The average cost by state, just so you know.
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 $866 a year (or $72 a month), per a 2017 report from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
And you can break that figure down even further. Per NAIC, Americans pay around $530 a year for liability insurance, $308 for collision coverage and $143 for comprehensive coverage. If you have no idea what any of that jargon means, well, you’re in luck again, because we have a handy explainer on how car insurance works right here.
So. Many. Things. All the things, really. OK, so that might be a bit of an exaggeration, but car insurers do consider an awful lot about you when you apply for a policy. We mentioned some of those things earlier, but here’s a breakdown of the big factors that determine your car insurance rates:
States have their own ideas about car insurance — and that extends beyond how much coverage each one mandates you carry. (Yes, 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. Prices are going to be higher 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. (This incidentally is also why the price of auto insurance varies from zip code to zip code.) So where is car insurance likely to cost you? Here’s a breakdown of the average annual cost of car insurance by state, courtesy of the NAIC report.
A few trends to know here, all along the lines of what we noted earlier: The most expensive states for car insurance are also among the top ten most densely populated and not exactly known for sound infrastructure (we’re looking at you, New Jersey). And, with the exception of maybe Florida, they all mandate comparatively robust car insurance across state minimums.
The opposite, unsurprisingly, is true when it comes to the cheapest states for insurance: They’re 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.
Honestly you only have so much control over how low you can get your car insurance to go. Sure, you can opt for the minimum amount of coverage your state requires, but insurers are still going to consider all that other stuff we mentioned earlier when setting your premiums. So, unless you’re a married woman over 25 living in Idaho’s least densely populated zip code with a perfect driving record, equally pristine credit score and a jalopy you only drive, like, 50 miles a year, buying the most basic policy isn’t going to net you the cheapest car insurance ever. And even if you meet that description, the price difference between a bare-bones policy and a more robust policy might not be worth the risk of going underinsured.
However, just to give you an idea as to the price of a bare bones (read: cheap) policy, here’s a breakdown of the average annual cost of liability insurance in the states that only mandate that type of coverage, per NAIC. (Three notes: The minimums required still vary by state and we didn’t include New Hampshire, because even though it doesn’t mandate insurance, you have to buy more than just liability coverage if you choose to buy insurance. Finally, these are the averages for liability insurance, not necessarily the minimum amount of liability insurance you must buy.)
Got more questions? Check out our auto insurance FAQ.