How to Get Free Car Insurance Quotes

Find the cheapest car insurance quotes. Learn how to get an auto insurance quote, what they are and how to save.
Kayda NormanMay 11, 2021

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One of the best ways to find cheap car insurance quotes online is to shop around and compare coverage and rates from multiple companies. Enter some basic information about your vehicle and the drivers in your household, and you can typically get an auto insurance quote in a few clicks.

Drivers are required to have auto insurance in almost every state. But if you find yourself with a handful of questions about car insurance, you're not alone — and it's wise to learn about insurance before you get quotes. Here’s everything you need to know about auto insurance quotes before you shop.

A car insurance quote is an estimate of how much you’ll pay for a policy. An insurance quote is calculated based on the information you provide, including your age, the car you drive, your driving history and where you live, among other factors.

Insurers each use their own unique formula to calculate a car insurance quote, so even if you provide the same information to, Progressive or any other company, no two quotes will be the same. The more auto insurance quotes you get, the better chance you'll have of finding the for you.

There are several ways you can get free auto insurance quotes. You can buy directly online or over the phone, from a "captive agent" (who works for only one company), or from an independent agent or insurance broker.

First, some pro tips. Whichever option you choose, make sure you:

Getting free auto insurance quotes online is one of the easiest ways to shop for car insurance. Most companies offer free online auto insurance quotes, including State Farm and, which let you start online but assign you a captive agent to finalize your quote on the phone. Purchasing a policy online (or over the phone) is referred to as buying car insurance “direct” from the insurer.

Buying insurance directly without the help of an agent gives you more freedom to adjust coverage and see auto insurance quotes for yourself, but there are also drawbacks.

You could also get a free car insurance quote through a captive agent. A captive agent works for one specific insurance company, such as Allstate, Farmers Insurance or .

Any agent’s job is to help figure out what policy is best for you and provide a car insurance quote. In return, he or she earns a commission — or percentage of your premium — when you buy a policy. Unlike other agents, a captive agent may or may not also receive a salary from the company they work for.

If you want to talk through your car insurance options, but don’t want to limit yourself to one company, getting an auto insurance quote from an independent or agent  might be a good choice.

Independent agents and brokers work with multiple insurers and can offer a wide range of options and policies. Big-name insurance companies such as Travelers and (as well as smaller companies) sell policies through independent agents. Because independent agents work on commission, they may strive to provide you the best customer service possible or, alternatively, steer you toward more expensive policies.

Independent brokers differ from independent agents in that they charge a broker’s fee and must disclose commission rates to customers. This transparency allows you to know exactly how much the broker is making from your business.

Drivers who have had DUIs, speeding tickets or multiple accidents may need to find a nonstandard insurance company that specializes in. Many local and national agencies exist just to serve this customer base. For drivers who have a hard time getting coverage, these agencies can find car insurance quotes from companies willing to cover them.

Several and they differ from company to company. For instance, one insurance company might raise your rates by 10% for living in a high-crime area, while a different insurer might charge only 5% more. Both companies are looking at the amount of crime in your neighborhood, but calculate your insurance risk differently.

Factors that affect a car insurance quote include:

Personal characteristics such as your age, gender, marital status and education level typically affect an auto insurance quote because insurers can use statistics to predict how likely you are to crash. For instance, teen drivers generally have higher insurance rates because they’re more likely to get in a car accident than almost any other age group.

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The coverage you choose will, not surprisingly, affect your car insurance quote. The more coverage you need, the higher the cost. NerdWallet research found that on average, “ will cost more than double what minimum coverage costs.

Full coverage car insurance refers to a combination of coverages, including higher liability limits, and collision and comprehensive insurance. Still, it’s best not to base the amount of coverage you buy strictly on price.

Your driving record and how often you drive can make a big difference in the final insurance quote you’re given. A history of accidents, speeding tickets and can obviously raise your car insurance rates, but you’ll also get higher insurance quotes if you don’t have a driving record yet.

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If you don’t drive very often, you may want to consider as a way to lower your insurance costs.

Details about your vehicle, including the make and model, and whether it has features like a GPS system or safety equipment all affect your car insurance quote. Why? Luxury vehicles and cars with expensive safety features or high-end audio cost more to repair, hiking up your rates. The likelihood of your car's being stolen will also factor into your insurance quote.

Location plays an important part in how much your coverage costs. Population density, crime and crash rates around your neighborhood can all factor into the price of your insurance. In addition, the amount of coverage required to legally drive a car varies by state, as do average rates for similar policies.

