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What to know about comparing car insurance:
Comparing quotes from multiple car insurance companies is the best way to avoid overpaying for auto insurance.
After all, each car insurance company uses a different system to determine your rate. Although this can be confusing, it also means that you may qualify for a considerably lower price with one company than you do with others.
The only real way to find the company that can give you the cheapest rate is to shop around. Read on for expert tips on how to compare car insurance quotes like a pro.
In this article
Whether you shop for car insurance online, by phone or in person, the process for comparing quotes is similar for each channel or combination of channels.
The biggest advantage of shopping for insurance online is that you can typically request and compare quotes 24/7. However, online insurance sites often connect you with live agents, who may follow up with you by phone, email or text during business hours.
Considering the amount of money a car accident or theft could cost you, you don’t want to rush through the process of purchasing car insurance. However, with just a little preparation, it won’t take too long to find the right coverage at the best price.
Your driver’s license and the declaration page for your current car insurance policy, if you have one, are the two most important documents to gather when you begin shopping for car insurance.
In addition to containing vital details about your current car insurance policy, your declaration page also contains your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN). If you can’t find your declaration page, dig out your vehicle registration form or any other document containing your VIN.
To get an accurate car insurance quote, you typically need to provide the following information to the insurance company:
If you’re seeking a quote for a car you plan to buy, the vehicle’s year, make and model typically suffices, assuming the car does not have a salvage or rebuilt title.
You should also be prepared to provide documentation needed for any discounts you may qualify to receive.
For example, if you’re seeking a good-student discount for your teen driver, you should at least know your child’s grade-point average. After you purchase your policy, you typically get a few days or longer to submit documents that confirm your eligibility for any discounts you receive.
Giving some consideration to the amount of car insurance coverage you need before you begin comparing quotes generally makes shopping easier.
An insurance company won’t sell you a policy that does not meet your state’s minimum car insurance requirements. However, a minimum-coverage policy may not meet all your insurance needs.
Here are some of the most common reasons to consider adding optional insurance coverages to your policy or choosing coverage limits that exceed your state’s minimum requirements:
Your current auto policy’s declarations page shows your current coverages and limits. If you’re happy with your policy as is, you can request quotes with similar amounts.
As you compare car insurance quotes, make sure the coverages and limits match. If one quote shows a dramatically lower rate than the others, make sure it does not contain dramatically less coverage.
Also, before you fall in love with a particular proposal, make sure the information shown in the quote about you and your vehicle is accurate.
If these or other details are listed inaccurately, contact the insurance company to correct them.
American Family, State Farm, and Progressive offer the cheapest car insurance to typical adults with a clean record.
Among the most widely available car insurers, the difference between the cheapest company, American Family, and fifth-cheapest, Geico, is almost 50%. This is one example of how much you may save by comparing car insurance rates from multiple companies when you shop.
|Company||Average annual rate|
|Rates are for full-coverage car insurance for a 35-year-old male with a good driving record.
*USAA is only available to current and former members of the military and their families.
Location is one of the most significant factors insurance companies use to set premiums, because your rates reflect their costs of doing business in your community.
Since car insurance requirements and regulations vary by state, you can expect to see major fluctuations in car insurance rates from state to state. Rates can also vary widely within different communities in the same state. For example, car insurance is about 25% cheaper in Peoria, Illinois, than it is in Chicago.
This is why it’s good to compare auto insurance rates from multiple companies when you move. Even if one company is giving you the lowest rate at your current address, a different company may be able to offer you a better deal at your new home.
Here's a look at the cheapest car insurance companies in each state.
|State||Cheapest insurer||Average annual rate|
|New Mexico||State Farm||$849|
|North Carolina||Farm Bureau||$549|
|North Dakota||American Family||$522|
|West Virginia||State Farm||$740|
|Rates are for minimum-coverage car insurance for a 35-year-old male with a good driving record|
Your age may just be a number to you, but to the insurance company, it’s one of the most important factors in determining how much you pay for car insurance, particularly if you are a teen or senior citizen.
Teen drivers can see car insurance rates that are more than double the amount charged to 25-year-olds. Middle-aged drivers tend to qualify for the lowest rates, but prices inch back up for drivers in their retirement years.
Although 25-year-olds qualify for considerably lower car insurance rates than young drivers, prices level off in earnest for drivers between the ages of 30 and 60.
