Car Insurance Quote – Full Guide

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 Nearly every state in the U.S. requires drivers to carry insurance, but car insurance quotes can vary widely from provider to provider. You can shop for car insurance from multiple companies at once to compare rates and see which one offers the coverage you need. Each company has a different formula to assess your risk level, so even if one provider quotes you a high price, you may find lower rates somewhere else. In this article, we at the Home Media reviews team will discuss how to shop for car insurance and find the most affordable coverage options from the best car insurance companies.

car insurance quotes

What is a car insurance quote? 

Auto insurance rates are based on your driver profile and vehicle. You can request free car insurance quotes from an insurer to see how much an auto insurance policy would cost before signing up for coverage. Most online quotes are instant unless you shop for car insurance with a smaller provider. You just need to provide basic information about yourself, your vehicle and anyone else who drives it. When you reach out for a quote, always give accurate information. An insurance agency can cancel your plan within 30 to 90 days (depending on the state) if you leave out something significant, like a teen driver living in your household. Car insurance quotes are usually good for 30 days, so you can continue to shop around and circle back if you don’t find a better plan.

Types of car insurance coverage

The quote you receive may break down pricing for different types of auto insurance coverage so you can decide if you want a minimum coverage or full coverage policy. The standard types of car insurance coverage include:

Liability coverageBodily injury liability (BI) covers other drivers and their passengers in accidents that you cause. Property damage liability (PD) covers other vehicles in accidents where you are at fault.
Collision insuranceThis insurance covers your vehicle no matter who is at fault.
Comprehensive insuranceYour vehicle is protected from environmental factors, such as floods, fires and fallen tree branches, as well as things like theft and vandalism.
Personal injury protection (PIP)This covers medical expenses, lost wages and death benefits for you and your passengers, no matter who is at fault in an accident.
Medical payments (MedPay)Medical expenses are paid for you and your passengers with this insurance coverage.
Underinsured/uninsured motorist insuranceThis insurance coverage protects you when you are in an accident with a driver who has no or too little insurance.

Additionally, you may be able to select extra insurance options like roadside assistance or mechanical breakdown insurance depending on the provider.

How to shop for car insurance quotes

Let’s break down the process of shopping for car insurance quotes into a few steps.

Step 1: Gather your information

No matter which way you decide to get insurance quotes, you’ll have to provide a few pieces of information. Have the following ready before you start shopping:

  • Information for each driver in your household, including driver’s license numbers, dates of birth and occupations
  • Vehicle information including the make, model, mileage and vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Average miles driven per year
  • Driving history
  • Current coverage information

Step 2: Decide what level of coverage you need

The next step is to decide on the level of coverage you want. Unless you live in New Hampshire, your state requires a basic level of bodily injury and property damage liability insurance coverage. This pays for damage you cause to other drivers. Your state may also require some level of medical coverage or underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage. 

Getting a policy that meets your state’s minimum liability limits is the cheapest option, but it may not provide high enough limits to cover serious accidents. It also doesn’t cover your car when you cause an accident or encounter environmental damage. 

To get full coverage, you’ll want to add comprehensive and collision coverage. Like liability coverage, you can choose different limits for these types of insurance. Higher limits give you more protection but also cost more. Lenders usually require you to maintain full coverage on a vehicle with an auto loan.

Step 3: Request car insurance quotes

Once you have your information ready and know what you’re looking for, you can start shopping for insurance quotes. You can use a quote comparison tool, get quotes online from companies, call companies on the phone, visit a branch in person or work through an insurance broker. Here are some details on each of these options:

  • Quote comparison tool: With a comparison tool, you can enter your information once and compare car insurance quotes from providers in your area. In our 2022 car insurance survey polled 1,000 respondents, 30% stated they used a quote comparison tool, making it the most popular way to shop for car insurance coverage.
  • Direct online quote: You can get free, instant quotes from many providers’ websites, but you’ll have to visit each company’s site one by one. Just over 24% of respondents reported reaching out to providers directly online for quotes.
  • Quote by phone: Calling an auto insurance company can give you a more personalized service experience and help you gauge its customer care. Insurance agents generally help you pick out a policy and make sure you’re getting all the auto insurance discounts you’re eligible for. Our survey showed that 20% of the 1,000 people polled preferred calling companies directly.
  • In-person quote: You can get a quote by visiting your local insurance office. Be prepared to bring necessary documents with you. While slightly less popular than other options on this list, nearly 16% of respondents would rather talk to an insurance agency or use a broker when shopping for car insurance.
  • Car insurance broker: A broker works as a middleman between insurers and customers to get you the best deal. This can be a hands-off way of shopping. However, brokers can sometimes charge a fee and may work on commission, so they have an incentive to recommend full coverage policies.

