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Find cheap car insurance in 8 easy steps

By Posted : 03/07/2017

Everybody wants cheaper car insurance, but how do you actually find it?  

Compare car insurance quotes from multiple companies to find the best coverage and price. Focusing solely on the lowest insurance rates is a mistake if you go without the coverage you need, so you should understand how to compare car insurance before making a decision. The whole point of insurance is to stand between you and financial disaster.

However, with a little research, you should be able to find cheaper auto insurance without sacrificing important coverage. 

1. Comparison shop

Sometimes, you'll get the best deal with your current car insurance company. But in many other cases, the road to the cheapest car insurance policy will take you elsewhere.

In general, the more you pay for car insurance, the bigger the difference between insurance companies' rates. Every company calculates its own price, and they often differ by hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Comparison shopping can help you uncover cheap car insurance companies and auto insurance discounts. How often should you compare car insurance quotes to find the lowest premiums? Experts generally suggest looking around at least once a year -- but certainly at these times, when your rates are most likely to change dramatically:

For more information, see "7 reasons your car insurance rates drop."


2. Bundle your policies

You already get cheaper rates if you are married or a homeowner because married people and homeowners tend to file fewer claims. But you can save even more by purchasing your home insurance and auto insurance policies from the same provider.

According to data gathered for Insurance.com by Quadrant Information Services, the nationwide average car insurance discount given for bundling home and auto insurance is 8 percent. By bundling renters and car insurance a discount also applies, with the nationwide average being around 5 percent. The nationwide average homeowners insurance discount given for bundling is 20 percent.

If you insure more than one car on your policy, you get a multi-car discount. Expect 10 to 25 percent savings off your collision, comprehensive and liability premiums.


5. Buy the right type of car

If you're shopping for new wheels, your choice of automobile can play a big role in getting lower insurance rates. Cars that cost less to repair or replace generally receive lower premiums.

You'll also get better rates if your car has certain safety features. Insurance companies often give discounts for features such as anti-lock brakes, side airbags and automatic safety belts.  Anti-collision technology is becoming popular in new vehicles; if your car is equipped with the new tech ask your agent if any discounts are available.


6. Avoid tickets and accidents

A poor driving history can easily disqualify you from getting the cheapest car insurance. Insurers will check your record to see if you present a high level of risk. Speeding tickets, accidents, drunk driving citations – all can drive your insurance rates higher.

Drive sensibly and cautiously and you'll be on the way to cheap car insurance by avoiding surcharges and receiving a good driver discount. (See "How much will a ticket affect my insurance rates?")


7. Don't carry unnecessary insurance coverage

If you have an old beater, reduce your car insurance costs by dropping comprehensive and collision coverage. When should you make this move toward cheaper auto insurance? Many experts say it's time to drop these coverages when the actual cash value you’d receive for your vehicle doesn’t justify the insurance expense. Insurance.com auto insurance coverage calculator>

Have an extra car in the household you can use if yours is in the shop due to an auto accident?  If so, skip rental reimbursement coverage.

Also, don't pay extra for personal injury protection or medical payment insurance (if they aren’t required by your state) if your family already has a good health insurance plan.


8. Consider buying just the state-required minimum liability coverage

One way to get the cheapest car insurance available is to buy “bare bones” coverage, which typically is liability insurance at the lowest legal limits required by your state to legally drive a car. If you cause an accident, it pays for others’ property damage and medical bills and that’s it. It's important to remember that if you cause even a minor accident, minimum liability coverage probably won't be enough to pay for all the damage. That means you'll be paying out of your own pocket. Still, if you want to save money and your car is old or you don't drive much, it is one path to lower rates.

Liability limits are usually written like this: 30/60/25. In this example, using Texas minimum requirements, the numbers show coverage that would pay:

  • medical expenses of up to $30,000 per person
  • medical expenses up to $60,000 per accident
  • up to $25,000 for property damage

Here are average annual rates for the cheapest car insurance coverage in every state, according to a rate analysis by Quadrant Information Systems for Insurance.com.

Minimum car insurance rates by state

StateMinimum car insurance requirementsMinimum car insurance average rate
Alaska 50/100/25 $426
Alabama 25/50/25 $638
Arkansas 25/50/25 $616
Arizona 15/30/10 $600
California 15/30/5 $723
Colorado 25/50/15 $646
Connecticut 20/40/10 $1,097
DC 25/50/10 $1,054
Delaware 15/30/10 $1,520
Florida 10/20/10 $1,058
Georgia 25/50/25 $743
Hawaii 20/40/10 $386
Iowa 20/4015 $403
Idaho 25/50/15 $546
Illinois 25/50/20 $543
Indiana 25/50/10 $633
Kansas 25/50/25 $526
Kentucky 25/50/10 $607
Louisiana 15/30/25 $909
Massachusetts 20/40/5 $866
Maryland 30/60/15 $958
Maine 50/100/25 $513
Michigan 20/40/10 $2,446
Minnesota 30/60/10 $864
Missouri 25/50/10 $506
Mississippi 25/50/25 $639
Montana 25/50/20 $467
North Carolina 30/60/25 $385
North Dakota 25/50/10 $512
Nebraska 25/50/25 $472
New Hampshire 25/50/25* $587
New Jersey 15/30/5 $1,086
New Mexico 15/50/10 $612
Nevada 15/30/10 $641
New York 25/15/10 $891
Ohio 25/50/25 $579
Oklahoma 25/50/25 $712
Oregon 25/50/20 $1,007
Pennsylvania 15/30/5 $560
Rhode Island 25/50/25 $1,026
South Carolina 25/50/25 $654
South Dakota 25/50/25 $431
Tennessee 25/50/15 $656
Texas 30/60/25 $783
Utah 25/65/15 $629
Virginia 25/50/20 $536
Vermont 25/50/10 $487
Washington 25/50/10 $671
Wisconsin 25/50/10 $578
West Virginia 25/50/25 $669
Wyoming 25/50/20 $410

Methodology: The table shows the average annual rate of 10 ZIP codes in the state for minimum coverage from the following carriers, in no particular order: Progressive, Allstate, State Farm, Nationwide, GEICO and Farmers. In some states, uninsured motorist coverage and/or personal injury protection coverage is mandatory in addition to liability. For those states, these coverages are included in our average rate shown in the chart, though we list just the state minimum levels for liability. Data was provided for Insurance.com by Quadrant Information Services. New Hampshire doesn’t require drivers to have car insurance, but most drivers do, and we’ve listed what is mandated if you choose to carry coverage.

Watch for pitfalls in coverage

You can only go so far with discounts and comparison shopping. Some carriers can provide you a lower rate, but they do it by limiting coverage in ways you might regret in the event of an accident.

For example, some companies limit coverage of permissive drivers or don't cover them at all. That is, if you lend your car to a friend who has an accident, your liability limits might be reduced or the claim might not be honored. The same discount policies might not extend to a rental car, as standard policies do.

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