Best Cheap Car Insurance Companies for 2019

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Getting the bare minimum amount of car insurance is risky business. If you find yourself in a wreck, and your insurance isn’t enough to fix or replace your car, your cheap car insurance can turn out to feel quite expensive. However, not everyone can afford a bunch of additional coverage. And some people might not need anything but the minimum. In those cases, having state-mandated coverage is far better (read: legal) than having no insurance at all.

But how do you find the cheapest rate? We compared over 250 quotes from 28 different companies and found three auto insurers that consistently offer the most affordable policies anywhere in the country. Keep in mind, though, that everyone’s individual rates will vary.

Find the Best Car Insurance

Enter your ZIP code below and be sure to click at least 2-3 companies to find the very best rate.

Best Cheap Car Insurance Companies

  1. GEICO
  2. State Farm
  3. Progressive

To find the best cheap car insurance companies, we started with the top five to seven insurance providers in each state — those with above-average customer satisfaction ratings from J.D. Power & Associates and high financial strength marks from A.M. Best. Why? Because cheap auto insurance policies are great, but purchasing them from unreliable or fickle insurers could wind up being far more expensive down the road.

Then, we applied for over 250 quotes, both online and over the phone, from that nationwide pool of auto insurance companies. Each member of the team used personal information during the quote process to ensure that we could see who was consistently cheapest across the country with a handful of scenarios. But in every instance, we applied only for each state’s minimum coverage: No frills, no extras; just the absolute minimum coverage to legally drive on the road.

Next, we tallied and compared how many times each company had the first, second, or third cheapest yearly premium, awarding five points for first place, three points for second place, and one point for third place.

As it turns out, the cheap car insurance market is dominated by three main providers: GEICO, State Farm, and Progressive. And, as you can see below, GEICO was the overwhelming victor when it came to low prices.

Insurer # of 1st Place Awards # of 2nd Place Awards # of 3rd Place Awards Total Score
GEICO 19 16 2 145
State Farm 12 14 12 114
Progressive 7 5 3 53

However, there’s no guarantee that GEICO will offer the cheapest car insurance in your state or for your particular situation, so it always pays to get a few different quotes and compare them. What’s more, each insurer has its own strengths and weaknesses. Here are some more details about our top three picks for the best cheap car insurance.

GEICO

GEICO at a Glance
Overall Rating
🌕🌕🌕🌕🌗
Affordability 🌕🌕🌕🌕🌕
Tools and Features (e.g., mobile bill pay) 🌕🌕🌕🌕🌑
Customer Satisfaction 🌕🌕🌕🌑🌑
Discounts (e.g., good driving) 🌕🌕🌕🌕🌕

GEICO had the cheapest car insurance available in 19 of the 50 states. It was also one of the three most affordable options 75 percent of the time, and its best offer was often hundreds of dollars cheaper than the next-best competitor. GEICO is also cheaper, usually, even when you drill down to specific circumstances.

For instance, when it comes to the good driver’s discount, GEICO easily beat out almost every other insurer, with an average annual rate of $2,146. With State Farm, it’s $2,821, and Progressive charges $3,393. (Yes, we said almost. USAA, which is limited to members of the military and their families, offers an average annual rate of $1,934.)

GEICO also is one of the cheapest options for drivers with good driving records but poor credit, with an annual average rate of $4,259. At Progressive, it’s $4,738; at State Farm, $4,951. And if you have a speeding ticket in your recent past, slow down for GEICO. The annual average rate you’d pay is $2,645, compared to $3,186 at State Farm and $4,002 with Progressive.

That said, if you have DUI on your record, GEICO may no longer be an affordable option. Annually, on average, you can expect to pay $4,876. State Farm would save you more than a thousand dollars in that case, with an average annual premium of $3,637, and Progressive clocks in at $3,970.

[Note: Occasionally, the reason GEICO was able to beat its competition by such a large margin was because the other insurers required slightly more coverage than the state mandated.] 

The gecko-loving company is without a doubt the most consistently affordable option out there, so it deserves a shopper’s consideration. And the gecko is right: According to our research, it’s safe to say that 15 minutes could often save you “15 percent or more” on a state-minimum policy.

