Car Insurance Quotes: How to Shop and Compare Online

Start a free online quote. Learn how to get an auto insurance quote, what they are and how to save.
Get Started

Get started on Insure.com

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

Key takeaways

  • Car insurance quotes provide an estimate of how much you’d pay for an auto policy.

  • Auto insurance quotes are personal to you and are based on multiple factors such as your car make and model, your age, location and driving history.

  • You can get an online car insurance quote for free using a comparison tool, an independent agent or by visiting an insurer’s website.

One of the best ways to find cheap car insurance quotes online is to shop around and compare quotes. You can use NerdWallet’s online car insurance comparison tool to find quotes from multiple companies in minutes.

If you have questions about car insurance quotes, it's best to get the answers before you start shopping. Here’s everything you need to know, from what auto insurance quotes are to how to get the cheapest one possible.

🤓Nerdy Tip

NerdWallet is not a car insurance company. Rather, we provide a tool that allows you to compare several carriers at one time. This includes some of the biggest insurers in the nation like Progressive, Geico, State Farm and Allstate, along with smaller, regional insurers.

with Insure.com

See what you could save on car insurance

Easily compare personalized rates to see how much switching car insurance could save you.

What are auto insurance quotes for car insurance?

A car insurance quote is an estimate of how much you’ll pay for a policy. Insurers each use their own unique formula to calculate a car insurance quote, so even if you provide the same information to Geico, 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 cheapest car insurance company for you.

What goes into a car insurance quote?

Several factors affect your auto insurance quote, 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 they calculate your insurance risk differently.

Factors that affect a car insurance quote include:

Personal characteristics like your age, gender, marital status and education level will affect your quote. This is because insurers use statistics about certain demographics to predict how likely a person is 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.

The coverage you choose can make a difference in your car insurance rate. Unsurprisingly, the more coverage you need, the higher your quote will be. In fact, NerdWallet’s research found that on average, “full coverage” car insurance costs more than double minimum coverage.

Your driving record, such as a history of accidents, speeding tickets and DUIs, will raise your car insurance rates. But the same is true if you don’t have a driving record yet. To get the cheapest quote possible, you’d need a lengthy driving history with no recent traffic violations.

Details about your vehicle, including your car 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 features cost more to repair after an accident. They’re also more likely to be stolen, making them a liability for insurers.

Location plays an important part in how much your coverage costs. The amount of coverage required to legally drive a car varies by state. As such, average rates for similar policies vary greatly. Other details about your location play a role in your insurance cost, too. Population density, crime and crash rates around your neighborhood are all factors insurers consider.

Your credit-based insurance score — which is similar but not the same as your credit score — can affect the cost of your auto insurance. According to the Insurance Information Institute, drivers with low insurance scores are more likely to file claims, which could by costly for an insurer. Further, insurance companies may assume there is a correlation between how well a person manages their finances and how well they drive and maintain a vehicle. If you live in California, Hawaii, Massachusetts or Michigan, however, you’re in luck. Insurers there are not legally allowed to factor in credit scores when calculating your car insurance quote.

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

  • Whether your car insurance has lapsed. Drivers who have had an insurance lapse, even if they don’t own a car, may be classified as high-risk. Non-owner auto insurance can help customers avoid a gap in coverage.

  • Insurance claims. Generally, a recent at-fault accident will raise car insurance rates 50% or more for a full coverage policy. Look for policies with accident forgiveness to help prevent a sharp increase.

  • How long you’ve been at your last insurer. Many companies offer a loyalty discount. But sticking with the same company without shopping around also has drawbacks. Some insurers use data algorithms to determine whether a loyal customer will compare rates with other companies. If they don’t think you’ll shop around, they may raise your rates. This practice is called price optimization.

  • Your previous insurance company. According to research from the Consumer Federation of America, if your last insurer was a nonstandard company that insures high-risk drivers, your new insurer may give you a higher quote.

  • Questions you’ve asked an insurance agent, even if you didn’t file a claim. Raising insurance rates based only on an inquiry is banned in some states, but not all.

