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

If you're in the market for a new insurance policy, you might be wondering how Shelter and Columbia compare when it comes to the cheapest prices and biggest discounts. To find out which of these companies is the best fit for you and your wallet, check out our newest guide below.
Newly insured car driving down the road
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Quick Facts

  • Based on national averages for car insurance, Columbia offers significantly less expensive premiums than Shelter
  • Columbia offers more affordable average rates for residents of suburban areas
  • Columbia offers more affordable prices for policyholders who have a clean driving record, free of collisions, tickets, or DUIs

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

Are you in the market for a new insurance policy? With so many ads from all sorts of companies offering large savings, you're probably wondering exactly how much you might be able to save.

You've maybe even narrowed your search down to Columbia or Shelter, but between the two, which carrier will offer you cheaper premiums?

Columbia Shelter

Looking at nationwide averages, Columbia is quite a bit cheaper than Shelter, with rates averaging $150 a month compared to $208 with Shelter.

But Columbia may not be the lowest or best option for every driver out there. Insurance carriers vary their prices depending on things like how old you are, how good your credit score is, where you live, how clean your driving record is, and a ton of other factors, so rates will vary quite a bit from person to person.

Wanting to know if Columbia or Shelter is really the right carrier for you? Keep on reading to see how average premiums can change based on all of the factors we've mentioned above.

Columbia vs. Shelter: Average Car Insurance Rates by State

State Columbia Shelter

Columbia and Shelter only compete against each other in two states, with Columbia offering less expensive rates to the average driver in all of them. Arkansas has the most noticable difference, where Columbia premiums are $25 cheaper than auto insurance prices at Shelter.

But there's more to calculating car insurance premiums than just where you call home. Keep reading to learn more.

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Which is the Best Company For Young Drivers?

Columbia Shelter
18-year-old drivers$324$444
25-year-old drivers$145$197

You might already know that teen drivers usually pay a lot more for insurance than any other group of drivers. That's because teen drivers are statistically much more likely to cause collisions and other accidents that will result in an insurance claim.

However, that doesn't mean that teen drivers have to just accept sky-high car insurance rates. For example, 18-year-old drivers pay an average of over 25% less per month by choosing Columbia over Shelter.

That being said, with both companies, you'll see your prices reduce significantly once you turn 25. For example, average premiums for Columbia policyholders lower more than 55% and Shelter's prices decrease over 55% over that time.

Which is the Best Company for Retired Drivers?

Columbia Shelter
65+-year-old drivers$109$141

Once you approach retirement age, you'll normally enjoy the most affordable auto insurance rates you can find. You've been on the road for years, and all that experience pays off when it comes to your monthly premiums for car insurance.

So, which company offers the best prices to retired drivers? Columbia gets the edge, with rates for drivers 65 and older almost 25% more affordable than the national average for Shelter.

Which is the Best Company for Married Drivers?

Columbia Shelter

Married policyholders tend to get slightly cheaper auto insurance prices than single drivers. That's typically because married drivers tend to own and insure multiple vehicles, which can often earn you a discount.

For those who are single, the difference in average premiums between these two carriers is significant, with Columbia rates coming in at a quarter less than Shelter's. The advantage is also clear for married couples - Columbia offers the lowest average prices.

Columbia or Shelter: Average Rates by Gender

Columbia Shelter

Men tend to pay more for insurance than women. This is because men are statistically more likely than women to get into accidents and file an insurance claim, which leads to increased risk for insurers and, therefore, higher rates.

Usually, men see premiums nearly 10% a month higher with Columbia, and around 11% more with Shelter.

Looking at overall affordability, Columbia comes out on top for both men and women. On average, male drivers save about $65 per month and women save about $52 with Columbia compared to the average Shelter policyholder.

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

Columbia Shelter
State Minimum*$68$129
Full Coverage**$232$288

*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.

It's no secret that car insurance can be a complicated subject for most people. There are so many different coverages and terms that it can make it pretty confusing to find the right policy for you.

