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Car insurance quotes: what to know

Getting free car insurance quotes online is the best way to compare rates and coverage options from multiple insurance companies. Most car insurance companies offer free quotes online or by phone, but this process can be inefficient, as it only results in a single quote. Online car insurance quote sites allow drivers to enter their information once and receive multiple quotes within minutes.

While car insurance is required in almost every U.S. state, finding the right policy at a good price can be a challenge. If you're wondering which insurer provides the best rates or what type of coverage you need, the answers to these questions depend on a number of factors. Fortunately, comparing coverage options and viewing auto insurance quotes online is quick and easy, and starts by simply entering some basic information to get your quotes.

What is a car insurance quote?

A car insurance quote is an estimate of what you can expect to pay for auto insurance coverage. Quotes are determined by information such as your driving history, where you live, the type of car that you drive, and a number of other personal and environmental factors. Each insurer writes its auto policies based on different criteria, so no two insurance quotes are alike. 

Read on to learn more about what goes into car insurance quotes and how to get a free quote online.


A car insurance quote is an estimate of what you can expect to pay for auto insurance coverage.

Find car insurance today by comparing rates online.

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How to get free car insurance quotes

Whether you get your quotes from an agent or through an online comparison site like The Zebra, you'll still need to have the same basic information handy. To speed up the process, have the following on hand to get an accurate online auto insurance quote.

Driver's license and personal information for any drivers on the policy
Driver's license and personal information for any drivers on the policy

Necessary info includes date of birth, address, occupation, and marital status.

Vehicle identification number (VIN)
Vehicle identification number (VIN)

If you can't provide an exact VIN, you'll need to provide the year, make, and model of your car to get a preliminary quote.


Low-mileage drivers tend to pay less on average than high-mileage drivers.

Date of vehicle purchase
Date of vehicle purchase

Have purchase information on hand when buying your policy.

Driving history
Driving history

Compile the driving history of you and any other driver(s) on the policy.

Insurance record
Insurance record

Some car insurance companies require at least six months of continuous auto insurance prior to issuing a policy.

How car insurance quotes are set

It's important to understand the primary goal of an insurance company is to predict risk and assign premiums based on the risk a particular driver may pose. Car insurance companies assess your entire driving profile to estimate this risk, including factors such as location, demographics, insurance history, driving record and vehicle.

1. Where you live

Because most forms of insurance are regulated at the state level, state legislation influences car insurance premiums. For instance, in Michigan, a no-fault state, drivers are required to carry much higher amounts of Personal Injury Protection coverage, which increases the cost of car insurance. Although each state legislates insurance differently, auto insurance prices may vary on a ZIP code-by-ZIP code basis. Sometimes prices can even vary from one street to the next.

Whether you can get a cheap car insurance quote may come down to your ZIP code. If you live in a densely populated area with a high number of auto insurance claims, your premium will be more expensive than that of a person living in an area of town in which fewer claims are filed. Even if you haven’t filed any claims, you could pay more based solely on your neighborhood.

What is a no-fault state?

In no-fault states, drivers are required to file a claim for their own bodily injury and medical expenses after an accident, regardless of who is at fault. Currently, there are 12 no-fault states:

Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky*, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey*, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania* and Utah.

*No-fault is optional in these states, as drivers may choose PIP coverage or liability coverage.

Below is an analysis of the cheapest and most expensive states for car insurance (from The Zebra's 2021 State of Insurance report).

Most and Least Expensive States_2020.png

2. Who you are

"Who you are" is a broad way to estimate the risk you represent to an insurance company. Every company takes different traits into consideration, including these common rating factors:

How gender affects car insurance quotes

Gender is not a significant auto insurance rating factor. In fact, the difference between car insurance premiums paid by women and men is less than 1%. For teenagers, this premium difference is larger: male teen drivers pay $1,000 more per year than do female teens. Car insurance companies' historical data says young male drivers are more likely to take risks while driving than are female drivers in the same age group.


















How age influences auto insurance rates

Your age helps to determine your car insurance premium. Statistically, a young driver is less experienced and more likely to receive a citation or file a bodily injury or property damage claim. In the eyes of an insurance company, that means more risk and a greater need for financial protection, i.e., a more expensive premium.

Your likelihood of getting cheap auto insurance quotes increases once you turn 19 — and again at age 25 — as you gain experience behind the wheel. This remains consistent until you get into your 60s, when your car insurance rates may rise.

Car Insurance Premiums by Age Group.png


How marital status affects car insurance quotes

While the difference is small, married drivers are more likely to get affordable car insurance quotes than singledivorced or widowed drivers. Car insurance companies assume married drivers are more likely to share driving responsibilities and less likely to file claims.

