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How Much is Car Insurance?

It’s no secret that everyone needs car insurance. Whether it is state-mandated or not (looking at you, New Hampshire, and Virginia), insurance is a vital layer of protection should you ever find yourself in an accident.

But stressing that you need car insurance means nothing if you aren’t sure about the cost of it all. How can you even begin to decide what you need if you can’t even determine what you can afford it? It’s quite a hurdle for something mandated, but that is why it is good to get an idea of how much insurance may cost you and just how prices compare from provider to provider. Taking into account such things can assist you on your journey to find good rates that nestle into your budget perfectly.

The cost of insurance is based on a plethora of facts, from your personal information to driving history. Some unfair and some reasonable, you can’t change what is included in the estimation of rates, so it is best to understand the scope of it all before shopping.

What Determines Auto Insurance Rates?

The cost of car insurance is determined by a series of items, including both your driving and personal history. Some things that go into it are where you live (state and ZIP code), age, credit history, gender, type of car, what kind of coverage you want, and accident records. How these actually play their roles will be explored throughout this piece. Car insurance rates are not one-size-fits-all, and despite seeing numbers for national or state averages, it does not mean you will be quoted something even close to that. Every driver is different, meaning prices vary. Still, it is recommended that you look into the factors and get a good understanding of what the baseline for insurance may be or how your personal quotes can be affected, sometimes even changed.

How Much of The Price Can You Control?

As the factors have been briefly outlined, you may notice that you cannot always truly control the aspects of yourself that affect car insurance rates. Personal details such as age and gender cannot exactly be altered to get yourself the best cost -at least not ethically. But what you can actually control is things like your driving record and credit score. Being a mindful, safe driver and not getting into accidents can help you a ton when it comes to looking into car insurance rates. Not only that, but keeping up on your credit and making payments on time, both regarding insurance and other purchases, could give you better options for insurance rates. You could even take more drastic steps regarding changing the state you choose to live in to try to get the most affordable premiums if you see that as your best option. It is always best to make positive changes where you can, but, as will be explored in this piece, it is not always possible to have complete control over policy rates.

What Kind of Insurance do You Need?

Sometimes, this simple question can make or break the bank when it comes to car insurance. How much car insurance you are looking for can be a great starter to figuring out your financial comfortability in the industry. Every state in America, minus New Hampshire and Virginia, has a mandatory minimum liability insurance coverage that drivers must carry. Liability insurance covers the bodily injury and property damage costs of the other person in the wreck. This is where the general price ranges begin. While states have a minimum, it is always ideal to buy beyond the mandate as they are, most of the time, not enough to cover big accidents.

While this is a good start, you may still want to protect yourself and/or your car a little better. You can always opt for “full coverage.” Full coverage includes not only liability insurance but also collision and comprehensive coverage. Collision coverage pays for, as implied, repairs needed after a collision. Comprehensive insurance covers damages that happen when your vehicle is not in use. Some of this may include extreme weather, fires, vandalism, or theft.

Other available coverages include the following:

  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance - this helps if you end up in an accident with someone who either does not have insurance or does not have an adequate amount.
  • Personal injury protection (PIP) - covers medical expenses for you and your passengers, no matter who was at fault for the accident. It can even sometimes include lost wages, funeral expenses, and rehab.
  • Gap insurance - this insurance can help with costs if you have an auto loan or lease and your car was totaled.
  • Rideshare coverage - protects you while in between rides when working for a rideshare company.

But for the purpose of this piece, we will not be analyzing prices for such add-ons and will instead be sticking to full coverage averages and highlighting basic minimum rates. Still, they can be a good thing to consider if your situation calls for it. It can never hurt to be overprotected when it comes to car insurance if you can afford it.

Average Car Insurance Rates Across America

Now that we have dipped our toes into the types of car insurance, you may be wondering how much are Americans paying for full coverage on average? It will be analyzed deeper throughout the piece, but this general quote can be useful when trying to get a good baseline for the average price. You may encounter some prices that are comparable to the average cost, giving better insight into the best options.

According to a report from the National Association of Insurance Commissions, the current national average cost for full coverage car insurance in America is about $1,190 per year. That comes out to be around $99 per month. This is a bit of a jump from 2018, where the Insurance Information Institute found the average national car insurance expenditure was $1,056.55 per year.

