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The Best Cheap Car Insurance for 2021

NerdWallet compared 2021 rates across the country from Allstate, Geico and more to find the cheapest car insurance.
Jan. 22, 2021
Auto Insurance, Insurance
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One of the best ways to get cheap car insurance is by comparing car insurance quotes — and the companies offering them. But when it comes to auto insurance, you want more than just the cheapest rates. The best cheap car insurance companies provide affordable rates without giving up quality customer service.

NerdWallet sliced the data in several ways to help you find the best cheap car insurance, depending on what that means for you.

  • The cheapest among the best companies. First, we took our best car insurance companies for 2021 and ranked them by average annual rate.
  • The best cheap car insurance from the largest companies. We looked at the largest companies in the U.S. and compared their average rates. Although the largest insurers aren’t always the cheapest, they’re widely available to drivers across the nation.
  • The cheapest car insurance, period. We looked at prices from dozens of companies across the country to determine which has the cheapest car insurance. We varied policy details to see rates for different credit and driving histories, ages and household sizes.

The cheapest car insurance rates from the best companies

Looking for a cheap car insurance company that puts customers first? NerdWallet compared rates among the best car insurance companies in 2021 for which we have complete pricing data. We looked at average rates in every ZIP code in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Not all companies offer insurance in every state.

Although it’s one of the largest insurers in the country, Liberty Mutual is not included in our analysis because it does not provide average rates.

Here are the best car insurance companies according to our 2021 reviews, ranked by average car insurance premium per year.

CompanyAnnual insurance premiumStars awarded
5.0 NerdWallet rating
5.0 NerdWallet rating
5.0 NerdWallet rating
4.5 NerdWallet rating
Texas Farm Bureau Insurance$1,361
5.0 NerdWallet rating
American Family$1,432
4.5 NerdWallet rating
5.0 NerdWallet rating
4.5 NerdWallet rating
State Farm$1,491
4.5 NerdWallet rating
4.5 NerdWallet rating
Shelter $1,718
5.0 NerdWallet rating
4.5 NerdWallet rating
4.5 NerdWallet rating
Auto Club So-Cal (AAA) $1,888
4.5 NerdWallet rating
4.5 NerdWallet rating
5.0 NerdWallet rating
*USAA is available only to military, veterans and their families.

» MORE: Best car insurance for veterans and military personnel

USAA is often the cheapest, but it isn’t available to everyone. For this reason, we include its numbers in this article but don’t rank it.

If you’re not in the military or a veteran, Erie has the most affordable car insurance rates on average among companies we analyzed, but it’s available in only 12 states and Washington, D.C. Geico has the cheapest rates on average among the nation’s largest insurers.

Snapshot: The best cheap car insurance from large companies

Whether you have an accident or DUI on your driving record, these insurance companies might be the right fit for you. These picks are based on NerdWallet’s 2021 analysis of the nation’s six largest insurers that provide rate information.

  • Geico: Best cheap car insurance for good drivers, drivers with poor credit and cheapest minimum coverage.
  • Progressive: Cheapest car insurance after a DUI.
  • State Farm: Cheapest car insurance after an at-fault accident.

Who has the cheapest car insurance?

Geico has the cheapest car insurance rates on average out of the largest auto insurers in the nation. Just seven car insurance companies make up more than 65% of the U.S. market for individual auto policies. They are Allstate, Farmers, Geico, Liberty Mutual, Progressive and State Farm, which are available to anyone, and USAA, the insurer for active military members, veterans and their families.

Although Liberty Mutual is one of the largest insurers, it does not provide rate information and isn’t included in our rate analysis.

Cheapest car insurance from 6 of the largest companies

Here are annual car insurance rates for six of the largest auto insurers in the United States, averaged among all states:

These rates are for full coverage insurance, which includes liability, comprehensive, collision, uninsured/underinsured motorist protection and any additional state-mandated coverage. Our “good driver” profile is a 40-year-old with no moving violations and credit in the “good” tier. (Insurers use a credit-based insurance score, which is different from your regular credit score, to determine the likelihood you’ll file a claim.)