For example, drivers with good credit and no recent accidents in Maine had the cheapest full coverage car insurance at $1,006 a year. Meanwhile, Louisiana was the most expensive state, with an annual rate of $2,915, according to NerdWallet’s .

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Your credit history will likely affect the cost of your auto insurance. Insurers look at your to determine how likely you are to file a claim. This score is similar (but not identical) to your regular credit score.

California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan and Washington don’t allow insurers to use credit when determining car insurance rates.

Your car insurance history plays a key factor in determining your auto insurance quote, including:

No matter how you decide to shop around for auto insurance quotes, make sure you have all the relevant information on hand and understand what goes into determining your final premium. That includes:

Beyond the coverage required by law, the amount of insurance you need is determined by your personal needs.

As discussed, full coverage car insurance can be expensive, and generally includes a combination of coverage types including liability, collision and comprehensive insurance. You may need to purchase collision and comprehensive coverage if you have a car loan or you lease your vehicle, per your financing contract.

Full coverage might be worth the investment if:

Here’s how these common types of insurance work:

pays out if you cause an accident and damage another person’s property or cause injuries. Most states require all drivers to have a minimum amount of liability insurance.

There are two main types of liability insurance:

A “liability limit” is the maximum amount your coverage would pay out if you caused a wreck. Choosing higher liability limits will cause your auto insurance quote to rise, but will better protect your finances if you have a bad accident. Certain states will let you buy liability insurance with a limit for both injuries and property damage per accident.

These limits are generally shown as three numbers such as 100/300/50. In this case, your liability coverage would pay up to: Here are some of the most common types of insurance to include on your auto policy:

pays for damage to your own car if you hit another person or object, or if an uninsured or underinsured driver hits your car. Collision coverage also includes a deductible, which is the amount you pay out of pocket before your insurer will cover any damage.

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Collision insurance won’t pay out more than your car’s cash value — after you pay the deductible amount. If you have an older car that isn’t worth much more than your deductible, you might not want to buy collision coverage.

For example, let’s say your deductible is $1,000 and your car is valued at $1,500. In that case, you will receive only a $500 check from your insurer, since the $1,000 deductible will be taken out of your car’s initial cash value. On top of that, your insurance rates may increase after filing a claim.

pays out if your car is stolen or is damaged from almost anything except a car crash. This can include flood, fire, animals in the road or falling objects.

Although it will pay for damage to your vehicle for most reasons, comprehensive coverage doesn’t pay for injuries or damage you cause to someone else. It also won’t pay for damage to your vehicle from another car. As with collision insurance, you may not want to pay for comprehensive coverage if your car is older and not worth more than your deductible, or close to it.

Most insurers offer additional coverage beyond these types, such as:

Because car insurance quotes can vary widely from person to person depending on your car, location and driving record, among other factors, we can’t predict the exact auto insurance quote you’ll receive, but our analyses determined these averages.

National average car insurance rates for minimum required coverage are:

Full coverage can cost more than double the price of minimum coverage insurance. Rates shown for full coverage include liability coverage, uninsured motorist protection, comprehensive and collision insurance.

Here are national average car insurance rates for full coverage.

Those with at-fault accidents or DUI infractions on their record will generally pay higher rates, as will those with poor credit in most states. Below, see the average annual cost of car insurance for various driver profiles:

To learn more, see .

Regularly shopping around for car insurance quotes is the only way to find the best policy and cheapest auto insurance for you. Even if you have a clean record and are happy with your insurance company, you might find a better deal elsewhere.

Still, your current insurance company may end up being your cheapest option. The only way to know is to rates.

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Besides shopping around, you can try these other strategies to keep your premium down:

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Methodology

NerdWallet averaged rates based on public filings obtained by pricing analytics company Quadrant Information Services. We examined rates for 40-year-old men and women for all ZIP codes in any of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. Although it’s one of the largest insurers in the country, Liberty Mutual is not included in our rates analysis due to a lack of publicly available information.

In our analysis, “good drivers” had no moving violations on record; a “good driving” discount was included for this profile. Our “good” and “poor” credit rates are based on credit score approximations and do not account for proprietary scoring criteria used by insurance providers. These are average rates, and your rate will vary based on your personal details, state and insurance provider.

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 2018 Toyota Camry LE in all cases and assumed 12,000 annual miles driven.

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