Step 4: Purchase a policy

When you’re happy with the coverage and pricing you’ve found, you can purchase that policy online, over the phone or in person. You can get same-day insurance after you make the first payment, or you can schedule it to start on a future date. Be sure to overlap your new car insurance policy with your current coverage by one day to avoid any lapse in coverage.

How often should you shop for car insurance?

You can get car insurance quotes at any time. We recommend shopping for car insurance quotes each time your auto policy is up for renewal or if you experience a significant life event like moving to a new location or getting married. A better price might be available with your current provider or a new provider.

Shop for car insurance to compare new rates if any of the following occur:

  • You move to a new zip code
  • You get married
  • You move in with family members and can combine policies
  • You turn a year older
  • You raise your credit score
  • You start a new job and will be driving much less
  • Three years have passed since your last at-fault accident or moving violation

In our 2022 car insurance survey, 28% of respondents reported shopping for car insurance less frequently than once a year, while over 26% stated they shopped every six months.

Price comparison tool

You can use a free price comparison tool like the one below to get quotes from major insurers like Geico, Progressive and State Farm. Be prepared to enter basic information about your vehicle and situation.

Factors that increase and decrease insurance rates

Car insurance rates are based on the likelihood that a company will have to pay out claims on your behalf. The more risk you represent to the company, the more you’ll have to pay for insurance, and vice versa.

Here are the main factors that determine auto insurance quotes: 

  • Age, gender and marital status: Teens and men under the age of 25 generally pay the most for car insurance. Married drivers tend to pay less than single drivers for insurance.
  • Vehicle: The make, model and age of your vehicle all affect your insurance rates. Some vehicles have higher repair costs or lower safety ratings, which can increase your premium. Others are more likely to be stolen. For example, full-size pickups, Honda Civics and Honda Accords all have high rates of theft, according to Insurify.
  • Driving history: A clean driving record can get you auto insurance discounts, while at-fault accidents, moving violations and DUIs will cause your rates to go up. The more points on your record, the more you’ll pay.
  • How much you drive: If you drive only a few thousand miles per year, you can qualify for low-mileage discounts from some companies.
  • Credit history: Car insurance companies in most states consider your credit history when setting premiums. A lower credit score can raise your rates.
  • Zip code: Theft, vandalism and car accidents are more frequent in urban areas.
  • State requirements: Each state requires drivers to have a minimum amount of coverage, and this varies by state.
  • Coverage levels and deductible: Choosing higher coverage limits will increase your overall cost, but choosing a higher deductible will decrease your insurance premium.

Average car insurance quotes

Our cost estimate data shows that the average 35-year-old driver with good credit and a good driving history pays about $1,732 per year for full coverage car insurance (liability, comprehensive and collision coverage). Because your location affects your rates, the cost of car insurance can vary widely by state.

The table below shows the top five most expensive states for full coverage car insurance.

Most Expensive Statesfor Car InsuranceAverage Monthly Costof Car InsuranceAverage Annual Costof Car Insurance
Michigan$369$4,430
New York$337$4,048
Louisiana$322$3,867
Florida$244$2,927
Nevada$196$2,354

And this table shows the five cheapest states for full car insurance coverage.

Cheapest States for Car InsuranceAverage Monthly Costof Car InsuranceAverage Annual Costof Car Insurance
Ohio$78$939
Wisconsin$81$970
Maine$84$1,013
Vermont$86$1,029
Indiana$92$1,106

Average rate estimates by company

Auto insurance premiums also vary widely by provider, which is why it’s important to get car insurance quotes from companies and compare rates. Below are 11 popular insurance providers with our average annual rate estimates. These estimates apply to full coverage insurance for 35-year-old drivers with good credit and good driving records.

Car Insurance ProviderAverage Monthly Rate EstimateAverage Annual Rate Estimate
USAA$84$1,013
Erie Insurance$93$1,113
Auto-Owners Insurance$102$1,229
State Farm$111$1,339
Geico$113$1,352
Progressive$116$1,397
Nationwide$128$1,533
Travelers$135$1,617
Farmers$169$2,032
The Hartford$180$2,166
Allstate$202$2,430

Average rates for high-risk drivers

Car insurance rates also depend on factors in your driving profile, such as speeding tickets and accidents. Here are average full coverage rate estimates for drivers who have a recent speeding ticket, DUI or at-fault accident.

Car Insurance CompanyAverage Monthly Rate EstimateAverage Annual Rate Estimate
USAA$188$2,258
Erie Insurance$209$2,505
Progressive$214$2,572
State Farm$223$2,678
American Family Insurance$230$2,761
Travelers$240$2,882
Farm Bureau$278$3,342
Auto-Owners Insurance$279$3,348
Geico$288$3,453
Farmers$304$3,653

Cheapest car insurance estimates for drivers with poor credit

In every state except California, Hawaii and Massachusetts, auto insurance companies can use your credit report to set your rates. Here are the providers that tend to offer cheap car insurance for drivers with poor credit according to our rate estimates.

Car Insurance CompanyAverage Monthly Rate EstimateAverage Annual Rate Estimate
USAA$150$1,807
Geico$173$2,077
Nationwide$185$2,227
Progressive$209$2,514
State Farm$301$3,616
Allstate$314$3,765

Cheapest car insurance estimates for 24-year-old drivers

Being a young driver will increase your rates. Here are the cheapest average full coverage rates for 24-year-old drivers according to our estimates.

Car Insurance CompanyAverage Monthly Rate EstimateAverage Annual Rate Estimate
USAA$118$1,422
Geico$135$1,627
State Farm$147$1,765
Progressive$169$2,029
Nationwide$191$2,293
Allstate$246$2,959

How to keep car insurance rates low

You won’t be able to control every factor that affects your car insurance quotes, but there are things you can do to get cheaper rates. You can keep car insurance rates low by improving your driving habits and credit score, looking for discounts and trying usage-based insurance.

  1. Improve your driving habits. Avoiding speeding tickets and at-fault accidents will pay off over time. You can also participate in a usage-based safe driving program with most leading insurance companies. Enroll in Progressive’s Snapshot® or State Farm’s Drive Safe & SaveTM if you’re confident in your driving ability. Some telematics insurance programs can raise your rates if you demonstrate poor driving behaviors, so make sure you’re prepared before signing up.
  2. Improve your credit score. If you can demonstrate that you are financially responsible, you’ll get lower auto insurance quotes.
  3. Look for car insurance discounts. You can save money by insuring multiple vehicles or bundling homeowners and auto insurance with most providers. Many companies also offer policy discounts for things like being a new driver, getting good grades as a student, completing a defensive driving course and having a clean driving record.
  4. Try pay-per-mile car insurance. If you don’t drive much, pay-per-mile insurance from a provider like Metromile can be a great choice. Your mileage is used to determine your car insurance rates. With pay-per-mile insurance, you usually pay a base rate per month plus a rate per mile driven.

Even if you use all of these tips, you can still end up paying too much for coverage if you only get auto insurance quotes from one provider. Without comparing options, there’s no way to know if a company is giving you the cheapest rate.

Recommendations for car insurance quotes

The best way to find the right coverage and price for your situation is to shop for car insurance quotes from multiple companies. Once you know what you’re looking for, you can see which company offers the types of coverage and extras you need.

Top 10 Car Insurance CompaniesOverall RatingCost Rating
#1 USAA9.510.0
#2 Geico9.29.4
#3 State Farm9.29.0
#4 Progressive9.29.3
#5 Travelers9.18.8
#6 Erie Insurance9.09.9
#7 Liberty Mutual8.88.0
#8 Farmers8.77.9
#9 Auto-Owners Insurance8.89.7
#10 Nationwide8.68.6

Our top picks for car insurance include USAA and Geico.

USAA: Low Rates for Military 

USAA stands out with some of the lowest car insurance rates in the industry. However, coverage is only available to military members, veterans and their families. 

The company has been around for almost 100 years and has high ratings from experts, including an A++ financial strength rating from AM Best and an A+ from the BBB. One perk of USAA is that it provides benefits for military families, such as deployment discounts and a discount for garaging your vehicle on a military base. You can learn more about the provider in our USAA insurance review. 

Geico: Editor’s Choice 

We named Geico our second overall pick for best car insurance for its excellent industry standing, low rates and high level of customer satisfaction. Geico has an A++ financial strength rating from AM Best and an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB). It also performed well in the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Auto Insurance StudySM, placing above average in California and in the Central and New England regions.

 In addition to standard coverage, Geico provides roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement, classic car coverage, rideshare insurance and mechanical breakdown insurance. You can read more about the company in our detailed Geico insurance review.

Our methodology

Because consumers rely on us to provide objective and accurate information, we created a comprehensive rating system to formulate our rankings of the best car insurance companies. We collected data on dozens of auto insurance providers to grade the companies on a wide range of ranking factors. The end result was an overall rating for each provider, with the insurers that scored the most points topping the list.

Here are the factors our ratings take into account:

  • Cost (30% of total score): Auto insurance rate estimates generated by Quadrant Information Services and discount opportunities were both taken into consideration.
  • Coverage (30% of total score): Companies that offer a variety of choices for insurance coverage are more likely to meet consumer needs.
  • Reputation (15% of total score): Our research team considered market share, ratings from industry experts and years in business when giving this score.
  • Availability (10% of total score): Auto insurance companies with greater state availability and few eligibility requirements scored highest in this category.
  • Customer Experience (15% of total score): This score is based on volume of complaints reported by the NAIC and customer satisfaction ratings reported by J.D. Power. We also considered the responsiveness, friendliness and helpfulness of each insurance company’s customer service team based on our own shopper analysis.

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