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Best Cheap Car Insurance in Washington, D.C., for 2020

Jan. 2, 2020
Auto Insurance, Insurance
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Finding cheap car insurance in Washington, D.C., can be challenging. Thanks to a variety of factors, including high population density and accident frequency, car insurance rates in the District of Columbia are some of the highest in the country. Rates are also unpredictable: Prices for the same coverage can be several hundreds of dollars apart, depending on the insurers.

To help D.C. drivers simplify their shopping and find a deal, NerdWallet researched rates from the seven largest insurance companies operating in D.C. and found the cheapest options for several driver types.

Cheapest for good drivers in D.C.

For a driver in Washington, D.C., with good credit and a clean driving history, the cheapest insurance companies and average rates for full coverage auto policies are:

  1. Geico: $1,081 per year.
  2. Erie: $1,119 per year.
  3. Progressive: $1,970 per year.
  4. State Farm: $2,174 per year.
  5. Nationwide: $2,344 per year.
Drivers with no recent accidents or violations can get cheaper car insurance rates for having good credit. For this calculation, NerdWallet averaged rates for 40-year-old men and women with a clean driving record and good credit. In terms of driving and credit history, a large portion of drivers are closest to this profile, which carries standard "full coverage" insurance, including comprehensive and collision, along with state-required coverage. Prices shown include a good driver discount, when available from the insurer.

Cheapest for minimum coverage in D.C.

For a driver who just wants bare-bones insurance, these are the cheapest companies and average rates for minimum required coverage in the U.S. capital:

  1. Geico: $479 per year.
  2. Erie: $532 per year.
  3. Allstate: $919 per year.
  4. State Farm: $1,099 per year.
  5. Nationwide: $1,268 per year.
We calculated these numbers by averaging rates for 40-year-old good drivers (earning them a discount if the insurer offers one) who have only the minimum mandatory insurance in their state. Such light coverage isn't typically recommended since it might not cover all the bills resulting from a car accident, but it's better than nothing — especially if you can't afford much more. If you're looking for the cheapest possible insurance you can get, though, you'll still want to get quotes from at least three auto insurers.

Cheapest for good drivers with poor credit

For a driver in Washington, D.C., who has a good driving record and poor credit, the insurers with the cheapest average rates for full coverage policies are:

  1. Geico: $1,786 per year.
  2. Erie: $3,018 per year.
  3. Nationwide: $3,381 per year.
  4. Allstate: $3,518 per year.
  5. Progressive: $3,734 per year.
If you have a spotty credit history, it's important to shop around to find the cheapest auto insurance rates you can. Poor credit can have a bigger effect on car insurance premiums than even a DUI conviction or a recent at-fault crash, but prices vary by insurer. To calculate these figures, NerdWallet averaged rates for 40-year-olds with a clean driving record and associated good driver discount, if the insurer offered one. They had poor credit as reported to their insurer, and standard "full coverage" car insurance.

Cheapest for drivers with one at-fault crash

Washington, D.C., drivers who have been at fault in a recent accident may want to get quotes from these companies, which showed the cheapest average rates for full coverage:

  1. Erie: $1,429 per year.
  2. Geico: $1,675 per year.
  3. State Farm: $2,818 per year.
  4. Progressive: $2,864 per year.
  5. Nationwide: $3,342 per year.
After a relatively minor crash, some auto insurers will charge a lot more than others for coverage. To get these figures, we averaged rates for 40-year-olds with typical "full coverage" insurance and one recent at-fault crash costing $10,000 in property damage. Your rates will remain high for three to five years after you cause an accident or have a moving violation — and you still may be rejected for coverage from certain companies, including those above. If you fall into this category, be sure to shop for new insurance rates just after the three-year and five-year anniversaries of your infraction.

Cheapest insurance after a DUI in D.C.

For people in Washington, D.C., whose driving record includes a recent DUI, these are the cheapest insurance companies and average rates for full coverage:

  1. Erie: $1,692 per year.
  2. Geico: $2,314 per year.
  3. Progressive: $2,429 per year.
  4. Allstate: $3,279 per year.
  5. State Farm: $3,340 per year.
A conviction for driving under the influence, or DUI, generally results in higher auto insurance premiums than before. NerdWallet analyzed rates for 40-year-old drivers and standard “full coverage” car insurance with a recent DUI conviction to see which companies were cheapest. Be warned that you may be rejected for coverage, including from the companies listed above. Rates can vary by hundreds between carriers after a DUI, and some penalize for longer than others, so it’s important to shop around for the best available price right after you see a price hike and each year after that.

Cheapest insurance after a ticket in D.C.

After a recent speeding ticket, here are the cheapest insurance options in Washington, D.C., along with average rates for full coverage:

  1. Erie: $1,170 per year.
  2. Geico: $1,305 per year.
  3. Progressive: $2,528 per year.
  4. State Farm: $2,538 per year.
  5. Nationwide: $2,689 per year.
Getting a speeding ticket will result in higher car insurance rates from most companies for three to five years. To see who has the cheapest rates, we calculated average car insurance rates for 40-year-old drivers with “full coverage” insurance and a recent ticket for speeding 16 mph over the limit. Though these larger companies were the cheapest we found on average, others may be cheaper for you, so be sure to get at least three quotes before deciding on a carrier.

