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How much is car insurance?
The average cost of auto insurance in the U.S. is around $1,099 per year but depends on factors about you, your car, and where you live.
If you’re wondering how much car insurance is going to cost you, well, the answer is “it depends.” Rates are based on your zip code, driving record, age, marital status, credit score, choice of ride, how much coverage you decide to buy and a bunch of other things, so, unless you’ve entered most of that info to compare car insurance quotes, it’s hard to estimate for sure.
But if you’re just trying to get a ballpark figure about how much people pay for coverage, you’re in luck. The average cost of auto insurance in the U.S. is around $1,099 per year (or about $92 per month), according to a report from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The report, from December 2017, comprises the NAIC’s most recent data.
Per NAIC, Americans pay around $538.73 a year for liability insurance (which includes bodily injury liability and property damage liability), $322.61 for collision coverage, and $148.04 for comprehensive coverage. If you have no idea what any of that jargon means, we have a handy explainer on how car insurance works. Some of the other components of car insurance include personal injury protection (PIP), which protects you and your passengers, and uninsured motorist coverage, for when the other party doesn't have insurance coverage.
In almost every state, driving without at least some insurance is illegal. You can go here to find out exactly how much car insurance is required in all 50 states.
There are state-mandated car insurance discounts for certain safety features, rate increase approvals and limits on what factors can be used to set premiums. But it’s not just laws driving state-by-state differences in car insurance rates. Insurance companies may charge higher prices in places where people are filing more claims. And if a state’s densely populated, crime rates are high, the weather’s consistently bad and/or its highways are mess, well, then, there’s a good chance people are filing claims on the reg.
So where is car insurance likely to cost you? Below is a breakdown of the average annual cost of car insurance by state, courtesy of the NAIC report. The NAIC’s methodology folds average premiums for personal injury protection (PIP) coverage into its average for liability coverage, but it is possible, depending on your coverage needs, to get lower premiums by reducing coverage in either liability or PIP.
|District of Columbia||$1,330.73||$628.82||$468.67||$233.24|
As you can see, car insurance rates are determined by many different variables. There’s not a lot of rhyme or reason to why these states yield the highest auto insurance rates, and it’s possible that other states will take their place the next time insurers update their rates.
|District of Columbia||$1,330.73||$628.82||$468.67||$233.24|
The cheapest states for car insurance are generally among the least densely populated. Plus, state car insurance minimums are largely less intense. Idaho, for instance, doesn’t mandate PIP or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
Because no state mandates that you buy collision or comprehensive insurance, you may be able to get away with buying only liability insurance. You could save hundreds of dollars per year on your premiums that way. However, this means you could be on the hook for tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars out of pocket, so in the long run buying cheap car insurance may not be the most cost-effective option.
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There are over a dozen factors that go into determining your car insurance rates. While each company will have their own list of factors and their own formula for assessing risk, there are a few standard factors that you can expect to be taken into account no matter where you’re shopping for auto insurance.
Here’s a breakdown of the big factors that determine your car insurance rates:
Typically, car insurance companies look back at about five years of driving history when determining your rates. You can see what they see by ordering your Motor Vehicle Report (MVR) from your state’s driver’s license agency. Each state’s DMV will have their own fees for ordering an MVR, but it should be relatively cheap. Contact your local DMV office for more details.
If you’ve got a clean driving record, you’re seen as less of a risk. If you’re one moving violation from having your license revoked, you’re seen as a big risk. Low risk, lower rates. High risk, higher rates. It’s pretty straightforward.
In states that mandate car insurance coverage, you’ll need to purchase a minimum amount of coverage. Coverage includes:
Beyond what your state requires as a minimum, you can purchase more or less coverage in each auto insurance component, although your premiums will increase the more coverage you add on and decrease if you purchase less coverage. Get a free quote from Policygenius, and one of our agents can help you find a car insurance policy that not only fits your needs but also won’t break the bank.
A young driver may turn out to be the best driver ever, but they’re also less experienced behind the wheel and, therefore, more likely to get into an accident. The general rule of thumb is that your car insurance rates will start to drop once you reach the age of 25 — but only if you’ve got the track record to prove it.
Your age affects your car insurance premiums throughout your entire driving life. In fact, 20-year-old drivers may pay twice as much for car insurance than drivers closer to age 29 or 30, and car insurance companies consider the prime age target to be between 45 and 55 years old.
Other car insurance companies increase rates during that time — make sure you get new quotes whenever you feel like your rates could be lower. However, after age 55, your rates will probably plateau until around age 65, when they'll start rising again.
Blame statistics, which show men and single people are more likely to get into an accident. This increased risk to the car insurance company means if you’re unmarried or male, you’ll pay higher insurance premiums.
The more time spent on the road, the higher the chance that you’ll get into an accident. You’ll pay more for the added risk.
Drive an expensive car? Well, then, comprehensive and collision coverage is going to cost more. On the less obvious side, some insurers also consider the car’s history on the road, though that doesn’t necessarily mean buying a “safer” car will lower your car insurance rates.
Insurers generally look at some version of your credit score (it’s considered a metric of responsibility) and the better it is, the lower your rates could be. Some states prohibit auto insurance companies from using a credit score to determine your rates.
Do a lot of accidents happen in your neighborhood? What about car thefts or vandalism? Unfortunately, that means you’ll pay higher rates than someone who lives in a less risky neighborhood. (That’s because insurance only works if everyone pools their risk together.) The same thing happens to renters insurance and home insurance rates for the same reason.
Filing a claim can raise your premiums. You should always file if you’re at fault in an accident, but be prepared to pay a higher premium as a result, which could be as high as nearly 50% of your current premiums. The insurance company does this to reduce its risk and make sure you don’t repeatedly get into accidents.
If the loss you suffered isn’t particularly bad, you may want to consider not filing a claim. The increased premiums you see after filing can stay for months and may eventually become more expensive than the loss in the first place.
You can reduce your car insurance premiums by making use of certain discounts. Every carrier is different, so check with your car insurance company. Your methods may vary, but some of the most common types of car insurance discounts are as follows:
Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.
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Yes, we have to include some legalese down here. Read it larger on our legal page. Policygenius Inc. (“Policygenius”) is a licensed independent insurance broker. Policygenius does not underwrite any insurance policy described on this website. The information provided on this site has been developed by Policygenius for general informational and educational purposes. We do our best efforts to ensure that this information is up-to-date and accurate. Any insurance policy premium quotes or ranges displayed are non-binding. The final insurance policy premium for any policy is determined by the underwriting insurance company following application. Savings are estimated by comparing the highest and lowest price for a shopper in a given health class. For example: for a 30-year old non-smoker male in South Carolina with excellent health and a preferred plus health class, comparing quotes for a $500,000, 20-year term life policy, the price difference between the lowest and highest quotes is 60%. For that same shopper in New York, the price difference is 40%. Rates are subject to change and are valid as of 2/17/17.
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