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Arrive at the best car insurance quotes

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Comparing car insurance quotes may not be the most exhilarating part of your day, but it can save you a lot of money.

Here’s why: Insurers look at similar factors, but they have their own “secret sauce” when it comes to setting rates. So two companies can charge wildly different rates for the same driver. To avoid overpaying and find the cheapest rate for you, it’s critical to compare car insurance quotes from multiple companies.

Auto insurance prices tend to inch up over time, but they can also go down. By shopping around, you might find that your current insurer offers the cheapest rate for you, or you might find that it’s time to switch.

To find the cheapest auto insurance for you, enter your information below to start getting quotes from companies in your area.

How to compare car insurance quotes

First of all, every car insurance rate quote you receive should be free, whether it’s from Geico, Farmers or a small insurer you’ve never heard of. Some auto insurers require a down payment to start your policy, but a simple quote estimate should always be free. Here’s how to start comparing quotes.

1. Gather your information

To quickly and easily compare car insurance quotes, have the following on hand:

  • Personal information: The address, date of birth, occupation, driver’s license and marital status of everyone you want included on the policy.
  • Vehicle information: Mileage, date of purchase and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) for each car. Or, if you haven’t purchased the car yet, have mileage, make, model and year handy.
  • Driving history: Include all claims, violations and tickets you’ve had over the past five years, plus any completed driving courses.
  • Current or previous insurer’s name for anyone on the policy or in your household. Some insurers won’t cover you without some coverage history, and if you want to exclude anyone living with you from the policy, you’ll need to prove they’re covered elsewhere.

2. Choose the right liability car insurance coverage levels

Auto insurance is financial protection, and not just for the investment you made when you bought your car. After a really serious accident, bills for damage and injuries can easily reach into hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you happen to cause such a wreck, the victims could sue you. In the worst case scenario, assets such as your savings and home could be seized.

Liability auto insurance protects you from that worst case scenario by providing a cushion between your assets and the amount you’re on the hook for. For this reason, choosing the right auto liability limits is the most important part of your car insurance quote comparison. NerdWallet typically recommends having at least as much liability coverage as your net worth.

But liability coverage levels come in threes — you’ll probably see something like 50/100/50 up to 250/500/250 in typical policies. You can think of these limits like: individual injuries / total injuries / property damage. Insurers are a little more technical, calling them bodily injury liability, total bodily injury liability and physical damage liability.

They come in thousand-dollar increments, so when you choose 100/300/100 limits, you’re choosing:

  • $100,000 for bodily injuries per person you injure in a crash.
  • $300,000 total for all bodily injuries you cause in a crash.
  • $100,000 for damage to any property you cause in a crash, including cars, buildings and objects like mailboxes and lampposts.

Auto insurance quote comparison tip: When choosing liability car insurance coverage, you’ll want to make sure the highest, middle number is equal to or greater than the value of your house and total savings combined.

Understand car insurance requirements in your state

In certain states, you may be required to have a car insurance policy that includes personal injury protection (PIP), medical payments coverage (medpay) or uninsured/underinsured motorist coverages — or two of the three. If you have medpay you don’t need PIP, and vice versa.

Any car insurance comparison tool you look at should have your state’s minimum car insurance requirements pre-loaded into its options. States requiring PIP or medpay are generally referred to as “no-fault” states, meaning that when injuries occur, each driver in a crash makes a claim with their own insurance company to pay for them. Beyond the PIP or medpay limit, the at-fault driver’s liability insurance kicks in to cover the rest.

3. Decide if you need full coverage car insurance

You’ll notice that none of that liability coverage pays for your car or injuries, nor for any injuries your passengers sustain if you cause a wreck. This is why many people — particularly those whose car isn’t yet paid off — want “full coverage” car insurance. This isn’t actually a type of coverage, but instead typically refers to policies that include liability coverage, plus comprehensive and collision coverages.

In other words, you can’t just click a “full coverage” button when comparing insurance quotes online or buy something called a full coverage auto insurance policy. You’ll need to add collision and comprehensive coverage in the amounts you want.

Compare car insurance rates

A lot goes into an auto insurance rate quote, including your ZIP code, coverage levels, marital status, annual mileage, driving history and vehicle make, year and model. In most states, your gender and credit history are also used to determine rates. And again, the reason auto insurance comparison shopping is so important is because rates between companies are different for each person, too.

That’s why every year, NerdWallet analyzes car insurance rates for men and women with various driving and credit histories, in every single state and major metro area. Here’s how some of them stack up, looking first at the factors you have the most control over.

Compare car insurance rates for:

Compare minimum and full coverage car insurance rates by company

Each insurance company evaluates personal factors in its own way, and they keep their methods as hidden as possible.

So we can’t tell you which company puts high value in your occupation or emphasizes a clean driving history more than others. But to help you get going, we can show you a car insurance rate comparison for the same hypothetical driver and car, using average rates from across the country.

Here are annual rates from the 10 largest auto insurers in the country, based on 2018 market share data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Rates are averaged across the country for both full and minimum coverage. Keep in mind that not all of these companies are available in every state.

*USAA is only available to military, veterans and their families.

Compare minimum and full coverage car insurance rates in your state

One of the largest factors affecting your car insurance quote will be something you wouldn’t change just for cheaper car insurance — where you live. However, it does have a very big impact and should be part of financial planning if you move out of your area.

For that reason, it’s good to do a car insurance quote comparison anytime you move, even within the same state. Here are our 2020 average annual car insurance rates by state for minimum and full coverage car insurance policies.


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