However, GEICO’s range of coverages and discounts don’t particularly shine when compared to a competitor like Allstate. Allstate customers enjoy prepay discounts, low-mileage discounts, interior vehicle coverage, and new car replacement — all of which are not offered at GEICO.

And when it comes to customer service ratings, GEICO doesn’t have much to write home about: Its customer service ratings vary by region, and it placed just under the industry average in claims satisfaction, according to JD Power. But, if you’re dead-set on purchasing the least amount of insurance that you possibly need at the lowest price available, then GEICO is probably your best bet.

State Farm

State Farm at a Glance
Overall Rating
🌕🌕🌕🌕🌑
Affordability 🌕🌕🌕🌕🌑
Tools and Features (e.g., mobile bill pay) 🌕🌕🌕🌕🌕
Customer Satisfaction 🌕🌕🌕🌕🌑
Discounts (e.g., good driving) 🌕🌕🌕🌕🌑

State Farm had a lower overall score than GEICO, but wound up in the top three a total of 38 times (GEICO only placed 37 times). When State Farm placed, it usually fell between $30 and $50 dollars of the competition. Though, it occasionally surprised with a GEICO-like rate: In Minnesota, State Farm was $120 cheaper than American Family, and in South Carolina it beat GEICO by a whopping $223 a year.

Quotes aside, State Farm is the nation’s largest auto insurer. It ranks consistently well for customer satisfaction in most of the regions J.D. Power surveys. It also earns A.M. Best’s top marks (A++) for financial strength. Plus, it has the best tools of any auto insurance provider out there, including mobile bill pay, mobile claim filing, and a pay-by-bank account option. All that is to say it’s a great choice if you can spare a few extra dollars each month.

Progressive

Progressive at a Glance
Overall Rating
🌕🌕🌕🌗🌑
Affordability 🌕🌕🌕🌑🌑
Tools and Features (e.g., mobile bill pay) 🌕🌕🌕🌕🌑
Customer Satisfaction 🌕🌕🌕🌕🌑
Discounts (e.g., good driving) 🌕🌕🌕🌗🌑

Progressive was the cheapest option in only seven states, and even when it was, it was usually less than $20 ahead of the runner-up (usually GEICO). That doesn’t mean Progressive is never a viable option, though.
Consider the state of Montana, where Progressive came in just $22 more for the year. For less than $2 more each month, a Montana driver could take advantage of mobile claims filing, loyalty discounts, prepay discounts, and low-mileage discounts that GEICO doesn’t offer.

Where to Find Car Insurance Discounts

Once you’ve seen some quotes, you need to master discounts — the key to cheap car insurance rates. Many insurers have a wide variety of overlooked deductions that go beyond bundling or insuring multiple vehicles, and some of them are less obvious than you may think.

Driving Schools

Driving education is a discount opportunity many don’t know exist. Drivers who pass an accredited driver’s ed class or defensive driving training are eligible for a sizeable price reduction. The amount of this discount isn’t standardized across the nation or with insurers, but according to DriversEd.com, some drivers might welcome as much as a 10% decrease in their bill. Plus, if you’ve recently received a ticket, enrolling in a defensive driving course can prevent the premium hike on your insurance (most companies only let you do this once every 12 months).

Defensive driving courses cover topics such as traffic laws, drug- and alcohol-impaired driving, and inclement-weather driving and are often available online or at commercial driving schools. Courses for defensive driving can be found through your local DMV or community center. Most run about six hours long and cost anywhere from $50 to $300 a person.

After completing a defensive driving course, participants will receive a certificate that can be presented to insurance companies to qualify for a discount. Depending on the insurance company, drivers may also have to retake the course and be current on their certification in order to continue receiving the discount.

If you aren’t the only person covered on your auto policy, consider getting all the drivers on your policy — especially teens, as they are expensive to insure — to take a defensive driving course and you will be eligible for additional discounts.

Good Student Discounts

These discounts are typically given to drivers under the age of 25 who are enrolled full time at a high school or college or university and are maintaining at least a 3.0 grade point average (or are on the honor roll or dean’s list).

