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The Best Cheap Car Insurance for 2020

NerdWallet compared 2020 rates across the country from Allstate, Geico and more to find the cheapest car insurance.
July 17, 2020
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 2020 and ranked them by average annual rate.
  • Best cheap car insurance from the largest companies. We looked at the largest companies in the U.S. and compared their average rates and best features. 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 who 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 2020 for those where 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.

» MORE: The best car insurance companies for 2020

Here are the best car insurance companies according to our 2020 reviews, ranked by average car insurance premium per year.

CompanyAnnual insurance premiumStar rating
Erie$8355.0
Texas Farm Bureau Insurance$1,0415.0
Country Financial$1,1364.0
Amica$1,1835.0
Geico$1,1985.0
American Family$1,2334.5
NJM$1,3015.0
Safeco$1,3174.0
Nationwide$1,3494.0
Auto-Owners$1,3574.5
State Farm$1,5114.5
Travelers$1,5284.5
AAA $1,6104.5
Progressive$1,7664.5
Liberty Mutual$1,7784.0
Shelter $1,8255.0
Allstate$1,8344.5
Farmers$1,8654.5
Esurance$1,9514.5
USAA*$1,0235.0
*USAA is available only to military, veterans and their families.

» MORE: Best car insurance for veterans and military personnel

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 on your driving record or you prioritize customer satisfaction above all else, these insurance companies might be the right fit for you. These picks are based on NerdWallet’s 2020 analysis of the nation’s seven largest insurers.

  • Geico: Best cheap car insurance overall. Cheapest car insurance for good drivers; drivers with poor credit, an at-fault accident or a speeding ticket; and married couples with a teen driver. Best for tech and apps.
  • Progressive: Cheapest car insurance after a DUI.
  • Farmers: Fewest customer complaints.
  • State Farm: Best for customer satisfaction.
  • Allstate: Best for coverage options.
  • Liberty Mutual: Best for discounts.

*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.

The 7 largest car insurance companies: Which is cheapest?

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.

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

  1. Geico: $1,198.
  2. State Farm: $1,511.
  3. Progressive: $1,766.
  4. Liberty Mutual: $1,778.
  5. Allstate: $1,834.
  6. Farmers: $1,865.

USAA*: $1,023.

These rates are for full coverage policies, which include 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.

USAA has the cheapest auto insurance out of the largest car insurance companies, according to NerdWallet’s 2020 analysis.

» MORE: The average cost of car insurance

Cheapest auto 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 speeding ticketOne at-fault accidentOne DUI
Allstate$2,172$2,904$3,301
Farmers$2,476$2,783$2,866
Geico$1,557$1,888$2,743
Liberty Mutual$2,383$2,837$4,128
Progressive$2,281$2,980$2,263
State Farm$1,784$1,968$2,549
USAA*$1,200$1,482$1,925
*USAA is available only to military, veterans and their families.

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

Cheapest auto insurance rates for good and bad credit

Your driving record isn’t the only factor that can increase your rates. Bad credit can have a shocking impact on your insurance premium. Out of the large insurers, on average drivers with poor credit pay over $1,000 more per year than drivers with good credit.

CompanyDrivers with good creditDrivers with poor creditAnnual cost difference
Allstate$1,834$2,907$1,073
Farmers$1,865$3,227$1,362
Geico$1,198$1,748$550
Liberty Mutual$1,778$2,497$719
Progressive$1,766$3,238$1,472
State Farm$1,511$3,114$1,603
USAA*$1,023$1,925$903
*USAA is available only to military, veterans and their families.

Cheapest auto insurance rates for a couple with a teen driver

Adding a teen driver to an auto insurance policy isn’t cheap. To get an idea of how much a policy with a teen costs, NerdWallet compared insurance rates for a married couple with rates for a married couple with a teen driver.

Geico offers the cheapest rates on average for teen drivers, costing an additional $1,367 a year. While this might seem steep, it’s far better than other insurer rates. For instance, Liberty Mutual tacks on an additional $3,313 on average.

» MORE: Finding the cheapest car insurance for teens

Why the sharp increase? Teenagers are inexperienced, posing a big risk for insurers.

CompanyMarried coupleMarried couple with teen driverAnnual cost difference
Allstate$2,524$4,682$2,158
Farmers$2,853$5,851$2,998
Geico$1,821$3,188$1,367
Liberty Mutual$2,736$6,049$3,313
Progressive$2,270$4,380$2,110
State Farm$2,487$4,540$2,053
USAA*$1,577$2,763$1,185
*USAA is available only to military, veterans and their families.

These sample rates give only an idea of the cheapest car insurance — the lowest rates for you may come from a different company.

The best car insurance from the largest companies

It’s easy to find the cheapest auto insurance quote and think you’ve found the insurer for you. But to find the best cheap insurance, consider factors like a company’s customer complaints, available coverage options and customer satisfaction ratings.

Best cheap car insurance overall: Geico

Geico not only offers the best rates in our analysis for 40-year-old drivers with a clean driving record, but also has the lowest average rates for:

  • Good drivers with poor credit.
  • Drivers with one at-fault accident.
  • Drivers with one speeding ticket.
  • A 50-year-old married couple with a teen driver.

On top of that, the company ranked the best for tech and apps (more on this later) and was the only large insurer to earn a 5-star rating in our 2020 insurance reviews.

But no company is best for every customer. If you’re looking for a lot of add-on coverages, you might want to look elsewhere. Based on our analysis, Geico had few coverage options compared to other large auto insurers. And if you have a DUI on your record, our analysis showed lower rates from Progressive and State Farm, on average.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s Geico insurance review

Cheapest car insurance for a DUI: Progressive

Although Geico has the best average rate for almost every driver profile we analyzed, Progressive was cheapest, on average, for drivers with a DUI. 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: NerdWallet’s Progressive insurance review

Fewest consumer complaints: Farmers

Relative to its size, Farmers had the fewest complaints reported to state regulators for private passenger auto insurance, according to three years’ worth of data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

But Farmers wasn’t the only large insurer with good behavior: Progressive and Allstate also had fewer complaints than expected relative to their size, which is measured by premiums written.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s Farmers insurance review

Best for customer satisfaction: State Farm

State Farm’s customers report better overall satisfaction than the others’, according to J.D. Power and Consumer Reports data. Satisfaction surveys include pricing, claims and customer service questions.

Geico was a close second place; in Consumer Reports surveys, it ranked the same as State Farm.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s State Farm insurance review

Best for coverage options: Allstate

Out of 11 optional coverage types we looked for — such as gap insurance and accident forgiveness — Allstate offered 10. Progressive and Liberty Mutual followed closely, offering eight each.

Here are some differences:

  • Allstate and Liberty Mutual offer both gap insurance and new-car replacement, while Progressive offers only gap insurance. Because the coverage is similar, insurers commonly offer only one or the other, if at all. Farmers offers new-car replacement, while State Farm and Geico offer neither.
  • Of the six insurers, only Geico offers mechanical breakdown insurance.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s Allstate insurance review

Best for discounts: Liberty Mutual

Liberty Mutual’s rates for a good driver in our analysis were $580 higher per year, on average, than Geico’s. Despite this, with 17 discounts available, Liberty Mutual offers the most savings opportunities. Geico follows closely with 16 discounts, while Progressive and State Farm tie with 13 discounts each. Some insurers, like Farmers, offer different discounts depending on your state.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s Liberty Mutual insurance review

Best for tech and apps: Geico

Consumers expect smooth online experiences and slick apps for many services, and insurance is no exception. Geico stands out for having:

  • An in-app vehicle-care feature to monitor your car’s maintenance.
  • Locators in the app for gas, parking and nearby attractions.
  • A voice-activated resource for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant plus an in-app virtual assistant.

The other big insurers have some similar tech features, but Geico has the most.

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

Minimum coverage rates for the largest auto insurers

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

CompanyAverage annual rate for minimum coverageAnnual cost difference
Allstate$784$1,050
Farmers$926$939
Geico$478$720
Liberty Mutual$900$878
Progressive$774$993
State Farm$624$888
USAA*$415$608
*USAA is available only to military, veterans and their families.

Cheap 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 the big guys, 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 all six large insurers in our analysis.

  • Grange: $605 per year.
  • Erie: $835 per year.
  • Secura: $872 per year.
  • Cincinnati Insurance: $968 per year.
  • Country Financial: $1,136 per year.
GA, IA, IL, IN, KY, MI, MN, OH, PA, SC, TN, VA, WI.
DC, IL, IN, KY, MD, NC, NY, OH, PA, TN, VA, WI, WV.
AZ, CO, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, MI, MN, MO, ND, WI.
AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, MA, MD, MI, MN, MO, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI.
AK, AL, AZ, CO, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, MN, MO, ND, NV, OK, OR, TN, WA, WI.

We chose these companies because of their low rates and availability in multiple states, but there may be cheaper options in your state. 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.

More average annual rates for small insurance companies

In this group, Grange is cheapest in all four categories. Erie is second-cheapest most of the time, but Secura is second-cheapest for drivers with poor credit.

CompanyGood drivers with poor creditDrivers with one at-fault accidentMinimum coverage
Cincinnati Insurance$1,439$1,768$393
Country Financial$1,664$1,514$405
Erie$2,064$1,081$295
Grange$798$782$238
Secura$1,264$1,339$348

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

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 and compare quotes. 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 getting auto 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 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

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.

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