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by Nick Versaw Updated October 4, 2021

Everything You Need to Know About Auto Insurance

There’s a lot that goes into determining your auto insurance rates, and often, those factors vary from insurance carrier to insurance carrier.  One insurance company may raise your auto insurance rates for simply living in a high-crime area, while another insurer might weigh the type of car that you drive more heavily. Since insurance companies have different rating scales, insurance risk is often viewed differently across different carriers.

Factors that affect an auto insurance quote include:

Demographic categories like age, gender, marital status, and education level may influence your auto insurance quote because insurers use statistics to predict how likely it might be for you to get into a collision or end up with a ticket. For example, teen drivers tend to have higher auto insurance rates because they tend to be more likely to get into fender benders or get speeding tickets.

The make and model of car you drive, and whether it has features like safety equipment and GPS, will also affect your auto insurance quotes. That’s because vehicles with expensive safety features and high-end production costs tend to cost more to repair should you get into an accident.

The level of coverage you choose also affects your auto insurance rates. A general rule of thumb: the more coverage you require, the higher the cost of your premiums.

Your driving record, and how often you drive, will also make a difference in your auto insurance quote.  Typically, a driving history with accidents and speeding tickets most likely will raise your auto insurance rates. Since you’re more likely to catch a citation or get into an accident when you’re driving more miles, many insurance carriers will also charge more for drivers who have long commutes or travel often by car.

Your auto insurance history is also an important factor for insurance companies, and they’ll often look at the following to take into account:

Your credit score could also affect your auto insurance rates. Insurance carriers will sometimes charge drivers with poor credit higher rates since they might be more likely to get into an accident and file a claim. However, if you live in California, Hawaii or Massachusetts, you’re in luck since insurers are not allowed to factor in credit scores when calculating your auto insurance quote in those states.

Auto Insurance Quotes for Young Adults

There’s a lot to take into account when you’re in your 20s. And while there are many big life decisions that can affect you and your financial situation — worrying about car insurance shouldn’t be one of your stresses.

It’s our job to make sure that shopping for your next auto insurance policy is simple, straightforward, and most of all, is a time and money-saving process. Below are a few considerations and discounts to take into account when you’re getting started on finding great auto insurance rates.

Online Auto Insurance Quotes: Getting Started

Comparing auto insurance rates online is easier than ever, but you can simplify the process even further by prepping some information in advance.

  • Date of birth, driver’s license number, and address for anyone who will be on the auto insurance policy
  • Driving history, which you can acquire from your state’s DMV
  • Insurance history for any policyholders
  • Make, model, year, and VIN for vehicles you want to insure
  • A payment method
  • As you chat or email with an agent, having these details ready will save time and reduce potential frustration. That way, you can focus on finding the right auto insurance company and policy at a rate that fits your budget.

    Next, it’s time to gather your quotes. Whether you shop online or over the phone, be sure that you:

  • Narrow your search to the best auto insurance companies. Check online reviews for customer comments and complaints—doing so can prevent hassle and headaches in the future.
  • Request quotes from at least three companies.
  • Understand what you get for your rate. Compare each policy’s liability limits and coverage. With the right research, you can often find better coverage for less.
  • What Rates Can You Expect?

    As we mentioned above, auto insurance rates can vary wildly based on things like your age, gender, where you live, and your driving record. Take a look at the tables below to get a better idea of what you might be asked to pay. And if you'd rather save time and get more personalized quotes, simply enter your ZIP and be well on your way to comparing multiple quotes in just a few minutes.  

