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How to get very cheap auto insurance with no deposit
You will not be able to get car insurance with no money upfront as car insurance companies won't take on the risk of insuring a driver who hasn't started paying their premiums. Your down payment — or deposit as it's sometimes called — is typically included in your monthly payments. If you're among the 60% of visitors to this page needing insurance with the lowest possible down payment today, read on. We'll dive into why insurance deposits are required, how to get a lower down payment, and the best car insurance companies for drivers looking for low upfront payments.
How to lower your down payment
Lower your down payment by reducing your overall insurance rate, checking if your insurer lets you choose to pay for just the first 30 days upfront, carefully choosing your payment method, and comparing car insurance quotes. See the details below.
The down payment for your auto insurance is typically just your first month's payment. This means getting "low deposit" car insurance is contingent upon getting a good insurance rate. We recommend filing claims wisely, avoiding unnecessary coverage, and inquiring about discounts. Read more about these cost-cutting tips here.
Some companies offer choices between paying for the first 30 or 45 days as your deposit. If required to pay for the initial 45 (or more) days, inquire about a 30-day option. Just remember that a higher downpayment upfront will result in lower monthly payments, as more of your overall premium has been paid at the onset of the policy.
Auto insurers may charge service fees for certain payment plans or methods. Check with your insurance company to see if they offer fee-free payment methods. For example, setting up an automatic Electronic Funds Transfer often reduces or eliminates service fees.
As previously mentioned, a lower car insurance rate usually means a lower deposit. One of the easiest ways to find cheap insurance is to get quotes from multiple companies. The Zebra's quote tool compares over one hundred companies at once so you don't have to. Enter your ZIP code below to get started.
Compare companies with low down payments today!
What we don't recommend: pay-as-you-go car insurance
Pay-as-you-go car insurance, like that offered by Hugo, might seem appealing to those seeking no-deposit car insurance, especially those who don't drive often. However, we do not typically recommend it. Pay-as-you-go car insurance can put you at risk of gaps — or worse, a lapse in coverage.
For example, if anything happens to your parked vehicle while your insurance is turned off, associated damage would likely not be covered. Additionally, you risk forgetting to activate your insurance before you drive which can result in significant legal and financial consequences if you have an accident.
It's also worth noting that insurers are required to inform the DMV of a lapse in insurance if your insurance is "turned off" for seven or more days. This can lead to registration suspension and increased insurance rates.
Why do car insurance companies require down payments?
While a quick Google search will show options for no deposit car insurance, it’s not really an option. This has to do with the way auto insurance functions. Car insurance coverage — and any form of insurance — is designed to predict and prepare for risk. An insurance provider's best client is the one that poses the least amount of financial risk.
Auto insurers see a driver who can’t pay a down payment as someone who is only acquiring auto insurance to drive a vehicle off the lot or get their vehicle registered. Those people may only want to secure instant car insurance to avoid registration penalties or to satisfy a car dealership’s requirements. A customer like this raises a red flag to insurance companies, as they may cost them more in the long run. Furthermore, an insurer might worry that such clients would simply cancel the policy after a short time, posing a considerable risk. Some states have provisions that require insurers to report when a registered driver cancels their policy for any reason, which could lead to trouble down the line.
Why is my first car insurance payment more expensive?
The initial down payment covers your onboarding costs and administrative fees, such as running your full driving report. All onboarding costs are included in the total cost of your policy, but the higher price of your first payment ensures these administrative costs are covered in case you cancel your policy early. An initial larger payment also gives the carriers ample time to notify you should they decide to cancel your policy.
How much does a car insurance down payment cost?
It’s important to remember a down payment usually isn’t an additional premium — it’s built into your rate. This means whatever you pay as a down payment will be deducted from future monthly payments. Some insurance providers will require 30 to 45 days of premium in order to activate your insurance policy.
|Down Payment Amount||Monthly Installments|
|10% or $60||$108 monthly premium|
|20% or $120||$96 monthly premium|
|30% or $180||$84 monthly premium|
The larger the down payment you make upfront, the less your premium will cost on a monthly payment plan. You shouldn’t think of your down payment as an additional fee or a deposit, but as a part of your premium going forward.
The exact lump sum you’ll be asked to provide for your down payment may vary according to your payment plan, so it’s hard to give an exact estimate. Some car insurance providers will allow you to choose from a range of down payment amounts.
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How to save money on auto insurance
Although you might understand the necessity of remitting a down payment, that doesn’t make the financial hardship any easier to bear. Note: remember that "cheap" car insurance is rarely the best for you. You should aim for the best coverage at the best value. Also, if you are financing your vehicle, your lender can require physical damage coverage that is certainly going to lead to higher rates. That said, let’s get into some other ways to save on car insurance, starting with the cheapest car insurance companies.
