How to Find Cheap Car Insurance Quotes

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Car insurance coverage is based on many factors, so car insurance quotes vary from car insurance company to car insurance company and from customer to customer. However, it is possible to find cheap car insurance quotes.

This article will tell you everything you need to know about the variables that can affect car insurance premiums—and what you can do right now to get cheap car insurance.

To Lower Car Insurance Rates: Premiums vs. Deductibles

A car insurance premium is the amount of money an insurance company charges for an insurance policy, usually monthly or semi annually. Car insurance premiums vary in cost, as do deductibles for collision coverage or comprehensive insurance.

A deductible is the dollar amount a policyholder must pay toward an insured loss before the insurer begins to pay. The deductible amount is subtracted, or "deducted," from the claim payout.

What Should I Choose as My Deductible for Cheap Auto Insurance?

A deductible can be either a specific dollar amount—many drivers opt for a low $500 deductible—or a percentage of the total amount of insurance on a policy. In general, the higher the deductible, the less the premium and the cheaper the quote. This means you pay more if you have an accident, however.

For example, you will pay less if you choose a $1,000 deductible but you must pay it towards repairs if you have an at-fault accident.

How Deductibles Work in the Claims Process

Setting low liability limits lowers an insurance quote. Let's say a California driver has $5,000 worth of property-damage insurance—the state's mandatory minimum for property damage—but they are involved in an at-fault accident that results in claims of $5,000 in property damage.

First, our driver would pay the $500 deductible, then the insurance company would pay the policy's $5,000 maximum payout minus the deductible. Which means the policyholder would still be personally on the hook for $500 towards damage. If they set a higher deductible, of say $1000, they'd be responsible for $1,000.

If the damages were $10,000, the policyholder would be personally responsible for $4,500 towards repairs with a $500 deductible and $5,500 with a $1,000 deductible. This is why many drivers buy more than their state's minimum liability auto insurance and set lower premiums.

What's Minimum Liability Auto Insurance?

Minimum liability auto insurance will bring you a lower car insurance quote. It's also required. Even if you're a licensed driver, you cannot drive legally unless you have liability auto insurance, and every state has its own minimum requirements. But no matter what your zip code is, that minimum insurance will comprise the same three types of liability insurance:

  • Bodily injury per person
  • Bodily injury per accident
  • Property damage per accident

What's Liability Insurance?

Liability insurance protects the policyholder against claims that result from injuries to other people and damage to other people's property. Unlike other kinds of risk protection, liability insurance policies pay third parties, not the policyholder.

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Each State Sets Its Own Liability Minimums

For each of these three types of liability insurance, each state determines its own liability minimums. If you want to find out your state's minimum liability insurance requirements, go to your state's Department of Motor Vehicles website or ask a licensed insurance agent.

Let's take a look at the difference between Florida's and New York's liability minimums and compare their average insurance rates.

Liability Minimums: Florida

Here are Florida's state-stipulated minimum liability amounts:

  • Bodily injury per person: $10,000
  • Bodily injury per accident: $10,000
  • Property damage per accident: $10,000

Florida's Average Cost for Liability Minimums

In Florida, the average rate for the state-dictated bare-bones insurance policy is about $216 per month, or $2,592 per year. According to SmartFinancial, you could get the same coverage from State Farm for only $179.64 a month, or $2,155.68 a year—a savings of $436 a year.

Liability Minimums: New York

Now, let's look at New York's state-stipulated minimum liability requirements:

  • Bodily injury per person: $25,000
  • Bodily injury per accident: $50,000
  • Property damage per accident: $10,000

New York's Average Cost for Liability Minimums

In New York, insurance prices for the state-minimum bare-bones insurance policy are about $206 per month, or $2,472 per year. But, according to SmartFinancial, you could get the same coverage from USAA for only $199.70 a month, or $2,396.40 a year—a savings of $75.60 a year.

Of course, Florida and New York are just two examples out of 50 for auto insurance quotes, but as you can see, you can save money. What's more, there are other ways to save.

Minimum Liability: Cheapest Car Insurance Quotes

Car insurance rates depend upon the number and dollar amounts of the insurance products purchased. So, if you want the absolute cheapest car insurance in the U.S., you should purchase your state's minimum liability insurance and only that—no collision, no comprehensive, no uninsured-driver nor any other add-on insurance products.

If you decide to buy only the state-stipulated minimum coverage options, there is not a single set price. One premium quote will be lower than another premium quote, but there's still a lot of factors to evaluate before you find cheap car insurance.

How To Find The Cheapest Car Insurance

The best way to find the cheapest car insurance coverage premium is to shop around for as many auto insurance quotes as you can get. Every insurance company calculates risk in its own way, so the insurance marketplace is rife with varying auto insurance quotes. The savvy auto insurance shopper compares as many auto insurance rates as possible, looking for the best insurance quote for their budget and coverage needs.

Of course, insurers charge drivers a higher price for extended coverage options. But no two insurance companies will have the same price for the same policy. So, if you're looking for a car insurance quote for full coverage (collision and comprehensive) or, say, uninsured-driver insurance, it still pays to shop around for cheap car insurance.

Use an Online Insurance-Comparison Site

Nowadays, online insurance-comparison sites allow you to "shop around" in just minutes. After you enter your zip code on this page and fill out a short questionnaire, SmartFinancial uses high-tech computing to compare hundreds of car insurance policies to find you the cheapest car insurance quotes. What's more, they offer car insurance quotes for free!

A Tip for Using Comparison Sites

Just as car insurance companies use their own criteria to evaluate risk, so every online insurance-comparison site uses its own criteria to compare car insurance policies and car insurance quotes but if you shop through multiple sites you may be bombarded with calls. Also, it's best to stick with one insurance-comparison site, that way you know the same criteria is being used for an apples-to-apples comparison.

SmartFinancial Can Help You Find Cheap Car Insurance

Comparing car insurance quote against car insurance quote can be a time-consuming, headache-inducing hassle, so these comparison sites are a real boon for the insurance customer. After all, the majority of states have at least 50 insurance companies that offer auto coverage and auto insurance quotes!

SmartFinancial uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and cutting-edge algorithms to find you cheap car insurance. No matter what coverage you're looking for, SmartFinancial is nationwide and helping customers like you is its business. Just enter your zip code on this page for free quotes or call 855-214-2291 to speak with a licensed SmartFinancial insurance agent.

Variables in Car Insurance Rates

When a car insurance company calculates your premium, it will look at an array of factors to determine your risk profile. To develop this profile, you will be asked what auto insurance coverage you're looking for, so it's important to review your insurance options and your insurance needs.

Variables in Individuals

You may be asked about your age, driving record, credit score, marital status and whether you are a homeowner or a renter. (By law, if you reside in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont or Washington, auto insurance companies cannot use your credit score or credit report against you when calculating your car insurance rate.)

Variables in Vehicles

You may also be asked by an insurer about the make and model of your vehicle, its vehicle identification number, where the vehicle is garaged, how much you drive, whether you use your vehicle for your business and whether the vehicle is being financed or leased.

These factors all affect a car insurance quote and insurers weigh each factor differently. Not only that, insurance costs are constantly fluctuating. If you get a quote from an insurance company on Monday, that same company may give you a different quote on Friday.

The Safest Drivers Get the Cheapest Car Insurance

All of these factors indicate areas of quantifiable risk, which is measured in light of statistics and years and years of accumulated raw data. With all these vectors of risk, it's easy to see why car insurance quotes vary from individual to individual and from vehicle to vehicle.

Another Factor: Your Insurance History

If you have lapses in your insurance history, insurance companies will count that as risky behavior—based on historical, nationwide statistics.

When the auto insurance companies crunch the numbers, they know that any driver who knowingly gets behind the wheel of an automobile without having auto insurance is a driver who is not adverse to engaging in other risky, thoughtless, irresponsible behaviors.

According to a recent analysis, if drivers let their car insurance lapse for longer than a month, their premium could increase by 25% and even up to 30%. Indeed, such lapses can quickly turn your cheap car insurance into simply affordable car insurance.

Cheap Auto Insurance Is Possible

Of course, the safest drivers have no breaks in their insurance history. On the other hand, having zero lapses in your insurance history doesn't necessarily mean you are the safest driver. But even if you are a high-risk driver, you can most likely lower your auto insurance coverage costs if you shop around for insurance quotes for cheap car insurance.

You can also take pro-active steps. For example, most insurance companies offer a discount if you take an approved defensive driving course. In most cases, once you show your licensed agent your certificate of completion, the discount will be awarded to your policy.

The Best Car Insurance Rates

Car Insurance Discounts

Car insurance companies offer discounts for anything that lessens risk. These discounts can add up to big savings on car insurance premiums. Here are some of the most common discounts that car insurance companies offer:

  • A discount for being a good student
  • A discount for being a student that lives away from home
  • A discount for having a spotless driving history
  • A discount for purchasing both car and home insurance
  • A discount for having multiple vehicles on the same policy

More Car Insurance Discounts

But the discounts don't stop there. Here are even more discounts for which you can apply:

  • A discount for being in the military
  • A discount for taking a defensive driver course
  • A discount for an affinity membership
  • A discount for annual mileage
  • A discount for having a new car

Using Discounts to Lower Car Insurance Rates

Did you know that, in many states, you can save on your taxes if your car is eco-friendly? Further, many insurance providers will give a discount if you live in a retirement community or if you are a member of a teachers union. If you have a business that employs drivers, a multi-vehicle discount could help to lower your insurance costs.

All the car insurance companies have their own discounts, so be sure to ask about them to see if you qualify. Discounts chip away at the premium of car insurance rates.

Discounts for Safety Features

It only makes sense that the safer your car is, the lower your insurance quotes will be. If you're looking for a cheap car insurance rate, you can lower your premium rate if your car has one or all of these safety features:

  • A discount for anti-theft devices
  • A discount for an anti-lock brake system
  • A discount for air bags
  • A discount for telemetry that tracks your driving habits

Look for New, Cutting-Edge Safety Features

Of course, advances in technology continue to add safety features to all of today's vehicles. Many insurance providers will lower your insurance quote if your car comes equipped with these new, cutting-edge safety features:

  • A discount for backing-up cameras
  • A discount for a lane-departure warning system
  • A discount for a forward-collision warning system
  • A discount for a blind-spot detection system
  • A discount for adaptive headlights

Adaptive headlights actively respond to changing road and atmospheric conditions. Like all the other safety features, adaptive headlights improve your chances of avoiding an accident.

Buying a Safe Car To Lower Your Policy Price

Since all these safety features lower the risk of accidents, auto insurance companies love them. Since there is a new-car discount, some drivers may elect to buy a new car with all the safety features money can buy. Indeed, these accident-preventing devices could well pay big in the long run, especially when only one accident could dramatically affect your family and other drivers, not to mention your driving record and policy rates.

How To Find the Safest Vehicles on the Market

If you're looking for a safe car in order to get cheap car insurance, you should check out the safest cars on the yearly lists from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. These two organizations are the U.S. authorities when it comes to car safety, conducting traditional crash tests as well as testing for the latest safety categories, such as passenger safety, nighttime visibility and pedestrian protection.

By studying these annual roundups of the safest cars, customers can find not only a safe vehicle but also a cheap vehicle. In fact, insurance customers can get an NHTSA- and IIHS-rated vehicle for under the price of $20,000, which means saving on the price of their vehicle and the price of their policy.

Rates by Age Group vs. A Car's Make and Model

Insurance companies can slice up the numbers in many, many ways. Insurance prices reflect statistically known risk overlaps. A 19-year-old is a risky driver—after all, the brain isn't fully formed until the age of 25!—but that 19-year-old may be a U.S. Marine with a family of his own or have an unblemished driving history or live in a low-crime neighborhood. All insurance quotes would take these factors into consideration.

Let's drill down and examine how a person's age and their vehicle's make and model can produce a range of quotes. Here are some average insurance rates, based on a driver's age group, for a 2019 Chevrolet Express G2500:

Age Average Rate Per Month
16-19 N/A
20-29 $160.08
30-39 $136.05
40-49 $219.62
50-59 $93.57
60 or older $125.05

Now, let's take a peek at the average insurance rates, based on a driver's age group, for a 2019 Toyota Sienna:

Age Average Rate Per Month
16-19 N/A
20-29 $208.36
30-39 $152.56
40-49 $130.34
50-59 $110.50
60 or older $124.85

Based on this example, it seems the 50-59 age group is paying insurers less money, no matter what car they drive. But even if we can't all be in the 50-59 category, we can all still find affordable car insurance, even if we're teen drivers or we have a poor credit report or we have an old, cheap car or we live in a high-crime zip code. In your area of the U.S., there are auto insurance quotes that will undercut many drivers' current rates.

Car Insurance Rates Vary by State

If insurance quotes will be affected by your marital status, your credit score, your driving history and your immediate family of drivers, it's also true that insurance quotes will be affected by your place of residence. Each state's average insurance quotes are determined by that state's risk profile. The variables here include the number of drivers on the road, the number of uninsured-underinsured drivers on the road, the number of accidents per year and the number of fatal accidents per year.

Here is SmartFinancial's top-10 breakdown of the lowest car insurance rates by state.

State Average Monthly Rate
Maine $69.35
Idaho $72.58
North Carolina $74.77
Iowa $84.26
Tennessee $84.63
Vermont $84.70
Indiana $86.79
Ohio $87.05
Wisconsin $88.27
Nebraska $91.65

The most expensive states, on average per month, for policyholders and insurers are Florida ($214.26 / month), New York ($205.68), Louisiana ($205.58), New Jersey ($169.65), Michigan ($161.29), Maryland ($160.26), California ($158.84), Rhode Island ($156.73) and Georgia ($145.16).

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State Farm vs. USAA Rates in All 50 States

Nationwide, insurers base their rates on many factors, but insurers themselves are factors for the policyholder. Let's take a look at just two auto insurance companies, State Farm and USAA, both of whom score high for customer service.

State Farm and USAA each have different rates for all 50 states. Derived from SmartFinancial's proprietary data, the below information tracks the average monthly car insurance premium for the same auto insurance policy:

State State Farm USAA
Alabama $140.28 $111.23
Alaska $117.55 $88.08
Arizona $145.74 $108.30
Arkansas $109.66 $78.05
California $208.92 $163.80
Colorado $143.82 $101.46
Connecticut $142.05 $118.75
Delaware $140.81 $77.59
Florida $179.58 N/A
Georgia $149.86 $129.44
Hawaii $103.13 $86.29
Idaho $76.19 $56.56
Illinois $111.77 $117.59
Indiana $90.37 $65.92
Iowa $88.27 $73.44
Kansas $118.08 $90.57
Kentucky $107.31 $102.75
Louisiana $207.91 $158.07
Maine $78.05 $55.30
Maryland $204.40 $135.45
Massachusetts $83.13 $119.70
Michigan $346.39 $122.93
Minnesota $116.31 $97.51
Mississippi $117.83 $78.68
Missouri $120.33 $68.84
Montana $90.12 $78.87
Nebraska $108.21 $90.66
Nevada $169.64 $134.78
New Hampshire $93.41 N/A
New Jersey $198.36 N/A
New Mexico $116.50 $93.03
New York $279.78 $199.67
North Carolina $92.77 N/A
North Dakota $98.01 $63.53
Ohio $87.33 $67.57
Oklahoma $122.76 $111.61
Oregon $111.18 $81.77
Pennsylvania $125.10 $94.25
Rhode Island $108.20 $112.30
South Carolina $109.84 $100.52
South Dakota $103.54 N/A
Tennessee $101.73 $83.15
Texas $118.09 $123.02
Utah $155.22 $80.96
Vermont $110.66 N/A
Virginia $95.32 $88.21
Washington $106.11 $79.30
West Virginia $92.58 N/A
Wisconsin $87.73 $61.41
Wyoming $128.44 $102.36