What about the savings? According to CarInsurance.com, the discount can range anywhere from 5% to 10%, making it one of the most profitable and achievable discounts of all. Consider Travelers, which offers good students up to 8% off.

In order to prove satisfactory academic achievement and receive the discount, students need a current transcript or a letter signed by a school administrator. Students who are homeschooled can present standardized test results, such as their SAT or ACT scores, that are within a desired percentile range in order to qualify. Good grades can continue saving you money after graduation as some insurance companies extend this discount to post-grads for a limited time.

If you’re a student, or the parent of a student, you can learn even more at The Simple Dollar’s student guide to car insurance.

Safe-Driver Discounts

Drivers with a clean driving record — a standard that is determined by each individual insurance provider — are eligible for hefty discounts. Having a squeaky clean record not only gives you a discount opportunity; it can also save you a lot more money in the short term.

There is no universal definition of safe driving, though. Insurance companies generally mean avoiding collisions and accidents for which you can be found at fault, and moving violations such as speeding, driving under the influence, or reckless driving.

Resident Student Discounts

These discounts can be offered to students attending college more than 100 miles away from home. They are intended to be used exclusively by those students who are not planning to drive the insured vehicle while at school but may use it while they are home for vacations.

Other Discounts to Consider

  • Active-duty military and veterans discounts
  • Car alarm systems or other safety equipment discounts
  • Paid-in-full or prepay discounts
  • Occupation and member discounts
  • Low mileage discounts

One of the most important things you can do while shopping is to ask the insurance company for a complete list of discounts because not all may be advertised.

Major Car Insurance Types

Though companies offer several more nuanced options and add-ons, the three major types of auto insurance boil down to:

  • Liability coverage
  • Collision coverage
  • Comprehensive coverage

Liability Coverage

Liability coverage, required by law in most states, covers the other driver’s personal injury and property damage in a crash where you’re found to be at fault. It does not cover your own injuries or property damage. Buying only liability insurance is always going to be your cheapest option, though not necessarily the wisest. (Sometimes it makes sense to carry only liability coverage, and sometimes it doesn’t.)

You’ll probably see your liability coverage written like this on your quote or car insurance policy: $50,000/$100,000/$50,000 (or 50/100/50). That means you have $50,000 in bodily injury coverage for each person, $100,000 in bodily injury coverage total, and $50,000 in coverage for property damage. Each state requires its own minimum amount of liability insurance.

Buying the bare minimum is tempting since it will keep your rates as low as possible. Unfortunately, that’s a bad idea — a bad crash can mean your costs will easily surpass low state minimums, and then you’ll have to pay up. In North Carolina for example, its minimum for bodily injury is $30,000, but the average cost of a non-fatal disabling auto-wreck injury is over $60,000. If you only have the state’s minimum coverage, you could wind up paying over $30,000 out of pocket. And if you don’t have that kind of money laying around, your other assets become vulnerable.

Collision Coverage

Collision coverage covers the damage to your car sustained in a crash. This most commonly covers accidents when you’re found to be at fault, but it may also pay in certain circumstances when another driver is at fault, or in scenarios not covered under your other policies.

The cost of your collision coverage will largely depend on your car’s value, but you do control the deductible — the amount you pay out of pocket before your insurance company picks up the rest of the tab.

Comprehensive Coverage

True to its name, comprehensive car insurance covers almost any car-related calamity you can think of minus damage resulting from a crash. Instead, comprehensive policies pay for things like auto theft, damage from severe weather, or needed repairs after a late-night rendezvous with a disoriented deer.

Comprehensive coverage is meant to complement collision coverage, not replace it. Like collision coverage, the cost will depend on your car, but you control your deductible.

What types of car insurance do I really need?

Comprehensive and collision coverage seem like a smart choice, but they come with a much heftier price tag than liability-only insurance. If you took out a loan to pay for your car, you probably don’t have a choice — your lender will require proof of comprehensive and collision coverage. Dropping this coverage usually isn’t a good idea if your car is worth a decent amount of money.

But, there are situations when opting only for liability makes sense. For instance, if you drive an older, paid-off vehicle that doesn’t have much value to anyone but you, keeping only liability coverage can mean significant savings. Comprehensive and collision coverage may also be overkill on an older car you drive sparingly.

