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Why is my car insurance so high?

There are lots of reasons why insurance costs can be high, but some of the most likely causes are your location, age, driving history, and credit score. If your rates are too expensive, it might also be time to switch companies.

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By

Andrew Hurst

Andrew Hurst

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Andrew Hurst is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. His work has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, NPR, Mic, Insurance Business Magazine, ValuePenguin, and Property Casualty 360.

&Rachael Brennan

Rachael Brennan

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Rachael Brennan is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in MoneyGeek, Clearsurance, Adweek, Boston Globe, The Ladders, and AutoInsurance.com.

Updated|6 min read

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Why your car insurance is expensive

Most of the time, your insurance is high because companies think there’s a good chance that you’ll make a future claim. That’s why car insurance tends to be much higher for some types of drivers than others, even if they’ve never been in an accident or made a claim before.

Young drivers or drivers in big cities tend to pay a lot for car insurance, but shopping around and comparing rates from multiple companies can make it easy to find cheaper coverage. Here are some of the most common reasons for high car insurance rates:

1. Where you live

2. The age of the drivers on your policy

3. The type of car you drive

4. Your driving record

5. Your credit score

6. Your coverage levels

7. Changes in the insurance industry

8. Your choice of company

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1. Where you live

Your location, including your state, city, and even your ZIP code, plays a huge part in determining your insurance rates. In fact, when comparing rates for drivers in two different parts of New York City, we found that car insurance cost $2,859 more per year in one Brooklyn ZIP code than it did for the same driver in a Manhattan neighborhood.

Your rates may be higher if you live in an area where there’s a lot of crime — especially auto theft. Living in a big city with crowded roads, lots of traffic, and limited parking can all lead to higher insurance rates.

You can avoid expensive insurance in a high-cost city or state by shopping around for lower rates, and finding a secure place to park your vehicle when it’s not being used.

2. The age of the drivers on your policy

Insurance is more expensive for new drivers who haven’t had a license for very long. This usually affects households with teen drivers the most, but your car insurance can also be higher if you’re an adult who’s just gotten licensed.

If you’re a young driver, your insurance will go down as you age, but one way to offset high auto insurance costs is by maintaining high grades and qualifying for a good student discount.

3. The type of car you drive

If your insurance is too expensive, your car might be the culprit. Cars that have a lot of expensive technology lead to higher insurance rates, since they cost more to fix or replace.

For example, average annual car insurance rates for electric cars are hundreds of dollars higher per year than for gas-powered models because their parts can be more expensive to replace after an accident.

Consider insurance rates before you buy a car — remember that the more expensive the vehicle, the more it usually costs to insure.

4. Your driving record

Car insurance can be significantly higher for drivers who have a spotty driving record. Having one or more recent accidents, or a driving violation like a ticket or a DUI or DWI on your record can lead to insurance that’s much higher than average.

A speeding ticket generally raises your rates by an average of 44%. But an at-fault accidents will raise your rates by 55%, while a DUI will increase your insurance by an average of 114%.

If your car insurance is too expensive because of your driving record, you can still bring your rates down. Consider shopping around and switching policies if there’s a cheaper option available.

5. Your credit score

Insurance companies use your insurance score, which is partially based on your credit score, to set your rates. A lower credit score means higher insurance. We found that drivers with poor credit pay $1,389 more per year than a driver with good credit.

The best way to improve your credit score and bring down your car insurance rates is by continuing to pay outstanding debt, asking to raise your credit limits, and keeping your balances low on credit cards.

6. Your coverage levels

Your insurance may be high if you have a lot of coverage. It’s a good idea to have as much liability coverage as you can afford, but not every driver needs the highest limits available.

You may also be paying for endorsements you don’t need — car insurance companies offer add-ons like roadside assistance or new car replacement coverage, but they aren’t right for every driver. 

And if you have an older car that you wouldn’t bother replacing if it were in an accident, you can save by dropping full coverage.

