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Car insurance quotes: what to know

Getting a car insurance quote is the best way to compare rates and coverage options from insurance companies. Most car insurance companies offer free quotes, but this process can be inefficient, as it only results in a single quote. Online car insurance quote sites, like The Zebra, allow drivers to enter their information once and receive quotes from all of the most trusted insurance companies within minutes.

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, viewing auto insurance quotes online and comparing coverage options is quick and easy, and starts by simply entering some basic information.


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 affordable car insurance by comparing quotes online!

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How to get free car insurance quotes

While car insurance is required in almost every U.S. state, finding the right policy at a good price can be a challenge. Use the following steps to help you find the right coverage with rates you can afford.

 

1. Research insurer reputation

Making yourself familiar with how insurance companies treat their customers is a very important step in the insurance shopping process. You'll want to look for things like claims satisfaction and customer complaints. Along with organizations such as the Better Business Bureau and J.D. Power, a great place to start is with our list of the best car insurance companies according to The Zebra Customer Satisfaction Survey.

 

2. Choose how to get your quotes

After doing some research on the best insurers, the next step should be deciding how to get your insurance quotes. Regardless of the method you choose, it's important to get multiple quotes to make sure you are getting good coverage at an affordable rate. This can be done through the following methods:

agent
Local captive agents

These agents are tied to a specific insurance company, meaning you will only get a quote from one carrier. Note that some newer or more technology-focused carriers do not use agents at all.

policy
Independent agents or brokers

Independent agents and brokers may be appointed to sell policies for many different companies, giving you a wider range of options to choose from. Many top insurance companies sell policies through independent agents.

computer with a magnifying glass
Online comparison sites

Offering the most convenience and the widest array of options, online insurance comparison sites can help you find multiple car insurance quotes in minutes. However, not all comparison sites are equal. Some have only a limited number of insurance partners while others may sell your information to other aggregators. The Zebra, however, works with the top insurance companies in the country and promises to protect your data

3. Consider your coverage

Knowing what coverage you need ahead of time can help you in your search for car insurance. While some drivers just want to get the minimum legally required coverage, there are a lot of reasons to look beyond just basic liability. For one, many states have requirements that may not be enough to properly cover damages you may cause in an accident. Also, liability-only provides no coverage to your vehicle, putting you and your vehicle at risk.

 

4. Consider your budget

The first thing most customers look at when comparing quotes is the cost. It's important to keep your car insurance costs within budget. But remember: the cheapest option isn't always the best. This is where your knowledge of coverage will come in handy. A close look at your quotes will help determine if the coverage is sufficient for your needs. However, keep in mind that cheaper coverage from a company with a poor track record for customer service may not be ideal.

5. Choose your policy

With this information in hand, it's time to choose your quotes. Have a look at the examples below to see which offers the best mix of price and coverage.

insurance policy

Quotes comparison example

After researching each company's customer service scores and reputations, a shopper has narrowed in on the following quotes from three different companies. Price is a major consideration, but this customer also wants to make sure that they have comprehensive and collision coverage to add further peace of mind. Which of the following quotes should they choose?

Car with blue windshield
Quote one: $112/month

Liability: 100/300/100

  • $100,000 for bodily injury per person 
  • $300,000 for bodily injury per accident
  • $100,000 for property damage per accident

Comprehensive and collision

  • Deductible: $1,000 

Car with blue windshield
Quote two: $111/month

Liability: 50/100/50

  • $50,000 for bodily injury per person 
  • $100,000 for bodily injury per accident
  • $50,000 for property damage per accident

Comprehensive and collision

  • Deductible: $1,000 
car with blue windshield
Quote three: $125/month

Liability: 100/300/100

  • $100,000 for bodily injury per person 
  • $300,000 for bodily injury per accident
  • $100,000 for property damage per accident

Comprehensive and collision

  • Deductible: $500 

Which quote is better?