However, this number is not a definitive one and certainly does not encompass every driver as there is no way of factoring in each personal experience. For those who wish to strictly carry the minimum liability insurance coverage (bodily injury and property damage), Bankrate found that the national average comes out to be about $565 per year (or around $47 per month).

As previously mentioned, factors change and shift for every driver meaning your quotes could be above or below the national averages. MarketWatch discovered that the national average for those with good credit and considered to be a good driver have a national average of around $1,555 per year, about $130 per month. With all of these numbers in mind, it may be helpful to break it down even more to almost a personal level giving the full picture of what car insurance prices can entail.

Average Car Insurance Cost by State

Your auto insurance rates can easily be affected simply by the state you reside in, even going as far as to be affected by your ZIP code (but more on that later). Focusing on just your general state of residence, according to Kelley Blue Book, states more prone to natural disasters, higher crimes, or accidents can see a steep hike in auto insurance costs. But on the flip side, when these factors are lower, state average insurance prices can be lower.

But keep in mind, nothing here is definitive. The prices outlined may not reflect you and your driving situation. All of these numbers just give a range or a starting point for looking into the cost of auto insurance.

Least Expensive State For Car Insurance

U.S. News and World Report, with assistance from Quadrant Information Services, analyzed the cost of auto insurance by each state. The cheapest they found was the state of Maine, with an average price of $875.78 per year, around $73 per month. Nerdwallet appeared to have a similar conclusion, though their estimated cost was a bit higher. Some other notable states include Ohio, Wisconsin, and Idaho.

Most Expensive State For Car Insurance

Keeping with the same U.S. News and World Report study, they found that Michigan had the most expensive car insurance rates in the country, with prices at $2,684.73 per year, making it an insane $224 per month. Louisiana was a close second with some studies, like that from Nerdwallet, declaring it the most expensive. If we apply the Kelley Blue Book way of thinking, it is easy to see why their insurance costs average is higher. Extreme weather hits both of these states despite them being on opposite sides of the country. Other high-priced insurance states include California and Florida.

Car Insurance And ZIP Codes

As mentioned prior in this piece, a state average sometimes isn’t enough to get an idea of what you may be charged based on where you live. Your city ZIP code can be very influential in presented rates. Typically, this can be assumed to be a telling factor about vandalism or theft in your neighborhood, or maybe it is just a place where a lot of accidents happen. But some interesting studies have come out regarding what may also be factored into your rates when it comes to ZIP codes.

A 2018 report from The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) found that car insurance companies will charge seemingly identical drivers with different, usually exaggerated rates, based on what ZIP code they possess.

In this study, CFA pulled quotes from a variety of ZIP codes for major cities in different states. Everything about their fictional drivers was the same except for what ZIP code they resided in. In the ten different cities they analyzed, they found that ZIP codes attached to lower-income, less-white neighborhoods were quoted significantly higher premiums. Good drivers in lower-income areas could see, on average, annual insurance premiums $410 higher than their neighbors.

While Chicago was not one of the cities tested by the CFA, this trend continues in many areas across the country. To showcase the depths of this effect, ProPublica launched a comparison chart in 2017 where those living in California, Illinois, Missouri, or Texas can input their ZIP code and see the difference in what they and their neighbors could be quoted.

The quotes given are for a fictional 30-year-old woman who is a safe driver. Inputting a ZIP code shows what quotes could be given for areas with different racial compositions. If this fictional driver lived in 60608 (Chicago, IL), an area deemed to be a minority ZIP code, she may receive a quote from Allstate for a car insurance premium of $1,097 per year. In comparison, if she lived in 61364 (Streator, IL), a predominantly white ZIP code with similar risk, the driver could be quoted an insurance premium of $508 per year.

It is still best to remember that what has been outlined is not always set in stone. ZIP codes and car insurance may relate based on more significant, quantitative facts such as crime rates and accidents reported.

Average Car Insurance Cost by Car Type

Believe it or not, the type of car you purchase can have a significant effect on your insurance. A 2020 report from AAA broke down the cost of owning any type of car. According to the report, the cheapest car to insure is a small SUV with a full coverage average cost coming out to around $1,087 per year. The most expensive was a small sedan, raking in an auto insurance average full coverage cost of $1,342 per year.