» MORE: The average cost of car insurance

Cheap car insurance rates from small insurers

Finding cheap car insurance doesn’t mean you have to stick with large insurance companies. Regional and small insurers may beat the lowest car insurance prices from larger carriers, and often have great customer service.

Below are annual average rates and state availability for some smaller car insurance companies, according to our analysis. Each of these companies has cheaper annual rates, on average, than the large insurers in our analysis.

  • Secura: $823.
  • MMG: $839.
  • Hastings Mutual: $910.
  • Mutual of Enumclaw: $1,082.
  • Central Insurance: $1,090.

We chose these companies because of their low rates and availability in multiple states, but there may be cheaper options where you live. For example, there are many Farm Bureau insurance companies available only in a single state — and they were often among the cheapest in our state-by-state analysis this year.

Cheapest car insurance rates by driving record

Depending on your driving record, the most affordable car insurance company varies. The table below shows average auto insurance rates for additional driver profiles from the largest companies.

CompanyOne at-fault accidentOne DUI
Large companies’ average annual rates
State Farm$1,925$2,534
Cheap car insurance from small companies
Hastings Mutual$1,481$4,595
Mutual of Enumclaw$1,706$1,840
Central Insurance$1,473$5,233
*USAA is available only to military, veterans and their families.

» MORE: Find the best cheap car insurance after a DUI

Although Geico has the best average rate for good drivers, State Farm has the cheapest rates on average for drivers with one at-fault accident, while Progressive is cheapest, on average, for drivers with a DUI.

Among smaller insurers, drivers with one at-fault accident or a recent DUI can find the best rates with MMG per year on average.

Rates vary depending on many personal factors, so compare car insurance quotes from at least three insurers to find the best rates for you.

» MORE: How much car insurance rates go up after an accident

Cheap auto insurance rates for drivers with poor credit

Your driving record isn’t the only factor that can increase your rates. Many insurers also look at credit-based insurance scores to help calculate your car insurance rates. This score looks at the same factors as a regular credit score, but weighs them differently. California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Michigan don’t allow insurers to use credit scores when calculating car insurance rates.

» MORE: What to know about a credit-based insurance score

Credit can have a shocking impact on insurance premiums. Out of the large insurers, on average, drivers with poor credit pay over $1,200 more per year than drivers with good credit.

If you’re looking for the best cheap car insurance rates and have poor credit, Geico might be a good place to start if you want a large company. Based on our analysis, the company has the lowest average rates per year for good drivers with poor credit. In the smaller company group, on average, Hastings Mutual is cheapest annually for good drivers with poor credit. Still, shopping around is always the best way to get the cheapest car insurance rates, no matter your credit history.

CompanyDrivers with poor creditAdditional premium for poor credit
Average annual rates from large companies
State Farm$3,130$1,639
Cheap car insurance rates from smaller companies
Hastings Mutual$1,175$265
Mutual of Enumclaw$1,620$538
Central Insurance$3,967$2,877
*USAA is available only to military, veterans and their families.

Cheapest of the cheap: Minimum coverage car insurance

The cheapest car insurance, period, will likely carry the minimum coverage required in your state. In most states, this is liability insurance only, which covers property damage and medical bills for others due to accidents you cause. Some states also require uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, which pay for your injuries or damage if an at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance.

Policies with comprehensive and collision coverage are pricier, but cover you in case your car is stolen or damaged, no matter who (or what) caused it.

» MORE: Find cheap full coverage car insurance

The cost difference between buying the minimum car insurance required and additional coverage, like comprehensive and collision, is enough to make many drivers buy a bare-bones policy. Excluding USAA and smaller insurers, Geico was the best car insurance company in our analysis for both cheap liability insurance and policies with additional coverage. Allstate had the largest average annual price difference between buying the minimum amount of insurance and adding other coverage policies.

» MORE: Minimum car insurance requirements by state

CompanyAverage annual rate for minimum coverageAnnual cost difference between minimum and full coverage
Car insurance rates from the largest companies
State Farm$550$941
Cheap car insurance rates from smaller companies
Hastings Mutual$419$491
Mutual of Enumclaw$469$613
Central Insurance$491$599
*USAA is available only to military, veterans and their families.