For example, 30-year-olds pay 11% less for car insurance than 25-year-olds. Insurance rates get progressively lower with each year of age for drivers between 30 and 60 years old, but a 60-year-old only pays $108 less per year than a 30-year-old.
Adults between 30 and 60 pay the lowest rates for car insurance, because they are generally considered the safest age group.
Teens have the highest crash rates among all age groups, and this is one of the main reasons why auto insurance companies charge teen drivers high rates for car insurance.
For example, a typical 25-year-old is charged 62% less for car insurance than a typical 18-year-old.
Teens typically get lower car insurance rates when they are added to a policy with a parent or a guardian than they do on their own.
If you plan to add the new teen driver in your family to your car insurance policy, make sure to compare rates from multiple companies and see if they offer discounts. Many car insurance companies offer discounts to families with teens who maintain good grades and/or complete an approved driver education course.
USAA, Mercury and Erie offer the cheapest car insurance to 18-year-old drivers. However, USAA is only available to current and former members of the military and their families. Erie is available in 12 states (plus the District of Columbia) and Mercury in 11 states.
Among national carriers, State Farm, American Family and GEICO are cheapest for 18-year-olds.
Among age groups, senior citizens have slightly higher crash rates than middle-aged drivers, and this is one of the main reasons why those in their retirement years see higher insurance rates.
A typical driver qualifies for the lowest rates on car insurance at age 60. A 65-year-old driver only pays 2% more for car insurance than a 60-year-old, but a 75-year-old pays 22% more than a 60-year-old.
American Family, State Farm and Progressive are among the major national carriers with the lowest rates for senior citizen drivers, based on rates available to a typical 65-year-old.
|Company||Average annual rate|
|Rates are for minimum-coverage car insurance for a 65-year-old male with a good driving record.
*USAA is only available to current and former members of the military and their families.
An accident, driving under the influence (DUI) or a speeding ticket typically increases your insurance rate, because insurance companies view those with prior incidents as riskier to insure.
The amount that insurance rates can rise after a traffic violation or accident range from 20% for a speeding ticket to 74% for a DUI.
|Incident||Average annual rate||Rate increase with incident|
|Clean record||$2,136||No prior incidents|
|Rates are for full-coverage car insurance for a 35-year-old male.|
Most insurance companies add a surcharge to your rates for three to five years after a ticket or accident, but certain severe offenses may affect your rate for a longer period.
If your current company is surcharging you for an incident that occurred more than three years ago, consider shopping around for a company with a shorter look-back period.
Erie, USAA and State Farm offer the cheapest car insurance rates to drivers after an at-fault accident.
State Farm only charges drivers with a prior accident 20% more than drivers with a clean record, while Mercury increases rates for drivers with an accident by 74%.
|Company||Average annual rate||Rate increase with accident|
|Rates are for full-coverage car insurance for a 35-year-old male with an at-fault accident on his driving record.|
Erie, State Farm and USAA offer the cheapest car insurance rates to drivers with a prior DUI, which is known in some states as driving while intoxicated/impaired (DWI) or operating while intoxicated/impaired (OWI).
Erie’s rates for a driver with a prior DUI are 72% higher than those for a driver with a clean record, while USAA increases rates for drivers with a DUI by 89%.
|Company||Average annual rate||Rate increase with DUI|
|Rates are for full-coverage car insurance for a 35-year-old male with a DUI on his driving record.|
Erie, USAA and State Farm also offer the cheapest rates to drivers with a speeding ticket.
State Farm only charges 8% more to drivers with a speeding ticket. Mercury and Progressive each increase their rates on drivers with a speeding ticket by 32%.
|Company||Average annual rate||Rate increase with ticket|
|Rates are for full-coverage car insurance for a 35-year-old male with a speeding ticket on his driving record.|
Gender has a bigger impact on insurance rates for teen drivers than it does for those in their 30s or later.
For example, the average rate insurance companies charge to 18-year-old women is 17% less than the rate available for 18-year-old men. At age 35, men only pay about 1% more than women.
|Age||Average annual rate: women||Average annual rate: men||Price difference: women vs. men|
|Rates are for full-coverage policies for male and female drivers with good driving records.|
Young women are generally viewed by insurance companies as safer drivers than young men and less likely to be involved in severe car accidents. This, in turn, makes young women cheaper to insure.
|Company||Average annual rate: women||Average annual rate: men||Price difference: women vs. men|
|Rates are for full-coverage policies for 18-year-old male and female drivers with good driving records.|
Even though the differences between insurance rates for men and women are smaller for older age groups, gender alone may account for a portion of any price differences you may see as you compare car insurance quotes when you’re in your mid-30s or older.