Learn more about how your marital status affects how much you pay for your insurance policy.

Marital Status
Average Monthly Insurance Rate


How homeownership changes auto insurance coverage costs

On average, renters face higher car insurance premiums than do condo owners or homeowners, but not by much. The difference in car insurance rate between a renter and a homeowner is only about $15 per six-month policy. Homeowners earn cheaper car insurance rates because they're considered more financially stable and less likely to file a claim.


Homeowner Status
Average Monthly Rate
Condo owner
Renter with bundle
Condo owner with bundle
Homeowner with bundle

Learn more about renters, condo or home insurance by consulting our in-depth guides:


How education affects auto insurance quotes

A driver with a degree can save $24 per year on car insurance premiums, compared to a driver without a degree. Car insurance companies see clients with higher levels of educational attainment as less risky, rewarding that decreased risk with a lower premium.

The states that do not allow insurance companies to take education level into consideration when determining rates are California, Massachusetts, Georgia, Hawaii and Montana


Education Level
Average Monthly Premium
Below high school
High school


How credit score impacts car insurance premiums

Unlike education level or gender, a driver's credit score has a major impact on their insurance rate. Drivers within the "worst" credit tier pay more than twice as much as those with excellent credit pay for auto insurance — about $152 per month.

A driver with poor credit is more likely to file a claim than a driver with excellent credit. Moreover, when a claim is filed by a driver with poor credit, the claim payout by the insurance company tends to be higher. Insurance companies cover this risk by charging those with poor credit scores higher rates.

credit score insurance
Car Insurance Premiums by Credit Score.png

California, Hawaii and Massachusetts are the states that do not currently allow credit score to be utilized in your car insurance quote. One way to get lower car insurance premiums by looking at usage-based programs. UBI, backed by telematics, relies on your driving behavior to determine your premium.

3. Your insurance history

It’s important to consider how your previous auto insurance record reflects on your car insurance quotes. Gaps in insurance — or periods spent with bare minimum coverage or no coverage at all — can increase your rate, as insurance companies see those who have been uninsured or underinsured as financially unstable and riskier to insure. A lengthy insurance history with high limits and minimal claims can lead to cheap online car insurance quotes.

Premiums by Time Insured_2020.png

4. How you drive

An insurance company's assessment of how you drive entails more than you might think. When assigning a quote, an auto insurance company will look at the primary way you use your vehicle, how many miles you drive annually, and your driving record.

  1. Vehicle use
  2. Annual mileage
  3. Driving violation
  4. Vehicle type
Driving history and car insurance

Primary vehicle use and car insurance quotes

How you use your vehicle can impact the affordability of car insurance quotes. Using your vehicle for pleasure — the most common usage — results in an average premium of $741.

Primary Vehicle Use
Average Monthly Premium

It’s important to consider the difference between a business-use personal policy, outlined above, and a commercial car insurance policy. If you’re using your vehicle to transport goods or lending your vehicle to employees, you may need a commercial insurance policy.

If you’re a rideshare driver working for Uber or Lyft, consult your insurance company about getting a rideshare endorsement. This endorsement protects you from being denied coverage if you’re in an accident while working.


How annual mileage affects car insurance quotes

How much you drive reflects how much risk you represent to your insurance company. If you live in California, your annual mileage makes a big difference: there is a 30% difference between those who drive fewer than 7,500 miles per year and those who drive 15,000-plus miles per year. This amounts to around $549 per year.

If you live anywhere else in the U.S., mileage driven may have less of an impact, but it isn’t ignored altogether.

Average Annual Mileage
Average Monthly Rate
0 - 7,500
7,500 - 10,000
10,000 - 15,000

If you'd like more information regarding car insurance by how much you drive, see our related articles:


How driving safety impacts auto insurance quotes

Among the factors that go into generating online car insurance quotes, driving history could be the most significant. To an auto insurance company, how a driver has driven is a good indicator of how they will drive. If a driver's résumé includes speeding tickets, at-fault accidents, driving without insurance, or other violations, their insurance rates will be relatively expensive.

Speeding tickets, DUIs and other violations make it tough to get cheap car insurance quotes. A DUI may raise insurance rates by as much as 65% — with some states penalizing drivers by more.

Car Insurance Premiums by Violation.png

Depending on the specific violation and location, the number of years these violations will remain on a driver's insurance record may vary. Most companies will charge drivers extra for three to five years following an at-fault accident. However, a DUI can stay on a driver's insurance record for as long as 10 years. Read our guide to finding car insurance with a bad driving record.


Vehicle type and car insurance quotes

The type of car listed on a policy impacts insurance rates. A vehicle built for performance, with a high price tag — or a foreign-built model — may be costlier to insure. Vehicles that don't cost as much to repair or aren't built for faster driving — such as vans and sedans — are cheaper to insure.

