Many people expect that their car insurance rates will increase if they’re involved in an accident or get a speeding ticket, but most don’t expect to see higher costs for what seems like no reason.
Unfortunately, there are other factors beyond your control that can lead to rate increases. Paying out more claims than expected, rising car repair costs, and even higher health care costs can lead your car insurance company to raise your rates at renewal — but shopping around for a more affordable policy can help you find cheaper coverage.
Why did my insurance go up?
Most of the time, your car insurance goes up because of changes to your driving record. For example, your auto insurance premiums will be more expensive after you’re involved in a car crash or get a traffic ticket.
But your car insurance costs can also go up even if you remain a safe driver. If you change your car insurance policy by adding another driver or car, or changing your coverage limits, your rates may also go up.
It’s also possible for your car insurance to go up without any changes to your driving history or policy.
If it looks like your rates have gone up for no reason, it may be because the company had to pay out a lot of insurance claims at once (like after a hurricane) or because things are just generally more expensive.
When prices for car parts and repairs rise, insurance companies have to pay out more for claims, and they often pass those increases on to the policyholders.
How much will my insurance go up?
The amount that your car insurance will go up depends on the reason for the increase. For example, we found that having a violation on your record increases your car insurance rates by an average of 42%. Adding a new driver, especially a teenage one, can raise your rates by an average of 97%.
If you stayed a safe driver for the year and didn’t make any changes to your policy and still got a notice that your rates are going up, it’s probably because of causes that affect the entire industry. In that case, it’s hard to predict exactly how much the increase will be.
Your car insurance company should send you a notice before its time to renew your policy, and they’ll let you know if your rates are going up (and by how much). If the increase is more than you want to pay, it may be time to shop around for a new policy. .
Auto insurance premium trends over time
Auto insurance premiums typically trend up over time. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we found that in the period from 2006 to 2021 the average cost of insurance only went down once in 2020. 
The COVID-19 pandemic caused auto insurance rates to decrease in 2020 because there were far fewer drivers on the roads, which meant fewer every day. This brought the number of insurance claims for damage down. When drivers began commuting en masse again in 2021, rates went back up.
Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), analyzed by Policygenius
Will car insurance keep getting more expensive?
Yes, the cost of car insurance will likely keep getting more expensive in the long run. More drivers join the roads each year — and more accidents are likely to follow. More accidents mean more claims, which means insurance companies will keep increasing rates.
Auto insurance premiums also get more expensive over time because repairing damaged cars is becoming more and more expensive. As companies manufacture more high-tech car models, the cost to find parts and repair vehicles goes up. This, in turn, leads to more expensive car insurance rates.
Why does my car insurance keep going up for no reason?
Unfortunately, your rates can still go up even if you’ve kept a clean driving record and haven’t changed anything about your coverage. If it looks like your car insurance is going up for no reason, it might actually be due to other drivers.
From 2010 to 2019, there was a 9% increase in the number of drivers on the road. Drivers also traveled 300 billion more miles in 2019 than in 2010. As drivers and miles traveled increased by 9% and 10% during this period, respectively, crashes went up by 25%. 
Policygenius analysis of data from Federal Highway Administration
Car crashes lead to higher insurance rates because they cost insurance companies more money in repairs, medical bills, and legal fees.
As the cost of healthcare and car repairs goes up (especially when inflation is high), insurance rates also get more expensive.
Rates also go up for everyone when insurance companies have to pay for big losses, like after a major natural disaster. A bunch of car insurance claims after an ice storm across the country can actually mean a rate increase for you months later.
Do insurance rates ever go down?
It’s possible for insurance rates to go down — but it’s not very common. From 2003 to 2021, the only year when the overall cost of insurance went down was in 2020, when rates dropped by 4.6% compared to 2019.
It was easier to get cheaper car insurance in 2020 because there were fewer drivers on the road.
As workers quarantined instead of driving, they reduced the total number of miles traveled by 11%, and crashes fell by more than more than 1 million — and some car insurance companies responded by offering refunds to policyholders.
Policygenius analysis of data from the Federal Highway Administration
While it’s not common for insurance rates to drop nationally, it’s possible for your car insurance costs to get lower year to year. Rates often drop when drivers turn 25, since that’s when they age out of the highest-risk age group and are no longer considered young drivers.
Your rates can also go down if your credit score improves significantly, if an old accident “falls off” your record, or if you switch to a company that offers more affordable coverage.
If your rates are too high (or if they’re about to go up), consider shopping for quotes and switching companies. Shopping around yearly is the best way to find affordable coverage — and many companies offer a discount if you switch from another insurer.
How to keep your car insurance rates from getting expensive
While car insurance coverage tends to cost more over time, there are still a few ways that you can keep your own rates from getting too expensive.
If you’re paying too much for car insurance or your rates are going up at renewal you should:
Bundle coverage: If you already have homeowners or renters insurance with another company, consider bundling them with your car insurance to earn a discount.
Re-shop yearly: Shopping around and switching companies whenever you find a cheaper option is the most reliable way to keep your rates low. Some companies even offer discounts for switching.
Drive safely: While your insurance might still go up over time, driving safely and avoiding accidents will keep your car insurance rates as low as possible.
Stay on a family policy: If you’re a younger driver and you live at home, it’s significantly cheaper to join an existing policy than to get your own car insurance.
Take a defensive driving course: Most car insurance companies offer discounts to drivers who’ve recently completed a defensive driving course. These are usually available locally, and taking a course once could save you money for years.
See if your state offers affordable insurance: Some states offer affordable insurance to low-income drivers who can’t find their own coverage. Find out if your state has a program and whether you meet its requirements.
The most dependable way to keep your car insurance rates from getting too expensive is by comparing quotes and switching to more affordable coverage — it’s a good idea to shop around every time your current policy is up for renewal.