The Best Cheap Car Insurance for 2020


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One of the best ways to get cheap car insurance is by comparing car insurance quotes — and the companies offering them.

To get you started, NerdWallet looked at car insurance prices across the country for different driver profiles and coverage levels to find the cheapest rates. We’ve sliced the data in several ways to give you an idea of average costs and what factors might nudge your car insurance rate up — or even better, down.

The 7 largest car insurance companies: Which is cheapest?

Just seven car insurance companies make up more than 65% of the U.S. market for individual auto policies. They are Allstate, Farmers, Geico, Liberty Mutual, Progressive and State Farm, which are available to anyone, and USAA, the insurer for active military members, veterans and their families.

NerdWallet compared quotes from these insurers in ZIP codes across the country. Rates are for policies that include liability, collision, comprehensive, and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverages, as well as any other coverage required in each state. Our “good driver” profile is a 40-year-old with no moving violations and credit in the “good” tier.

Here are annual car insurance rates for the seven largest auto insurers in the United States, averaged among all states:

  1. Geico: $1,198.
  2. State Farm: $1,511.
  3. Progressive: $1,766.
  4. Liberty Mutual: $1,778.
  5. Allstate: $1,834.
  6. Farmers: $1,865.

USAA*: $1,023.

*USAA, the cheapest, isn’t ranked because it’s not available to everyone. Keep in mind these are averages from across the country, so rates in your area will differ. Credit history and at-fault accidents can heavily impact insurance rates. So can age, marital status and other factors. That’s why it’s important to compare car insurance rates from multiple companies to find the best price for you.

» MORE: The average cost of car insurance

More average annual rates for big car insurance companies

Depending on your location, the most affordable car insurance company varies — to get a national picture, the table below shows average auto insurance rates for additional driver types. In general, USAA is the cheapest — for those who can get it. However, if you don’t have a military connection, Geico is cheapest for drivers with a recent at-fault accident, poor credit and for those seeking minimum coverage car insurance.

These sample rates only give an idea of the cheapest car insurance — the lowest rates for you may come from a different company.

Cheap rates from small insurers

Finding cheap car insurance doesn’t mean you have to stick with large insurance companies. Regional and small insurers may beat the lowest car insurance rates from the big guys, and often have great customer service. Below are annual average rates from some smaller car insurance companies, according to our analysis, as well as where you can find them.

  • Grange: $605 per year.
  • Erie: $835 per year.
  • Secura: $872 per year.
  • Cincinnati Insurance: $968 per year.
  • Country Financial: $1,136 per year.

We chose these companies because of their low rates and availability in multiple states, but there may be cheaper options in your state. For example, there are many Farm Bureau insurance companies available only in a single state — and they were often among the cheapest in our state-by-state analysis this year.

More average annual rates for small insurance companies

In this group, Grange is cheapest in all four categories. Erie is second-cheapest most of the time, but Secura is second-cheapest for drivers with poor credit, at $1,264 per year.

» MORE: How much car insurance rates go up after an accident

Find the cheapest car insurance in your state

Cheap car insurance sounds great to everyone, but doesn’t mean the same thing everywhere. Rates vary widely from one state to the next. To get a good benchmark for price comparisons, check out average rates in your state.

Cheapest of the cheap: Minimum coverage car insurance

The cheapest car insurance, period, will likely carry the minimum coverage required in your state. In most states, this is liability insurance only, which covers property damage and medical bills for others due to accidents you cause. Some states also require uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, which pay for your injuries or damage if an at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance.

Policies with comprehensive and collision coverage are pricier, but cover you in case your car is stolen or damaged, no matter who (or what) caused it. When you add these to liability and uninsured/underinsured coverages, it’s commonly considered “full coverage.”

» MORE: Find cheap full coverage car insurance

Minimum vs. full coverage rates for the largest auto insurers

The cost difference between minimum and full coverage is enough to make many drivers stick to bare-bones coverage. Excluding USAA and smaller insurers, Geico was the cheapest company in our analysis for both full and minimum coverage. Allstate had the largest average annual price difference between full and minimum coverage policies.

Minimum vs. full coverage rates by state

Your state’s laws and insurers available there play a big part in your auto insurance rates. NerdWallet looked at quotes for the minimum required insurance in each state and compared them to average full coverage prices.

Comparing quotes to get the cheapest possible insurance

If you’re looking for the cheapest car insurance you can get, it’s essential to shop around and compare quotes. You may find that your current insurer is cheapest, but that can change, so check roughly once a year.

No matter who your insurer is, these tips could help you save on your policy:

  1. Look for discounts — even ask for them. There could be discounts you’re not taking advantage of. For instance, maybe you retired and are driving less than when you bought your policy. Mention that and you might get a low-mileage discount. Ask for all available discounts when you’re getting auto insurance quotes.
  2. Rethink insurance limits and deductibles. A higher collision and comprehensive deductible might make sense if you rarely drive or are comfortable with the financial risk. Raising your deductible means you’d owe more out of pocket if you had to file a comprehensive or collision claim, but it’s a surefire way to get cheaper car insurance.
  3. Know when to cut coverage. Don’t strip away coverage just for the sake of cheaper insurance. You’ll need full coverage car insurance to satisfy the terms of an auto loan, and you’ll want it as long as your car would be a financial burden to replace. But for older cars, you can drop comprehensive and collision coverage, which only pay out up to your car’s current value, minus the deductible.
  4. Cash in on major life changes. Certain life events could translate to cheaper car insurance, so shop for quotes whenever something major changes in your life. For instance, many companies offer a lower rate for married couples or domestic partners. Or perhaps you moved to a suburb with lower accident and crime rates. If your risk for accidents goes down, your rates just might, too.
  5. Revisit insurance quote comparisons. Be sure to shop for car insurance quotes just after the three- and five-year anniversaries of any accidents, tickets or moving violations, after which they may be dropped from your driving record.

Recap: The cheapest large car insurance companies

We all want affordable auto insurance, but a good policy should also come with peace of mind. For many consumers, that means going with a large, nationally recognized insurer. Here’s a recap of their prices and NerdWallet auto insurance ratings. NerdWallet’s ratings are determined by our editorial team. The scoring formula takes into account a number of details, including pricing, discounts and ease of filing a claim. Other factors analyzed include website transparency, financial strength and complaint data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

1. Geico

Geico was the cheapest car insurance company in our analysis, with an average annual rate of $1,198 per year for good drivers. It was also the cheapest insurer for drivers with a recent at-fault accident at an average rate of $1,888 per year, drivers with bad credit, with an average annual rate of $1,748, and minimum coverage insurance, with an average rate of $478 per year.

2. State Farm

State Farm was the second-cheapest car insurance company we found for good drivers, with an average annual rate of $1,511. For drivers with a recent at-fault crash, State Farm was second to Geico by just $80 a year, with an average annual rate of $1,968.

3. Progressive

The third-cheapest car insurance company in our analysis was Progressive, with an average rate of $1,766 year for good drivers. Progressive’s average rates for drivers with an at-fault accident, $2,980 per year, and for those with poor credit, $3,238, were the most expensive in our analysis of the largest car insurance companies.

4. Liberty Mutual

Liberty Mutual came in fourth on our list of the cheapest large car insurance companies, with an average rate of $1,778 per year for good drivers. Liberty Mutual was the second-cheapest insurer for drivers with bad credit, showing an average rate of $2,497 per year.

5. Allstate

Allstate was the fifth-cheapest car insurance company in our analysis, with an average annual rate of $1,834 for good drivers. For drivers with a recent at-fault accident, Allstate was also the fifth-cheapest among the largest car insurance companies, at an average of $2,904 per year.

6. Farmers

The most expensive of the large car insurance companies was Farmers, with an average rate of $1,865 per year for good drivers buying full coverage. Farmers was also the most expensive of the large insurers for minimum coverage, showing an average annual rate of $926.

Not ranked: USAA

USAA is not ranked because it is only available to active military, veterans and their families. However, it was the cheapest car insurance company in every category we analyzed except for drivers with poor credit, where its average rate was $1,925 per year, $177 higher than Geico’s. USAA’s average annual rates were $1,023 for good drivers, $1,482 for drivers with a recent at-fault crash and $415 for minimum coverage.

Methodology

For each of the seven largest insurers, NerdWallet averaged rates for 40-year-old men and women for all ZIP codes in any of the 50 states and Washington, D.C., in which the insurer was one of the largest insurance companies (by premiums written). “Good drivers” had no moving violations on record and an insurance credit score considered “good” by each insurer; a “good driving” discount was included for this profile. Sample drivers had the following coverage limits:

  • $100,000 bodily injury liability coverage per person.
  • $300,000 bodily injury liability coverage per crash.
  • $50,000 property damage liability coverage per crash.
  • $100,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage per person.
  • $300,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage per crash.
  • Collision coverage with $1,000 deductible.
  • Comprehensive coverage with $1,000 deductible.

In states where required, minimum additional coverages were added.

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 only the minimum coverage required 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.

We used a 2016 Toyota Camry LE in all cases and assumed 12,000 annual miles driven. In all cases, a paperless discount, e-signature discount and electronic funds transfer discount were automatically applied. These are sample rates generated through Quadrant Information Services. Your own rates will be different.

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