Learn more about the average costs of insuring specific makes and models.

Vehicle Type
Average Monthly Premium


vehicle class

How to get cheap insurance quotes

Now that we’ve outlined what goes into car insurance rates, let’s review some ways to save.

File insurance claims wisely

At-fault accidents can lead to expensive insurance rates. If you’re not familiar with the way insurance companies price policies, you might be inclined to use your collision coverage if — for instance — you’ve damaged your vehicle by backing into a pole. If you have a low deductible, filing a claim may seem like a good idea. However, unless you’ve done significant damage, it may be worth paying for damages out of pocket and declining to involve your insurance company.

It's also worth remembering that a claim is likely to stay on your insurance record for three to five years. This means that even if it seems cheaper in the short term to file a claim, you could ultimately end up paying much more in the long run.

If you're unsure of whether or not to file a claim, consult our guide to find out more.

Should you file a claim?

Follow the steps below to find out:

  • Get an estimate for the repairs at a mechanic.
  • Use The Zebra's State of Insurance analysis to determine what the average premium increase would be if you were to file a claim.
  • Compare the repair costs to the total rate of increase — plus deductible — to the total cost of repairs out of pocket.

Consider your insurance coverage carefully

Unlike your home, your vehicle will rapidly depreciate in value, meaning the coverage you once had might not be necessary after a few years. For example, collision and comprehensive coverage are designed to protect your vehicle from damage. But if your vehicle is worth less than $4,000, the value of insurance payout you would receive might not justify the cost of your insurance premium.

When shopping for affordable car insurance quotes, arrive with a good idea of your vehicle's value via Kelley Blue Book or NADA. If you determine your vehicle is worth more than $4,000 but you need to save money, consider raising your deductible. Because your car insurance deductible and premium are inversely related, you can lower your bill by raising your deductible. Looking at the chart below, you can see how your premium is affected by adjusting your deductible.

Coverage Level
Average Monthly Rate
State minimum (liability-only)
50/100/50 with $500 deductible
50/100/50 with $1,000 deductible

For more information on car insurance coverage options, see our related content:


Use car insurance discounts

Some car insurance discounts are automatically added to your auto insurance policy when they pull your driving report. You should make sure they’re not forgetting anything. Below are some potential discounts and cost-cutting programs in which you can participate.

car insurance discounts

Be aware of your auto insurance options

Below are common types of car insurance, along with some additional coverage options. Being well-versed in these details will help you find a great deal, whether you're getting auto insurance quotes online or with the help of an agent. You can also add endorsements to supplement or tailor your coverage to suit your needs as a driver.

Compare car insurance quotes

There are a few common ways to find a car insurance policy: the traditional route involves working with an insurance agent, while the modern way involves online quote comparison. Since your auto insurance rates may vary based on your circumstances, you should get car insurance quotes online at six-month intervals to make sure you're with the right insurance company.

If you find a better rate elsewhere, consider canceling your current policy and moving on to another insurer. The remaining outstanding premium should be refunded. Opportunities to find cheap auto insurance quotes include when you move from state to state, when you add a car to your insurance policy, when you get married, or when you celebrate a birthday.

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Why The Zebra?

The Zebra is an independent insurance advisor and quote comparison site that helps customers browse prices, coverage, and service level for both auto and home insurance policies. With The Zebra, you can:

  • Save time by getting multiple quotes at once
  • Save money by comparing personalized quotes from top carriers
  • Learn what coverage is best for your needs
  • Get assistance from our knowledgeable in-house agents
  • Rest assured that your personal info is safe and secure

The Zebra helps take the guesswork out of which insurers will be best for your driving profile by allowing you to compare insurance rates from every major carrier. We partner with insurers both large and small to help you find a policy that fits your needs and your budget. Start the process online or reach out by phone to an agent in our in-house agency. Our agency is appointed to sell policies on behalf of most of the top insurers in the country.

The Zebra takes your privacy seriously — we don't even take your phone number. You can rest assured that your information is safe with us. You won't receive spam and we will never sell your information. Enter your ZIP code below to get started.

Compare auto insurance quotes and find an affordable policy or bundle.

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Car insurance quotes: frequently asked questions

Can you get free car insurance quotes?

Car insurance quotes are available for free online. It's smart to compare auto insurance rates from a few insurance companies at a time to find a policy.

What is the best way to get insurance quotes?

Compare auto insurance quotes from as many companies as possible to find the best rate. Free online tools allow you to view rates side-by-side to find coverage that suits your situation and fits within your budget.

Who has the cheapest car insurance?

