inexpensive auto insurance -Cheap car insurance: What you should know

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inexpensive auto insurance -Cheap car insurance: What you should know

 

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Updated: Dec 1, 2023, 10:34am

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It’s essential to compare car insurance quotes if you want to find affordable rates, especially as car insurance costs continue to trend upward.

According to Forbes Advisor’s analysis, the cheapest car insurance companies of December 2023 are:

1. USAA
2. Auto-Owners
3. Westfield
4. Geico
5. Travelers

Cheapest car insurance by categoryCompanyAverage monthly cost
For good driversAuto-Owners$136
After a speeding ticketWestfield$167
After an accident causing an accidentAuto-Owners$179
After a DUIProgressive$231
If you have bad creditGeico$202
For SeniorsAuto-Owners$156
For teens & young driversErie$113
In some instances USAA was the cheapest, but the next-cheapest company is listed because USAA is only available to veterans, military members and their families.

Cheapest Car Insurance Companies of 2023

*USAA auto insurance is available only to the military, veterans and their families.

Cheapest Car Insurance Rates

How much you pay for car insurance will depend on a number of factors, including your age, claims history and driving record. The company that offers the cheapest car insurance for you can vary depending on the class of driver you fall into.

The Cheapest Car Insurance for Good Drivers: Auto-Owners

Auto-Owners comes in as the cheapest company for good drivers that is available to the general public. USAA auto insurance is a bit cheaper but is available only to those with a military connection.

The Cheapest Car Insurance After a Speeding Ticket: Westfield

speeding ticket will mean an insurance increase of about 21%, based on nationwide averages. Our analysis found the cheapest car insurance from Westfield, Geico and Auto-Owners, with USAA a top choice for people who qualify for USAA auto insurance.

The Cheapest Car Insurance After an Accident Causing Injury: Auto-Owners

USAA offers good rates to military members and veterans. For other drivers, Auto-Owners and Westfield had the cheapest car insurance in our analysis. Westfield is a regional insurer that serves 10 states in the Midwest.

Expect your car insurance rates to go up at renewal time if you have caused an accident, especially one that injured someone else. Nationally, the average rate goes up 40%, which translates to paying about $830 more per year compared to a driver with a clean record.

The Cheapest Car Insurance After a DUI: Progressive

Among the likely consequences after a DUI conviction is a higher auto insurance bill. Car insurance companies usually pull motor vehicle records before your policy renewal time to check for tickets and convictions, and then apply increases based on your record.

A DUI conviction leads to an average increase of 72% which translates into nearly $1,400 a year. Progressive and American Family had the cheapest rates in our analysis, with USAA a possible good option for military members and veterans who qualify.

The Cheapest Car Insurance for People With Bad Credit: Geico

Having poor credit can be one of the biggest hurdles to getting cheap car insurance quotes—even if you have an excellent driving record. Poor credit can cause higher auto insurance rates than having a DUI or at-fault accident on your record.

Average auto insurance costs go up 79% for drivers with poor credit compared to those with good credit. That comes out to over $1,500 more per year, on average.

With potentially exorbitant rates, it’s vital to shop around. Geico and Nationwide had relatively cheap car insurance for drivers with bad credit among the companies we analyzed. USAA is a good bet for military members and veterans.

The Cheapest Car Insurance for Seniors: Auto-Owners

USAA has the cheapest car insurance for senior drivers ages 70 and 80, according to our analysis. Auto-Owners is the cheapest for senior drivers without a military affiliation, which USAA requires. However, the best car insurance for seniors will vary based on where you live and your personal details, such as your driving record.

Our analysis found that senior drivers experience, on average, a 10% increase in their car insurance costs from age 60 to 70. By age 80, your rates may have increased 23% above the rate you were paying at age 70 and 34% more than your car insurance cost at age 60.

The Cheapest Car Insurance for Teens & Young Drivers: Erie

It’s hard to find cheap car insurance for teens because young new drivers pose a large risk to insurers. We found that adding a teenage driver to a parent’s policy will result in an average increase of $1,951 a year.

This amount typically doubles the parent’s auto insurance bill. But it is still usually less expensive to add a young driver to a parent policy rather than for the teen driver to get their own.

States With the Cheapest Car Insurance

Idaho is the cheapest state for good drivers with a cost of $1,021 per year. Vermont, Ohio, Maine and Iowa round out the top five cheapest states for good drivers.

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Cheapest Car Insurance by Age

Which company is the cheapest for car insurance varies by the driver’s age.

Travelers is the cheapest car insurance for drivers age 18, 25, 35 and 75, based on our analysis of auto insurance rates by age. Erie is the cheapest for drivers age 45, while Nationwide is the cheapest car insurance company for those age 55, 65 and 85.

AgeCompanyAverage annual rates
18Travelers$2,093
25Travelers$1,116
35Travelers$1,047
45Erie$992
55Nationwide$925
65Nationwide$933
75Travelers$1,071
85Nationwide$1,237

How to Find Cheap Car Insurance Coverage

Comparison shopping with various auto insurance companies is the most effective way to find cheap car insurance coverage.

Your first step is identifying the coverage you need. You want to shop for comparable policies, meaning precisely the same coverage, limits and deductibles. Otherwise, the policy you find that is super cheap may be so only because it consists of minimum coverage levels or high deductibles.

Get Quotes From Multiple Car Insurance Companies

You could possibly save hundreds of dollars a year by shopping around for auto insurance, so it’s worth the time to go online or call an agent for car insurance quotes.

Companies vary in how they calculate rates. Even if your driving record isn’t perfect—such as a record with a speeding ticket or accident—it’s smart to comparison shop to see if there are cheaper prices than what you’re currently paying.

The auto insurer that offers the best rates when you have a perfect record may not be the cheapest once you have a driving violation or at-fault accident on your record.

Review Your Auto Insurance Coverage

When was the last time you reviewed the coverage you carry on your car insurance policy? It’s wise to regularly review your coverage choices, limits and deductibles to verify they fit your current situation—or to change them if not.

You may be contemplating cutting back limits to save money in the short term, but doing so can leave you open to repair bills and lawsuits against you. Before lowering limits, look for other ways to save—such as cutting coverage you don’t need.

If you have coverage that you don’t use, such as roadside assistance or rental reimbursement insurance, determine if you should drop them to save money.

Related: Calculate Auto Insurance

Reconsider Your Deductible

A deductible is the amount your auto insurance company will deduct from a settlement check if you make a collision or comprehensive insurance claim. Raising your deductible can lower your collision and comprehensive coverage costs. Our analysis of deductibles found that you could save 9% on average by raising your deductible from $250 to $500 and 19% if you raise it to $1,000.

Review Car Insurance Discounts Periodically

Capturing every discount you’re eligible for can help you shrink the cost of car insurance.

Many auto insurance discounts are automatically applied to your policy when you obtain a quote but there are some you need to ask about. For example, if you now drive fewer miles annually because you have retired or work from home, you likely qualify for a low-mileage discount if you alert your insurer. 

Don’t hesitate to ask your insurance agent about other discounts you can earn by making changes. For instance, you may get a discount for going paperless. Your agent may also have other tips to lower car insurance costs beyond discounts.

Look for a Good Bundling Discount

You can normally obtain a bundling discount by buying auto insurance and another type of insurance from the same company. 

When you bundle auto and home insurance, you typically see a decent discount. The average bundling discount is 14%, according to our analysis. You can bundle car insurance with condo or renters insurance if you don’t own a home.

Change the Way You Pay for Car Insurance

Paying for your car insurance policy in full upfront results in a discount. If you cannot pay in full, you may still be able to nab a discount by paying your monthly bill through an electronic payment transfer. Ask your insurer about payment-related discounts to see which works best for you.

If your insurance company doesn’t offer many discounts, or the ones they provide don’t help your situation, it may be a good time to shop around for a new insurer. You may discover better discounts and cheaper car insurance by switching car insurance companies.

The Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in More Detail

USAA

Why we picked it: USAA earned the top score (5 stars) due to having the cheapest car insurance costs for most driver profiles, including good drivers and those with spotty driving records. USAA’s average cost for good drivers is $1,412 a year, which comes to $118 a month. USAA’s complaint level is only average.

It’s worth checking out USAA if you are eligible. You must be a military member, veteran or military family member to qualify for USAA auto insurance. 

ProsCons
  • Cheapest auto insurance for good drivers, according to our analysis.
  • Offers very affordable rates for drivers with a speeding ticket, accident or DUI on their records.
  • Good prices for drivers with poor credit compared to many competitors.
  • Offers reasonable rates for seniors and young drivers, two age groups that can be expensive to insure.
  • Not everyone is eligible for USAA auto insurance: Only veterans, active military members and their immediate families.
  • USAA’s complaint level is average, while many competitors have a lower level of complaints made to state insurance departments.
  • Collision repair experts surveyed by the CRASH Network gave USAA only a C grade for collision claims.

Discounts Available

USAA offers a wide variety of discounts, including:

  • Annual mileage discount: You may qualify for a discount based on the number of miles you drive per year.  
  • Bundling discount: Bundling your USAA auto and home policies can save you up to 10%.
  • Defensive driver discount: This is a discount for taking an approved course to improve your driving skills.
  • Driver training discount: Are you younger than age 21? Drivers under 21 can take a basic driving course and save money on their USAA auto insurance policies. 
  • Family discount: If your parents have USAA insurance, you can save on your premium. 
  • Good student discount: Ask about this discount if your high school or college-age child maintains good grades.
  • Length of membership savings: Look for this discount if you maintain coverage with USAA for several years. 
  • Military installation discount: You could save up to 15% on comprehensive coverage when you garage your car on your base.
  • Multi-vehicle discount: Look for this price break if you have two or more vehicles on a policy.
  • New vehicle discount: For cars that are 3 years old or newer, you can qualify for this discount. 
  • Safe driver discount: Having a good driving record for the past five years can earn you a discount.
  • Vehicle storage discount: You can save up to 60% on your auto insurance when you store your vehicle. This is especially useful for military members on deployment.

Auto-Owners

Why we picked it: Auto-Owners received 4.5 stars in part because of its especially cheap car insurance rates for drivers who have caused an accident that resulted in property damage or an injury to someone else. It also has cheap car insurance rates for many other types of drivers. The average cost for good drivers with Auto-Owners is $1,628 a year or $136 a month.

ProsCons
  • Cheap car insurance costs for drivers who have caused an accident.
  • Very competitive rates for good drivers and folks who have received a speeding ticket.
  • Gives a pretty good discount of 14%, on average, for paying in full for an auto insurance policy.
  • Low level of complaints about Auto-Owners car insurance made to state insurance departments.
  • Collision repair professionals gave Auto-Owners a B+ grade for its claims service in an annual survey by the CRASH Network.
  • There are cheaper car insurance options if you have a DUI or poor credit.
  • Costs for adding on a teen driver are only so-so.

Discounts Available

Auto-Owners provides a good mix of discounts for drivers, such as:

  • Advance quote discount: This discount is for new customers who request a quote before the effective date of their policy.
  • Good student discount: You may be eligible for up to a 20% discount if your high school or college-age driver maintains at least a “B” average.
  • Green discount: You’ll be eligible for this discount if you go paperless and pay your bill online. 
  • Life multi-policy discount: You can receive this discount if you bundle a qualified life insurance policy with your auto policy. 
  • Multi-car policies: You can get a discount if you insure two or more cars under the same policy.
  • Multi-policy discount: If you have other policies (such as a home insurance policy) with Auto-Owners, you can qualify for a discount on your auto policy. 
  • Paid-in-full discount: You’ll be eligible for this discount if you pay your annual premium in full and on time. 
  • Payment history discount: You can receive a discount if you paid your policy on time for the last 36 months. 
  • Safety features discounts: If you have safety features installed in your car, like airbags or anti-lock brakes, you could qualify for a discount. 
  • Student away at school discount: If your student attends school at least 100 miles from home without a vehicle, you may qualify for a discount. 
  • Teen driver monitoring discount: Ask about this if your car has a permanently installed GPS.

Westfield

Why we picked it: Westfield obtained 4.5 stars because of its cheap car insurance rates for many types of drivers—making it worth a look if it’s available in your state. Westfield also stands out for its very low level of complaints and a good grade from repair professionals on its collision claims process. 

Westfield’s average car insurance cost for a good driver is $1,759 per year or $147 a month.

ProsCons
  • Cheap auto insurance for good drivers and also people with an accident or ticket on their records.
  • Offers cheap rates for senior drivers and those with poor credit.
  • Has a very low level of complaints made about its auto insurance to state insurance departments.
  • Received a B grade from collision experts in a survey by the CRASH Network.
  • Offers various family discounts, including a discount for teen drivers in your household and adult children who are buying their own Westfield car insurance policies.
  • Highest average auto insurance cost for drivers with a DUI among the companies we analyzed.
  • Costs to add a teen driver to a policy are not competitive.
  • Only available in 10 states, mainly in the Midwest.

