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Find the Best Cheap Car Insurance

May 1, 2017
Auto Insurance, Insurance
NerdWallet adheres to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Some of the products we feature are from partners. Here’s how we make money.
We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

Whether you’re looking for a full coverage car insurance policy or liability coverage only, nobody wants to overpay. And the best way to get the cheapest car insurance possible is by comparing car insurance quotes — and the companies offering them.

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To get you started, NerdWallet looked at car insurance prices across the country for different driver profiles and coverage levels. We’ve sliced the data in several ways to give you an idea of average costs and what factors might nudge your car insurance rate up — or even better, down.

Cheapest overall: Liability-only car insurance

The cheapest car insurance will often be the minimum coverage required in your state, which in most states is liability insurance. Liability insurance covers property damage and medical bills for others due to accidents you cause. Some states require additional or alternative coverage, such as personal injury protection.

Full coverage car insurance is more expensive and often comes with a deductible, a set amount you are responsible for if you file a claim. But it also provides more expansive coverage for your car, like if it’s stolen or damaged, whether by you, a hit-and-run driver or a fallen tree.

To get an idea of the cheapest car insurance rates, period, we looked at quotes from available carriers for the minimum required insurance in each state. Then, we compared it to the average cost of full coverage car insurance to show the difference in cost.

StateAverage annual price: Minimum required coverageAverage annual price: Full coverageAnnual difference
Average$699$1,537$838
Alabama$563$1,367$804
Alaska$419$1,105$686
Arizona$684$1,527$843
Arkansas$578$1,449$871
California$629$1,654$1,025
Colorado$713$1,738$1,025
Connecticut$1,029$1,984$955
Delaware$1,209$2,350$1,141
District of Columbia$842$1,558$716
Florida$1,253$2,355$1,102
Georgia$727$1,523$796
Hawaii$676$1,637$961
Idaho$389$990$601
Illinois$706$1,389$683
Indiana$493$1,091$598
Iowa$309$968$659
Kansas$585$1,297$712
Kentucky$1,092$2,185$1,093
Louisiana$995$2,789$1,794
Maine$431$961$530
Maryland$924$1,644$720
Massachusetts$540$1,179$639
Michigan$2,696$3,986$1,290
Minnesota$824$1,598$774
Mississippi$612$1,669$1,057
Missouri$683$1,581$898
Montana$428$1,457$1,029
Nebraska$431$1,126$695
Nevada$679$1,721$1,042
New Hampshire$495$1,041$546
New Jersey$1,095$2,069$974
New Mexico$576$1,416$840
New York$1,161$2,017$856
North Carolina$527$1,027$500
North Dakota$393$1,148$755
Ohio$548$1,106$558
Oklahoma$561$1,645$1,084
Oregon$1,063$1,782$719
Pennsylvania$475$1,303$828
Rhode Island$977$2,017$1,040
South Carolina$524$1,167$643
South Dakota$330$1,083$753
Tennessee$499$1,294$795
Texas$826$2,452$1,626
Utah$695$1,284$589
Vermont$396$1,035$639
Virginia$431$1,039$608
Washington$545$1,009$464
West Virginia$635$1,501$866
Wisconsin$491$1,084$593
Wyoming$329$1,085$756

Average rates can give you an idea of pricing in your state for minimum or full coverage car insurance policies, but that says little about the companies available to you.

Cheapest of the big car insurance companies

Just five car insurance companies make up more than 55% of the U.S. market. They include Allstate, Geico, Progressive and State Farm, which are available to anyone, as well as USAA, the insurer for active military members, veterans and their families.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s ranking of the best car insurance companies

Since most people choose one of these large insurers, NerdWallet compared quotes from the five largest auto companies in ZIP codes across the country. Rates are for policies that include minimum coverage required in each state, plus collision and comprehensive coverage. Our “good driver” profile is a 30-year-old with no moving violations and credit in the “good” tier. Use the tabs to see rates for drivers with credit in the “poor” tier and those with one at-fault accident as reported to the insurer.

Keep in mind these are averages from across the country, so rates in your area will differ.

1. Geico


NerdWallet is a free tool to find you the best credit cards, cd rates, savings, checking accounts, scholarships, healthcare and airlines. Start here to maximize your rewards or minimize your interest rates. Lacie Glover

National average rates:

  • Good driver: $1,177/year
  • Good driver, poor credit: $1,901/year
  • One at-fault accident: $2,225/year

Among the biggest four car insurers, our data indicates Geico is often the cheapest. Not only was Geico the cheapest for drivers with good credit and no moving violations, it was also cheapest for drivers with poor credit. However, drivers with a recent at-fault accident might see significantly higher quotes from Geico compared to other insurers.

» READ MORE: NerdWallet’s Geico review

2. State Farm


NerdWallet is a free tool to find you the best credit cards, cd rates, savings, checking accounts, scholarships, healthcare and airlines. Start here to maximize your rewards or minimize your interest rates. Lacie Glover

National average rates:

  • Good driver: $1,366/year
  • Good driver, poor credit: $2,867/year
  • One at-fault accident: $1,637/year

State Farm was the second-cheapest for good drivers, but it also came in cheapest for drivers with one at-fault accident — nearly $600 per year cheaper than Geico in that category. State Farm also beats Geico, Progressive and Allstate in NerdWallet’s ranking of best car insurance companies.

