What's the best auto insurance for a used car?

Purchasing a used car — or a “pre-owned vehicle,” in dealership-speak — involves a different process than buying a new car. Depending on the value of the vehicle and your manner of purchase, your car insurance premiums could be affected.

In this guide, we explore the ins-and-outs of buying insurance for a used car or truck, as well as which car insurance company is the cheapest for used vehicle insurance.


Best used car insurance — table of contents:



What are the best insurance companies for used car insurance?

In order to find the cheapest car insurance companies for a used vehicle, we surveyed policies offered by top US companies for a variety of the most popular used cars, with model years ranging from 2014, 2017, and 2018. While these vehicles and driving profile won’t match you exactly, the data should function as a jumping-off point in the search for cheap car insurance. Here are the results.


See the average cost of car insurance for these vehicles:


Liberty Mutual$806$872$897
State Farm$665$709$744


Liberty Mutual$851$910$943
State Farm$691$758$777


Liberty Mutual$819$862$893
State Farm$680$705$720


Liberty Mutual$800$867$871
State Farm$674$718$735


Based on the sample driving profile we used in our analysis, USAA was the cheapest car insurance company for these popular used vehicles. If you don't qualify for coverage through USAA, Nationwide was the second-cheapest source for used car insurance.

The 2014 Honda Accord was the cheapest used car to insure, with average rates of $704 for a six-month premium ($117 per month). Remember, these data points are averages and may not match your situation. 


How does a vehicle's age impact premiums?

As a vehicle ages, average insurance premiums decrease by 3.4% with each additional year. A one-year-old vehicle is more than 16% pricier to insure than a seven-year-old model. 

Premiums by Vehicle Age.png


How to get car insurance for a used vehicle

If a vehicle passes inspection and everything seems in order, the next step is purchasing an auto insurance policy for your used car. If you buy your car from a dealership, the dealer will most likely require proof of insurance prior to your driving the vehicle off the lot. If this is the case, you'll want all the information necessary to get insured as soon as possible in order to get same-day auto insurance.

Here’s what you will need:

  • Dates of birth of drivers using the vehicle
  • Driver’s license numbers of drivers using the vehicle
  • Garaging address of the vehicle (most likely your home address)
  • Insurance history of drivers using the vehicle
  • Driving record of drivers using the vehicle
  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which will provide the vehicle’s vital information, including make/model

Having a VIN on hand is especially important for used vehicle insurance, as it will show the vehicle’s entire history. If the vehicle has been previously totaled and salvaged, this would show up via the VIN. This is another important reason to get your used vehicle inspected prior to purchase. Some auto insurance companies will deny coverage if a vehicle has been salvaged, based on the risk presented by an overhauled vehicle.


Should I get car insurance before buying a used car?

Once you find the vehicle you want, you can get a used car insurance quote before purchasing the vehicle by using the VIN. Dealerships often list the VIN on their websites, providing an accurate estimate of your car insurance quote. Most insurance companies will then supply a quote number, which you can use to retrieve the saved quote.

Once you activate the policy, your new insurance company will send the proof of insurance to the dealer and you, and you’ll be able to drive off the lot. 

Factors that insurers use to calculate your auto insurance rate include your age, location, credit score, driving history, marital status, and more. Maintaining a good credit score and a clean driving record free of DUIs, hit-and-runs, and other violations goes a long way toward earning lower insurance rates. Learn more about the factors that influence what you pay for car insurance.


Used car buying tips

Although buyers often overlook this step, it is vital to get a used car inspection before purchasing the vehicle. Most dealers and private sellers will allow you to take the car for an inspection or host a mobile session at their home or dealership. If they don’t allow you to do this, consider it a warning sign, i.e., there’s something the seller doesn't want you to know.

In addition to getting an inspection, you should absolutely run a Carfax report. Using the VIN, a Carfax report can tell you the accident report of the vehicle as well as other important information. Just like getting an inspection, this report is useful for determining if the value of the vehicle.

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So you found the best used car insurance — here's how to keep saving

Once you've found the best rates, below are some ways to reduce your car insurance premiums when insuring an older car. 


Use your auto insurance coverage sparingly

Unless you have accident forgiveness built into your policy, even the best car insurance companies will penalize you for filing a claim via higher rates. So, if you’ve been in a collision-type accident and are thinking about filing a claim, consider our advice first.

  • Get an estimate for the repairs at a local shop.
  • Use our State of Insurance analysis to see how much an at-fault accident — what this would be considered — would raise your premium in your state. Consider this increase each year for three years — that’s how long most insurance companies would charge you. Include your collision deductible in this, if it applies. Below, we've outlined the general US average of the rate increase you can expect for filing an at-fault accident.
  • Choose the cheapest long-term option.


Increase at 6 monthsIncrease at 12 monthsIncrease at 3 Years


In this example, we’re only talking about collision claims. Comprehensive, uninsured motorist claims, and not-at-fault accidents typically don’t raise premiums as dramatically as collision claims. If your insurance company rates your not-at-fault accidents as at-fault accidents, consider it a good opportunity to explore rates from other companies.

If you were the at-fault party and the other driver wants to involve insurance companies, you don't have an option.


Choose suitable insurance coverage

By this, we are referring to modifying your insurance coverage to suit the value of your vehicle. Most insurance experts advise if your vehicle is paid off and worth less than $4,000, you may not need physical coverage — collision and comprehensive — for the vehicle. Unlike your liability coverage, these are designed to protect your vehicle should it suffer any property damage and are merited based on a presumed value of your vehicle. You can determine the value of your vehicle by using Kelley Blue Book or NADA guide online.

If your vehicle is worth more than $4,000 but you still want to save, consider increasing your deductible. Because your premium and deductible are inversely related, you can lower your premium by raising your deductible. Knowing how much car insurance you need and being savvy with your coverage needs can be effective ways to save on your premium.


Coverage levelAverage annual premium
$500 deductible$1,548
$1,000 deductible$1,373


Another benefit is your decreased incentive to use your deductible, rather than paying out for damages yourself. Using your collision coverage can have long-lasting effects on your insurance. By decreasing the dollar value you would receive as compensation, there is less of an incentive to file a claim.


Double-check for discounts

While most of these discounts are small, they can add up to make your premium more affordable.

Learn more about popular car insurance discounts.


Shop around and compare insurance rates

After it’s all said and done, you might be paying too much because your car insurance company simply isn’t affordable. The best way to find cheap car insurance is by weighing as many options as possible. 


Compare rates for your used car today!

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Frequently asked questions regarding used car insurance


Can you get gap insurance for a used car?

This will depend on the value of the used vehicle. Just because a vehicle is used does not mean it isn't valuable. Gap insurance is designed to cover the difference between the amount of the loan and the actual cost value of the vehicle — what your insurance company will payout in the event the vehicle is totaled. If you are financing a used vehicle with a high depreciation rate and had a low down payment, you should still look for a car insurance policy with gap insurance. For more information on gap insurance, learn more here.

What are the cheapest used cars to insure?

While there is no exact answer for this, generally early 2000s sedans are the cheapest used vehicles to insure. Because of their value, you generally do not need comprehensive or collision coverage and only your state-required liability limits.


Additional resources

Still have questions awaiting answers? See our additional articles!




Review The Zebra's car insurance pricing estimate methodology.

Ava Lynch LinkedIn

Based in Austin, TX, Ava has been in the insurance industry as a licensed agent for 4-plus years. Ava is currently one of The Zebra’s resident property insurance experts and has been featured in publications such as US News Report, GasBuddy, and Yahoo! Finance.