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CAR Insurance

Discounts, good driving, and making the right policy decisions can lead to getting the cheapest car insurance for your family.

A family can come in many arrangements, shapes, and sizes. The same is true for car insurance. There is no “one size fits all” when you’re looking for the cheapest car insurance.

Like other major cost-of-living expenses, auto insurance for a family can be dynamic, and, of course, hit the pocketbook like a grandkid at the arcade. It's crucial to not only stay aware of the choices and savings but also cognizant of shifts in your family that can affect auto insurance’s cost.

Buying a new home, changing your living arrangements, marrying, divorcing, adding a teen or new driver to your policy can affect the cost of your family's car insurance.

"There are so many variables when it comes to car insurance, especially with multiple drivers in the household," said John Espenschied, owner of the Insurance Brokers Group, with more than 19 years of personal and commercial insurance industry experience. "I would estimate the average family is paying $300 to $500 for car insurance per month, assuming this includes young drivers and multiple vehicles.

Espenschied said a car insurance premium varies greatly depending on many factors, including:

  • The year, make and model of vehicles
  • Tickets or accidents
  • What state you reside
  • Age of drivers
  • Gender
  • A student’s achievement
  • Whether a family has multiple policies with the same company

Now, let's explore some ways to get savings so you can find the cheapest car insurance for your family.

How much is car insurance for families?

The national average to insure a vehicle is $1,812. That rate can swing wildly depending on many factors.

On average, Michigan has the highest rates. The average auto insurance cost for Farmers in that state is nearly $4,000. On the other end, Geico offers a plan at $1,027 on average.

By contrast, the average cost to insure your car in Maine with Geico is $517 and $1,212 if you choose Allstate.

Each year, Insurance.com’s sister site Insure.com runs the numbers for car insurance rates as compared by each state between roughly 3,000 different vehicle models, resulting in a list of the cheapest to insure and the most expensive to insure.

Insure.com pulls insurance quotes from six of the major insurance companies and averages them. For 2019, the Honda Odyssey was the victor as the cheapest new vehicle to insure, stealing that top spot from the Jeep Wrangler, which came in second. The Odyssey costs $1,298 to insure on average. That's $514 less than the national average.

The Subaru Outback 2.5i came in third. The Top 20 that is solidly dominated by SUVs and crossovers, which are becoming a popular choice for the family vehicle, joining the tried-and-true minivan.

Kelly Blue Book, which is the vehicle valuation and automotive research company that is most recognized by consumers and the automotive industry, rates the Honda Odyssey among the "12 best family vehicles of 2019" in its latest assessment, making it not only the cheapest to insure, but among the best value and safest.

Other 2019 family vehicles that made the list include the:

  • Honda CRV
  • Hyundai Santa Fe
  • Subaru Forester
  • Chevrolet Traverse
  • Honda Pilot
  • Subaru Ascent
  • Toyota Highlander
  • Volkswagen Atlas
  • Ford Expedition
  • Chrysler Pacifica
  • Toyota Sienna

According to insure.com rankings, the Honda CRV's median cost to insure is $1,333. Taking a look at other family favorites, the Subaru Forester runs about $1,347 to insure, the Chevy Traverse $1,374, the Ford Escape at $1,344 and the GMC Canyon came in as $1,369 as an average insurance cost. Again, these are all averages.

The exact cost for your family’s car insurance depends on the many different factors.

Not surprisingly, the most expensive cars are usually the most costly to insure. These cars are often high-powered and sporty. They aren't always the safest, and also cost more to repair.

Car insurance companies may consider these vehicles a risk, so you're going to pay for it. That said, the Nissan GT-R is probably not the best option for the happy, money-conscious family, and certainly shouldn't be the one that your teen is assigned to should you have one (the teen or the car). The model topped the list as the most expensive to insure, at $3,941 annually.

While the Mercedes impresses, it's going to cost you to cover it. A whopping seven Mercedes models hit the Top 20 of most expensive to protect. Dad's got to let that idea go, mid-life crisis or not.

Your teenagers are expensive. They eat a lot, most of them are on a traveling sports or dance team, and they always want the coolest sneakers. They'll affect your insurance rate in a big way, too. Good luck finding the cheapest car insurance if you have a teen on your policy.

Family car insurance can jump to $3,000, on average, when you add your teenager to the policy. It's on the higher end when you add a boy. Teens who get their own car insurance policy can expect it to cost more than $6,000, sometimes more than $10,000, depending on the state.

"Adding a teen to your insurance will increase your rate significantly," said Loretta Worters, vice president of media relations, Insurance Information Institute. "Depending on the number of cars you have, rates could increase anywhere from 45 percent to 60 percent. If a teen insures his or her own car, it will likely cost 300 percent or more than if your teen were on your insurance. However, we always advise families that if they add their children to their insurance policy to up their liability limits."

Espenschied understands the pain. He has an 18-year-old boy and a nearly 16-year-old daughter who wants her "own" car.

"If a young driver is currently on the policy, adding another vehicle won't have the same massive jump in premium more than adding a third vehicle with two adult drivers," he said. "The most significant impact is going to be merely adding a young driver, even if there are two adult drivers and one or two vehicles. It'll be an estimated cost of $1,200 to $2,000 annually for a new driver, being added, to an existing car insurance policy."

How to get the cheapest car insurance for families

Several car insurance offer discounts that should interest families. It's important that you ask your agent or insurance company about these.

If you've got a student in your family with good grades, you'll likely get a decent discount on your insurance. Most car insurance companies offer a good student discount, both for high school students and college students. A "good student" generally translates into maintaining a "B" (3.0) or better average to qualify for this discount, and typically applies to students under 25.