How to get car insurance quotes

There are several ways you can get free auto insurance quotes:

Before you start making phone calls, though, remember these pro tips:

  1. Look into car insurance companies’ complaint records and customer satisfaction. Auto insurance reviews are a good place to start.

  2. Get at least three car insurance quotes online or from an agent so you can evaluate whether you’re getting a good price for the coverage you want.

  3. Understand coverage limits. When comparing quotes, check that each policy has comparable liability limits and deductibles.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Looking to buy a new auto insurance policy, but not sure where to start? Here’s our guide on how to buy car insurance.

Direct quotes online or over the phone

Getting free auto insurance quotes online is one of the easiest ways to shop for car insurance. Most companies, such as State Farm and Allstate, offer free quotes, letting you start online but then assigning you a captive agent to finalize your quote over 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 coverages and see auto insurance quotes for yourself. However, there may be drawbacks such as follow-up calls and emails. In addition, websites often provide less information than an agent, who can answer questions face to face.

Captive insurance agents

You could also get a free car insurance quote through a captive agent. These folks work for one specific insurance company, such as Allstate, Farmers Insurance or State Farm.

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, however, a captive agent may also receive a salary from the company they work for.

If your insurance needs are relatively complex, such as if you have multiple cars or need several types of policies, you may want to work with a captive agent since they can help navigate your unique situation. But keep in mind that because captive agents are limited to selling from one company, they may be motivated to upsell to receive a larger commission.

Independent insurance agents and brokers

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 broker 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 Progressive, 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.

Comparison websites

If you want to get quotes from multiple companies online for free, consider using a comparison website. For instance, NerdWallet has an auto insurance comparison tool that matches you with several insurers so you can easily compare prices and find the cheapest quote. If you know the kind of coverage you want and are looking for a quick way to shop around, this method could work for you.

Specialty agencies

Drivers who have had DUIs, speeding tickets or multiple accidents may need to find a nonstandard insurance company that specializes in policies for high-risk drivers. Many local and national agencies exist just to serve this customer base. They find car insurance quotes specifically from companies willing to cover individuals with poor driving histories.

with Insure.com

See what you could save on car insurance

Easily compare personalized rates to see how much switching car insurance could save you.

What information do you need to get a free car insurance quote?

When you 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:

  • Basic information such as your name, address, occupation and birthdate.

  • Your current auto insurance company, if you have one.

  • Driver's license information for you and anyone else on the policy.

  • Annual and current mileage on your car, as well as how often you drive and why (such as for pleasure or commuting to work).

  • Vehicle information, including whether you own or lease your car, vehicle identification number and any safety features.

  • Driving history for the past five years for all drivers on the policy, including tickets, accidents and other violations. Bear in mind — any company you choose will find your driving history before issuing a policy, so it’s best to be upfront to get an accurate car insurance quote.

  • How much coverage you need. If you already have a policy, the declarations page lists the coverage you currently have. You can use this for reference.

Choose the right auto insurance coverage
It’s important to understand what car insurance coverage you want and what you’re required to buy. For instance, most states require a minimum amount of car insurance to drive a vehicle. Alternatively, if you want extra protection, you may be interested in full coverage insurance. Read about the most common types of car insurance coverage to see how they work.

How much should my car insurance be?

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.

Why you can trust NerdWallet:

Our writers and editors follow strict editorial guidelines to ensure fairness and accuracy in our writing and data analyses. You can trust the prices we show you because our data analysts take rigorous measures to eliminate outliers and inaccuracies in pricing data, which include rates from every locale in the country where coverage is offered and data is available. When comparing rates for different coverage amounts, ages and backgrounds, we change only one variable at a time, so you can easily see how each factor affects pricing. Read our methodology.

Rates shown below are for full coverage insurance and include liability coverage, uninsured motorist protection, comprehensive and collision insurance.

