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Although car insurance might not be your biggest expense, it certainly can eat up a sizable chunk of your budget. If you’re a 35-year-old driver in the U.S., for instance, we found you’re paying an average of more than $1,650 a year to insure your car. That works out to nearly $140 a month.
The price you pay for car insurance varies greatly, though, and can depend on factors such as your:
- Place of residence
- Driving record
- Accident and claims history
- Credit (except in states that ban the practice such as California and Massachusetts, among others)
- History of continuous auto insurance coverage
Those factors and others can account for a swing of hundreds of dollars one way or the other in terms of the premium you pay. For instance, having poor credit could push up your car insurance rates even more than causing an accident. A driver with bad credit pays about $320 more, on average, than a driver who recently caused an accident resulting in injury.
You can control some of the factors that generally affect your car insurance rates. As the Insurance Information Institute puts it, “When it comes to lowering your auto premiums, you’re in the driver’s seat.” One factor is how much you compare rates before buying a policy. Here’s a look at some cheap car insurance options.
Best Cheap Car Insurance Companies
Highlights: USAA offers highly competitive rates and often beats out other large insurers in head-to-head comparisons. In addition to great rates for good drivers, USAA has excellent rates for drivers who have gotten a speeding ticket.
Potential downside: You may not qualify for USAA insurance. You must be an active member of the military or a veteran, or an immediate family member, such as the child of a military member.
Highlights: Erie is another insurer that often offers rates that are among the lowest compared to large companies. Erie comes out as one of cheapest options for a variety of drivers, including drivers with a good record, those who have caused an accident and drivers with a DUI conviction.
Potential downside: You may not be able to get Erie insurance, depending on where you live. Erie is a regional insurer that operates in Washington, D.C. and Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Highlights: Geico is known for good rates and offers a ton of potential auto insurance discounts, ranging from military and good student discounts to price breaks for being a member of certain organizations such as alumni groups and professional organizations.
Drivers with poor credit should definitely take a look at Geico because other insurers will penalize poor credit drivers more.
Potential downside: Geico may not be competitive if you have a DUI on your record.
Highlights: State Farm has great rates for many drivers, including good drivers and folks who have gotten a speeding ticket.
Potential downside: Drivers with poor credit might not find a good deal from State Farm.
Tips for Getting Cheap Car Insurance
1. Go Shopping
Just as you can shop for bargains on clothes and appliances, you can shop for car insurance that’s cheap. Obtain multiple insurance quotes—at least three. Quotes are free and easy to get online or from an insurance agent. We found the difference between the highest and lowest average rate among companies surveyed for a safe drivers policy was about $1,130.
Check good prices against company reviews, so you’re not unwittingly buying poor customer service. The best car insurance companies combine good prices and great service.
2. Raise Your Deductible
If you buy collision and comprehensive coverage, you’ll be able to choose a deductible amount. This is the amount deducted from an insurance claims check if you make a collision or comprehensive insurance claim. For instance, if your insurer sends you a $5,000 claim settlement to repair your car after an accident and your deductible is $500, you’ll get a payout of $4,500.
Raising the deductible from, say, $500 to $2,000 will lower your car insurance premium.
3. Explore Discounts
Car insurers often offer a truckload of discounts.
You may, for instance, be able to score a “bundling” discount if you buy two or more policies from the same insurer, such as auto and homeowners insurance. A bundling discount can range from 5% to 25%, generally making it one of the best car insurance discounts you can qualify for.
Discounts for having no accidents, being a loyal customer and going with paperless billing are also common.
4. Shop Again if You Have Changes to Your Driving Record or Location
Even if you found a great car insurance rate when you had a good driving record, shop around again if you have a driving record change, such as getting a speeding ticket. The cheaper car insurance companies for good drivers may no longer be a cheap option when your circumstances change.
Moving is another good time to re-shop your insurance. You may find drastically different rates when you change location.
We averaged rates nationwide from 10 large insurers using data from Quadrant Information Services, a provider of insurance analytics and data.