Columbia vs. Nationwide: Which Company is the Best Fit for You?

So, you're in the market for a new car insurance policy. You may have even narrowed down your search to Columbia and Nationwide. But which of these two companies is the best one for you? Read on to find which carrier has the best rates and biggest discounts.
Newly insured car driving down the road
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Quick Facts

  • Looking at the national averages for auto insurance, Columbia offers more affordable prices than Nationwide
  • Columbia has less expensive premiums for policyholders who don't have any speeding tickets, DUIs, or at-fault collisions on their record
  • Nationwide may help you save more money -- they offer more discounts than Columbia Insurance Group

Columbia or Nationwide: Which Company has the Cheapest Car Insurance?

So, you're considering switching to a new insurance policy. After all, you've seen ads from all sorts of companies offering huge savings. But exactly how much can you save by switching?

You might have narrowed your search down to Columbia or Nationwide as your top options, but between the two, which one has cheaper rates for car insurance?

Columbia Nationwide

Looking at the national average rates for both carriers, Columbia is around $20 a month less expensive than Nationwide.

That being said, Columbia may not be the cheapest or best option for every driver out there. Auto insurance companies use tons of complex algorithms to determine prices, so depending on how good your credit score is or how clean your driving record is (among lots of other factors), you could see wildly different premiums from the ones above.

So, if you want to find out which of Columbia or Nationwide is really the best for you, keep reading to see average prices for each company broken down by several different rate factors.

Columbia vs. Nationwide: Average Car Insurance Rates by State

State Columbia Nationwide

Columbia and Nationwide only compete against each other in two states, with Columbia offering cheaper premiums to the average driver in all of them. Arkansas has the most noticable difference, where Columbia rates are $44 more affordable than insurance premiums at Nationwide.

That being said, there's a lot more that goes into your auto insurance cost than just the state you live in. Read on to learn more.

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Which is the Best Company For Young Drivers?

Columbia Nationwide
18-year-old drivers$324$380
25-year-old drivers$145$148

Young drivers -- especially teens -- normally pay a lot for insurance compared to older drivers. The reason is that teen drivers are statistically much more likely to get into accidents since they have less experience on the roads.

But still, even with seemingly sky-high prices, teen drivers can still find ways to save money. For example, 18-year-old drivers pay an average of over 15% less per month by choosing Columbia over Nationwide.

Even so, with both carriers, you'll see your rates decrease significantly once you turn 25. For example, average premiums for Columbia policyholders drop about $200 and Nationwide's rates reduce almost $250 over that time.

Which is the Best Company for Retired Drivers?

Columbia Nationwide
65+-year-old drivers$109$125

Drivers around retirement age typically enjoy some of the lowest car insurance prices out there. After all, they've likely been driving for quite some time, which usually decreases their chances of accidents and other infractions that can raise premiums.

When looking at Columbia and Nationwide specifically, which carrier is best for retired drivers? Columbia gets the edge, with prices for drivers 65 and older $16 cheaper than the national average for Nationwide.

Which is the Best Company for Married Drivers?

Columbia Nationwide

Married couples tend to get slightly more affordable auto insurance rates than those who are single. That's generally because married drivers tend to own and insure several vehicles, which can often earn you a discount.

For single policyholders, the difference in average prices between these two companies is significant, with Columbia premiums coming in at around 10% less than Nationwide's. The advantage for married policyholders with Columbia is also obvious, where drivers save more than 10% a month.

Columbia or Nationwide: Average Rates by Gender

Columbia Nationwide

Men are statistically more likely than women to get into collisions and file an insurance claim, which means they'll typically end up paying more for car insurance than women.

With Columbia, women generally pay nearly 10% per month less than men, and about 7% less with Nationwide.

When it comes to the most affordable rates for each gender, Columbia offers the lowest average premiums for both men and women, with average prices 11% less for men and 12% cheaper for women.

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Columbia vs. Nationwide: Compare State Minimum vs. Full Coverage Rates

Columbia Nationwide
State Minimum*$68$112
Full Coverage**$232$229

*State minimum value indicates liability-only policies at each state's minimum bodily injury and property damage (BI/PD) limits

**Full coverage indicates state minimum BI/PD limits with collision and comprehensive coverages added to policy.

Insurance can be a complicated subject for most people. Everyone needs auto insurance, but there are so many different terms and coverages that it can be hard to find the right policy for you.