All three quotes were close in price, but quote two offered less liability coverage. Narrowing down between quote one and quote three, the customer had to look closely at the differences. The only real difference was in the deductible, which was more expensive for quote three. Because this customer isn't overly concerned about a higher deductible, quote one is the best option.

Because this customer isn't overly concerned about a higher deductible, quote one is the best option.


Information needed to get 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.

Mileage
Mileage

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 location. 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.

The table below shows the average rates for the cheapest and most expensive states for car insurance (from The Zebra's 2022 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.

AVERAGE MONTHLY CAR INSURANCE RATES BY GENDER
Age Male Female
16 $503 $453
17 $429 $383
18 $377 $334
19 $273 $240

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.

CAR INSURANCE RATES BY MARITAL STATUS
Marital Status Average Monthly Insurance Rate
Single $123
Married $115
Divorced $123
Widowed $119

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.

CAR INSURANCE RATES BY HOMEOWNER STATUS
Homeowner Status Average Monthly Rate
Renter $123
Condo owner $121
Homeowner $121
Renter with bundle $117
Condo owner with bundle $110
Homeowner with bundle $108

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

CAR INSURANCE RATES BY EDUCATION LEVEL
Education Level Average Monthly Premium
Below high school $127
High school $125
Bachelors $123
Masters $123
Ph.D $123

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.

In the eyes of an insurance provider, drivers with poor credit are more likely to file a claim than drivers with good 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 is through a usage-based program. 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 violations
  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. Those who drive only for pleasure (more and more common with the abundance of remote workers) can expect to pay significantly less for car insurance than those who are regular commuters.

AVERAGE 6-MONTH CAR INSURANCE PREMIUM BY VEHICLE USE
Primary Vehicle Use Average Monthly Premium
Farm $116
Personal $123
Work $124
Business $137

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.

AUTO INSURANCE COSTS BY ANNUAL MILEAGE DRIVEN
Average Annual Mileage Average Monthly Rate
0 - 7,500 $119
7,500 - 10,000 $123
10,000 - 15,000 $125
15,000+ $127

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. Those with a clean driving record can expect rates to be much cheaper on average.

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 even 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.

AUTO INSURANCE RATES BY VEHICLE TYPE
Vehicle Type Average Monthly Premium
Truck $141
Van $134
SUV $159
Sedan $188
Luxury $176
EV/Hybrid $185
For more information on insurance by vehicle type, consult our expert guides below:
vehicle class

Getting the cheapest car insurance quotes

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

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 levels you once had might not be necessary after a few years. For example, collision and comprehensive coverage —commonly referred to as full coverage car insurance when paired together — 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.

AVERAGE MONTHLY INSURANCE RATES
Coverage Level Average Monthly Rate
State minimum (liability-only) $48
50/100/50 with $500 deductible $123
50/100/50 with $1,000 deductible $109

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.

zebra quotes

Why The Zebra?

The Zebra is an independent insurance advisor and quote comparison site that helps customers compare prices, coverage and service levels for auto and home insurance policies.

With The Zebra, you can:

  • Save time by getting multiple quotes at once
  • Find the cheapest car insurance companies based on your driving profile
  • 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 even if you're looking for low-income car insurance. 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 2022.

See the methodology we used to gather these rates.

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

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

Cheapest cities for car insurance quotes


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RECENT QUESTIONS

I would like car insurance for around 40 to 60 per month

Although lots of car insurance companies advertise "name your price tools," it doesn't really work that way. Your car insurance quote is based on a driving profile made of driving and non-driving factors.
Aug 3, 2018 Houston, TX

Getting a new insurance quote affect current rate and credit score

Your current insurance company will definitely not be contacted. The only time your company would be contacted is when you call to cancel your policy.
Jun 22, 2018 Rosedale, NY

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

If I go through The Zebra to get insurance, will I receive the proof of insurance today?

Whether you decide to purchase insurance through The Zebra online or over the phone, you will receive your proof of insurance before you hang up. As long as your down payment is received, your policy can become active and documentation can be generated.
Sep 16, 2021 Lake Charles, LA

Kristine Lee photo
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.