 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.
To find the cheapest auto insurance for teen drivers, consult our guides:
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 $392 in annual premium payments.
|Company||Premium w/ Poor Credit||Premium w/ Excellent Credit|
If you have bad credit, you should consider Nationwide and GEICO in your search. This is especially important considering the average cost of insurance for drivers with "bad credit" can be over $1,500 more expensive annually than premiums for those the "excellent" group. If you have excellent credit, GEICO is $70 cheaper than the average for that credit group.
For more information related to car insurance and your credit score, see our related articles:
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 are 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.
|Company||6-Month Premium With No Insurance History||6-Month Premium With 5 Years Insured|
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, GEICO could be an affordable option.
For more information on car insurance coverage options, see our resources:
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 State Farm. 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.
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 — 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 32% 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|
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You can’t improve your credit score overnight, but there are some easy ways to reduce the cost of car insurance — like discounts.
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 $145 per year, compared to $79 for a renters-and-auto pairing. The discount affects both policies. The estimated savings below refers only to the auto insurance policy discount.
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.
|Progressive SnapShot||Average of $130|
|Allstate Drivewise||Average of 10-25%|
|State Farm Drive Safe & Save||Up to 15%|
|Nationwide SmartRide||Up to 40%|
|Liberty Mutual RightTrack||Average of 5-30%|
Not every state authorizes the use of telematics programs. Check with your company or insurance agent to gauge your eligibility.
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.
Learn more about how to find the best cheap full coverage auto insurance.
This discount entails taking a defensive driving course and presenting your insurance company with proof — like a receipt or transcript. 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.
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. In our survey, we found that systems such as night vision devices, park assist devices and rearview cameras did not result in a discount.
|Safety/Anti-Theft Device||Average Annual Premium||Discount|
|Blind Spot Warning Device||$1,481||$2|
|Collision Preparation System||$1,482||$1|
|Electronic Stability Control (ESC)||$1,474||$9|
Naturally, this discount is offered for drivers with clean driving records. Good driver discounts can be added when your Motor Vehicle Report (MVR) or CLUE report is pulled at the inception of your auto policy. If you're convinced you've maintained 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.
|Accident/Violation||6-Month Premium Increase|
|Speeding 11 - 15 MPH Over Limit||$203|
|Speeding 16 - 20 MPH Over Limit||$233|
|Speeding 21 - 25 MPH Over Limit||$261|
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.
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.
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 upfront, you are often given a discount: the highest preferred payment discount. A paid-in-full discount can save you $73 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 $21 annually. If you are able to pay upfront or through automatic payments, this is a great way to get cheaper car insurance.
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:
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.
|Average Teen||Average Male Teen||Average Female Teen|
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.
Because every driver is different, it's hard to give specific advice on which insurer will provide the cheapest rates. Your best bet is to shop around frequently and compare car insurance quotes from all the top insurance providers.
Find the best cheap car insurance in your state:
|District of Columbia||Missouri||Tennessee|
|Indiana||New Mexico||West Virginia|
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: