NextAdvisor is not a licensed insurance company, agency or broker and we do not sell, solicit or negotiate insurance. Our content provides summaries of insurance providers and/or products that may not include all terms, benefits or limitations of such provider or product. Please consult a licensed insurer or producer regarding any insurance product. Our site may include links that take you to another website and result in us earning a fee. However, our compensation is never tied to whether you purchase an insurance product. For more information, please see our Advertising Disclosure and How We Make Money.
Car insurance rates are hard to predict. Rates vary based not only on the insurance company’s risk appetite, what coverage you want, and the car you drive, but also where you live and even your credit score, as well as dozens of other factors.
But here’s the bright side: drivers who have a better understanding of how car insurance works tend to pay less, experts say.
“Your prices will be different even though your information is the same from almost every insurance company, so you should check many of them,” says Kyle Schmitt, vice president and managing director of insurance intelligence at J.D. Power. “It’s a matter of doing research, reading reviews, and getting down to which ones are most likely right for you.”
Your deductible can affect your car insurance rates. If you choose a higher deductible, your premium will be lower — and vice versa. However, you don’t want too high of a deductible, or it may be impossible to pay later on if you file a claim. Evaluate how much you can afford to pay out of pocket for car repairs before you pick your deductible.
Not only can some basic car insurance knowledge save you money, but it can also help you understand what you’re paying for and prepare you for the unpredictable. Some knowledge can go a long way, so here’s a breakdown of average car insurance rates for teens, younger drivers, adults, and seniors, plus average auto rates in every single state.
That way you can easily compare car insurance rates across different categories and get the cheapest price for you.
Minimum and Full Coverage Rates for Teens and Young Drivers
Your age is out of your control, but it plays a significant role in what auto rates you qualify for. Teenagers and young drivers, especially those under 25, generally pay more for insurance than older drivers. But there’s a logical reason behind that: young drivers have less driving experience and are at a higher risk for accidents. Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control shows car crashes are the second leading cause of death among teens.
An 18-year-old driver, for example, pays over $5,000 more per year for full coverage insurance versus a 25-year-old driver. Insurance companies vary in how they price policies for young drivers, but it’s generally less expensive for parents to add a teen to their auto policy compared to a teen purchasing their own policy, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
Below you can compare average annual rates for 16-year-olds, 18-year-olds, and 25-year-olds.
|Average full coverage premium||Average minimum coverage premium|
Minimum and Full Coverage Rates for Adults and Seniors
As you get older, your insurance rates tend to decrease — provided you have a good driving record. Older drivers can lower their rates even more in some cases by taking advantage of multi-policy and safe driving discounts.
Below you can compare average annual rates for adults and seniors.
|Average full coverage premium||Average minimum coverage premium|
Minimum and Full Coverage Rates by State
If you think you can get the same auto rate in two different states, think again. Rates can differ significantly across state lines, and even your ZIP code, local traffic, or the amount of crime in your area can influence your costs. Below you can compare average annual rates in every state.
|State||Full Coverage Premium||Minimum Coverage Premium|
|District of Columbia||$1,466||$744|
How to Shop for Car Insurance
Once you’ve done your research, the next step is finding the right car insurance policy for you. Here are a few steps to follow while shopping for car insurance, plus tips to ensure you find enough auto coverage for the best possible rate.
Gather Your Information
While you’re shopping for auto coverage, it’s best to have all your information ready to go, whether you’re getting a quote online or through an insurance agent. Generally, here’s the basic information you need to buy a car insurance policy:
- Names and dates of birth of all drivers on the policy
- Address where you plan to keep the car
- Driver’s license numbers of all drivers on the policy
- Driving records of all drivers on the policy
- Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) of all vehicles on the policy
- Proof of prior car insurance for all drivers on the policy
Figure Out the Minimum Auto Coverage You Need
Nearly every state has minimum requirements that you have to meet for auto coverage. In many states, this may only be liability coverage. But in some states, you may be required to carry liability and some other coverages like personal injury protection (PIP) or Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
Decide if You Want Extra Coverage
If you own a car, your state legally requires you to carry a certain amount of auto coverage. Once you’re past that minimum amount, it’s you to decide how much extra coverage you want or need. If you have an auto loan, most of the time, your insurance company will require you to carry full coverage (liability, comprehensive, and collision insurance).
The amount of auto coverage that you feel comfortable with depends on a number of factors, including what you drive, where you live, and how much you drive. Several experts we spoke to recommend getting enough coverage that you can reasonably afford. It’s never a good idea to forsake coverage for a lower premium if it means you’ll put yourself financially at risk when an accident happens, says Schmitt.
Once you have a good idea of what type of car insurance coverage you need, start comparing car insurance quotes among insurers.
You can get car insurance quotes a few different ways — either through a “captive” insurance agent who works for one company, an independent agent representing multiple insurance firms, a car insurer’s website, or by using an online comparison tool. Whichever route you take, comparison shopping is the best way to find out if your current insurer is offering the cheapest rate for you.
If you’re not getting the best rate for the amount of coverage you need, it’s time to switch.
“The quoting process has become infinitely easier over the past five to 10 years,” says Schmitt. “Today, you can go online and get quotes from four or five car insurance companies in about 10 minutes.”