    Average Car Insurance Costs Per Month

    Man paying for car insurance
    2021 Car Insurance for Young Drivers
    Age Avg. Monthly State Minimum Rates Avg. Monthly Full Coverage Rates
    20 $151 $306
    21 $135 $274
    22 $117 $274
    23 $108 $223
    24 $102 $209
    25 $95 $196
    2021 Car Insurance for Teens
    Age Avg. Monthly State Minimum Rates Avg. Monthly Full Coverage Rates
    18 $192 $369
    19 $176 $343
    2021 Car Insurance for Middle Age & Senior Drivers
    Age Avg. Monthly State Minimum Rates Avg. Monthly Full Coverage Rates
    40 $72 $139
    45 $69 $133
    50 $63 $124
    55 $61 $117
    60 $61 $117
    65 $58 $112
    70 $62 $120
    2021 Car Insurance Rates by State
    U.S. State (Cheapest to Most Expensive) Avg. Monthly Premium
    Idaho $48
    Iowa $50
    South Dakota $51
    Maine $52
    North Dakota $53
    North Carolina $55
    Wyoming $55
    Wisconsin $55
    Indiana $55
    Vermont $57
    Nebraska $57
    Montana $58
    Kansas $58
    Ohio $59
    Alabama $60
    Arkansas $61
    Tennessee $62
    Missouri $62
    Virginia $63
    New Mexico $64
    Hawaii $64
    New Hampshire $65
    Utah $65
    Minnesota $66
    Kentucky $67
    Illinois $67
    Oklahoma $69
    Mississippi $69
    Oregon $69
    California $70
    Arizona $70
    South Carolina $71
    West Virginia $71
    Colorado $71
    Alaska $73
    Pennsylvania $73
    Washington $74
    Georgia $75
    Texas $78
    Nevada $82
    Maryland $85
    Connecticut $87
    Massachusetts $88
    Delaware $96
    Rhode Island $96
    Florida $99
    Washington D.C. $99
    Michigan $103
    Louisiana $103
    New York $103
    New Jersey $106

    Why Compare Auto Insurance Rates?

    Our users save an average of $720 a year!

    Every car insurance company in the U.S. claims they can save you money on your car insurance. The surprising thing is that many of them may be telling the truth.

    To make sure you’re saving the most on your coverage policy, experts recommend getting at least 4 auto insurance quotes. With Compare.com, you get 4 or more locked in rates in just minutes. Start your free online quote comparison today!

    What Coverage is Required in Your State?

    State Minimum Coverage

    If you’re looking for the cheapest auto insurance, what you need is state minimum coverage. A plan that meets the state minimum requirements will give you basic protection and allow you to drive legally.

    The minimum auto insurance laws vary a lot depending on where you live. Most states require bodily injury liability and property damage liability. Some require uninsured & underinsured motorist coverage, medical payments, or personal injury protection (PIP).

    If you’re not sure what’s required in your state, don’t stress. We have the answers broken down for every single state -- just click here to find your state's requirements. Or, just compare quotes on Compare.com! If you choose state minimum as your desired coverage level, we’ll only show you insurance policies that meet those requirements.

    Keep in mind that state minimum coverage does not include comprehensive/collision insurance. This means that you won’t have any protection if your vehicle gets damaged by an at-fault collision, a single-car accident, bad weather, or other circumstances when another driver’s not at fault.

    What's the Difference Between Auto Insurance Coverages?

    Man considering his options

    Buying auto insurance can seem really complicated. There are so many options… Do you really need full coverage? How can you minimize your costs and still make sure you’re protected?

    It’s simpler than you think. Choosing auto insurance coverage is a little bit like choosing an outfit. You don’t want to overdress, but you want to make sure all the important parts are covered. The goal is to be ready for whatever comes your way! We’ll walk you through the different pieces of your policy.

    Liability Coverage

    What is liability coverage? It’s the part of your car insurance that protects others. If you’re at fault in a collision, your liability insurance can pay the costs for the other people involved, if they’re hurt or if their vehicle is damaged. But liability coverage also protects you financially. If you don’t have it, or if you don’t have enough coverage, you may be personally responsible for paying for other people’s damages out of pocket.

    There are two parts of liability coverage. Bodily injury liability is the amount your policy will pay out per person or per accident for injuries in an accident where you are at fault. Property damage liability is the amount your policy will pay for damage to other people’s property (usually their vehicle) in an accident where you’re at fault.

    In your car insurance policy, you might see your liability limits written like this: 50/100/50. These numbers are shorthand for $50,000 in bodily injury liability per person, $100,000 in bodily injury liability per accident (for everyone who was injured), and $50,000 for property damage liability.

    How much liability coverage do you need? The average property damage liability claim was $3,841 (in 2018), while the average bodily injury liability claim was $15,785. Those are just averages, however. If you’re at fault in a multi-vehicle accident, or in a collision that causes serious injuries, those claim amounts could be much, much higher.

    Read more: What Does Liability Insurance Cover?

    Collision Coverage

    Just as property damage liability pays for damage to other people’s cars, collision coverage pays for damage to your car after an accident. It only covers the vehicle you’re driving — not passengers or other drivers.

    The average collision claim, according to the Insurance Information Institute, is $3,574. Collision coverage typically includes a deductible, which you have to pay out of pocket before insurance covers the rest of your costs. The easiest way to reduce the cost of collision insurance is to opt for a higher deductible, as long as you can afford it.