The two most common policies that drivers look at fall into two categories -- liability coverage (which provides bodily injury and property damage coverage for other drivers and their passengers if you cause a collision) and full coverage (which usually refers to having collision and comprehensive coverages in addition to what you get with a liability policy).

When it comes to state minimum limits for liability insurance, Columbia has the edge, while Nationwide offers the most affordable average rates for full coverage policies with similar coverage limits. Policyholders looking for basic state minimum coverage can save around $45 with Columbia Insurance Group, while full coverage comes out to be around $3 less expensive with Nationwide.

Is Columbia or Nationwide Better for Drivers with Spotty Records?

It's no secret -- drivers with good records end up getting the best deals on their car insurance. But that's not to say you can't save money if you don't have the best driving record, either.

At-fault accidents and speeding tickets will most likely raise your prices, but is Columbia or Nationwide more affordable for drivers with spotty records?

Which Company is Best for Drivers with Speeding Tickets?

Columbia Nationwide
Clean Record$104$125
1 Speeding Ticket$118$149

Drivers who use Columbia for their insurance can normally expect their monthly bill to go up about 12% after getting a speeding ticket. Nationwide policyholders can expect a bit more drastic of an increase of around 16%.

But Columbia has less expensive rates for drivers in both categories, offering premiums that are 17% and 21% cheaper, respectively, compared to Nationwide.

Which Company is Best for Drivers After an Accident?

Columbia Nationwide
Clean Record$104$125
1 At-Fault Accident$142$178

Columbia policyholders who get in an accident can expect to see their rates increase by over 25%, while those who have insurance through Nationwide will see about a 30% increase.

At the end of the day, Columbia offers the cheapest premiums for drivers with an at-fault collision on their records, with average prices coming in at $142 compared to Nationwide's $178.

Which Company is Best for Drivers with a DUI?

Columbia Nationwide
Clean Record$104$125
1 DUI$236$230

If you get a DUI charge on your record, it's probably going to cost you more than a simple ticket or even a collision. For example, Columbia increases average premiums by nearly $150 a month -- that's more than a 55% increase.

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How does Credit Score Impact Columbia and Nationwide Rates?

Did you know many car insurance carriers take into account your credit score when determining prices? This isn't true for everyone (for example, California and Hawaii are two states that ban the practice entirely), but it does affect many drivers out there.

The reasoning insurance companies use is that policyholders with good credit will be more likely to pay their bills on time; so they'll reward them with cheaper rates, while those with poor credit will typically be forced to pay more.

Looking specifically at Nationwide and Columbia, which carrier has the lowest premiums for drivers at different credit levels?

Which Company is Best for Drivers with Good Credit?

Columbia Nationwide
Excellent Credit Score$138$133
Good Credit Score$141$153

Which Company is Best for Drivers with Bad Credit?

Columbia Nationwide
Fair Credit Score$147$179
Poor Credit Score$174$215

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Is Columbia or Nationwide Better for Drivers who Work from Home or Have Short Commutes?

Columbia Nationwide
6,000 Annual Miles$150$170
12,000 Annual Miles$150$171

The amount of time you spend behind the wheel of your car plays a big role in your monthly auto insurance payment. Generally, those who drive less will end up with more affordable rates since there's less of a chance of causing an accident and filing an insurance claim.

As you can see in the table above, annual mileage doesn't have much of an impact on how much Columbia charges. However, there's a small difference in monthly prices for Nationwide, with policyholders who drive the least paying around $1 less every month compared to those who drive 12,000 miles annually. Still, for drivers in both categories, Columbia is the cheaper company.

Columbia or Nationwide: Compare Rates for Urban, Suburban, and Rural Drivers

We've already mentioned how your home state can play a role in how much you pay for car insurance, but the type of area you live in can have a considerable impact as well. Usually, policyholders who live in heavily-populated urban areas will pay quite a bit more than rural drivers since there are a lot more cars on the road where they live, which increases the chances of an accident.

Columbia Nationwide
Urban Areas$169$199
Suburban Areas$152$159
Rural Areas$129$151

Columbia boasts the most affordable average prices for drivers in every type of area, no matter if it's urban, suburban, or rural.