Discounts Available

Westfield offers its customers a wide range of ways to save money on car insurance costs, including:

  • Anti-theft devices discount: You may receive a discount if your car has an alarm, vehicle recovery system or other approved anti-theft device. 
  • Companion discount: When you buy your own Westfield car insurance policy, and someone in your household already has their own policy, you can save due to the companion car discount.
  • Defensive driving discount: You may be eligible if, within the last 36 months, you’ve completed an approved course to improve your driving skills.
  • Family discount:  Discount for an 18-year-old driver or under when the household’s policy has been in effect for three years and participates in Wespak or otherwise has multiple policies with Westfield.
  • Good student discount: If you have a full-time high school or college student under age 24 with good grades (3.0 GPA, dean’s list, honor roll or top 20% of class), you could be eligible for a discount.
  • Loyalty discount: If you’ve been with Westfield for a specific amount of time, typically over three years, you may see savings.
  • Multi-policy discount: If you buy both your auto and home insurance with Westfield, you’ll receive a bundling discount. 
  • Next generation discount: If you’re age 22 to 29 and buy your own Westfield car insurance policy and your parents have had a Westfield car insurance policy for at least one year, you’re eligible for a discount.
  • Preferred payment discount: You can save if you pay semi-annually or annually for your auto insurance policy.
  • Prior coverage discount: You may receive a discount if you’ve continuously had an auto insurance policy with your previous car insurance company for at least three consecutive years.
  • Resident student (“student away” discount): If a student on your policy is away at an educational institution over 100 miles from home and doesn’t have a car with them at school, you may receive a discount.
  • Safety equipment discount: You can save if your car is equipped with factory-installed certain safety features, such as anti-lock brakes. 
  • Senior driver discount: Drivers age 65 or older who drive less than 3,000 miles per year may receive a discount.

Geico

Why we picked it: Geico earned 4 stars and has the cheapest car insurance rates overall for drivers without a military affiliation, according to our analysis. Geico’s rating was dragged down a tad by its collision repair process and because many top competitors have lower levels of complaints. Still, for those on the hunt for cheap car insurance, Geico should be on your list for car insurance quotes.

Geico’s car insurance cost for good drivers is $1,716 per year or $143 a month.

ProsCons
  • Very affordable auto insurance rates for good drivers.
  • Has the cheapest rates for drivers with poor credit out of all the companies we evaluated.
  • Excellent car insurance costs for drivers who have a speeding ticket or were caught driving without insurance.
  • Offers great rates for seniors and young drivers, who can normally be very expensive to insure.
  • Geico’s car insurance rates for drivers with a DUI conviction are not the most competitive.
  • The level of auto insurance complaints against Geico is right around the industry average. Many top companies have lower complaints levels.
  • Collision repair professionals surveyed by the CRASH Network gave Geico’s collision repair process only a C- grade.

Discounts Available

Geico offers a wide range of discounts to help you save, such as: 

  • Anti-theft system discount: You can save as much as 23% on your car insurance with Geico if you have a built-in anti-theft system. 
  • Airbag discount: Save as much as 23% on your Geico auto insurance if your car has airbags. 
  • Anti-lock brakes discount: Receive a 5% discount for having anti-lock brakes on your car or truck. 
  • Accident-free good driver discount: You may earn a discount of up to 22% if your driving record is accident-free for the past five years.
  • Automatic payments (E-banking). If you can’t pay in full but enroll in automatic payments and paperless billing you can receive a discount.
  • Daytime running headlights discount: You could get a discount of 3% if your car has daytime running lights as part of its standard equipment. 
  • Defensive driving discount: If you complete a defensive driving course, you may qualify for a discount with Geico.
  • Driver’s education discount: If you have a young driver on your policy who completes a driver’s education course, you may be eligible for discounts on most of your coverage types.
  • Federal employee discount: Whether you’re an active or retired federal employee, you can receive up to 12% off your auto insurance premium. 
  • Good student discount: Drivers between ages 16 and 24 who are enrolled in school full-time might be able to receive a discount of 15% if they get a B average or better.
  • Homeownership. You can receive a discount if you own your primary residence.
  • Membership and employee discounts: Geico has partnered with more than 500 alumni associations, fraternities and sororities, and professional organizations to offer discounts to its members. 
  • Military discount: Retired military, active military members and members of the National Guard can save as much as 15% on their Geico car insurance policy.
  • Multi-vehicle discount: You can save up to 25% when you insure two or more vehicles with Geico.
  • Multi-policy discount: You can save when you bundle your auto insurance with other types of insurance you buy through Geico, such as homeowners, condo, renters or mobile home insurance. While Geico itself does not underwrite these other insurance types, they are available through the Geico agency.
  • New vehicle discount: You could save as much as 25% on Geico car insurance if your vehicle is 3 years old or newer.
  • Paid in full discount: If you pay your full car insurance premium upfront you’ll receive a discount.
  • Student away discount. Parents can see a discount for a student who is away at school more than 100 miles away from home without a car and who doesn’t come home and drive the car more than one weekend per month.