Even something as specific as the manufacturer of your car can affect car insurance rates. A study from Bankrate found that factors such as the ability to find parts and the price of labor for work on certain cars could result in higher car insurance rates. For example, according to the Bankrate study and their methodology, an owner of a Chevrolet Silverado may have an average full coverage premium of $1,682 per year. Factors such as a car’s safety rating and model status also play into these rates.

Average Car Insurance Cost by Age

Your age is a major factor when it comes to car insurance rates. Almost always, no matter where you shop, the younger you are, the more you are going to be paying for car insurance. This is because your driving record is virtually nonexistent, meaning insurance companies have no baseline for you. This can be the case if you’re a new driver at any age but most significantly impacts young drivers. According to a report from The Zebra, teen drivers may pay three times as much as a seasoned driver, on average. These annual premiums have the potential to be over $3,000 for younger people. Not only do young drivers lack a driving reputation, but the Center for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) found that the risk of vehicle crashes is higher with drivers 16-20 years of age. So, these prices are not without reason. They are three times more likely than drivers over the age of 20 to end up in a fatal crash.

As young drivers get more experience, their premium averages begin to mellow out (assuming they develop smart driving habits). But things can begin to shift upon hitting their 60s. According to studies done by the CDC, older drivers may be more at risk for crashes as their vision and cognitive functioning decline. Physical changes can also affect driving in older adults, according to the study. This can impact average premium costs. Looking at analysis from Motor1, drivers ages 50-59 have an annual premium average of $1,325, but then it begins increasing starting at age 60 to $1,556 per year. This trend only continues with those 80 years old and higher having annual premiums hitting nearly $3,000.

Gender And Car Insurance Prices

Your gender is another personal factor that typically impacts car insurance rates. According to research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), car crashes fatalities were higher for men than women in various age groups. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has also found that men engage in riskier behavior than women making the chance of getting into a car crash, especially a fatal one, higher. Due to these statistics, average car insurance rates among men can be higher than those of women. In a piece published in 2021 by Insure.com, they found that women aged 16-24 could be paying hundreds of dollars less than men for car insurance premiums.

The tides may be beginning to change, though. A 2017 study from CFA found that major auto insurance companies charged women 40-60 years of age more than men for basic auto coverage. Where this may go is unknown as the general consensus points to men being given higher premiums when shopping for car insurance rates.

There is also always a possibility you will not have to worry about such factors. This method of pricing premiums has been outlawed in seven states: California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. If you purchase or get quotes on a policy in one of those states, your gender will not be taken into account. While this is good news for residents of those states, there are still 43 states that look at gender for what to charge for car insurance. It is best to keep this in mind when hunting for a policy.

Average Car Insurance Rates by Coverage Type

Naturally, as was explored a little earlier in the piece, the type of coverage you seek can affect how much you have to carve out of your budget. As we have explored so far, full coverage is a good standard to reference prices. Full coverage encompasses liability insurance requirements and tacks on comprehensive and collision coverage. In an analysis of car insurance coverage, U.S. News and World Report defined the varying levels of coverage as such:

  • Low coverage: state’s liability coverage minimum
  • Medium coverage: 50/100/50 - including uninsured/underinsured coverage (bodily injury and property damage)
  • High coverage: 100/300/100 - including uninsured/underinsured coverage (bodily injury and property damage)

This analysis based on preferred coverage type reasonably gave varying prices for insurance rates. These do not even take extras into consideration, such as gap insurance or rideshare coverage which can add on even more. It may seem like an obvious thing to consider, but just your intended level of coverage can drastically change your budget. Not to mention it is also always best to go up a level or two beyond your state’s required minimum liability coverage.

Car Insurance Prices Based on How Much You Drive

This can certainly seem like a lot of hooplas if you yourself are someone who does not drive much. How can you be shelling out hundreds to even thousands of dollars for car insurance when your car sits idle most of the time? But, amazingly, there are some insurance plans that allow your rates to fluctuate based on how many miles you’re actually driving. While you still receive a base monthly standard payment based on other personal factors (driving records, vehicle, credit score, etc.), rates vary when it comes to how many miles you are actually putting on your car.

How much this all costs on average differs from customer to customer. Forbes found that Nationwide’s program is about 30% of what a traditional average premium would be. Liberty Mutual’s pay-per-mile program claims it can save drivers on average 25% of what they would be paying for traditional car insurance. Insurance Navy also offers pay-oper-mile insurance, which is a promising way to save money.

While this all sounds dandy and could maybe save you some cash should you qualify, there is a couple of things to keep in mind. For starters, not everyone offers this. A study from CFA found that big names like Farmers and Progressive offer no discounts on premiums no matter if you drive 20,000 miles or 200 miles a year. These programs also, as previously mentioned, are not solely based on miles driven. You will still have to be very mindful of your driving habits and credit score. Miscellaneous factors such as your home ZIP code and gender may still be taken into account.

Credit Scores And Average Insurance Rates

In a pretty controversial move, insurance companies have a habit of rifling through your credit history in hopes of predicting how likely you will file a claim, according to Consumer Report. While some states have moved away from this practice, many still allow it, meaning that with a poorer credit score, the higher your rates could be. They also use this score to factor into what they call an “insurance score.” Through this, you could be paying for accidents that the companies predict you will have in the future. You also are not even sure what “score” they have placed on you. While statistics have shown that those with lower credit scores file more insurance claims, it does seem like an interesting factor to be added to your insurance prices. Speaking of which, let’s dive into how much your car insurance policy prices could fluctuate based on your credit scores.

According to data from Quadrant Information Services, those with poor credit scores could be paying 103% more for car insurance than those with good scores. Some studies have found drivers with poor credit could be paying on average over $3,000 per year for full coverage car insurance premiums. In comparison, those with excellent credit may pay just above the national average.

Some states have taken action against this practice by car insurance companies. In California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts, using credit scores to determine car insurance premiums has been banned. Other states have put restrictions on it. In Washington, car insurance companies are not allowed to use credit scores solely to deny or approve coverage. Michigan specifically banned credit scores but not the use of credit information or insurance scores.

Despite some states moving in the direction away from credit scores, many still allow it as a determining factor for your car insurance premiums. With this in mind, it is always best to stay on top of any loan payments or anything else of the sort. And keep in mind that this is just one portion of a determined price.

Driving Record And Average Coverage Cost

Your driving record is key to how much you will be charged for insurance. As we discussed previously, a lack of driving records due to age can hike up rates significantly as insurance companies are not sure how you will be on the road. But when you begin getting experience, you may have some convictions such as accidents, speeding tickets, or driving under the influence (DUI). This all will raise your rates no matter what company you partner with. In some states, prices in car insurance after an accident could see a 50% increase. Some others raise prices by thousands of dollars. Accidents are no joke when it comes to car insurance, and they may label you a certain way for insurers.

How Much do Accidents Effect Car Insurance Prices?

How much you could be paying, though, is hard to actually say, according to an article from Time. In their work, they found that rate hikes vary from $200 up to $800. A lot of it, too, depends on what conviction you have on your record. For example, a DUI conviction will raise rates more significantly than one speeding ticket. But there really is no better of the two. The best way to keep rates down is to not have traffic violations, so companies are not forced to see you as a “high-risk” driver.

There is some chance for rates not to rise after a first-time at-fault accident. Companies may offer accident forgiveness programs that halt your rates from going up after your first accident. But this also comes with stipulations. New drivers and drivers with already poor records may not qualify or will have to pay extra. At the end of the day, it is safe to assume that no matter the violation you are convicted of, your rates will suffer. It is best to keep being mindful of your driving.

Average Car Insurance Cost by Company

After all that has been explored, it seems the elephant in the room now is what exactly will car insurance companies will be charging you and how these factors make it look when presented as actual prices. The section below will compare car insurance companies following specific situations and examples of fictional drivers applying for medium car insurance coverage.

A study from U.S. News and World Report, in partnership with Quadrant Information Services, was used as a reference for the estimated costs, and example circumstances. Results were achieved through finding the mean of male and female drivers ages 25, 35, and 60 with good credit and a clean record seeking medium coverage. These estimates were taken in the summer of 2021.

Being able to compare insurance companies can be critical when shopping for car insurance prices. But remember, these are just average estimates. Rates are always subject to change as no two drivers are the same. Feel free to reference, but do not get attached to any of the prices.

Allstate

Allstate is a car insurance business that has been regarded as having some expensive rates when compared to the national average of similar factors.

A 25-year-old female may see an average coverage rate of around $1,900 per year. A 25-year-old male under Allstate insurance may have an annual average rate of $1,994. On the opposite end of the age range studied, a 60-year-old may see an average rate of around $1,657 per year, give or take, depending on gender.

When it comes to credit history, those with poor credit applying with Allstate may have an average rate of $2,773 per year. For drivers with good credit, they may see an average rate of somewhere around $1,801 per year.

In regards to driving history, those with clean records under Allstate may have an average rate of $1,788 per year. After just one DUI conviction, the number can jump to $2,624 per year. One accident raises it to an average of $2,514 per year.

Geico

Geico actually falls on the opposite end of the spectrum as Allstate. They are said to have some of the most affordable average insurance rates for anyone when compared to the same national average..

A 25-year-old female may see an average coverage rate of around $1,228 per year. A 25-year-old male under Geico insurance may have an annual average rate of $1,185. On the opposite end of the age range studied, a 60-year-old may see an average rate of around $1,020 per year, give or take, depending on gender.

When it comes to credit history, those with poor credit applying with Geico may have an average rate of $1,719 per year. For drivers with good credit, they may see an average rate of somewhere around $1,100 per year.

In regards to driving history, those with clean records, under Geico, may have an average rate of $1,100 per year. After just one DUI conviction, the number can jump to $2,836 per year. One accident raises it from a clean record rate to an average of $1,735 per year.

USAA

On the surface, USAA appears to have the most outstanding insurance prices ever, but before getting your own quote, this company may not be for you. USAA has some strict application requirements and is reserved for current or past military members. If that applies to you, then these numbers may be impressive.

A 25-year-old female may see an average coverage rate of around $1,033 per year. A 25-year-old male under USAA insurance may have an annual average rate of $1,086. On the opposite end of the age range studied, a 60-year-old may see an average rate of around $755 per year, give or take, depending on gender.

When it comes to credit history, those with poor credit applying with USAA may have an average rate of $1,602 per year. For drivers with good credit, they may see an average rate of somewhere around $860 per year.

In regards to driving history, those with clean records under USAA may have an average rate of $875 per year. After just one DUI conviction, the number can jump to $1,661 per year. One accident raises it from a clean record rate to an average of $1,220 per year.

Nationwide

Nationwide falls somewhere in the middle when it comes to average pricing for car insurance.

A 25-year-old female may see an average coverage rate of around $1,500 per year. A 25-year-old male under Nationwide insurance may have an annual average rate of $1,600. On the opposite end of the age range studied, a 60-year-old may see an average rate of around $1,089 per year, give or take, depending on gender.

When it comes to credit history, those with poor credit applying with Nationwide may have an average rate of $1,777 per year. For drivers with good credit, they may see an average rate of somewhere around $1,250 per year.

In regards to driving history, those with clean records under Nationwide may have an average rate of $1,280 per year. After just one DUI conviction, the number can jump to $2,560 per year. One accident raises it from a clean record rate to an average of $1,910 per year.

State Farm

In the study referenced, State Farm falls as the third most affordable insurance company, second-most affordable for customers of any background.

A 25-year-old female may see an average coverage rate of around $1,260 per year. A 25-year-old male under State Farm insurance may have an annual average rate of $1,400. On the opposite end of the age range studied, a 60-year-old may see an average rate of around $1,038 per year.

When it comes to credit history, those with poor credit applying with State Farm may have an average rate of $2,800 per year. For drivers with good credit, they may see an average rate of somewhere around $1,165 per year.

In regards to driving history, those with clean records under State Farm may have an average rate of $1,170 per year. After just one DUI conviction, the number can jump to $1,568 per year. One accident raises it from a clean record rate to an average of $1,400 per year.

Additional Factors in Auto Insurance Costs

What has been touched on above are some major components for how much car insurance costs, but there are some lesser-known aspects you could be dealing with when it comes to finding quotes. Explored below are some additional factors that could go into your car insurance rates. Some of these may have even been outlined by the companies presented above. They are very real (and a little shocking) components.

Marital Status

Research from the CFA in 2015 found that some major insurance companies were increasing the state-mandated minimum liability coverage rates for widows. Some all of the time, others periodically. Only one company out of the six that were studied was not increasing rates based on marital status. In general, the report found that rates are almost always higher for single, separated, and divorced people in comparison to drivers who are married.

Occupation

Your choice of career may also come into play when shopping for car insurance coverage. The industry considers some jobs more “high-risk” than others. According to Car Insurance Comparison, professions considered to be risky include professional athletes and those who work social scenes like DJs. Those considered to be low-risk are medical professionals (nurses, paramedics) and school teachers. Your occupation may also be a positive factor as some companies could offer discounts for people of certain professions. If you believe you would fall into a category as such, it may be useful to hunt around.

Education

Level of education may be taken into account when requesting car insurance quotes. Some research out there has found that people with Bachelor’s degrees may pay less than those with just a high school diploma. Being an alumnus of a particular institution may also offer you a discount on rates. How education level actually affects your rates can vary as some providers do not take it into consideration.

Saving Money on Auto Insurance

While you may not always be able to control the car insurance rates you are quoted, you do have some options when it comes to finding discounts to go towards your policy. You should always work to be a smart shopper no matter what coverage you are on the hunt for. Saving a few pennies wherever possible adds up. The following sections explore some things to consider before either buying a car insurance policy or maintaining your current one.

Bundling

If you own a home or are renting an apartment while paying for car insurance, it may be worth it to look into bundling your coverage under one company. You may get a break on your premiums if you bundle home/renter’s insurance with your car insurance. This does not mean they are on the same policy but instead just under the same provider. It appears to be a pretty simple change to your coverage in order to save a few dollars.

Active Discounts

As touched on briefly, there are some discounts available for you as a driver and also for your vehicle. Good-driver discounts may be applied to your insurance as you show you’re a smart, safe driver. How little you drive may also be rewarded as some policies can discount you for your yearly car mileage. If you’re a young driver, you may qualify for a good student discount. Through this program, sharing your report card may result in you getting a break on insurance. Affiliation discounts could also apply to you if you’re a military member or teacher.

As previously mentioned, your vehicle’s safety features could also lead to you getting a discount on car insurance. Anti-theft systems may grant you a break on comprehensive coverage. Having a new car could also qualify you for reduced rates. Such discounts as these listed may give you a reason to shop around for insurance which will be discussed further in the next section.

Shopping Around

Never settle for the first quote you get. Checking out different insurance companies and inquiring about estimations never hurts. It doesn’t even do damage to your credit score. It can even be helpful to go beyond the national companies, large or small. You never know what a local insurance company may hold. In their 2021 car insurance report car, the CRASH Network gave some of its best ratings to regional and local companies. Doing your homework and even shifting if necessary can be helpful for your budget.

Editing Your Current Policy

If you are currently insured, maybe take a second glance at your policy. It is very much stressed that you do need more than your state’s mandatory minimum liability coverage, but if you have opted for the extra-high coverage, looking at your policy every now and then to assure you still need what you are paying for can be helpful. You should never be paying so little that you are underinsured, as that will not help you in the slightest in an accident. But maybe you have found that comprehensive coverage is not completely necessary where you live. Or, perhaps you have quit your rideshare job and no longer need rideshare coverage. Maybe even your car is getting up there in age, and collision coverage is getting pricey. Making these slight adjustments have the potential to ease your plan, thus easing your wallet.

How do You Find The Best Car Insurance Rates?

There’s a variety of helpful tools at your disposal online which can assist in giving you an estimate of the best coverage for you. Various sites offer a car insurance estimate calculator. With a few clicks and input of personal information, the calculator delivers an estimate of what you could be paying should you pursue that company for car insurance. Some other resources will give you an estimate of what people in your ZIP code are paying on average for full coverage insurance. But, as always, rates vary from person to person. Quotes can be very helpful, along with knowing the average, both nationally and locally, but always be prepared to be above or even below what has been estimated. Finding the best price for your budget can be a bit of a game, but free quotes on car insurance rates are always available to you when necessary.