» READ MORE: NerdWallet’s State Farm review

3. Progressive


NerdWallet is a free tool to find you the best credit cards, cd rates, savings, checking accounts, scholarships, healthcare and airlines. Start here to maximize your rewards or minimize your interest rates. Lacie Glover

National average rates:

  • Good driver: $1,726/year
  • Good driver, poor credit: $3,056/year
  • One at-fault accident: $3,024/year

Progressive isn’t the cheapest in this large national analysis, but that only illustrates the importance of shopping around. In many states, Progressive had some of the lowest rates for all of our 2018 driver profiles.

» READ MORE: NerdWallet’s Progressive review

4. Allstate


NerdWallet is a free tool to find you the best credit cards, cd rates, savings, checking accounts, scholarships, healthcare and airlines. Start here to maximize your rewards or minimize your interest rates. Lacie Glover

National average rates:

  • Good driver: $1,812/year
  • Good driver, poor credit: $3,054/year
  • One at-fault accident: $2,719/year

Allstate averaged more than others in this list for good drivers, but it was cheaper than Progressive for drivers with an at-fault accident or poor credit.

» READ MORE: NerdWallet’s Allstate review

Cheapest for military-affiliated families: USAA


NerdWallet is a free tool to find you the best credit cards, cd rates, savings, checking accounts, scholarships, healthcare and airlines. Start here to maximize your rewards or minimize your interest rates. Lacie Glover

National average rates:

  • Good driver: $870/year
  • Good driver, poor credit: $1,654/year
  • One at-fault accident: $1,162/year

USAA is only available to veterans, active military members and their families, so we didn’t rank it against the others. Even so, we found it to be the cheapest, by far, among large companies for all categories.

» READ MORE: NerdWallet’s USAA review

Check out smaller insurers, too

Finding cheap car insurance doesn’t mean you have to stick with large insurance companies. Regional and small insurers may beat the lowest offers from the big guys. For example:

      • Grange Insurance, which is available in 13 states through independent agents, came in cheaper than USAA in all three of the above categories. The average rate for good drivers was only $566 per year.
      • Erie Insurance, available in 12 states and the District of Columbia, had an average rate of $759 per year for good drivers. Bonus points: Erie locks in your initial rate for four years and ranks fourth among our best companies. Read our Erie Insurance review for more information.
      • Country Financial is available in 19 states and returned an average rate of $940 per year for good drivers. It was also cheaper than the big four (but not USAA) for drivers with at-fault accidents and poor credit.

Cheapest car insurance in your state

How to get the cheapest possible insurance

No matter who your auto insurance company is, here are tips for saving on your policy:

        1. Look for discounts — even ask for them. There could be discounts you’re not taking advantage of. For instance, maybe you retired and are driving less than when you bought your policy. Mention it and you might get a low-mileage discount.
        2. Rethink insurance limits and deductibles. A higher collision and comprehensive deductible might make sense if you rarely drive or are financially comfortable with the risk. Raising deductibles means you’d owe more out of pocket if you had to file a comprehensive or collision claim, but it’s a surefire way to get cheaper car insurance.
        3. Know when to cut coverage. Don’t strip away coverage just for the sake of a lower price. You’ll need full coverage car insurance to satisfy the terms of an auto loan, and you’ll want it as long as your car would be a financial burden to replace. But for older cars, you can drop comprehensive and collision coverage, which only pay out up to your car’s current value, minus the deductible.
        4. Cash in on major life changes. Certain life events could translate to cheaper car insurance. For instance, many companies offer a lower rate for married couples or domestic partners. Or perhaps you moved to a suburb with lower accident and crime rates. If your risk for accidents goes down, your rates just might, too.

NerdWallet’s car insurance comparison tool makes it easy to see side-by-side rates from top companies.

To compare minimum- and full-coverage insurance:

NerdWallet averaged rates for 30-year-old men and women with no incidents on record for 10 ZIP codes in each state and Washington, D.C. from the largest insurers, up to 12 in each state. Rates in the first column are for minimum insurance coverage required by law in each state.

For the full coverage category, we averaged rates from the largest insurers for 30-year-old men and women in 10 ZIP codes and with 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 a 2014 Toyota Camry in all cases. These are sample rates generated through Quadrant Information Services. Your own rates will be different.

To compare the 5 largest insurers:

NerdWallet averaged rates for 30-year-old men and women for 10 ZIP codes in each state and Washington, D.C., from the largest insurers in each state. “Good drivers” had no moving violations on record and credit in the “good” tier as reported to each insurer. For the other two driver profiles, we changed the credit tier to “poor” or added one at-fault accident, keeping everything else the same. 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 a 2014 Toyota Camry in all cases. These are sample rates generated through Quadrant Information Services. Your own rates will be different.