Cheap Car Insurance

With car insurance, you get what you pay for

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How can I save on car insurance?

We all know those insurance commercials: they advertise their rates and somehow they’re all the cheapest. But when you read between the lines, you begin to see that cheap isn’t always the way to go with protecting your car. Still, here at The Zebra, we believe there are always ways to save on insurance without having to sacrifice quality or service.

In this article, we'll discuss:

  1. Where can I get cheap online car insurance?
  2. Why do I pay more for insurance than my brother in another state?
  3. What are some ways I can get discounts on my insurance?
  4. Wait, why is “cheap” insurance not always the best option?

Where to buy

Here are some top contenders based on J.D. Power’s US Auto Insurance Claims Satisfaction Study to get you started:

There are other factors to consider when shopping for car insurance so you shouldn't get too attached to a company. Looking at multiple companies is the very best way to make sure you're getting the best rate. Still, these companies are a good place to start.

Where you live can be a big impact on your premium

There are a myriad of factors that determine your rate—including where you live. High population size, state regulations, and the frequency and severity of claims can cause the insurance rates in your location to be high. Here are the 10 most and least expensive states to insure a car.

Most Expensive States v Cheapest States by Average Annual Premium

Most Expensive States Least Expensive States
Michigan - $2,087 Ohio - $764
Delaware - $2,073 North Carolina - $817
Oklahoma - $1,990 Idaho - $919
Kentucky - $1,925 Maine - $937
Kentucky - $1,925 Iowa - $971
New Jersey - $1,746 Indiana - $996
Louisiana - $1,741 Virginia - $1,002
Florida - $1,690 Illinois - $1,003
Rhode Island - $1,671 Massachusetts - $1,004
Connecticut - $1,625 Utah - $1,015

There are other ways to save, however.

We get it. You can’t just move to a different state because living in Michigan causes your insurance rates to be high. Just like there are times when you don't want to sacrifice customer service and claims satisfaction just to save a few bucks. Let’s break down the most common discounts and how much you can save.


This discount refers to having two types of insurance policies under one insurance company. Common policies are home/auto or renters/auto. Between a home/auto discount and a renters/auto discount, the discount is greater for the former - with homeowners saving an average of $110 per year while a renter typically saves an average of $72 on their auto insurance. The discount affects both your policies, but the amount above refers to your auto insurance only.

National Average Annual Insurance by Homeowner Status

Renter Homeowner Renter with Multi-Policy Homeowner with Multi-Policy
$1,323 $1,292 $1,250 $1,181

Defensive Driver Discount

This discount entails taking an actual defensive driving course and then presenting your insurance company with proof (sometimes a receipt or transcript) of it. The logic behind this discount is clear: a safer driver makes you a cheaper client because you’re less likely to have a claim. Before you take the course, however, make sure your insurance company offers the discount first. Not every insurance company will honor the discount and some have specific guidelines for the courses you are allowed to take.

Equipment Discount

If your car comes with anti-theft devices or if you have services like LoJack, your insurance company usually provides a discount. The discounts tend to be smaller than a multi-policy or defensive driver discount, but can still help with making premium payments. On average, using a disabling anti-theft device can save you an average of $11 per year.

Average Savings from Safety Devices

Safety/Anti-Theft Device Avg Annual Premium Discount
None $1,323
Passive Disabling Device $1,312 $10
Tracking Device $1,314 $9
Audible Alarm $1,317 $6
Electronic Stability Control $1,318 $5

Good Driver Discount

Naturally, this discount is offered to you if you have a clean driving record, meaning no accidents or citations. This is typically a substantial discount and a lot of times it is automatically added to your policy when your Motor Vehicle Report or CLUE report is pulled at the inception of your auto policy. Still, if you are sure you have a clean driving record and are not receiving any discount, speak with your insurance company and ask if they offer a discount for good drivers. The added bonus of this discount is how costly any type of violations can be. So, by keeping a clean driving record, you get the discount as well as avoid these costly penalties, featured below.

National Average Annual Auto Insurance Premiums by Driving Violations

Accident/Violation Avg Annual Premium $ More Paid vs No Violation
None $1,323
Cell Phone Violation $1,354 $31
Texting while Driving $1,354 $32
Speeding 6 - 10 MPH Over Limit $1,593 $270
Speeding in School Zone $1,601 $279
Speeding 11 - 15 MPH Over Limit $1,604 $282
Speeding 16 - 20 MPH Over Limit $1,628 $305
Speeding 21 - 25 MPH Over Limit $1,653 $331
In 65 MPH Zone $1,710 $388
At-Fault Accident $1,935 $613
Reckless Driving $2,320 $998
Racing $2,368 $1,045
DUI $2,380 $1,057

Military Discount

Many companies offer discounts for active or former military members and their families. The amount and qualifications differ per company but you should ask if your current company has this discount. 

Multi-car discount

Like a multi-policy discount, a multi-car discount refers to having more than one car with a single insurance company. Typically, the discount is automatically added either at the policy inception (if two cars were originally added) or when you add the second vehicle to the policy. 

Preferred Payment Discount

This discount refers to the manner in which you make your insurance payments and has tiers, typically. For example, if you pay your entire premium up front, you are often given a discount which is usually the highest preferred payment discount. On average, a paid in full discount can save $62 per year on your auto policy. Moreover, if you set up automatic payments from a bank account, you can often receive an “EFT discount.” Here, EFT refers to electronic funds transfer and can save about $28 annually. If you are able to pay upfront or through automatic payments, this is a discount worth considering.

Average Rates by Electronic Funds Transfer

Yes No Savings
$1,295 $1,322 $27

Average Rates by Payment Plans

Paid In Full Installments Savings
$1,261 $1,323 $61

Profession Discount

This discount goes by many names but the idea is the same. Some insurance companies will offer a discount based on your occupation. Statistically, some occupations like teachers, physicians, or police officers are less likely to file a claim and thus pose less of a risk. Because of this, some insurance companies return the savings back to you. Usually, they will require you to submit some type of proof of your profession—a photocopy of your degree is common.

Good Student Discount

If you have a young driver, you understand how expensive they can be to your insurance policy. Given the number of claims they cause, teenagers look like considerable risks for insurance companies and they charge accordingly for them. If your son or daughter has the grades, typically above a 3.0 GPA, speak with your insurance company about a good student discount. Normally, they’ll ask for a transcript every policy period (6-12 months) as proof.

Back to top?

Sometimes, cheap isn't the best way to go

You’ve heard the phrase “you get what you pay for.” Well, it’s the same for car insurance. Sometimes an insurance company is cheap simply because they offer very little in terms of customer support or because they cut corners in their claims process—leaving you to pick up the pieces. This is something to consider if an easy and reliable claims process or customer satisfaction is important to you when looking for cheaper options. 

At the end of the day, even with all the discounts, car insurance can still be very expensive. You could be living in Toledo, Ohio with all of the above discounts and still be spending too much money on auto insurance. Because of this, we recommend you shop for car insurance every 6 months to ensure you're getting the best possible rate. 

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