Cheapest for couples and families in D.C.

To find the cheapest possible car insurance, couples and families may need to consider a different lineup of companies. Each insurer has its own way of applying rates and discounts, so the companies with the best rates for singles may not be cheapest when there are multiple cars and drivers to insure. That’s why it’s wise to shop for insurance quotes after any big change in your life, like getting married or moving. To see which companies are cheapest for families in Washington, D.C., we analyzed rates for a couple with and without a teen driver.

Cheapest for a married couple in D.C.

For a husband and wife in Washington, D.C., both 50 years old, these are the cheapest insurance companies and average rates for full coverage on two vehicles, assuming clean driving and credit histories:

  1. Erie: $1,668 per year.
  2. Geico: $1,669 per year.
  3. Progressive: $2,244 per year.
  4. State Farm: $3,388 per year.
  5. Allstate: $3,783 per year.
Couples who live together can save on auto insurance by combining policies, whether they are married or not, because they can earn multi-car and multi-driver discounts. Once they tie the knot, rates can dip further, but not because of discounts — insurers see married people as less risky and so charge them lower rates. Our hypothetical 50-year-old couple’s clean driving record also earns them both a good driver discount.

Cheapest for families with a teen in D.C.

For a 50-year-old couple in Washington, D.C., with an 18-year-old driver on the policy, these insurers have the cheapest average rates for full coverage on two vehicles:

  1. Geico: $2,780 per year.
  2. Erie: $3,054 per year.
  3. Progressive: $5,120 per year.
  4. Nationwide: $6,155 per year.
  5. State Farm: $6,354 per year.
Adding a teen with two years’ driving experience to a married couple's policy is sure to cause a big jump in rates. Since different insurers tend to see a teen’s inexperience in different ways, we analyzed rates to see which companies had the cheapest car insurance for teens. These rates are averaged for 50-year-old couples with male and female 18-year-old drivers.

Cheapest for young drivers in D.C.

When drivers are in their 20s, car insurance may not seem like a bargain. Whether they’re buying full coverage or bare-bones insurance, young people typically pay higher rates than more seasoned drivers. But prices can vary dramatically from one insurer to the next, because each company considers factors like age and experience differently. We examined rates for 25-year-olds in Washington, D.C., to find out which companies are cheapest for young drivers.

Cheapest full coverage for young good drivers

For full coverage, these are the cheapest insurance companies and average rates for a 25-year-old in Washington, D.C., with good credit and a clean driving history:

  1. Erie: $1,340 per year.
  2. Geico: $1,364 per year.
  3. Progressive: $2,098 per year.
  4. State Farm: $2,511 per year.
  5. Nationwide: $2,641 per year.
Drivers in their 20s can have a hard time finding cheap car insurance, and that's even truer when they need full coverage. The rates above are averages for 25-year-old male and female drivers with comprehensive and collision coverages, which are often required for drivers with active auto loans or leases. These rates reflect a good driver discount. Young drivers, like all drivers, should check several quotes to find the cheapest for the coverage levels they need.

Cheapest minimum coverage for young good drivers

For minimum required auto insurance, the cheapest insurers and average rates for a young driver in Washington, D.C., are:

  1. Geico: $587 per year.
  2. Erie: $633 per year.
  3. Allstate: $906 per year.
  4. State Farm: $1,238 per year.
  5. Nationwide: $1,431 per year.
Since young people often have fewer assets to protect with liability insurance, they can usually get away with lower coverage limits. For an age group with relatively high insurance rates on average, that's good news, keeping rates as low as possible. For this price set, we averaged rates for 25-year-old male and female drivers who have clean driving records, good credit and bare-bones insurance coverage.

Poor credit and minimum coverage

For a young driver in Washington, D.C., with poor credit and a good driving record, these are the cheapest insurance companies and average rates for minimum coverage:

  1. Geico: $878 per year.
  2. Allstate: $1,198 per year.
  3. Erie: $1,799 per year.
  4. Nationwide: $2,090 per year.
  5. State Farm: $2,374 per year.
Poor credit is common for younger folks just starting out, who may still be building their credit files. That can increase rates further, so it's extra important to shop around and compare as many insurance quotes as possible to find the cheapest you can get. For these prices, we averaged rates for 25-year-old male and female drivers with no recent accidents or violations (earning them a good driver discount), minimum coverage car insurance, and credit in the "poor" tier as reported to an insurer.

Cheapest for minimum coverage after a crash

For a 25-year-old driver in Washington, D.C., who has recently caused an accident, these are the cheapest companies we found and their average rates for minimum required insurance:

  1. Geico: $818 per year.
  2. Erie: $828 per year.
  3. Allstate: $1,266 per year.
  4. State Farm: $1,616 per year.
  5. Nationwide: $2,035 per year.
To get prices for this group, we averaged rates for 25-year-old male and female drivers with good credit and a recent at-fault crash costing $10,000 in property damage. Since car insurance is often pricier after a crash, and especially so for young drivers, we assumed minimum required insurance in the state to contain costs for our hypothetical driver. Depending on your situation, you may still be rejected for coverage, including from the companies listed above. If you've caused a crash, no matter your age, be sure to check auto insurance quotes just after the third and fifth anniversaries of your incident, when insurers often adjust rates downward.