For example, with all other factors for 35-year-old drivers being equal, Progressive charges men 5% less for car insurance than women. GEICO’s rates for a 35-year-old woman are 4% less than those for a 35-year-old man.
Your credit history may have a bigger impact than you think on your car insurance rates, unless you live in one of the five states that prohibit insurance companies from using credit as a car insurance rate factor.
On average, drivers with good credit pay 44% less for auto insurance than those with poor credit, although credit-scoring practices vary by state and insurance company.
California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and Michigan ban or limit credit-scoring for insurance rates.
In states where the practice is allowed, the credit reports insurance companies use typically focus on the amount and type of debt you have and your payment history. This is different from the credit reports that lenders use to determine your loan qualifications, which include household income data.
The good news is that having your credit pulled for a car insurance quote does not affect your credit score.
|Company||Average annual rate: poor credit||Average annual rate: good credit||Price difference: good vs. poor credit|
|Rates are for full-coverage car insurance for a 35-year-old male with a good driving record.|
Here are a few more things to consider as you shop for car insurance and compare quotes:
Also, don’t be shy about asking for discounts and having your insurance agents re-run quotes with different coverages, limits and deductibles. Ultimately, it’s up to the insurance companies to serve you, and not vice versa. You are well within your rights to make them compete for your business.
Erie, State Farm and Progressive are the cheapest large car insurance companies in the U.S. State Farm offers the cheapest car insurance in 27 states, while Progressive is cheapest in six states and Erie has the lowest rates in four.
With QuoteWizard, you can obtain quotes from multiple companies by filling out a form that typically takes about five minutes to complete. The insurance agents who receive your quote request may reach out to you for a few additional details. After you decide on a quote to purchase, plan on needing another 15 to 20 minutes to confirm your coverage details, make your initial payment and activate your policy.
Here are some ways to save fast on car insurance:
Depending on your insurance carrier, you will save money by paying your car insurance premium in full every six months instead of monthly. When you pay monthly, some insurance carriers will charge fees for payment processing.
But if you have a strict budget, opting for monthly payments may be the best course of action instead of making large payments every six months or annually.
Age and driving history are the two biggest factors in determining your car insurance rates. Insurance companies also consider gender, location, credit score, vehicle and more.
Your state’s minimum car insurance requirements are a good starting point for deciding how much car insurance coverage to get, but most people need more. Typically, the minimum-required car insurance does not provide enough coverage to protect you and your vehicle in the event of a claim. Liability insurance only covers damage and injuries you cause others.
Full-coverage car insurance is necessary if you want coverage against damages and injuries after an accident you're responsible for, as well as theft or vandalism of your car. If you have a new or expensive car, opt for full-coverage car insurance.
Insurance quotes use a “soft pull” credit inquiry to determine your quote, which does not hurt your credit score.
Car insurance is cheapest for drivers aged 55 to 65 years old. Teen drivers, on the other hand, can see car insurance rates that are more than quadruple the amount charged to 55-year-olds.
Our research shows that 18-year-old women are charged less for car insurance than their male counterparts, while 35-year-old women are charged more. Some states, including California, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, ban the use of gender as a car insurance rate factor.
It’s more expensive to insure a newer car because they have more value (and a higher potential insurance payout) than older cars, with the exception of classic or collector cars.
You should review your insurance plan and coverage once per coverage period (usually every six to 12 months). This allows you to identify if your insurance provider has increased premium costs and/or decreased coverages. A QuoteWizard study found that switching car insurance companies could save you up to 30% or more on premiums, depending on your situation.
QuoteWizard is not an insurance provider. We are an online insurance marketplace that connects insurance shoppers to insurance agents serving your community. Our platform enables you to receive three to four quotes with a single secure form. Participating agents pay us a fee for delivering the information they need to prepare a quote for you.
Rates shown in this analysis are based on non-binding quotes for full-coverage car insurance obtained from Quadrant Information Services.
Unless otherwise noted, the typical driver is a 35-year-old male who drives a 2014 Honda LX for an average of 13,500 miles a year.
Full-coverage car insurance includes the following coverages, limits and deductibles:
Prior incidents include the following types of accidents or violations:
Price comparisons are based on an analysis of rates available from the largest insurance companies in each state and Washington D.C., with the following exceptions: