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What is a car insurance quote?
So what are auto insurance quotes? Simply put, quotes are an estimate of your insurance premiums and coverage with a specific insurance provider. Many auto insurance companiesoffer the ability to quote and buy car insurance online, or you can usually call a provider or visit a local agency. There are also numerous consumer websites where you can compare quotes from multiple carriers and get the names of local agents. Each quote is personalized to reflect the information you submitted about yourself and your vehicle. Because every auto insurance company assesses risk differently, getting quotes from multiple companies for the same coverage could result in significant price differences.
Remember that quotes are just that — quotes. Getting a car insurance quote doesn’t mean you have to buy coverage from that company or agree to get coverage at any point in the future. A quote is just a preliminary step in the process of buying car insurance. Quotes also allow you to compare coverage types and policy features. Maybe one company offers a discount that another company doesn’t. Maybe your collision coverage is more expensive with one company than it is with another. Auto policies have a lot of moving parts. Comparing quotes side-by-side can help you find the options that are right for you. Just remember that the quoted premium is not the final policy cost and could still change when you purchase the policy. If the auto insurer did not review your motor vehicle report (MVR) and Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) report to assess your driving history, your actual rates could be different. Many insurers wait to pull these reports until it is time to finalize your quote and issue your policy. Quotes can also be affected if the insurer changes rates before issuing your policy, if your discount eligibility changes, or if you incur billing fees depending on the payment plan you select.
How to compare car insurance quotes
Getting car insurance quotes is only the first step in the buying process. But do you know how to make a car insurance comparison? Knowing what to look for on your auto insurance quotes and how to compare different insurers could help you find the right option for you. Bankrate put together a list of steps to help you compare quotes.
Review the quotes for accuracy
The first step when making a car insurance quotes comparison is to review all your quotes for accuracy. Make sure that all the drivers and vehicles you want to insure are listed on each quote. If they aren’t, contact the company for an updated quote. A quote missing a driver or listing the wrong vehicle might appear to be far cheaper than another, but you wouldn’t be comparing the same factors.
Analyze the coverage types
Now turn your attention to the coverage types on the quotes. Do all the quotes have the same coverage types listed? Are your liability limits, comprehensive and collision deductibles, and add-on coverage features like roadside assistance and car rental all showing the same limits? If a quote is missing coverage you requested or included a lower limit than the other quotes, you won’t be able to compare them apples-to-apples. Also, keep in mind that not all companies offer the same coverage types and levels and similar options, so you might not be able to get the quotes showing exactly the same details.
Assess the discounts
Not all companies offer the same policy discounts, so just like with coverage types, you might not be able to get your quotes to match up. But check to ensure that the discounts you qualify for are included in the quote. If you are insuring a teen driver who gets good grades, were you able to include a good student discount? If you plan to bundle your auto and home policies with the same insurer, is the multi-policy discount included?
Finally, review the total premiums for each quote. Even with the same rating factors used in multiple quotes, auto insurers assess risk differently, which can dramatically impact the cost of your coverage. You may be tempted to immediately choose the cheapest car insurance quote you get, but remember that price isn’t the only factor you should consider when shopping for coverage. A quote might be higher because you have access to valuable coverage that you can’t get with another carrier, for example. Or possibly another insurer that is slightly more expensive also has higher claims and customer satisfaction ratings.
Compare car insurance quotes by state
In addition to auto insurers having different rates, each state also has its own unique car insurance regulations that impact rates. Rate differences between states can be especially surprising to people moving to a new state. Because states’ rates vary drastically, it may be best to get multiple car insurance quotes when moving to a new area to find the right coverage for you at the best price.
Below is a table showing the average car insurance rates by state. Keep in mind that these are just averages; your premium will vary based on your specific rating factors.
|Average cost of full coverage car insurance|
|State||Annual cost||Monthly cost|
Compare car insurance quotes by age and gender
When getting car insurance quotes, auto insurers will usually ask for the age and gender of all drivers listed on your quote. This is because your age and gender play significant roles in how much you pay for car insurance in most states, with younger drivers and adult males paying higher premiums, on average, because of their higher accident frequency. Hawaii is the only state that prohibits insurers from using age as a rating factor. Additionally, California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina and Pennsylvania ban insurers from using gender as a rating factor.
|Average annual full coverage premium for males||Average annual full coverage premium for females|
Car insurance rates for teen drivers
Teen drivers are inexperienced, which can lead to a greater likelihood of accidents. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that teens have a higher crash rate than any other age group. Because of this factor, teens typically cost more to insure than older drivers. Teens are not penalized in Hawaii because of the state’s ban on insurers using age as an auto rating factor. In all other states and Washington, D.C., teens will likely pay higher premiums than older drivers. Bankrate found that, depending on your teen’s age, major insurers Nationwide, Geico and USAA tend to have low average rates.
