Compare car insurance quotes instantly (2021)

Freda Walters

MarketWatch has highlighted these products and services because we think readers will find them useful. This content is independent of the MarketWatch newsroom and we may receive a commission if you buy products through links in this article. What you pay for car insurance depends on things like your age […]

MarketWatch has highlighted these products and services because we think readers will find them useful. This content is independent of the MarketWatch newsroom and we may receive a commission if you buy products through links in this article.

What you pay for car insurance depends on things like your age and location, and prices can vary drastically between providers. That’s why it’s important to compare car insurance rates from multiple companies each time you shop.

In fact, it’s a good idea to compare car insurance quotes from different insurers every time your policy is up for renewal to make sure your current rate is still your most affordable option. In this article, we’ll cover how to find multiple quotes at once, why it’s a good idea to shop around, and how insurance rates can change based on personal factors.

We’ve reviewed the best car insurance companies to help drivers with different backgrounds find the best coverage. Use the free quote tool below to compare car insurance quotes from top providers in your area.

In this article:

  • Why compare car insurance quotes?

  • How to compare car insurance quotes

  • Compare car insurance rates by state

  • Compare car insurance quotes from top providers

  • Our recommendations for auto insurance

Why compare car insurance quotes?

The only way to make sure you get the best rate is to compare car insurance quotes from a few companies. We recommend comparing at least three quotes any time you shop. As you’ll see in a moment, car insurance premiums depend on a wide variety of factors that are unique to each driver. Based on your driver profile, what you pay for your policy is different from what your friends, family and neighbors pay for theirs.

Car insurance prices can also vary drastically between providers. By comparing multiple quotes, you’ll be able to see which insurer offers you the cheapest auto insurance. If you just get one quote, there’s no way to know if it’s a good deal.

Each company has a process for evaluating driver profiles and assigning rates. A speeding ticket may raise your annual premium cost by $500 with one provider and $1,000 with another, for example. On the other hand, one company may give you a good discount for owning a home, while another might not.

The first thing that affects your car insurance price is the level of coverage you want. Minimum coverage can be much cheaper than full coverage insurance. Here are some of the other main factors that affect car insurance quotes:

  • Driving history: Drivers who have violations and at-fault accidents on their driving records pay more. On the other hand, drivers with clean records can qualify for safe driving discounts from many companies.

  • Location: Cities and densely populated areas have higher rates of accidents and theft, so people living in these locations generally pay more for car insurance. Rates can also vary significantly by zip code.

  • Age: Teens and drivers under the age of 25 typically pay more for car insurance.

  • Credit score: Most states allow insurers to use credit scores as a determining factor when setting car insurance premiums. A poor credit record will typically increase rates.

  • Vehicle: Sports cars, luxury vehicles and cars with high rates of theft are more expensive to insure.

  • Homeownership: Renters may pay more for car insurance than homeowners.

  • Marital status: Married drivers usually pay less for insurance.

  • Gender: Your gender can affect how much you pay for coverage.

Comparing auto insurance discounts

Another important thing that can impact your rates is what discounts a company offers. Most companies offer about 10 to 15 discounts. Here are a few common money-saving opportunities you’ll find when you compare car insurance from a variety of providers:

  • Multi-policy discount

  • Multi-vehicle discount

  • Homeowner discount

  • Good driver discount

  • Good student discount

  • Driver’s education discount

  • Distant student discount

  • Auto-pay discount

  • Paperless billing discount

  • Military discount

  • Vehicle safety discount

  • New car discount

  • Teen driver discount

  • Low annual mileage discount

  • Accident-free discount

  • Defensive driving course discount

While discounts overlap between providers, the value of the discounts varies. For example, State Farm offers a student discount of up to 25%, which is the largest student discount of any leading provider. Geico offers a great multi-vehicle discount of 25%, and USAA offers a discount of up to 60% for military personnel who store their vehicles during deployment.

When you compare car insurance rates, be sure to double-check that you’ve provided complete information to take advantage of any discounts available. Be aware that you could also lose some discounts later on if the information you provided was inaccurate. For example, a usage-based program may reveal you drive more miles than you estimated, and you could lose a low annual mileage discount.

Also, if you plan on adding a teen driver to your policy in the near future, you’ll want to focus on auto insurance companies with good discounts for teens and students. Top providers usually list their discounts online, which is helpful when you’re shopping around.

How to compare car insurance quotes

So, how do you compare car insurance plans? There are a few ways to do so: You can go through an agent or deal with each company directly through a phone call or online quote request. You can also use a quote comparison tool, which is an efficient option if you don’t need help picking your policy. Here are some more details:

  • Independent agent: You can give your information to an agent who will shop around and get quotes for you. Overall, this can be more expensive than contacting a company directly, but you will get personalized service.

  • By phone: You can call individual auto insurance providers and receive quotes over the phone.

  • Online form submission: Most providers offer instant quotes through forms on their websites.

  • Online quote comparison tool: You can use a single free tool to compare rates side-by-side at the same time.