Travelers

Why we picked it: Travelers received 4 stars due to its overall competitive rates for many types of drivers, although it generally doesn’t have the cheapest auto insurance you can find. However, drivers who have poor credit should make sure to take a look at Travelers when shopping for better rates.

Travelers’ average cost for good drivers is $1,852 per year, which breaks down to $154 a month.

Discounts Available

Travelers Insurance offers a wide array of car insurance discounts for its customers, including:

  • Continuous insurance discount: Drivers with no gaps in auto insurance coverage may save with Travelers. 
  • Driver training discount: To encourage young drivers to work on their driving skills, Travelers offers a discount if your young driver takes a qualified training course.
  • Early quote discount: See savings if you get a Travelers auto insurance quote before your current policy with another company expires. 
  • ETF, paid in full and good payer discounts: You could receive discounts for setting up automatic payments, paying in full or always paying on time.
  • Good student discount: Do you have a high school or college student on your policy who maintains a “B” average or better? If so, you could qualify for an insurance discount. 
  • Homeownership discount: If you own a home or condo you can save on your auto insurance with Travelers.
  • Hybrid or electric vehicle discount: You may earn a discount with Travelers if you own or lease a hybrid or electric car.
  • Multi-car discount: This is a discount for customers who have multiple cars on one auto insurance policy.
  • Multi-policy discount: If you bundle your auto insurance with other types of insurance (like homeowners insurance), you can save on your auto insurance policy. 
  • New car discount: You could save for owning a newer model car that’s 3 years old or less.
  • Safe driver discount: Drivers with no accidents, violations or major comprehensive claims for the past 3 years may be eligible for a discount.
  • Student away from home discount: If you have a college student on your policy who goes to school at least 100 miles away and won’t be driving your cars, you could save on your auto insurance.

Methodology

To find the best cheap car insurance we evaluated companies based on the following factors.

Auto insurance rates (80% of score): We used data from Quadrant Information Services to measure average rates from each company for good drivers, drivers who have caused an accident, drivers with a speeding ticket, drivers with a DUI, drivers with poor credit and drivers caught without insurance. Nationwide averages are based on rates from large insurers.

Unless otherwise noted, rates are based on a 40-year-old female driver with a Toyota RAV4 and coverage of:

  • $100,000 for injuries to one person, $300,000 for injuries per accident and $100,000 for property damage (known as 100/300/100).
  • Uninsured motorist coverage of 100/300.
  • Collision and comprehensive insurance with a $500 deductible.

Complaints (10% of score): We used complaint data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Each state’s department of insurance is in charge of logging and monitoring complaints against the insurers that operate in their states. Most auto insurance complaints are about claims, including unsatisfactory settlements, delays and denials.

Collision repair (10% of score): We incorporated grades of insurance companies from collision repair professionals from the CRASH Network. Collision repair professionals deal with insurers and claim daily. They can see which companies try to cut corners on claims, and which insurance companies have processes that slow down the repair process.

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Cheap Car Insurance FAQs

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Information provided on Forbes Advisor is for educational purposes only. Your financial situation is unique and the products and services we review may not be right for your circumstances. We do not offer financial advice, advisory or brokerage services, nor do we recommend or advise individuals or to buy or sell particular stocks or securities. Performance information may have changed since the time of publication. Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Forbes Advisor adheres to strict editorial integrity standards. To the best of our knowledge, all content is accurate as of the date posted, though offers contained herein may no longer be available. The opinions expressed are the author’s alone and have not been provided, approved, or otherwise endorsed by our partners.

Penny Gusner is an insurance analyst for Forbes Advisor. For nearly two decades, she has been helping consumers learn how insurance laws, data, trends and coverages affect them. She enjoys translating the complexities of insurance into easy-to-understand advice and tips to help consumers make the best choices for their needs.

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