When getting quotes, car insurance companies will ask what age everyone listed on the policy was licensed. This is an important question for insurers to help understand your household’s risk; even adult motorists who recently got their driver’s license are inexperienced on the road, which can result in higher premiums. If you have a teen who is about to get their driver’s license, including them in your quote as a licensed driver may help you understand what your policy will actually cost once they get their license. This will help you avoid surprises later down the road.
|Average annual premium for full coverage|
|Car insurance company||16-year-old*||17-year-old*||18-year-old||19-year-old|
*16- and 17-year-old premiums represent the increase to add a teen to their parents’ existing family policy with two drivers and one car. The premium does not include adding a vehicle for the teen to drive and is not indicative of the total policy premium, only the increase.
Car insurance rates for seniors
Seniors, typically defined as drivers age 60 and older, may see their car insurance rates begin to creep back up. That is because senior drivers statistically are at greater risk of being in an accident. Aging-related health factors, like decreased eyesight, can impair a driver and increase the risk of accidents. Based on our analysis, seniors may want to consider getting quotes from USAA, Erie and Auto-Owners for low-cost coverage as these carriers offer favorable rates for senior drivers.
|Average annual premium for full coverage for 60-year-olds||Average annual premium for full coverage for 70-year-olds|
Compare auto insurance rates by driving history
Keeping a clean motor vehicle record (MVR) is one of the best ways to avoid premium increases on your car insurance policy. Drivers with speeding tickets, accidents or DUI convictions on their MVR could be considered high-risk. Because car insurance rates are based on risk, high-risk drivers generally pay more for coverage. When generating an auto insurance quote, insurers will thoroughly review the driving history for you and your household members. Providing this information upfront will help avoid surprises later once your MVR and CLUE reports are pulled.
Auto insurance rates after an at-fault accident
Accidents on your MVR will typically increase your premiums. If you have caused one or more at-fault accidents, car insurance companies may view you as more likely to cause an accident again in the future and so your rates are raised accordingly. The table below shows average rates before and after an at-fault accident from several major car insurance companies. On average, rates increase 38% annually after an at-fault accident. It is important to note that even if you earned accident forgiveness with your current insurer (meaning they won’t raise your rate because of an at-fault accident), that accident will likely affect your quoted rates with other insurers. Accident forgiveness does not transfer between carriers and has to be earned with new providers.
|Car insurance company||Average annual premium before an at-fault accident||Average annual premium after an at-fault accident|
Auto insurance rates after a DUI
DUIs are among the most serious offenses that a driver can commit and come with an average annual premium increase of 87%, as well as the potential of a suspended license and registration, numerous fines and other penalties based on your state’s regulations. Finding car insurance with a DUI on your MVR can be much more difficult than it is with a clean driving record, as not all insurance companies will agree to insure such risky drivers.
|Car insurance company||Average full coverage premium pre-DUI||Average full coverage premium post-DUI|
Auto insurance rates after a speeding ticket
Speeding tickets are relatively common, but they can still be an indication of high-risk driver behavior. As such, a speeding ticket on your MVR increases average premiums by an average of 23% per year. On top of the increased insurance costs, you may need to pay fines and even license reinstatement fees, depending on the severity of your infraction.
Speeding tickets can seriously affect your quotes. If your ticket has not been processed, meaning it is not yet listed on your MVR, your rate will be affected once that ticket processes. A car insurance company may notice and charge more for a moving violation if your MVR is re-pulled, which usually happens at your policy’s renewal. On the other hand, when tickets reach a certain age (time period varies by state and auto insurer, but ranges from 3-10 years), they may “fall off” your record. This means that the insurance carrier is no longer adding a surcharge for them, which can positively affect your rates and may be a good time to shop your coverage with other carriers.
|Car insurance company||Average full coverage premium pre-ticket||Average full coverage premium post-ticket|
Compare car insurance rates by credit score
In most states, your credit tier will affect your car insurance premium. Generally, drivers with lower credit-based insurance scores tend to file more claims and are thus viewed as a higher risk. California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Michigan ban the use of credit as an auto insurance rating factor and Maryland, Oregon and Utah limit the use of credit when determining auto insurance rates.
|Poor credit||Average credit||Good credit||Excellent credit|
|National average annual full coverage premium||$3,873||$1,865||$1,674||$1.487|
Compare auto insurance quotes by make and model
One of the biggest premium rating factors for auto insurance is the type of vehicle you drive. Your vehicle’s make and model can impact everything from safety features to repair costs. The table below shows the average full coverage premiums for the five best-selling vehicle models in the U.S. On your quote, you may notice that your vehicle type affects your coverage costs. For example, collision and comprehensive costs may be higher on a vehicle with more expensive replacement parts than on a vehicle that has cheaper and more readily-available parts. The price of medical coverage may be partly based on the vehicle’s safety features, which help protect you and any passengers in your vehicle. If you are shopping for a new vehicle, you may want to obtain quotes for each vehicle you consider purchasing, as they will have different rates.