Would I personally drop my comprehensive and collision policies? No, because my 2013 Jeep Patriot is still relatively new and would cost a significant sum to repair or replace. My brother, however, drives a 1984 Ford F150. At best, it’s worth around $2,500 — and his policy is only $19 a month! For him, dropping comprehensive and collision coverage made a lot more sense.

The bottom line: Liability coverage is your cheapest option and meets the legal requirement, but dropping collision and comprehensive coverage would be a risky move if it would be a major financial hardship to fix or replace your car after an accident.

Add-Ons and Other Types of Coverages

There are a number of other coverage types and add-ons, some of which may be required in certain states. Of particular note is personal injury protection, which pays your medical expenses after a crash.

If you’re trying to keep your bill low, personal injury coverage probably isn’t a smart buy as long as you have a good health insurance plan — there would be too much overlap between the two policies.

There are also uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages, which get you off the hook after a crash where the other driver is at fault but doesn’t carry enough (or any) insurance and can’t afford to pay. Other add-ons pay for rental cars while your car is being fixed and for roadside assistance.

As for other little add-ons, consider skipping them. If you can cover the cost of a rental (or borrow a car from a friend while you’re in a jam), rental-car riders are unnecessary, and a AAA membership is often a better deal than roadside assistance coverage if you have an older vehicle.

What car insurance is required in my state?

Each state has different requirements when it comes to car insurance. Many simply require liability insurance (both bodily injury and property damage). Others go a step or two further, requiring add-ons such as personal injury protection and uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. Visit the table below and locate your state to find your state’s requirements.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, here are the kinds of insurance each state requires as of January 2019, as well as the minimum required amounts of liability insurance. The only state that does not require liability insurance is New Hampshire; however, you’re still required to show that you have sufficient funds to meet state requirements if you’re at fault in a crash.

Types of insurance required Minimum required liability insurance
Alabama Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 25/50/25
Alaska Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 50/100/25
Arizona Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 15/30/10
Arkansas Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection 25/50/25
California Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 15/30/5
Colorado Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 25/50/15
Connecticut Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist 25/50/20
Delaware Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection 25/50/10
District of Columbia Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection, uninsured motorist 25/50/10
Florida Property damage liability, personal injury protection 10/20/10
Georgia Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 25/50/25
Hawaii Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection 20/40/10
Idaho Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 25/50/15
Illinois Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist 25/50/20
Indiana Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 25/50/25
Iowa Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 20/40/15
Kansas Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist, personal injury protection 25/50/25
Kentucky Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist 25/50/25
Louisiana Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 15/30/25
Maine Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist, medical payments 50/100/25
Maryland Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist 30/60/15
Massachusetts Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist 20/40/5
Michigan Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection 20/40/10
Minnesota Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist 30/60/10
Mississippi Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 25/50/25
Missouri Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist 25/50/25
Montana Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 25/50/20
Nebraska Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist 25/50/25
Nevada Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 25/50/20
New Hampshire Uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist, medical payments (financial responsibility only — insurance not compulsory) 25/50/25 (minimum available in NH, but not required by state law if you show sufficient funds)
New Jersey Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist 15/30/5
New Mexico Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 25/50/10
New York Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection, uninsured motorist,wrongful death 25/50/10
North Carolina Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist 30/60/25
North Dakota Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist 25/50/25
Ohio Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 25/50/25
Oklahoma Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 25/50/25
Oregon Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist 25/50/20
Pennsylvania Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection 15/30/5
Rhode Island Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 25/50/25
South Carolina Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist 25/50/25
South Dakota Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist 25/50/25
Tennessee Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 25/50/15
Texas Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection 30/60/25
Utah Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, personal injury protection 25/65/15
Vermont Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist 25/50/10
Virginia Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist 25/50/20
Washington Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 25/50/10
West Virginia Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist 25/50/25
Wisconsin Bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist, medical payments 25/50/10
Wyoming Bodily injury liability, property damage liability 25/50/20

Six Tips to Find Cheap Auto Insurance

Certain factors that affect your car insurance rates are largely beyond your control. These include basic demographics such as your age, gender, marital status, location, and job.