Cheapest for minimum coverage after a DUI

When a 25-year-old driver in Washington, D.C., has a recent on-record DUI, these companies show the cheapest average rates for minimum required insurance:

  1. Erie: $994 per year.
  2. Geico: $1,082 per year.
  3. Allstate: $1,118 per year.
  4. Progressive: $1,743 per year.
  5. State Farm: $1,915 per year.
Young drivers with a recent DUI on their records will need to be diligent to find the lowest car insurance rates they can get — it's likely that many companies' rates will be quite expensive. Depending on the circumstances, you may be rejected for coverage, including from the companies listed above. But spending the time to shop around for quotes can help you find the lowest price from a company available to you. For this analysis, we averaged rates for male and female 25-year-old drivers with a recent DUI conviction. They had good credit and minimum required car insurance, which helps keep rates down.

Cheapest for minimum coverage and a ticket

Young drivers in Washington, D.C., with a recent speeding ticket may want to consider these companies, which returned the cheapest average rates for minimum required insurance:

  1. Geico: $653 per year.
  2. Erie: $659 per year.
  3. Allstate: $1,012 per year.
  4. State Farm: $1,459 per year.
  5. Nationwide: $1,638 per year.
Getting a speeding ticket is never fun, and neither is the higher car insurance bill you may receive months later. At that point, it's time to shop around for better rates, and it wouldn't hurt to repeat on your third and fifth ticket anniversaries, when insurers may adjust rates downward. We analyzed rates for 25-year-old male and female drivers with a recent speeding violation for going 16 mph over the speed limit to see prices for this group.

Cheap for military families

If you’re an active member of the military or a veteran — or have an immediate family member who is — chances are you’ll get a good rate with USAA, an option that isn’t available to the general public. For that reason, we don’t list it with the others, but USAA was the cheapest option for every driver type above except one: young drivers with poor credit, for which it ranked second.

» MORE: Best car insurance for veterans and military

Recap: Cheapest car insurance in D.C.

  • Good drivers: Geico.
  • Minimum coverage: Geico.
  • Poor credit: Geico.
  • After an at-fault crash: Erie.
  • After a DUI: Erie.
  • After a speeding ticket: Erie.
  • Married couples: Erie.
  • Families with a teen: Geico.
  • Young good drivers: Erie.
  • Minimum coverage for young good drivers: Geico.
  • Minimum coverage for young drivers with poor credit: Geico.
  • Minimum coverage for young drivers after a crash: Geico.
  • Minimum coverage for young drivers after a DUI: Erie.
  • Minimum coverage for young drivers after a ticket: Geico.

» MORE: Compare car insurance

Minimum required auto insurance in D.C.

Drivers in Washington, D.C., must carry liability insurance, uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage (UMBI) and uninsured motorist property damage coverage (UMPD) in the following amounts:

  • $25,000 bodily injury liability per person.
  • $50,000 bodily injury liability per accident.
  • $10,000 property damage liability per accident.
  • $25,000 UMBI per person.
  • $50,000 UMBI per accident.
  • $5,000 UMPD per accident.

Keep in mind, a serious crash could easily cause damages that exceed these amounts, which is why it’s wise to buy more than the bare minimum that’s legally required.

Check out NerdWallet’s guide to state car insurance requirements to learn more about the coverage limits on D.C. policies as well as optional coverages you might want to add.

Alternative car insurance in Washington, D.C.

If you have a checkered driving history, poor credit or other factors preventing you from getting traditional auto coverage, you can seek coverage through the District of Columbia Automobile Insurance Plan.

NerdWallet’s car insurance comparison tool provides fast, easy quotes from many top companies.

Methodology

For our “good driver” profile, NerdWallet averaged rates from the largest insurers in the state for 40-year-old men and women in all ZIP codes with 12,000 annual miles driven. The policy includes:

  • $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.
If required, minimum additional coverages were added and "good driver" discounts were automatically applied. Our “young driver” had all the same characteristics, but average rates were for 25-year-old men and women. We used a 2016 Toyota Camry LE for all single drivers. 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 minimum required coverage 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 one at-fault crash, we added a single at-fault crash costing $10,000 in property damage.
  • For drivers with a ticket, we added a single speeding violation for driving 16 mph over the speed limit.
  • For drivers with a DUI, we added a single drunken driving violation.
Couples in our analyses were 50-year-old men and women with good credit and clean driving histories, averaged across all ZIP codes with the same policy outlined above. To see rates for families with a teen, we added an 18-year-old licensed two years ago, averaging rates for male and female teens. For couples and families we added a 2016 Nissan Rogue S to create a two-car household.

In all cases, a paperless discount, e-signature discount and electronic funds transfer discount were automatically applied. These are rates provided by Quadrant Information Services. Your own rates will be different.