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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.
Find car insurance today by comparing rates online.
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
Necessary info includes date of birth, address, occupation, and marital status.
- 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
Have purchase information on hand when buying your policy.
- Driving history
Compile the driving history of you and any other driver(s) on the policy.
- 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:
*No-fault is optional in these states, as drivers may choose PIP coverage or liability coverage.
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
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.
How marital status affects car insurance quotes
While the difference is small, married drivers are more likely to get affordable car insurance quotes than single, divorced or widowed drivers. Car insurance companies assume married drivers are more likely to share driving responsibilities and less likely to file claims.
CAR INSURANCE RATES BY MARITAL STATUS
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
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.
CAR INSURANCE RATES BY EDUCATION LEVEL
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.
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.
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.
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.
AVERAGE 6-MONTH CAR INSURANCE PREMIUM BY VEHICLE USE
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 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
If you'd like more information regarding car insurance by how much you drive, see our related articles:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
|City||Insurance company||6-Month Premium|
|San Antonio||State Farm||$610|
Is there a site where I can enter my information and it will show me different quotes from various companies?
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.