|Make and model||Average annual full coverage premium||Average monthly full coverage premium|
Compare auto insurance rates by coverage level
Car insurance isn’t one-size-fits-all. You are typically able to purchase different levels of coverage, including your liability coverage, to personalize your policy to your needs. As you might expect, buying more coverage generally costs more, but it also provides you with greater financial protection if you get into an accident. The rates quoted below are for full coverage policies, showcasing the costs of having different liability limits, as well as optional collision and comprehensive coverages.
|Liability Limits||Average annual full coverage premium|
Carriers also offer different deductible options, especially for comprehensive and collision coverage types. As you are obtaining quotes, consider different deductible amounts to compare the impact on your premiums. The table below highlights the different impacts deductibles can have on your quotes. While higher deductibles will reduce your premium, they will increase your out-of-pocket costs for at-fault accidents and other claims.
|Comprehensive/collision deductible ($ amount)||Average annual full coverage premium||Annual premium impact|
Frequently asked questions
How much is car insurance on average?
The average cost of full coverage car insurance in the U.S. is $1,674 per year. However, keep in mind that rates could vary considerably based on your state, age, gender, driving record, credit-based insurance score and vehicle type. Your premium is likely to be different from the national average.
Who has the cheapest car insurance?
Since car insurance rates are based on personal factors, such as driving records and insurance history, there is not a specific company that will be the cheapest for every driver. Shopping around to compare quotes from several providers could help you determine which company offers the cheapest rates for your needs.
How do I know what types of coverage I need?
You will need to carry at least the minimum required coverage and limits for your state. Required coverage usually includes bodily injury liability and property damage liability but can also include uninsured motorist coverage, underinsured motorist coverage, personal injury protection (PIP), or medical payments coverage, depending on where you live. You may also want to consider optional collision and comprehensive to pay for repairs to your car after a covered loss, as well as theft, vandalism and weather hazards that could damage your vehicle. If your vehicle is financed or leased, your lender will likely require you to carry these extra coverage types. A licensed insurance agent can help you determine what coverage you need based on your situation.
How do I save on auto insurance?
You may be able to lower your auto insurance premium using several methods. First, understanding your needs can be helpful. Although insurance experts don’t recommend lowering your coverage just to save money, you may want to consider the optional coverage types you buy. Purchasing car rental coverage, for example, might not be necessary if you have a spare vehicle you can use if your main car is damaged or roadside assistance if your vehicle already includes this coverage. Next, shop around and get quotes from a few different companies (for the same coverage levels) to compare rates. Finally, talk to your company or agent about how to get car insurance discounts. Discounts can significantly lower your premium, so taking advantage of your savings opportunities can go a long way toward reducing your auto insurance costs.
Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2021 rates for all ZIP codes and carriers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Quoted rates are based on a 40-year-old male and female driver with a clean driving record, good credit and the following full coverage limits:
- $100,000 bodily injury liability per person
- $300,000 bodily injury liability per accident
- $50,000 property damage liability per accident
- $100,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
- $300,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident
- $500 collision deductible
- $500 comprehensive deductible
To determine minimum coverage limits, Bankrate used minimum coverage that meets each state’s requirements. Our base profile drivers own a 2019 Toyota Camry, commute five days a week and drive 12,000 miles annually.
To determine alternate rates, our base profile has been adjusted for the following scenarios:
- Age: Rates were calculated by evaluating our base profile with the ages 18-60 (base: 40 years) applied. Depending on age, drivers may be a renter or homeowner. Hawaii prohibits insurers from using age as a rating factor.
- Gender: Seven states do now allow insurers from using gender as a rating factor in calculating premiums: California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
- Driving history: Rates were calculated by evaluating our base profile with the following incidents applied: clean record (base), at-fault accident, single speeding ticket and a single DUI conviction.
- Credit score: Rates were calculated based on the following insurance credit tiers assigned to our drivers: “poor, average, good (base) and excellent.” Insurance credit tiers factor in your official credit scores but are not dependent on that variable alone. Four states prohibit the use of credit-based insurance scores as a rating factor in determining auto insurance rates: California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Michigan. Three additional states limit the use of credit-based insurance scores as a rating factor in determining auto insurance rates: Maryland, Oregon and Utah.
- Model: To determine cost by vehicle type, we evaluated our base profile with the following vehicles applied: Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado, Ram1500, Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V and Toyota Camry (base).
- Liability coverage level: Rates were calculated based on a full coverage policy with $500 comprehensive and collision deductibles, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, and the following liability coverage limits: state minimum, 50/100/50, 100/300/50, 250/500/100.
- Deductible coverage level: Rates were calculated with comprehensive and collision deductibles set at: $100, $250, $500 and $1,000.
These are sample rates and should only be used for comparative purposes.