How to Estimate Car Insurance Before Buying a Car

Your next car will have costs beyond the monthly payment. Find out how to estimate car insurance before you buy.
Kayda NormanJul 29, 2021

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Even the savviest car shoppers can forget to estimate car insurance costs before buying.

The type of car you drive is just one variable car insurance companies plug into their formulas to determine how much to charge you. Depending on the vehicle and insurance company, the cost of car insurance can vary by hundreds of dollars a year for the same driver.

That’s why it pays to get some initial car insurance quotes for models you’re thinking about buying. Along with gas mileage and maintenance costs, car insurance costs should be included when calculating the .

The national average car insurance rate is $1,427 per year for "full coverage," according to NerdWallet’s 2020 rate analysis, but your rates will differ based on the car you buy, among other factors.  isn't a specific type of policy. Rather, it refers to a combination of coverages. For our rate analysis, full coverage includes liability, comprehensive, collision, uninsured/underinsured motorist protection and any additional state-mandated coverage.

Certain cars cost more to insure than others because carriers use crash and theft statistics to help set rates for each model separately. So if the car you choose tends to be stolen or crashed more, chances are you’ll pay more for insurance. The reason sports cars cost more to cover, for example, is because they’re more likely to be driven fast and crashed hard by their owners.

Here are some specific characteristics that affect the cost of auto insurance:

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In your search for a car, follow these steps for an accurate auto insurance estimate:

Now you can factor in the cost of car insurance to help you make a final choice.

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Your car make and model aren’t the only factors that go into an auto insurance quote. Other factors that affect your quote include:

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Most states require a , but you’ll likely want to have more than minimum coverage. Some drivers opt to get full coverage to help protect themselves against any type of accident. Remember, full coverage isn't a type of policy, but generally a combination of required and optional coverages. But full coverage doesn't include everything. Extras like roadside assistance and gap coverage may have to be added separately.

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Full coverage car insurance may include:

The best way to find the cheapest car insurance rates is by shopping around. Check and look for a company with a good reputation for customer service.

When you shop for car insurance, remember to compare quotes for the same levels of coverage. A company that offers a particular discount might still be more expensive than an insurer that offers low-cost coverage overall.

Although the cost of insurance may not make or break your final car decision, it’s important to know how much you’ll pay for coverage before you make an offer on a vehicle.

Methodology

NerdWallet averaged rates for 40-year-old men and women for all ZIP codes in any of the 50 states and Washington, D.C., in which the insurer was one of the largest insurance companies (by premiums written). “Good drivers” had no moving violations on record and an insurance credit score considered “good” by each insurer; a “good driving” discount was included for this profile. Sample drivers had the following coverage limits:

In states where required, minimum additional coverages were added. We used the same assumptions for all other driver profiles, with the following exceptions:

We used a 2016 Toyota Camry LE in all cases and assumed 12,000 annual miles driven. In all cases, a paperless discount, e-signature discount and electronic funds transfer discount were automatically applied. These are sample rates generated through Quadrant Information Services. Your own rates will be different.

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