1. Find the cheapest auto insurance company for you
While it’s hard to provide a precise car insurance quote without a driver's personal information, we discovered USAA was the cheapest car insurance company for both full coverage and minimum liability-only, with all other metrics constant. Remember that USAA is limited to members of the military community and their families. Also, we at The Zebra do not recommend obtaining just the bare minimum liability coverage, as it leaves you at risk for loss. Higher coverage limits keep you better protected.
Dynamic auto insurance data methodology
Methodology: The auto insurance rates displayed above and throughout this page are dynamic, meaning the data will refresh when the most recent information is made available. Rates are based on a sample driver profile — a 30-year-old single male driver with a Honda Accord and full coverage. This profile was adjusted based on common pricing factors used by major car insurance companies, like age, coverage level, driving record and others.
2. File claims wisely
The phrase, “use it or lose it” doesn't apply to car insurance. In fact, the less you use your auto insurance policy, the cheaper it gets. This is because of the way car insurers assess premiums after you file a claim. While the amount of the increase depends on the value of the claim, your state and your insurance provider, below are the average total premium costs over a three-year period.
For this reason, it's considered wise to pay for small claims out of your own pocket to avoid substantial rate increases.
At times, you'll need to use your car insurance — for example, if you’re at fault in a collision, you are required to file a police report with proof of coverage. In this situation, you're obligated to give your insurance information to the not-at-fault party. This documentation can help protect you against unrealistic claims that might appear.
Another reason might be if the damage is greater than the premium increase you would receive.
Should you file an auto claim?
Here are some tips to help you calculate whether to file a claim or not:
- Get an estimate for the cost of repairs at a mechanic
- Use our car insurance claims calculator to help determine if the associated costs make it worth filing a claim
- If it’s cheaper to pay for the damage out-of-pocket, do that
|Increase at 6 Months||Increase at 12 Months||Increase at 3 Years|
The above shows the total cumulative cost in excess car insurance premium over a three-year period, as that’s how long most insurance companies will penalize you for most violations and at-fault accidents.
3. Choose the correct coverage
Evaluate your car insurance coverage as your vehicle ages. As time passes, you might be paying for insurance coverage that your vehicle’s age and value don’t merit. A general rule of thumb for car insurance: if your vehicle is worth less than $4,000, you probably don't need collision and comprehensive insurance coverages. These coverage options, also known as physical coverage, are designed to protect your vehicle. But if your vehicle isn’t worth much, you might be paying for auto insurance coverage you don't need. This likely contributes to 33% of our customers opting for only the legally required liability coverage.
|Coverage||Avg. 6 Mo. Premium||Avg. Monthly Premium|
|State Minimum Liability Only||$298||$50|
|50/100/50 BI/PD with $1,000 Deductible||$777||$129|
|50/100/50 BI/PD with $500 Deductible||$880||$147|
On average, physical coverage makes up about half of your premium amount. If, however, your vehicle is worth more than $4,000, consider raising your deductibles. As you can see, if you raise your deductible, you lower your car insurance rates. Comprehensive coverage — also known as other-than-collision coverage — is also worth considering on its own if full coverage is too costly. Comprehensive is often less expensive than collision and covers against perils such as fire, flood, theft, or animal collisions.
4. Find insurance discounts
Most insurance companies offer similar discounts and many times they are automatically added to your policy. But just in case, here are some standard discounts you can qualify for. While they might not make a huge financial impact individually, they can add up to help you save money on your annual premium.
- Good driver discount
- Student discount
- Paperless discount
- Multi-policy discount
- Payment by bank account
- Paid in full discount
- Multi-vehicle discount
- Telematics programs
- In-vehicle safety devices
- Senior citizens discounts
No standard car insurance company will advertise “no deposit auto insurance." In the eyes of an insurer, zero-down payment policies are risky and attract high-risk drivers. Still, there are other ways to save. While avoiding claims and choosing the right coverage for your vehicle are great ways to start, the best way to find affordable car insurance is to shop as many options as possible.
Compare auto insurance quotes and find the policy that fits you!
Auto insurance with no down payment — FAQs
Can you get very cheap car insurance without a down payment?
It's unlikely. Paying upfront for car insurance is almost always required, even if it is just the first month's premium. Auto insurers see a driver who can’t pay a down payment as only seeking insurance temporarily to fulfill registration needs or dealership requirements. Such customers raise concerns for insurers as they may cost more in the long run and pose a higher risk of policy cancellation.
What is a down payment for car insurance?
A down payment for auto insurance is what you pay upfront for your policy. This is not an additional premium; your deposit is built into your rate. So the amount you paid for your down payment is deducted from your future monthly premiums.
Which auto insurance companies don't require a down payment?
Non-standard insurance companies are more likely to require no money down for a policy, but that is not guaranteed. To an insurer, a person who can not or will not pay a down payment for a policy is seen as risky to insure. Non-standard companies specialize in insuring high-risk drivers and might be more accommodating of customers who can't pay much upfront.
Is an insurance down payment the same as a deposit?
While a down payment for your insurance policy may occasionally be referred to as a "deposit," customers aren't likely to get this money back as it is applied to the overall premium.
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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.