Whichever way you decide to compare auto insurance quotes, you should have the following personal information ready:

  • Year, make, model and vehicle identification number (VIN) for each car on the policy

  • Vehicle mileage

  • Address where vehicle is garaged

  • Vehicle ownership information

  • Names and birth dates for everyone on the policy

  • Driver’s license numbers and states of issue

  • Current insurance company and policy expiration

  • Current coverage limits

  • Driving history including tickets and accidents

Using a car insurance comparison tool is usually the quickest way to get prices from multiple companies. Instead of giving your information to each provider separately, you enter your information once and the tool retrieves quotes from many companies instantly. Most of these tools have the same function, but some may redirect you through a broker. You can use our free tool below to compare car insurance quotes directly from providers.

Compare car insurance rates by state

If you want to get an idea of what you may pay without comparing car insurance quotes, it can help to take a look at average rates in your state. Car insurance rates can vary significantly just based on location. Here were the top 10 most expensive and least expensive states in 2017 according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC):

Most Expensive States

Average Car Insurance Cost

Least Expensive States

Average Car Insurance Cost

Louisiana

$1,443.72

North Dakota

$659.94

Michigan

$1,358.62

Maine

$667.38

Florida

$1,356.90

Iowa

$674.33

New Jersey

$1,350.28

Idaho

$678.57

New York

$1,349.72

South Dakota

$693.42

Washington D.C.

$1,334.11

North Carolina

$705.56

Rhode Island

$1,300.60

Wisconsin

$731.20

Delaware

$1,221.29

Wyoming

$742.20

Connecticut

$1,168.33

Indiana

$744.39

Maryland

$1,149.42

Vermont

$762.59

Usually, states with higher population densities, more traffic and more miles of highway have higher car insurance rates. Insurance laws also differ by state, and that affects the price. For example, car insurance in Michigan was expensive for many years because the state required drivers to purchase a certain type of insurance with an unlimited coverage limit. The state changed the law in 2020, so average insurance prices should decrease.

California is a populous state, but it isn’t one of the most expensive overall. However, car insurance in California can vary widely depending on the area. Drivers in Los Angeles can pay much more than the average for the state, for example.

Compare car insurance quotes from top providers

Our top five picks for car insurance are Geico, USAA, Progressive, State Farm and Liberty Mutual. All of these providers offer affordable insurance on average, but some are better than others for certain drivers. According to our cost analysis, here is where each company shines:

  • Geico: Most affordable for the average driver

  • USAA: Most affordable for military members and their families

  • Progressive: Most affordable for high-risk drivers

  • State Farm: Most affordable for college students

  • Liberty Mutual: Most affordable for teenagers

You can compare auto insurance rates from each of these companies to see which offers the best deal for you.

Our recommendations for auto insurance

So, which car insurance is the cheapest? The answer depends. But our review team thinks Geico is generally the best option overall for pricing and coverage. If you are in a military family, USAA is a great option with high industry ratings.

Enter your ZIP code in the free tool below to compare car insurance quotes from leading providers.

Geico: 9.1 out of 10.0

Considering its strong reputation, affordable prices and wide range of coverage options, we selected Geico as the Best Overall insurer in 2021. Geico offers all the standard types of car insurance, plus extras like roadside assistance and mechanical breakdown coverage.

Geico has a wide range of discounts that many different drivers can qualify for, including a military discount and a federal employee discount. The company’s low prices may be one reason why it has a great industry reputation. Geico currently holds an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), along with an A++ financial strength rating from AM Best.

USAA: 9.1 out of 10.0

USAA offers a good number of discounts and a variety of resources for transitioning in and out of military life. Its car insurance coverage is only available to military members, veterans and their immediate family members.

USAA also has a great reputation among customers and industry experts, earning an A- rating from the BBB and an A++ financial rating from AM Best. This insurer has scored highly across multiple industry surveys, including the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction StudySM, in which it scored 890 out of 1,000 points. That means the vast majority of USAA customers are happy with the company’s claims service.

To compare the two providers, read our comprehensive USAA vs. Geico review.

Our methodology

Because consumers rely on us to provide objective and accurate information, we created a comprehensive rating system to formulate our rankings of the best car insurance companies. We collected data on dozens of auto insurance providers to grade the companies on a wide range of ranking factors. The end result was an overall rating for each provider, with the insurers that scored the most points topping the list.

Here are the factors our ratings take into account:

  • Reputation: Our research team considered market share, ratings from industry experts and years in business when giving this score.

  • Availability: Auto insurance companies with greater state availability and few eligibility requirements scored highest in this category.

  • Coverage: Companies that offer a variety of choices for insurance coverage are more likely to meet consumer needs.

  • Cost: Average auto insurance rates and discount opportunities were both taken into consideration.

  • Customer Experience: This score is based on volume of complaints reported by the NAIC and customer satisfaction ratings reported by J.D. Power. We also considered the responsiveness, friendliness and helpfulness of each insurance company’s customer service team based on our own shopper analysis.

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