No down payment car insurance sounds like a great option, right? Unfortunately, it doesn't actually exist, so you'll have a hard time finding it. Car insurance policies don't come with a traditional down payment, but you'll still have to pay some money to start your coverage.

You'll usually have the option to purchase your car insurance policy for the entire term (six to 12 months) at once or to pay in installments. If you want a small down payment, don't pay for the full term ahead of time. Luckily, there are plenty of other ways to make your car insurance affordable. This article covers:

How to get cheap, no down payment car insurance

When you get car insurance, you'll need to put some money down. You can typically opt to only pay for the first month of coverage, without any additional down payment.

If a car insurance company advertises no down payment, that means you won't owe more than the first monthly payment when you buy a policy.

When you buy car insurance, you'll typically have the option to buy the total annual or six-month amount, to pay in quarterly installments or to pay monthly. Many insurance companies offer discounts for drivers who purchase the policy at once. Paying for the entirety of your policy term from the get-go will be cheaper. But if you're looking for a smaller down payment, you're better off paying monthly. It's the closest thing to no down payment car insurance. 

Find car insurance with a low down payment

Another option for lowering your down payment is to simply lower your car insurance costs.

How a car insurance down payment works

You have two options with your auto insurance down payment:

  1. Pay for one month of coverage and continue to make monthly payments.
  2. Pay for for six or 12 months of coverage in one lump sum. 

Let's look at an example of how this works. Allstate, for example, advertises a paid-in-full discount of up to 10%, and our research found their minimum coverage policy costs $61 a month. Here's how your down payment works with their discount and rates.

Savings for large down payment vs. minimum down payment
Payment schedule Down payment Remaining premium Total cost Total savings
Monthly $61 $305 across 5 months $366  
Six-month total up front $329 $0 $329 $37
Note: Average rates are based on non-binding estimates provided by Quadrant Information Services. Your rates may vary.

In this case, you would save $37, or about half of a month's premium, if you pay for six months of coverage. But this example is only for Allstate: we found that one company offered no savings for paying for the policy up front, whereas another offered savings of 18%. That's why it's important to compare auto insurance quotes from several insurance companies.

Cheapest low down payment car insurance companies

Trying to keep your auto insurance prices low? The insurance company you choose is a significant factor in how much you could pay. We've compiled some top insurance companies and the monthly rates you could expect to pay for cheap car insurance.

 

Our data shows that GEICO offers the cheapest down payment at $42. That means a driver could get a month of coverage with a down payment of $42.

Some insurers allow you to choose from several payment options, which can impact your monthly rates. Savings also depend on several factors, including your credit score, location, driving record and the type of policy you choose. Drivers can usually expect to pay around 5% to 10% less if they pay the entirety of their six-month policy in advance, as opposed to paying monthly.

How to lower your car insurance down payment

These are some ways to save money and get cheap car insurance with a lower down payment:

  • Take a defensive driving course
  • If you're a student, get good grades and enjoy the discount
  • Maintain a good credit score
  • Compare car insurance quotes from different companies to find cheaper quotes
  • Bundle different kinds of insurance (home and auto, for example) with the same company
  • Maintaining a clean driving record
  • Opt for state minimum insurance coverage

Another option is pay for a six-month policy up front in one down payment, as opposed to paying monthly. Insurers give discounts to policyholders who pay their entire six month-premium at once. The larger the down payment, the less you'll pay overall.

Of course, this will increase your down payment. Putting down a large starting payment isn't an additional cost; it's part of your premium that you'll have to pay at some point. Most insurance companies offer savings for paying up front, so your annual insurance bill may be cheaper if you pay all at once.

Methodology

Average car insurance rates were compiled from more than 100,000 quotes for minimum coverage across the country. These are national averages based on based on quotes for every available company across 20 random ZIP codes in every state. Our base driver profile is a 35-year-old male who drives a 2012 Honda Accord LX. He has excellent credit and no accidents.

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