What is the State of Auto Insurance in 2018?

state of insurance 2018

Well, we’ve done it again. We’ve gone and gotten super curious about how car insurance is impacting the 250 million drivers in the U.S. today – whether people are paying more or less than in recent years, what parts of the country have seen spiking or falling car insurance rates, and even how technology has changed impacted rates (or not).

And the result is The State of Auto Insurance 2018 Report.

At The Zebra, we prioritize educating and informing consumers about auto insurance, and that means giving them real data-driven insights into the factors that determine rates. This report explores the current state of auto insurance pricing as affected by dozens of key rating factors including where you live, what car you drive, your driving record, and even personal attributes, among many others.

Now our curiosity isn’t a typical kind, and insurance isn’t your typical subject. Because auto insurance is determined by thousands of different factors, we had to explore all those factors in every zip code across the U.S. to get a true picture of trends. And we did it. And that amounted to more than 52 million rates explored. Curiosity can take you down winding paths, let me tell ya.

And now on to the good stuff.

So, what is the State of Auto Insurance in 2018?


  • Car insurance rates are higher than they’ve ever been, with a national average annual premium of $1,427 – that’s 20% higher than in 2011.
  • The most expensive state for car insurance: Michigan ($2,610/year)
  • The least expensive state: North Carolina ($865/year)
  • The most expensive city: Detroit ($5,414/year)
  • The least expensive city: Winston-Salem, NC ($774/year)


Reactive to Technology (Well…Sometimes)


  • Insurance companies are penalizing distracted drivers for the first time since the advent of cell phones, though still not nearly as much as for other dangerous traffic violations
    • A ticket for texting or using your cell phone while driving would only raise your car insurance rates by 0.25% (or $3) in 2011. But now, the penalty is 16% (about $226) – a penalty increase of nearly 7500%.
    • In contrast, a ticket for a DUI violation would have raised your rates by 68.4% (or $817) in 2011. Now, the penalty is 76.5% (or $1,092) – a penalty increase of about 34% (NOT to mention a current dollar amount for a DUI penalty nearly 5 times that of a distracted driving penalty).


  • Vehicles with advanced anti-theft and safety technology may reduce theft and collisions, but insurance companies offer few, if any, discounts for having these features in your car.  
    • No anti-theft device saves even 1% on car insurance. These include passive and active disabling devices, tracking devices, and audible alarms.
    • No safety device saves even 1% on car insurance. These include electronic stability control (which saves about $7 or 0.5%), driver alertness monitoring, lane departure warning, night vision devices, parking assist, rear view cameras, blind spot warning, collision preparation, and heads-up displays.

What causes changes in auto insurance rates?

Other findings explore how auto insurance rates change across the country and over time for factors that assess risk based on:

  • Who you are

    • Your age
    • Your gender
    • Your credit Score
    • Your marital Status
    • Whether you rent or own a house or condo
    • The highest level of education you’ve completed
    • Your occupation
  • How you drive

    • Violations and claims on your driving record
    • Whether you drive for work, pleasure, etc.
    • Your annual mileage
  • Your insurance coverage and buying behavior

    • What levels of liability, comprehensive, and collision coverage you buy
    • Your prior coverage
    • Behaviors around when and how you purchase insurance
  • And, of course, your car

    • Rates for approximately ~150 of the top makes and models by U.S. car sales
    • New car technology: anti-theft and safety features in cars
    • Use of telematics

Check out The Zebra’s 2018 State of Auto Insurance Report to see the full details, including rates and changes over time where you live.

There’s a lot of data here. (Did I mention more than 52 million rates?) You can also get a clear picture of how each of these many rating factors affects your risk and your rates by getting your free Insurability Score. Your Insurability Score is like a credit score for insurance that helps you understand how your own behaviors and characteristics (like your driving record, age, or credit score) affect what you pay for car insurance – and gives personalized tips so you take control to lower your rates.

Interested in more information or have a question about the data? Contact Research@TheZebra.com.