Manual vs. automatic: How both affect your car insurance

Which costs more to insure?

Anna Swartz


Anna Swartz

Anna Swartz

Managing Editor & Auto Insurance Expert

Anna Swartz is a managing editor and auto insurance expert at Policygenius, where she oversees our car insurance coverage. Previously, she was a senior staff writer at, as well as an associate writer at The Dodo.

Updated October 7, 2020 | 3 min read

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Some drivers will only drive a manual car, others have no idea how to drive a stick-shift car and have no interest in learning. But no matter what kind of car you drive, you’ll need car insurance for it. Car insurance is required in most U.S. states, and in the states where it’s not required, you’re on the hook to pay for any damage or injuries you cause with your car — so it’s still a good idea to have car insurance. But does what kind of transmission your car has, whether it’s manual or automatic, affect the cost of your car insurance?

The short answer is, yes, sort of. Manual cars tend to be generally cheaper to insure, because it costs less to replace a manual transmission. But the difference in insurance costs isn’t usually so great that you can count on big savings. Let’s break it down a little.

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What’s the difference between manual and automatic?

The transmission is essentially the part of your car that takes the power from the engine and transfers it to your wheels. Your transmission uses gears (that’s why it’s also called a gearbox) to make sure that the engine speed and your car’s wheels are both at the right rate. But different gears are needed depending on how much power you need going from your engine to your wheels. That’s where the types of transmission come in.

Automatic and manual are the two most common types of transmissions. A manual transmission means that the driver has to shift the gears themselves, using a stick-shift, while an automatic means your car will shift gears on its own.

In the U.S., automatic cars are vastly more popular than manual, or standard, cars. In fact, many Americans may not even know how to drive a stick shift. But you’ll often find a manual transmission in older cars, sports cars and international cars, like if you’re driving a rental car on a trip to another country. And if you’re a manual vehicle purist, many common makes of car have a manual option.

How does manual vs. automatic affect your car insurance premiums?

As we mentioned above, manual cars are generally cheaper to insure, all things being equal. That’s because an automatic transmission is costlier to replace. But don’t run out and replace your automatic car with a manual one — the savings probably won’t be that significant, and may even wind up being pretty negligible.

After all, auto premiums are calculated based on a bunch of different factors, including the driver’s age, driving history, zip code, how often they drive and the make and model of the car. But if savings are your number one priority, there are lots of better ways to save money on your car insurance than learning to drive a stick shift.

Other ways to save on car insurance

If you’re looking for ways to save on your car insurance, most major auto insurance companies offer a range of discounts. Those can include:

  • Affiliation discounts for members of certain organizations, employees of participating companies and even alumni of certain universities

  • Discounts for completing certain types of drivers’ education, like a defensive driving course

  • Good student discounts for high school or college-aged drivers who maintain above a certain grade point average

  • Safe driver discounts for drivers who remain accident-free for a certain amount of time

  • Low-mileage discounts for drivers who drive below a certain number of miles each year

  • Discounts for bundling your auto policy with a home, renters or condo policy from the same provider

  • Payment discounts for paying your annual premium in one go instead of in monthly installments

  • Discounts for having certain features in your car, like anti-lock brakes or an anti-theft device

If you’ve already looked into your available discounts and still think you’re paying too much for car insurance, one of the best ways to get a better rate is to shop around. A Policygenius expert can help you compare car insurance quotes from different companies and make sure you’re getting the best policy for your needs and your budget, whether you drive a manual or automatic.