Homeschooled teen drivers may also be eligible, and must achieve a certain score on standardized tests. The discount normally applies to bodily injury liability, property damage liability, PIP, medical payments, collision, and comprehensive coverages.

Your good student away at college is still a member of the family, too, of course, even in the eyes of your car insurance company. However, most insurance companies offer a discount for college students still on their parents' policy. Many variables affect the discount rate, including whether or not the student is taking a car to school and driving it regularly, whose name(s) is on the title, and whether or not the student's permanent address is still the parent(s)' home.

When Espenschied's son got his driver's license, the family added a 16-year-old Honda with liability coverage to the family fleet. That added only $150 per month to the coverage. If Espenchied had purchased a new car for his teen son that required collision and comprehensive coverage, he said that cost would have easily doubled.

"Teenage drivers are three to four times more likely to be involved in an accident within the first three years of driving," said Espenschied. "We advise parents to buy a used, beater car you know will get used and abused, regardless of how good a student they are. Accidents will happen in a 4,000-pound vehicle, and it takes time to learn how to handle, driving by yourself."

Even sticking with your company can help you save money. Nationwide, Farmers, Geico, USAA, and Allstate are among those who hand out loyalty discounts. It'll usually get you about a 10 percent discount. State Farm, too, has the much-touted loyalty rewards program, which lets you rack up points on your credit cards.

The family loves when you're a safe, competent driver. Car insurance companies love that, too. It's fairly obvious; if you're a safer driver, you get in fewer accidents and have fewer claims. In terms of a family, that means all of you, as everyone's record affects the premium cost. Good driver and safe driver discounts can get you between 5 and 25 percent in savings, depending on your carrier.

Speeding tickets, accidents, drunk driving citations - all can drive your insurance rates higher. Insurers will check your record to see if you present a risk. To get the cheapest rates, an insurance company usually requires that you have a clean driving record for at least three years; that means no DUIs, no moving violations, and no at-fault collisions. (See "How much will a ticket affect my insurance rates?")

"Insurance companies often give discounts if your teen takes a driver-training course or installs a monitoring device in the car," said Worters. "Also check whether your insurance company offers a 'safe driver' program. Teen participants in these programs sign parent-teen driving contracts that outline the young driver's responsibilities (for instance, not having teen passengers in the car, being home by a certain hour, etc.) and the consequences of failure to meet those expectations. If your teenager completes the program, not only will he or she be a safer driver, you may also be eligible for a discount."

The best way to keep prices down is to make sure your teen maintains a clean driving record, Worters stressed.

Speaking of "safe," if you've got a security system or anti-theft device installed on your vehicles, that could bring the family's car insurance down up to 30 percent in some cases.

Grab another small discount by paying the annual car insurance bill in full, if you can. That can get you about a 10 percent savings, in some cases.

Understand all the car insurance discounts for which you may qualify, so that you can take advantage of some reductions in your bill that can add up.

Ways to get the cheapest car insurance

The way to obtain the cheapest car insurance premium for your family is the same way you get the cheapest mortgage, vacation home, pair of shoes, or a ribeye roast. You comparison shop, you get recommendations, and you ask questions. But, unlike at the shoe store or the butcher, you've presumably got an agent who can help you navigate the sometimes-choppy ocean that is car insurance.

"Ask for any all discounts like a good student, multiple car discount, multiple policy discount, drivers education, advance quote discount, and tracking programs that you plug-in your car or download on an app," said Espenschied.

You can dig up some cheap, or cheaper, car insurance companies by taking the time to comparison shop and ask about these companies' discounts. Or, you can also uncover a new company that has crept up or a company that has dropped its rates.

Experts suggest checking auto quotes each year when your policy comes up for renewal.

However, you definitely should also take a look at the rates if any of these circumstances arise:

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

Espenschied added that several auto insurance companies focus on the 50+ community, such as The Hartford and its AARP partnership. Alternatively, some insurers are better for younger drivers, such as Progressive, which is very competitive in that demographic, especially if you package it with the home policy.

We addressed this earlier, but remember that getting that sweet ride you've always coveted likely won't be the best family choice. It definitely won't get you the cheapest insurance.

Keep in mind that that the vehicles you choose factor heavily in the amount you'll pay for your premium. Just because a car is cheap doesn't mean that it'll be cheap to insure. On the flip side, an expensive luxury car often requires that you've got the luxury of dishing out a lot in insurance, and repairs should they arise.

Bundle up, buckos! According to statistics, homeowners and married folks tend to file fewer claims, and that translates into lower rates on car insurance for those two groups. That's an advantage for families in getting a cheaper rate. Putting your homeowners or renters insurance with the same company as your car insurance (often called “bundling”) almost always gets you a better price. In some cases, you can save up to 30 percent on your liability, collision, and comprehensive coverages.

National averages show that getting multi-policy with auto and homeowners insurance at a savings of 11.4 percent, with a condo policy at 9.6 percent, with a life insurance policy at 2 percent and with a renters policy at 5 percent.

Moreover, of course, having multiple vehicles on the same policy will get you cheaper insurance than separate policies on each.

Another way to save is to increase your dollar deductible from $250 to $500. That can lower the collision or comprehensive portion of your premium, saving between 15 and 30 percent with some companies, according to the Insurance Information Institute. You could save up to 40 percent if you elevate that deductible to $1,000.

A higher deductible will mean more money out of your pocket if you need to make a claim, and that savings on the front end can become expensive should you cause an accident. (See "How much can I save by raising deductibles?")

With some savvy shopping, excellent driving skills, and good grades, your family can find the cheapest car insurance for your family.