How to get cheap car insurance with no deposit

Put simply, you won't be able to get car insurance with no money upfront. The reason for this is simple: car insurance companies won't take on the risk of insuring a driver who hasn't started paying their premiums. Still, your down payment — or deposit as it's sometimes called — is typically included in your monthly payments. The cheaper your monthly payments, the cheaper your down payment will be

We review the reasons insurance deposits are required and cover the best car insurance companies for drivers looking for low monthly payments. 

How to get low down payment auto insurance

The down payment for your auto insurance is typically just your first month's payment. This means getting a "low down payment" is contingent upon getting a good rate from your insurer. Essentially, the only choice that you might have in lowering your down payment will depend on whether your insurer offers a choice between paying for the first 30 days or the first 45 days of your policy. Clearly, paying for only 30 days will be the cheaper option. 

In short, it's not possible to find no-down-payment car insurance.

Find below more information about insurance down payments and ways to find cheap car insurance.

It's not possible to find no-down-payment car insurance, but with qualifying discounts, you can find an affordable rate with the right company.

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. They 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 auto 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.

down payment

Your initial down payment or deposit helps to cover the onboarding costs associated with a new client. An insurer dedicates resources to running your full driving report — not free for car insurance companies — and to other first-time administrative processes that wouldn't be covered by a zero-down payment car insurance policy. While they may be referred to as a "deposit," customers typically won't ultimately get this money back as it is applied to the overall premium. 

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.

For example, say a six-month car insurance policy costs $600. If you paid $0 upfront, your monthly premium payments going forward would be $100. Some insurance providers will require 30 to 45 days of premium in order to activate your insurance policy.

Down Payment AmountMonthly Installments
10% or $60$90 monthly premium
20% or $120$80 monthly premium
30% or $180$70 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.

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. So, 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 used a general profile and discovered USAA was the cheapest car insurance company, with GEICO coming in second, with all other metrics constant.

Liberty Mutual$863
State Farm$647
cheapest companies

This data doesn't necessarily reflect your unique driving profile. Individual rating factors, such as your vehicle, driving history, and credit score, aren’t represented here. Use this data as a starting point in your search for cheap car insurance.

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 expected premium increases over a three-year period. 

At times, you'll need to use your car insurance. For example, if you’re at fault in a collision and the other party does not want to handle things without insurance. In this situation, you're obligated to give your insurance information to the not-at-fault party. Another reason might be if the damage is greater than the premium increase you would receive. This can be difficult to calculate — here are some tips to get started.

  • Get an estimate for the cost of repairs at a mechanic.
  • Use our State of Insurance data to see the average rate increase for your state. Again, consider this staying on your insurance premium for three years.
  • If it’s cheaper to pay for the damage out-of-pocket, do that.

See more information on when and when not to file a claim.



Increase at 6 MonthsIncrease at 12 MonthsIncrease at 3 Years

The above shows the cost of the claim 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 coverage. These coverages, 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.

Coverage LevelAverage 6-Month Car Insurance RateMonthly Rate
$500 deductible$774$129
$1,000 deductible$686$114

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.

4. Find insurance discounts

Most insurance companies follow the same sort of 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.

Learn more about popular car insurance discounts.

Compare auto insurance quotes and find the policy that fits you.

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No down payment car insurance: highlights and additional information

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. 


The auto insurance rates displayed in our articles are based on the results of The Zebra’s comprehensive car insurance pricing analysis. In our analysis of all U.S. zip codes — including Washington D.C. Our user profile consisted of a 30-year-old single male driving a 2013 Honda Accord. To generate pricing specific to particular rating factors, we altered the driving profile based on the common pricing factors utilized by top car insurance companies. These factors include, but are not limited to, credit score, coverage level, and driving record.

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.

Auto insurance with no down payment — FAQs

Can you get very cheap car insurance without a down payment?

It's unlikely. Paying up front for car insurance is almost always required, even if it is just the first month's premium. 

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 upfront.

Ross Martin
Ross Martin LinkedIn

As a licensed insurance agent, Ross is responsible for researching and writing about all matters related to insurance. He has a background in writing and education, as well as a master's degree from Royal Holloway, University of London. He has been quoted by CNET, and Kin Insurance.