Average auto insurance costs for a 35-year-old driver

Driver profile

Full coverage

Minimum coverage

Good driver, good credit

$1,630

$561

Good driver, poor credit

$2,792

$973

One at-fault accident, good credit

$2,462

$862

One speeding ticket, good credit

$2,043

$710

Recent DUI, good credit

$3,139

$1,134

with Insure.com

See what you could save on car insurance

Easily compare personalized rates to see how much switching car insurance could save you.

How to get the cheapest car insurance quote possible

Regularly shopping around is the only way to find the best policy for you. Even if you have a clean record and are happy with your insurance company, you might find a cheaper price elsewhere. The only way to know is to compare car insurance rates.

Besides shopping around (at least once a year), there are other strategies you can try to keep your premium down:

  • Work on your credit. Our car insurance rates analysis found that drivers with poor credit and a good driving record pay almost as much for car insurance as drivers with good credit and a DUI.

  • Shop for insurance before buying a car. Insurers will charge you more (or less) depending on the type of car you drive. A recent NerdWallet study found that the cheapest cars to insure include the Subaru Outback and Forester and the Honda CR-V.

  • Drive cautiously. Car insurance is almost always expensive for drivers with a history of car accidents, speeding tickets, DUIs or other violations in the past three to five years.

  • Look for discounts. You can save on your car insurance if you own a home, take a driver’s safety course or belong to certain organizations.

  • Raise your deductibles. Opting to pay more out of pocket if you file a collision or comprehensive claim will help reduce your monthly premium.

Frequently asked questions

According to NerdWallet’s rate analysis, the national average cost of car insurance is $1,630 per year for good drivers with good credit. However, any auto insurance quotes you get will be specific to you.

Car insurance quotes are personalized based on your driving history, location, age and other factors. Each insurer weighs these factors differently when they determine your quote. That’s why shopping around is the best way to find the cheapest car insurance rate for you.

NerdWallet’s auto insurance comparison tool provides a completely free way to compare several auto insurance companies at once.

Most insurance companies offer free car insurance quotes through their website, on the phone or in person with an agent. You can also use an online car insurance comparison tool to see multiple carriers where you can get rates from at once.

You can — and should — get a free car insurance quote before purchasing a vehicle. Auto insurance is an important aspect to consider when budgeting for a new or used car.

Shopping around for car insurance quotes online will not affect your credit score. However, having a low credit score will generally increase your car insurance quote in all states except California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Michigan.

One reason your rates may be higher is if you have a history of car accidents, speeding tickets or DUIs. Similarly, if you own a luxury vehicle, live in a high-crime area or have poor credit, your quote might be higher than average. But these are only a few examples of why your rates may have skyrocketed. Read our article on reasons why your car insurance is so high to find out more.

Methodology

NerdWallet averaged rates based on public filings obtained by pricing analytics company Quadrant Information Services. We examined rates for 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:

  • $100,000 bodily injury liability coverage per person.

  • $300,000 bodily injury liability coverage per crash.

  • $50,000 property damage liability coverage per crash.

  • $100,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage per person.

  • $300,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage per crash.

  • Collision coverage with $1,000 deductible.

  • Comprehensive coverage with $1,000 deductible.

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

  • For drivers with minimum coverage, we adjusted the numbers above to reflect only the minimum coverage required by law in the state.

  • We changed the credit tier from “good” to “poor” as reported to the insurer to see rates for drivers with poor credit. In states where credit isn’t taken into account, we only used rates for “good credit.”

  • For drivers with one at-fault crash, we added a single at-fault crash costing $10,000 in property damage.

  • For drivers with a DUI, we added a single drunken-driving violation.

  • For drivers with a ticket, we added a single speeding violation for driving 16 mph over the speed limit.

We used a 2019 Toyota Camry L in all cases and assumed 12,000 annual miles driven. We analyzed rates for drivers of the following ages: 20, 30, 35, 40, 50 and 60.

These are rates generated through Quadrant Information Services. Your own rates will be different.

Get more smart money moves – straight to your inbox
Sign up and we’ll send you Nerdy articles about the money topics that matter most to you along with other ways to help you get more from your money.