    Collision coverage isn’t mandatory unless you have a car loan and your lender requires it. However, it’s usually a good idea to carry this protection! If your car gets totaled in a wreck where you’re at fault and you have collision coverage, then you’ll get a check for your car’s actual cash value (minus the deductible). If you don’t have collision, then you’re out of luck.

    Read more: What Is Collision Insurance and What Does It Cover?

    Comprehensive Coverage

    Comprehensive coverage pays for damage to your vehicle that’s caused by something other than a collision. You can think of it as the “what-if?” part of your car insurance policy: What if your car gets stolen? What if a tree falls on your truck? What if your vehicle gets damaged in an earthquake, or a hurricane, or a tornado? In all these scenarios — and many more — comprehensive coverage can pay for the damage.

    Comprehensive coverage is optional. It’s good to have, however, just in case something unexpected happens to your vehicle. And cheap comprehensive coverage is easy to find. On average, it costs around $13 per month.

    Read more: Comprehensive Car Insurance Coverage: What You Need to Know

    Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Protection

    Did you know that around 13% of drivers on the road have no auto insurance at all? In some states, like New Mexico, Michigan, and Mississippi, more than 20% of drivers are uninsured. If you’re unlucky enough to get hit by an uninsured driver, that means you’ll have to pay for your own injuries or vehicle damage. Sure, you can sue an uninsured driver, but the chances of recovering enough money can be slim.

    This is why it’s important to carry uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage as part of your car insurance policy. Uninsured motorist protection can pay for your losses if you’re hit by an uninsured or hit-and-run driver. Underinsured motorist protection covers damage over and above what a driver with state minimum insurance (or another bare-bones policy) can pay.

    Twenty states and Washington, D.C. require uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Even if it’s optional where you live, it’s a good idea to have this coverage.

    Read more: Considering Uninsured Motorist Coverage?

    Medical Payments Coverage

    Medical payments, also known as Med Pay coverage, can pay for medical expenses for you and your passengers after an accident, no matter who was at fault. Sounds good… but do you need Med Pay if you also have health insurance? Yes! Med Pay coverage can be very helpful because it pays for deductibles, copays, and coinsurance — all the medical expenses you’d normally have to pay out of pocket. It also pays your bills quickly, without a lot of wrangling and waiting.

    Medical payments coverage is optional in most states, but it’s a useful and inexpensive addition to your car insurance.

    Read more: What is Med Pay Coverage?

    Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

    Personal injury protection, also called PIP insurance or no-fault insurance, can cover certain expenses for you and your passengers if you’re hurt in a car accident. Just like Med Pay, PIP can pay for medical bills. However, PIP also covers other costs that arise after an accident, such as legal fees, lost wages, household help, child care and funeral expenses.

    PIP is required in no-fault insurance states. In these states, it doesn’t matter who caused an accident with minor injuries. Each person involved uses their own PIP insurance to cover their medical and other expenses. PIP is required in a few other states, optional in some, and not available in others.

    Read more: What is Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance?

    Auto Insurance Discounts

    Saving money

    You might be eligible for several car insurance discounts without even trying — savings for things like maintaining a good driving record, having certain safety features in your car, being a member of an alumni or professional group, or owning a new vehicle. Savings vary, of course, and not all discounts are available in all states.

    Here are a few that can potentially offer big savings:

    Multi-Car Discounts

    A multi-vehicle discount is one of the best ways to save on auto insurance. Many insurance companies offer savings of as much as 20-25% just for insuring more than one vehicle on the same policy.

    You can earn a multi-car discount if you personally own more than one vehicle; if you get married and get a joint car insurance policy with your new spouse; or if you share auto insurance with someone in your family.

    You may even be able to share a car insurance policy with a roommate, as long as you park both your cars at the same address. Then you’ll both reap the benefits of a cheaper auto insurance policy. (Just be aware that if you share a policy with someone who has a bad driving record or a lot of claims, your rates might go up.)

    Read more: Compare Multi-Car Insurance Quotes Online

    Multi-Policy Discounts

    Another easy way to get cheaper car insurance is to use the same insurer for your auto and home insurance or renters insurance. When you bundle your policies, you can often earn a big multi-policy discount.

    Read the fine print first, however! An insurance company might advertise a multi-policy discount of up to 25%, but what they really mean is that you’ll save 25% on your home insurance — and 15% on your auto policy. And while it can be convenient to use the same company (or two affiliated companies) for both policies, that also can make it harder to leave your insurance company if you find a better deal by shopping around and comparing quotes.

