Car Insurance in Michigan

One hour of quote-finding. $215 saved.

Michigan holds the record for the highest car insurance premiums in the nation. In fact, residents pay an average of $200 more than the national average each month — more than New Yorkers, Californians, or Alaskans, obviously. We’ve got the highest rates in the nation. Our state has relatively aggressive no-fault regulations that keep our premiums up there, but we don’t have to settle for incredibly steep rates. With a bit of effort, you could knock a chunk of change off your monthly premium.

In my search for the state’s minimum coverage, I found out I could save $215 just by choosing the right company. Auto-Owners was the cheapest for me at $1,079 a year, but that might not be the case for you too. The ratemaking process is way too personalized for me to recommend one company as the inevitable go-to for all of Michigan’s residents.

Each insurance company uses a a bunch (and I mean a bunch) of factors to calculate rates, including your driving record, credit history, and vehicle value. That’s why the best car insurance premiums come to those who search — and you’ll certainly need to do a bit of work to get a list of competitive quotes in Michigan. In my case, I contacted five different companies and found significant savings.

Online tools are an excellent way to obtain quotes from multiple companies with minimal effort.  It usually about five to ten minutes and there is little to no hassle. But for an overwhelming majority of Michigan providers, you will have no choice but to call a representative for a quote. As I was told by multiple agents, you have to call precisely because Michigan’s insurance requirements are complicated and the rates are high in respect to the rest of the nation. Perhaps the companies don’t trust you to know the requirements, or perhaps they are just scared you will see the number on the screen and run away screaming. Whatever the reason, if you need car insurance in Michigan, you will need to pick up your phone. I’m telling you, though, that it was the most fruitful phone call I’ve made all year.

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Our Top 5 Picks for the Best Car Insurance in Michigan

I began my quest for the best car insurance by researching the top companies in the region. And the five companies you see in the table below made my top list thanks to stellar customer service ratings and financial prowess.

Insurer My quote
Auto Owners Insurance $1,079
Nationwide $1,008
State Farms $1,094
Progressive $1,223

To evaluate these criteria, I turned to the JD Power United States Auto Insurance Study and A.M Best. Each of my companies have an “above average” (or higher) rating in JD Power’s study of the North-Central region. They also maintain a rating of “Excellent” from A.M. Best. When searching for insurers, you want great customer service and peace of mind that they’ll have the money pay your claim, too.

Nationwide took the cake for lowest price. And though none of the insurers were far off the mark, Progressive did wind up quoting me a premium that was $150 more expensive than the rest. The most interesting thing of all was that when I bumped my coverage up from the minimum standard, Nationwide actually beat its own price by $12. An agent from Farmers Insurance explained that they wouldn’t even offer minimum coverage, as they felt it would be a disservice to their customers to even provide “inadequate” coverage. Yet, much to my surprise, the policy they did offer me (the third and highest level available from most companies) was actually cheaper than many of the other agencies’ second highest coverages.

Even If You’re Happy, It’s Best to Shop for a New Policy Every Couple of Years

In the insurance world, everything is a measure of risk. Your age, driving record, credit score — they’re all factors of how dangerous you are to insure. In recent years, a new version of risk has begun to alter the market. Insurance companies want to know what the chances are that you’ll walk off into the sunset holding another insurance company’s hand.

They use procedures called price optimization: Insurers gather information like online shopping habits, social media activity, and even how long you’ve been with your current cell phone provider. Complex algorithms then estimate your propensity to shop for new and better deals. By calculating the extents of your blind loyalty they can better estimate how much they could charge you before your limits are reached.

They say that the best offense is a good defense and it’s no exception here. Shopping the multitude of insurance companies could result in finding massive savings. But even if you strike out, it will show your current provider that you don’t have time to pay more than you should.

Many states like Ohio and Maryland (15 in total) have addressed price optimization with legal bulletins. Most have required companies to stop the use of non-risk related profiles in calculating premiums. Others have simply required insurers to be transparent with their customers regarding price optimization. Michigan, with its already highly-regulated insurance system, does not currently have any stance on price optimization. If you are concerned about your rates being influenced by these factors, the first thing you should do is contact your agent for an explanation and perhaps your next move should be a letter to your senator. The next thing you should do is start shopping around.

Michigan’s Minimum Coverage

The Bare Minimum

Michigan mandates three types of insurance to be carried as a legal driver: personal injury protection, property protection, and residual bodily injury/property damage liability in a combination known as 20/40/10. That’s short for $20,000 per person hurt in an accident, $40,000 per accident if multiple people are included, and $10,000 for property damages that are incurred out of state; property protection covers up to $1,000,000 of property damage in state.

The Best Car Insurance Isn’t Just Cheap Car Insurance

Look at it this way:

  • On average drivers have an accident every 17.9 years. I’m willing to assume, I’m no exception.
  • The average cost of an accident that causes a disabling, but nonfatal injury is $79,400.