Those in rural areas can expect to save about 15% with Columbia compared to Nationwide. People who live in suburban areas pay around 4% less with Columbia compared to Nationwide. For policyholders in urban ZIP codes, Columbia Insurance Group's average rates are about 15% less than Nationwide.

Columbia vs. Nationwide Discounts

No matter why you might be in the market for a new insurance policy, you're always going to want to save as much money as you can, and the best way to do that is by utilizing as many auto insurance discounts as possible.

But where do you even start? With so many discounts out there, it may seem difficult to find all the of the ones you can take advantage of.

Luckily, we did the hard work for you and looked at all of the different discounts Columbia and Nationwide offer their customers so that you can find the company that has the most discounts and, therefore, the largest savings.

Columbia Nationwide
ABS Discount 
Advance Quote Discount 
Agency Transfer Discount 
Anti-Theft Discount
Defensive Driver Discount
Distant Student Discount
Driver Training Discount
Education Discount 
EFT Discount 
Employee Discount
Good Driving Discount 
Good Student Discount
Group Discount 
Homeowner Discount
Intra-Agency Transfer Discount 
Life Policy Discount 
Multi-Policy Discount
New Vehicle Discount 
Paperless Discount 
Passive Restraint Discount

Nationwide blows Columbia away when it comes to the sheer amount of discounts available, offering 11 more discounts than Columbia.

Both carriers offer several of the same discounts -- like anti-theft discounts, distant student discounts, employee discounts, and multi-policy discounts -- but Nationwide also offers discounts for advance quote, agency transfer, EFT, and more.

On the other hand, Columbia has a few proprietary discounts of their own like ABS discounts and education discounts.

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Final Thoughts: Is Columbia or Nationwide Best for You?

So, we've broken down the average prices for many of the variables insurance companies look at, and walked through the different discounts each company offers, too. That's all well and good, but at the end of the day, is Columbia or Nationwide the best carrier for you and your specific driver profile?

Columbia might be best for you if....

  • You will be the only person on the auto insurance policy.
  • You have below-average credit.
  • You drive often but have a short commute.

Nationwide might be best for you if...

  • Your driving record includes a DUI charge.
  • You care about discounts (Nationwide offers the most).
  • You want the most robust protection via a "full coverage" policy.

Hopefully, this guide helps you get a good idea of the differences between Columbia and Nationwide and that it aids in making a more informed decision about your car insurance.

At the end of the day, the sure-fire way to make sure you're getting the best deal on your auto insurance policy is to compare quotes from a handful of carriers, not just Columbia and Nationwide. Luckily, sites like make it easy for you to do just that. Simply enter your ZIP code below and get free quotes from dozens of the top insurance companies in your area, all in just a few minutes.

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Columbia vs. Nationwide FAQs

Is Columbia or Nationwide cheaper?

Columbia is the less expensive of the two carriers when looking at national average premiums, with policies averaging $150 per month with Columbia and $170 for Nationwide. However, that doesn't mean Columbia will be the lowest carrier for each driver, since there are a range of different factors that are considered when it comes to your car insurance bill.

Who is better, Columbia or Nationwide?

Sadly, the real answer is "it depends.". One company is not necessarily "better" for everyone -- it all depends on what your unique auto insurance profile looks like.

Why do Columbia and Nationwide offer me different rates?

Car insurance companies use quite a few different variables when calculating the rates they charge. Factors like gender, your driving record, age, where your home is, and sometimes even things like your credit score can all be taken into consideration. Both Columbia and Nationwide calculate prices differently, so it's likely they'll offer different premiums. The best way to determine which carrier is the cheapest for you is by comparing personalized quotes from multiple different carriers.

How do I know if Columbia or Nationwide is right for me?

The only way to find the insurance company that's right for you is by getting quotes from multiple companies and finding the one best suited for your individual budget. Luckily, does all the hard work for you. Just enter your ZIP code and you'll get quotes from dozens of your local top auto insurance carriers for free. That way, you can guarantee you're getting the most affordable premium. And maybe you'll find that the best carrier for you isn't Columbia or Nationwide at all, but another you hadn't even thought of!


All of the data referenced in this article has been gathered in collaboration with Quadrant Information Services. We analyzed more than 2.5 million rows of carrier-reported data to calculate the average rates referenced above. All rates are based on an insurance profile of a single-vehicle policy for a driver that owns a 2016 Honda Accord. For more information on how we calculate rates, please reference our data methodology.

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