    Read more: How To Bundle Home and Auto Insurance

    How To Get The Best Auto Insurance Rates

    Make sure you’re saving the most by avoiding these common auto insurance pitfalls.

    number 1

    Update your relationship status.

    Married drivers typically pay less for car insurance. Combine your auto insurance policies and you could be saving approximately 10 to 12 percent.

    *Edmunds estimates the average savings for married couples is 10-12 percent. On average, a 20-year-old female pays 22 percent less when she is married.
    number 2

    Don't forget you're a homeowner.

    If you own a home, you could be saving up to 3 percent on your auto insurance policy. Want to save even more? Bundling your home and auto insurance can save you up to 8 percent on your current coverage costs.

    *Data provided by ValuePenguin
    number 3

    Be aware of how your credit score affects your insurance rate.

    Those with average credit scores paid $214 a year more on their auto insurance policies than similar drivers with high credit scores.

    *Data provided by Consumer Reports
    number 4

    Don't over-report your mileage.

    Do you commute? Use your car for pleasure only? If you've started driving less since the last time you reported your mileage, recalculate. It could reduce your premium by 5-10 percent.

    *Data provided by Consumer Federation of America
    number 5

    Research multiple car insurance companies.

    With hundreds of auto insurance companies in the U.S. market, shopping around to compare cheap car insurance rates could save you over a thousand dollars a year. Get started now on Compare.com.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Why is auto insurance important?

    It already costs a lot to own a car and maintain it. “So why do I have to have car insurance?” you wonder. Well, that’s because accidents can be hugely expensive. One misjudged merge on the highway, and suddenly two vehicles are totaled and three people are in the hospital with injuries. You probably don’t have a few hundred thousand dollars (or more!) to pay for the damage, the medical bills and the legal fees if you get sued.

    That’s why it’s important to have auto insurance. Your liability insurance protects you in situations like this, because it can pay for other people’s financial losses. And it’s required by law! To legally drive your vehicle, you need to carry at least state minimum insurance.

    What's the best car insurance company overall?

    It would be a lot easier to shop for car insurance if there were just one answer. But the truth is, there’s no single car insurance company that’s best for everyone. “Best” can be measured in many different ways.

    Do you want to know which auto insurer has the highest customer satisfaction ratings? Look at the annual J.D. Power Auto Insurance Study, which lists the top-ranked insurance companies in every region of the United States. Or, are you looking for the insurer that offers the best value? If so, compare auto quotes to find the best deals, then read reviews to make sure you’re getting good coverage and service for the money.

    What is the cheapest auto insurance company?

    A better way to ask this question: “What’s the cheapest auto insurance company for me?” The answer changes for different types of drivers. For example, GEICO may advertise savings of 15% or more, but those deals may only be relevant for drivers with perfect records. If you drive infrequently, Metromile’s pay-per-mile insurance might be the least expensive option — but high-mileage drivers won’t qualify. Where you live matters too: the cheapest auto insurer in Maryland might not have the best rates in Montana.

    Here’s one tip: When you’re searching for the cheapest car insurance, don’t overlook the little guys. The biggest insurers can spend more than $1 billion in advertising in a year, and those costs are passed along to customers. Smaller, regional insurance companies don’t pour as much money into marketing. As a result, they may offer lower rates.

    What are good ways to save on auto or car insurance?

    We’re so glad you asked! The number-one way to save is to compare auto insurance quotes. Looking at real-life quotes side by side will show you the range of possible premiums and tell you which companies are offering the best deal. Then, you can take a hard look at your insurance needs. You can save money on your auto insurance by raising your deductible; by lowering your coverage limits; and by getting rid of extra coverage, such as roadside assistance or rental-car coverage. Lastly, don’t forget about discounts. Every little bit helps, so ask your insurer about discounts for anti-theft and safety features, automatic billing, etc.

    Read more: How to Lower Your Car Insurance the Right Way

    How do I know who is the best auto insurance provider for me?

    Our best advice is to figure out what’s most important to you when you’re buying car insurance. Is it saving money? Then you’ll want to compare quotes and just pick the cheapest option. Is it customer service? Then read customers’ reviews of their insurance companies to find out which ones are most responsive and helpful. Do you like having a real, live person to help you instead of a chatbot? Then consider an insurer that has dedicated agents to assist with your policy.

    The only real rule is this: If you’re less than thrilled with your current insurer, then switch! Compare.com makes it easy.

    Learn More & Save More on Auto Insurance