Even so, most policies that drivers look at fall into two categories -- liability coverage (that covers bodily injury and property damage for other drivers and passengers if you cause a collision) and full coverage (which includes two additional coverages -- collision and comprehensive -- in addition to what you get with liability).

Looking specifically at state minimum limits for liability insurance, Columbia has the significant edge, with average monthly rates coming in at $68. If you want a full coverage policy with the same state minimum limits, Columbia again has the edge, with policies averaging around $232 a month to Shelter's $288.

Is Columbia or Shelter Better for Drivers with Spotty Records?

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

At-fault collisions and speeding tickets will most likely raise your premiums, but is Columbia or Shelter more affordable for drivers with less-than-perfect records?

Which Company is Best for Drivers with Speeding Tickets?

Columbia Shelter
Clean Record$104$142
1 Speeding Ticket$118$181

Policyholders who use Columbia for their insurance can generally expect their monthly bill to go up about 12% after getting a speeding ticket. Shelter policyholders can expect a bit more drastic of an increase of around 22%.

But Columbia tends to offer the best prices for both drivers who have a recent ticket and those with clean records -- their rates are around 27% less expensive for drivers with clean records and 35% cheaper for those with a ticket.

Which Company is Best for Drivers After an Accident?

Columbia Shelter
Clean Record$104$142
1 At-Fault Accident$142$234

Columbia drivers who get in an accident can expect to see their prices rise by just under $40, while those who have insurance through Shelter will see about a $90 increase.

At the end of the day, the more affordable rates come from Columbia, with average premiums coming in at $142 compared to Shelter Insurance's $234.

Which Company is Best for Drivers with a DUI?

Columbia Shelter
Clean Record$104$142
1 DUI$236$277

If you get a DUI charge, you can expect some pretty significant increases in your monthly auto insurance bill -- usually a lot more than a collision or speeding ticket. For example, Shelter increases average prices by nearly $150 per month -- that's nearly a 50% increase.

But if you end up with a DUI charge and are looking for more affordable premiums, Columbia tends to be less expensive for the average driver, with monthly premiums coming in at around $236 to Shelter's $277.

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How does Credit Score Impact Columbia and Shelter Rates?

You may not have known, but your credit score can come into play when companies determine your monthly bill. This isn't true for everyone (for example, Massachusetts and Michigan are two states that ban the practice entirely), but it will come into play for many policyholders.

Insurance carriers argue that someone with good credit is more likely to pay their bills on time, which makes them less risky to insure. Because of that, drivers with good credit will often be rewarded with more affordable prices.

Looking specifically at Columbia and Shelter, which company has the best rates for policyholders at different credit levels?

Which Company is Best for Drivers with Good Credit?

Columbia Shelter
Excellent Credit Score$138$164
Good Credit Score$141$187

If you have a great credit score, Columbia will typically reward you the most. For drivers with "excellent" credit scores, Columbia comes in more than 15.85 less expensive. Drivers with "good" credit scores generally save about 25% with Columbia compared to average prices from Shelter.

Which Company is Best for Drivers with Bad Credit?

Columbia Shelter
Fair Credit Score$147$221
Poor Credit Score$174$261

Columbia typically offers lower premiums than Shelter when it comes to drivers with a below average credit score. Drivers with "fair" credit pay around 33% a month less with Columbia compared to Shelter, and those with "poor" scores normally save an average of about 33% monthly.

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

Columbia Shelter
6,000 Annual Miles$150$203
12,000 Annual Miles$150$214

Did you know that the amount of time you spend in your car have a sizable impact on your monthly rates? Typically, the more milage you drive, the more you can expect to pay for coverage.

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 Shelter, with policyholders who drive 6,000 miles yearly paying around $11 less every month compared to those who drive 12,000 miles each year. Still, for drivers in both categories, Columbia is the cheaper carrier.

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

Where your home is can play a big role in how much you pay for car insurance. Normally, policyholders who live in less densely populated rural areas will pay quite a bit less than urban drivers since there are a lot fewer cars on the roads where they live.

