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Car Insurance

Learn everything you need to know about car insurance rates and coverage to save money on your policy today.

Anna Swartz 1600


Anna Swartz

Expert reviewed


Fabio Faschi - PLCS, SBCS, CLCS

Updated February 25, 2021|2 min read

Editorial disclosure

What is car insurance?

Auto insurance is essential financial protection for you and your car. It covers the costs if you cause a car accident that injures someone else or damages their property. It can also cover damage to your own car, either from a collision or another type of danger, like hail, fire, falling objects and theft. Car insurance can help pay for towing if you’re stranded by the side of the road, or for a rental car if yours is in the shop after an accident.

At least a minimum amount of car insurance is legally required in almost every state, but most drivers need more coverage than just their state’s requirements.

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How much does car insurance cost?

According to a 2020 report from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), the average car insurance premium was $1,134 a year (about $95 a month) . But car insurance rates can vary widely depending on factors like driving history and type of car. Your insurance company matters too — you can submit the exact same profile to three different companies and get three very different prices.

Car insurance rates are calculated based on factors like your age, claims history, location, even your credit score and marital status can affect your premiums. 

Car insurance rates by state

Accident rates, density and repair costs where you live will all go into calculating your premiums.

District of Columbia$1,466.27$744.18$497.81$224.28
New Hampshire$861.19$425.84$319.72$115.63
New Jersey$1,464.74$932.43$403.19$129.12
New Mexico$1,050.73$548.33$304.46$197.95
New York$1,485.58$869.13$437.13$179.31
North Carolina$838.61$371.51$333.60$133.49
North Dakota$808.90$303.66$263.72$241.51
Rhode Island$1,467.02$869.96$460.49$136.58
South Carolina$1,145.15$645.39$302.52$197.24
South Dakota$872.40$327.34$236.35$308.71
West Virginia$1,072.14$513.12$345.68$213.34
U.S. Average$1,133.92$611.12$363.08$159.72

Average car insurance costs per NAIC

Car insurance rates by coverage type

A car insurance policy is made up of different types of coverage. A “full coverage” policy is just one that includes collision and comprehensive coverage.


Average rates for coverage types per NAIC

Car insurance rates by age

Younger, less experienced drivers (under 25) are more likely to get in accidents and file claims, so they often pay the most for car insurance.

Female, age 18$4,682
Male, age 18$4,522
Female, age 30$1,136
Male, age 30$1,038
Female, age 70$838
Male, age 70$798

Average rates based on quotes from national insurers for sample driver profiles. Rates reflect a full coverage policy for a one-person household in Minneapolis, Minnesota, driving a 2014 Toyota Camry. Some discounts applied.

Car insurance rates by marital status

Even factors like your job, marital status, or whether or not you own a home can affect your car insurance rates. Single drivers tend to see slightly higher rates than married ones.

Woman, age 35, unmarried$1,389
Woman, age 35, married$1,384
Man, age 35, unmarried$1,432
Man, age 35, married$1,384

Rates based on averages of multiple quotes from national insurers for sample driver profiles. Rates reflect a full coverage policy for single-vehicle households in Minnesota. Some discounts applied.

What does car insurance cover?

Every car insurance policy is made up of different types of coverage that all provide different types of protection.

When you hear full coverage car insurance, that just means an auto insurance policy that includes a full range of protection for both you and your car.

Bodily injury liabilityInjury you cause with your carYou rear-end another driver and the impact gives them whiplash
Property damage liabilityProperty damage you cause with your carYou run a stoplight and cause an accident with another car, smashing their passenger-side door
Personal injury protectionMedical expenses for you and your passengers after an accident (required in some states)You live in a “no-fault state” and are injured in a car accident
Uninsured/underinsured motoristDamage caused by a driver who doesn’t have insurance, or whose insurance doesn’t fully cover repair costsYou’re t-boned by an uninsured driver and your car requires expensive repairs
ComprehensiveDamage not caused by a collisionAn icy tree branch falls onto your car’s roof, smashing it and cracking the windshield
CollisionDamage caused by a collision, no matter who was at faultYou backed into a telephone pole and cracked your rear bumper

Best car insurance companies

The best car insurance company isn’t always the one that offers you the lowest rates. When you’re choosing car insurance, weigh cost along with factors like claims satisfaction ratings and customer happiness.

Independent third-parties like J.D. Power, which rates insurance companies based on feedback from real customers, and A.M. Best, which scores insurance companies on their financial stability, are good places to look for help choosing the best company for you. Low rates are great, but you want a car insurance company that will be there to help you when you need to file a claim.

How to buy car insurance

Buying car insurance can seem intimidating, but it’s actually an easy process — you can probably do it in one afternoon.

All you have to do is follow these seven steps for simple shopping:

  1. Gather your info: Before you buy a policy you’ll need to know the make, model and VIN number for every vehicle you’re insuring, as well as the full names, birthday and driver’s license numbers for every driver on the policy.

  2. Understand auto insurance requirements in your state: Check the car insurance requirements where you live, but keep in mind most drivers need much more coverage than just the state minimums. Those should be a starting point, not a shopping guide.

  3. Understand liability coverage levels: Liability coverage pays for any damage or injuries you cause while driving. While paying for hundreds of thousands of dollars of coverage may sound excessive, remember that repair costs, medical bills and legal fees can add up after an accident.

  4. Consider additional coverage: Comprehensive and collision coverage pay for damage to your vehicle, and make sense for most drivers. Think about what other protection you want to add to your policy, like roadside assistance or new car replacement coverage.

  5. Compare quotes online: Getting quotes from different car insurance companies is an easy process, but you should compare more than just cost. Independent reviews can also help you figure out if you’re getting quality coverage. Learn more about comparing car insurance quotes.

  6. Pick a policy: Once you settle on a policy, you can buy it and set it to go into effect as soon as you need, whether it’s a month away or a day away.

  7. Cancel your old coverage: Wait until after you’ve purchased a new policy before you cancel your old one, and make sure they start and end on the same day so you don’t have a gap in coverage.

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Frequently asked questions

Why did my car insurance rates go up?

Your rates may be going up because you had an accident, filed a claim or added a new driver to your policy. Sometimes, your rates may rise because of changes in the industry. Remember, if you’re not happy with the cost of your car insurance, it never hurts to shop around for new coverage.

Who has the cheapest car insurance?

Since auto insurance rates are so personalized, the cheapest car insurance company might be different for every driver. That’s why it’s so important to shop around and compare quotes from different companies before you settle on a policy.

What age does car insurance go down?

Younger, inexperienced drivers pay more for car insurance because they’re riskier to insure. But rates for teen drivers drop over time until age 25, as long as they avoid accidents.

Can you get car insurance without a license?

It might be tricky — you need a driver’s license to apply for car insurance. But in some unique cases, you may be able to buy a car insurance policy without a license as long as you won’t be the one driving the car, like if you own a car but a caregiver or relative will be the one driving you around.