So, your car insurance policy is affected by the area you live in and the insurance company you choose. No matter which company you choose, they both have great customer service in all 50 states as well as car insurance quotes for people with a great credit score or a not-so-great credit score.

State Farm vs. USAA for Multi-car Discounts

As mentioned earlier, you can get a discount for having multiple cars on the same policy. Extracted from SmartFinancial's research, the comparison below tracks the differences in savings between State Farm and USAA when it comes to a multi-vehicle policy.

Number of Vehicles State Farm USAA
One $149.45 $110.56
Two $202.90 $159.47
Three $320.15 $234.61
Four $377.65 $275.69

State Farm vs. USAA Rates for Owners vs. Renters

As mentioned earlier, homeownership is one of the many factors that can lower your car insurance rate. Based on SmartFinancial's own research, the below figures track the difference in savings State Farm and USAA proffer to their nationwide customers, based on whether they own their own homes.

Own/Rent State Farm USAA
Own $155.17 $120.26
Rent $163.83 $121.83

If this example proves a single thing, it's that homeownership will lower your annual coverage rate by a few bucks. But all these little savings add up in the long run, so take advantage of any price discount you qualify for.

Add-on Insurance

There are many reasons why some folks choose to get more than the state's mandated minimum. Here are a few of the add-on options that will increase auto insurance rates but may well pay for themselves and more in the long run:

  • GAP insurance pays off your car if it's worth less than what you owe on it.
  • Full coverage (collision and comprehensive) insurance pays for damage to your vehicle. Many auto insurance companies prefer you to get full coverage.
  • Roadside assistance may increase your car insurance quotes but will be well worth it when you need it most.
  • Uninsured/underinsured motorist
  • Personal injury protection (PIP) covers medical bills and lost wages after an accident.
  • Rental car
  • Accidental death/funeral
  • Accident forgiveness

Available to drivers with a clean driving record and a certain number of years with the same insurance company, accident forgiveness can be used only once, but it allows car insurance rates to stay at the same dollar amount. Ask your auto insurance company about its company policy on accident forgiveness.

Five Tips for Lowering Auto Insurance Rates

If you can't get the cheap car insurance quotes you want today, you can take steps to get cheap car insurance in the future. Here are some tips and strategies for lowering auto insurance rates.

  1. Drive less. If you are a low-mileage driver you will save money on your car insurance. So let your auto insurance know how low your mileage has been in the past year and enjoy the savings.
  2. Be a good driver. Be a safe and responsible driver and follow the rules of the road and you will save money on your car insurance. If you have no speeding tickets, no at-fault accidents and no DUIs, let your new auto insurance company know. You want a good driver discount for how well you've handled your car out on the road.
  3. Pay your premium once or twice a year. Rather than paying monthly auto insurance bills, pay the entire annual amount or six-months amount. Your premium is lower when you pay just once or twice a year.
  4. Review your memberships. Members of particular professional organizations or affiliate groups get discounts on car insurance. So check to see if the memberships in your wallet will earn you a discount.
  5. Maintain your insurance. You'll pay higher insurance rates if you don't maintain continuous coverage of your auto insurance. So stick with your coverage and save money on your auto insurance.

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