Find the cheapest car insurance in your state

Cheap car insurance doesn’t mean the same thing everywhere. Rates vary widely from one state to the next. To get a good benchmark for price comparisons, check out average rates in your state.

How to get cheap car insurance quotes

If you’re looking for the cheapest car insurance you can get, it’s essential to shop around with multiple insurers. You can use NerdWallet’s car insurance comparison tool to easily shop around for cheap car insurance quotes online. You may find that your current insurer is cheapest, but that can change, so check roughly once a year.

» MORE: How to save on car insurance: Smart ways to lower your rate

No matter who your insurer is, these tips could help you save 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 that and you might get a low-mileage discount. Ask for all available discounts when you’re trying to get cheap car insurance quotes.
  2. Rethink your deductible. A higher collision and comprehensive deductible might make sense if you rarely drive or are comfortable with the financial risk. Raising your deductible 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 cheaper insurance. 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 pay out only 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, so shop for quotes whenever something major changes in your life. 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.
  5. Revisit quotes after your driving record improves. Shop for cheap car insurance quotes just after the three- and five-year anniversaries of any accidents, tickets or moving violations, after which they may be dropped from your driving record.

» MORE: What’s my car worth? How to find its resale value

Best cheap car insurance frequently asked questions

Who has the cheapest car insurance?

Geico has the cheapest car insurance rates on average per year out of the nation’s largest insurance companies. However, rates vary widely based on a person’s gender, car make and model, location and other factors. To find the cheapest price, compare car insurance rates with at least three insurers once a year.

Although USAA had the cheapest auto insurance rates overall, it was not ranked in our analysis because the company offers insurance only to active military members, veterans and their families.

How do I get cheaper car insurance?

Shopping around for car insurance quotes is the best way to find cheap rates. While you should always ask about discounts, the best way to keep your rates low is by having good credit and a clean driving record. If you aren’t planning on driving a lot long-term, switching to pay-per-mile insurance may also save you money. 

What is the cheapest type of car insurance?

Minimum car insurance is likely the cheapest car coverage you can buy. Out of the six largest insurers that provide rate information, drivers pay over $1,000 more annually for full coverage on average compared with drivers who opt for minimum coverage. Minimum car insurance requirements vary by state.

At what age does car insurance get cheaper?

Teens and young drivers have some of the highest car insurance rates, on average. As you gain experience, rates decrease and drop significantly by around age 25, on average, according to a separate NerdWallet analysis for young drivers. Generally, rates continue to drop and start to rise again at age 70, with a more dramatic increase around age 75.

Auto insurance ratings methodology

NerdWallet’s auto insurance ratings reward companies for customer-first features and practices. Ratings are based on weighted averages of scores in several categories, including financial strength, consumer complaints, website transparency and affordability. Using our editorial discretion, we also consider customer satisfaction surveys. These ratings are a guide, but we encourage you to shop around and compare several insurance quotes to find the best rate for you. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for any reviews. Read our editorial guidelines.

Average Rates 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:

  • $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.

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

Rates by age methodology

NerdWallet averaged insurance estimates from the largest insurers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., for single male and female drivers with good credit and no tickets or violations. For full coverage policies, we used the following coverage limits:
  • $100,000 bodily injury liability per person.
  • $300,000 bodily injury liability per accident.
  • $50,000 property damage liability per accident.
  • $100,000 uninsured motorist coverage per person.
  • $300,000 uninsured motorist coverage per accident.
  • Collision coverage with a $1,000 deductible.
  • Comprehensive coverage with a $1,000 deductible.
In states where required, minimum additional coverages were added. Some policies include additional coverages at the insurer’s discretion.
  • For drivers with minimum coverage, we adjusted the numbers above to reflect minimum required coverage by law in the state.
  • We used a 2017 Toyota Camry LE for all drivers and assumed 12,000 annual miles driven.
  • We analyzed rates for drivers of the following ages: 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65, 70, 75 and 80.
These are rates generated through Quadrant Information Services. Your own rates will be different.

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