This depends on pricing criteria unique to every individual driver but according to The Zebra, USAA ($94/mo.) and GEICO ($102/mo.) were among the cheapest companies for auto insurance in 2021.

What is The Zebra?

The Zebra is an insurance advisor, partnering with more than 100 companies like GEICO, Progressive, Allstate and Liberty Mutual to provide side-by-side quote comparisons. The Zebra makes it easy to find the best cheap car insurance and save on your next policy.

Is The Zebra free?

The Zebra is completely free to use. The Zebra does not ask for your phone number or sell your information.

What is a car insurance quote?

A car insurance quote is an estimate of what you can expect to pay for insurance coverage from a specific company. Auto insurance quotes are determined by the personal information you provide. Factors such as credit score, driving history, and age contribute to auto insurance rates. The more information you provide, the more accurate your insurance quotes will be.

Compare car insurance rates by state

StateAverage RateCheapest Company + Rate
Alaska$699GEICO - $529
Alabama$649USAA - $496
Arkansas$851State Farm - $616
Arizona$708GEICO - $310
California$911Progressive - $547
Colorado$849GEICO - $433
Connecticut$771GEICO - $522
Delaware$808USAA - $569
Florida$1,162State Farm - $724
Georgia$770AAA - $550
Hawaii$540GEICO - $488
Iowa$576GEICO - $404
Idaho$628State Farm - $430
Illinois$643GEICO - $423
Indiana$594State Farm - $433
Kansas$800Iowa Farm Bureau - $648
Kentucky$925GEICO - $503
Louisiana$1,152Southern Farm Bureau - $676
Massachusetts$652Safety - $495
Maryland$718GEICO - $477
Maine$550Concord - $343
Michigan$1,268Progressive - $667
Minnesota$699State Farm - $552
Missouri$844State Farm - $644
Mississippi$751GEICO - $505
Montana$775State Farm - $585
North Carolina$506North Carolina Farm Bureau - $393
North Dakota$661Progressive - $520
Nebraska$761Iowa Farm Bureau - $652
New Hampshire$481GEICO - $355
New Jersey$751Progressive - $624
New Mexico$637USAA - $464
Nevada$872GEICO - $465
New York$847Progressive - $389
Ohio$463Nationwide - $355
Oklahoma$773GEICO - $521
Oregon$666Country - $499
Pennsylvania$669GEICO - $441
Rhode Island$937Travelers - $638
South Carolina$733Travelers - $669
South Dakota$720State Farm - $634
Tennessee$629USAA - $423
Texas$749State Farm - $542
Utah$657Bear River - $299
Virginia$513USAA - $420
Vermont$528Concord - $428
Washington$605USAA - $449
Wisconsin$540GEICO - $261
West Virginia$715Erie - $583
Wyoming$730USAA - $494


Cheapest cities for car insurance quotes

CityInsurance company6-Month Premium
Los AngelesProgressive$809
DallasState Farm$664
New YorkProgressive$668
HoustonState Farm$658
TampaState Farm$1,020
OrlandoState Farm$781
ChicagoState Farm$623
San FranciscoProgressive$614
MiamiState Farm$1,221
AustinState Farm$573
San AntonioState Farm$610

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Read additional customer reviews and see why The Zebra is the #1 insurance comparison site.

Recent Questions:

Is there a site where I can enter my information and it will show me different quotes from various companies?

Absolutely! That's exactly what we do at thezebra.com. Feel free to check out our site and get quotes.
Aug 31, 2017 Jonesboro, GA

Why is my ex's accident following me around in my insurance quotes?

Claims tend to be attached to the driver that was at fault. If you were the policyholder at the time, some companies will see this and still charge you for that at their discretion.
Jan 30, 2020 Boston, MA

Should I stay with my car insurance company even if I'm getting a better quote from elsewhere?

It's possible that your agent is simply trying to keep your business. However, he may actually be correct.
Nov 11, 2019 Rockledge, FL

Does The Zebra offer quotes in every state?

Our website is live in all 50 states and designed to help shoppers save time by showing multiple options regardless of state to point them to their best option. We also have an in-house agency that is live in 9 states and we are constantly expanding our footprint to provide more options for people in more states.
May 4, 2016 Baton Rouge, LA

Kristine Lee
Kristine LeeManager, Content and Data

Kristine is a licensed insurance agent who joined The Zebra in 2019 as an in-house content researcher and writer.

She is an authority on all things insurance and covers the ins and outs of auto, home, life and renters insurance. Her specialty is in providing data-backed insights and information to help insurance shoppers make informed decisions.

Kristine's insurance expertise and research have been cited by publications such as CNBC, Car and Driver, Business Insider, Yahoo!, The Balance, Nationwide and Elephant.

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 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.