In Michigan, the no-fault system means that my insurance will be paying for my injuries and damages, whereas, in a tort state, the insurance of the person at-fault bares the brunt of the bill. So, think about yourself, and the possibility of shelling out nearly $60,000 on medical expenses. Even if you were lucky enough to have enough health insurance to cover those bills, the damages to your car won’t be covered by collision or comprehensive since those aren’t included in the state minimums. That means you are either pouring money into a metaphorical hole (your car), or starting over fresh with another auto loan. It also means that you should consider how much your health insurance does cover — if it’s not much, up your auto insurance; if it’s a lot, you might be able to decrease your auto insurance coverage.
You might also want to consider Michigan winters, which are are almost a thing of legend. Take the 150 car pileup in Battle Creek for example. Given the state’s severe weather conditions and bountiful large animal populations, the chances of sliding into a light pole or bumping a moose are very real. That said, I would definitely recommend considering collision insurance.
Collision coverage comes in two sizes, broad collision and limited collision. Collision insurance generally covers impacts you may have with non-moving objects such as a parked car. More specifically, broad collision insures your vehicle no matter the party who owns substantial fault, and limited collision will only cover you if the driver of the insured vehicle is not substantially at-fault.
Finally, since almost 22 percent of Michigan’s drivers are uninsured, I also strongly suggest looking into uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. This type of coverage will protect you if you are involved in an accident with someone who has zero coverage, or just not enough to recuperate your property damages.

If You Skip Coverage, It’ll Cost You

Thinking about living on the edge? Don’t. Along with a definite misdemeanor conviction on your permanent record, you can be hit with some hefty fines ($200-$500) and/or up to a year in jail. Not to mention you will be entirely responsible for any damage that you may cause in the event of an accident.

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Beat the Average Premium: 9 Ways to Snag Cheap Car Insurance Rates

Still thinking about your high rates? Take a look a list of the top ten most expensive cities in Michigan and be happy you aren’t among them. And if you are… there’s even more incentive to shop around. Here are a few ideas at how you can turn an outrageous car insurance premium into a cheap car insurance premium.

Nine Ways to Lower Your Car Insurance Rates


Why is Michigan auto insurance so expensive?

Michigan, along with twelve other states, maintains no-fault auto insurance regulation. This mandates drivers carry personal injury protection coverage on his or her policy, meaning they will recover losses through their own insurance, regardless of fault. The intent behind this type of insurance plan is to keep the civil courts from becoming clogged with small claims of wage loss, medical expenditures, funeral costs, and other related expenses.

What to Expect
Average Monthly Premiums
Michigan: $337 United States: $139
Detroit $500
Southfield $416
Dearborn $381
Pontiac $362
Flint $341
Warren $328
Dearborn Heights $326
Sterling Heights $303
Westland $283
Farmington Hills $270
Source Quadrant

If there are 12 other states that require personal injury protection insurance under no-fault regulation, why are premiums still $1,400 more than in Delaware, another state with the same policy? Michigan isn’t just a no-fault state; it’s the only state in the country that imposes unlimited lifetime coverage for catastrophic injuries. So between a driver’s mandated coverage (personal injury protection, property protection, and residual bodily injury and property damage liability coverage) and the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association — which is a special fund set up to cover what insurers won’t — victims of a crash receive unlimited medical coverage for as long as they need it.

As you can imagine, this is a hotly debated topic. Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson defends the no-fault policy in an interview with Steven Gursten, a nationally recognized auto law attorney. Patterson says that without the unlimited nature of no-fault, individuals with catastrophic injuries will exceed their insurance caps quickly, be regulated to a state funded nursing home, and “…the last ray of hope for recovery and a modicum of a quality of life” will slip away. Opponents of the no-fault system are most often insurance companies themselves who must shell out the incredible costs of an accident-impacted life. Legal drivers also feel the heat as premiums rise in order to meet the demand put on the insurance system.

Does shopping for better rates work?

We already know what I think, but here’s how the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services answers the question:

Absolutely! Insurance companies in Michigan are competing against each other to provide the lowest possible rates, broadest coverage, and best possible service. Competition works best, however, when drivers take the time to shop for the rates and coverage that are best for them. Some of the reasons shopping works: There are many companies offering a wide variety of rates in every area of the state. Sometimes the best rates and best service may come from a company you are not familiar with today.

If you are eligible for coverage under law, every company must insure you.

The economics of insurance are like the economics of any other product or service. Companies offering more expensive coverage lose customers due to the cost. The companies must either lower their rates or be satisfied with fewer customers. Consumer choice can bring pressure on companies to lower their rates.

Shopping for insurance is not as hard as it seems. Your Guide to Automobile Insurance For Michigan Consumers provides the information you need to become a knowledgeable shopper. Shopping for insurance may not be exciting, but it will probably save you money.

The Bottom Line

Michigan has the highest car insurance rates in the country, and that’s a huge bummer. However, it’s relatively easy to make sure you’re paying only the minimum amount you have to: Take the time to get some quotes and compare them. This is the only way you’re going to beat the average and find the most competitive rates around. So what are you waiting for? Go save some money.

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Enter your zip code to compare rates from some of my top recommendations.

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