7. Changes in the insurance industry

Sometimes, your car insurance is high because of changes in the insurance industry that have nothing to do with you. Companies sometimes raise rates to make up for increased losses, like when workers started returning to work after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. When more people started driving, accidents increased and insurance costs got higher.

The entire insurance industry might also be affected by rising repair costs, natural disasters, and other factors that raise rates for everyone. If your insurance gets too expensive, you can still find lower costs by shopping around.

8. Your choice of company

Rates can vary by car insurance company, even for the same driver. If your insurance is much higher than average for a driver like you, it could just be because of the way a company calculates premiums. 

If your rates have been going up every year, it might be top to shop around for cheaper options. The best way to get lower insurance is by comparing quotes from multiple companies, so you can switch to the company with the cheapest rates.

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How to save money when your insurance gets too expensive

There are a few easy ways to get cheaper insurance when your rates get too high. Even if you're a safe driver, insurance often goes up every year. Try these ways of bringing down costs when your car insurance gets too high:

Compare quotes

The number one way to lower your rates once your insurance gets too high is by shopping around and comparing quotes. This way you avoid unintentionally paying more for coverage than you have to. 

We found that the cost of insurance for the same driver can vary by an average of $221 per month depending on the company they choose.

Drive safely

Your insurance will get more expensive after a crash or a ticket, so driving safely is one of the best ways to keep your rates low.Some companies even offer extra safe driver discounts to drivers who go a few years without an accident.

If your insurance is expensive because you have an accident on your record, you can still bring down your rates (eventually) by driving safely going forward. Accidents will “fall off” your record after a few years and your rates will go down to normal.

Qualify for more discounts

Any discounts will be automatically applied to your insurance when you buy coverage, but you can always try to qualify for more if your rates are still too expensive.

Some of the most common ways to earn car insurance discounts include:

  • Completing a defensive driving course

  • Bundling your car insurance with another kind of policy

  • Installing simple anti-theft devices in your vehicle

  • Re-shopping for insurance ahead of your policy’s renewal date

Switch to usage-based or per-mile insurance

Another great way to lower your rates when your insurance gets too expensive is by switching to usage-based insurance or a per-mile policy. Unlike conventional car insurance policies, these policies base rates on your driving habits.

When you sign up for a usage-based insurance program like Snapshot or Smartride, your driving will be monitored for a few weeks. Then your rates will be adjusted based on how safely you drove. And the cost of per-mile insurance is based on how many miles per month you drive.

Compare rates and shop affordable car insurance today

We don't sell your information to third parties.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you reduce the cost of your insurance?

The easiest way to bring down your insurance costs is by shopping around comparing quotes from more than one company, so you can choose a cheaper option. You should also try to avoid crashes and tickets, and qualify for any available discounts.

Can your insurance raise rates for no reason?

Yes, your rates can go up for no reason. In fact, it’s common for insurance to get more expensive each time you renew your policy. If your rates were raised, consider getting a policy from another company instead of renewing.

How long does it take for your insurance to go down?

After you first get your license, your rates will be expensive, but they’ll go down over time. And if your rates are high because you were in an accident, as long as you drive safely going forward, the accident will fall off your record after a few years and your rates may go down to normal levels.

Why is my car insurance constantly going up?

There are lots of reasons why your insurance can go up. Your rates can increase because of where you live, your age, your car, driving record, credit score, the amount of coverage you have, changes in the auto insurance industry, and because your insurance company charges higher-than-average rates.

Authors

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Andrew Hurst

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

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Andrew Hurst is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. His work has also been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, USA Today, NPR, Mic, Insurance Business Magazine, ValuePenguin, and Property Casualty 360.

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

Rachael Brennan

Senior Editor & Licensed Auto Insurance Expert

gray linkedin icon link

Rachael Brennan is a senior editor and a licensed auto insurance expert at Policygenius. Her work has also been featured in MoneyGeek, Clearsurance, Adweek, Boston Globe, The Ladders, and AutoInsurance.com.

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