Columbia Shelter
Urban Areas$169$235
Suburban Areas$152$187
Rural Areas$129$203

Columbia boasts the most affordable average premiums for drivers in all areas, regardless of if they're urban, suburban, or rural.

If you live in a rural area, you can expect to pay about $129 a month with Columbia and $203 with Shelter. People in suburban areas pay a monthly rate of around $152 with Columbia compared to $187 with Shelter. For drivers in urban ZIP codes, Columbia's average rates are about $169 per month compared to Shelter's $235.

Columbia vs. Shelter 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. That's where auto insurance discounts comes into play.

But where do you even start? With what seems like a million different discounts out there, it may be difficult to find all the ones you're eligible for.

Luckily, we did the hard work for you and broke down all of the different discounts offered by both Columbia and Shelter so that you can easily see which company offers the most discounts and, therefore, the largest savings.

Columbia Shelter
ABS Discount 
Advance Quote Discount 
Anti-Theft Discount
Defensive Driver Discount
Distant Student Discount 
Driver Training Discount
Education Discount 
Employee Discount 
Good Driving Discount 
Good Student Discount
Homeowner Discount 
Multi-Car Discount 
Multi-Policy Discount
Paid In Full Discount 
Passive Restraint Discount

Overall, Columbia has a slight advantage when it comes to total number of discounts. Shelter offers a grand total of 10 discounts, while Columbia has 11.

Both companies offer a lot of the same discounts -- like anti-theft discounts, discounts for being a defensive driver, and discounts for being a good student -- but Columbia also offers discounts for ABS, distant student, education, and more.

On the other hand, Shelter has a few proprietary discounts of their own for things like advance quote discounts, good driving discounts, multi-car discounts, and more.

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Final Thoughts: Is Columbia or Shelter Best for You?

So, you've seen how different variables can affect your car insurance prices. We've broken down the different discounts each company offers, too. That's all well and good, but when it comes down to it, which insurance carrier is the best one for you, your vehicle, and your wallet?

Columbia might be best for you if....

  • You have less-than-stellar credit.
  • You want the most robust protection via a "full coverage" policy.
  • You want to save money while purchasing insurance for a teenager.

Shelter might be best for you if...

  • You have a more unique driver profile than those we mentioned above.

Hopefully, this guide helps you get a good idea of the differences between Columbia and Shelter. We also hope we've given you the information you need to make the best decision when it comes to your auto insurance.

But, at the end of the day, there's only one way to know for sure that you're getting the best possible deal on car insurance -- comparing quotes from multiple carriers, not just Columbia and Shelter. Luckily, sites like make it easy for you to do just that. Just 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. Shelter FAQs

Is Columbia or Shelter cheaper?

Columbia is the less expensive of the two carriers when looking at national average rates, with policies averaging $150 a month with Columbia and $208 for Shelter. However, that doesn't mean Columbia will be the cheapest company for everyone, since there are many different factors (things like gender, age, driving record, etc.) that play a role in how much you pay.

Who is better, Columbia or Shelter?

Sadly, the answer truly is "it depends.". One carrier is not "better" for everyone -- it all depends on the makeup of your unique car insurance profile.

Why do Columbia and Shelter offer me different rates?

Auto insurance companies use several different variables when determining the premiums they charge. Factors like where you call home, age, gender, where you park your vehicle, and sometimes even things like your credit score can all be used. Both Columbia and Shelter calculate rates using different formulas, so it's likely they'll offer different premiums. The best way to determine which company is the most affordable for you is by comparing personalized quotes from multiple different carriers.

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

The only way to find the car insurance carrier that's right for you is by getting quotes from a handful of companies and finding the one best suited for your individual budget. Luckily, does all the hard work for you. Just enter your information once and you'll get quotes from dozens of your local top auto insurance carriers for free. With those, you can guarantee you're getting the lowest premium. And maybe you'll find that the best company for you isn't Columbia or Shelter 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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