But other factors, including how you manage your credit and what and how you drive, are easier to change. So, comparison shop, exploit discounts, and consider bundling policies to find the cheapest car insurance companies, too.

Tip #1: Shop Around

It always pays to shop around for cheaper car insurance. Instead of wasting time making endless phone calls or filling out the same information on dozens of websites, save time by using an online quote tool. Online quote tools help you get a quick snapshot of potential rates from several auto-insurance companies at once.

More importantly, getting multiple auto insurance quotes helps you avoid becoming a victim to price optimization. Price optimization is the somewhat devious practice of of establishing rates based not just on how risky a driver is to insure, but on how much insurance companies think they’re comfortable paying.

Earnix, a pricing analytics platform, found that 45% of larger insurance companies use this tactic to maximize their profits. These insurers mine and analyze a ton of personal data, like credit scores and web shopping habits, to determine how likely you are to leave them for another auto insurance company.

Getting new quotes on the regular is the best way to avoid price optimization because, just like other personal data, insurers can see how often you shop around. The more you do it, the less likely they are to risk upping your premium and lose you as a customer.

Find the Best Car Insurance

Enter your ZIP code below and be sure to click at least 2-3 companies to find the very best rate.

Tip #2: Bundle Policies

Many car insurance companies will give you a discount if you have other policies with them. For instance, you may get a break on car insurance if you use the same provider for life, home, or renter’s policies. Bundled policies are convenient, too; you’ll be dealing with only one bill and one company.

A note of caution: Don’t automatically assume bundles will save you money. Companies that offer only auto insurance may offer compelling discounts to keep your business.

Tip #3: Boost Your Deductible

Your deductible is what you pay out of pocket before your insurance covers the rest of the cost to fix or replace your car. For example, if your deductible is $500 and a fender bender causes $2,000 in damage to your car, you’ll have to pay the first $500 and insurance will only cover the remaining $1,500. A plan with a $250 deductible will generally cost more than one with a $1,000 deductible, since the insurance kicks in sooner.

However, raising your deductible is only a good move if you have cash stashed away to pay the higher deductible in case of a crash or other calamity. Also keep in mind that factors such as your age and driving record will affect how much raising your deductible will actually save you.

Tip #4: Drive a Low-Risk Car

Luxury cars are always the most expensive to insure. These cars have the power to go extremely fast, and insurance companies know their drivers are more likely to get into trouble. These cars also cost a lot more to fix and are attractive targets for thieves — all situations your insurance company wants to avoid.

If you don’t have six figures to drop on a car, here’s some good news: Family-friendly vehicles including minivans, sedans, and smaller SUVs cost the least to insure. Their drivers tend to be more careful, ultimately filing fewer claims. These vehicles are simpler to fix and they aren’t quite as tempting for thieves.

Ultimately, the choice is yours, but a less-glamorous ride can help you nab cheap auto insurance.

Tip #5: Change Your Driving Habits

Insurance is all about risk. If you get a speeding ticket every month, your bill will skyrocket. If you’ve had a clean driving record for years, you will have cheaper car insurance. Unfortunately, cleaning up a spotty driving record can take time.

Driving less is the simplest, easiest way to change your driving habits. Consider your options carefully: Can you carpool? Work from home? Use mass transit or even move closer to your job? All of these options can help you save since less time behind the wheel means less chance of a claim. Be sure to tell your insurer about your new habits.

Tip #6: Maintain Good Credit

It may seem unfair, but the vast majority of car insurance companies look at your credit score to help determine your rate. If you have good credit, your insurer assumes you’ll be more responsible behind the wheel. Bad credit means you’re statistically more likely to file a claim, insurers say.

According to consumer advocacy group United Policyholders, a rock-bottom credit score could mean you’ll pay double, triple, or even quadruple over someone with a perfect credit score. This controversial practice is illegal in four states: California, Hawaii, Maryland, and Massachusetts. If you don’t live in one of those states, working to raise your credit score can help you get cheap auto insurance.

It’s Time to Save on Car Insurance

A little legwork now can save you big in the long run, so remember to re-evaluate your car insurance at least annually. Your own changing circumstances and old-fashioned competition between insurers always has the potential to hook you a cheap car insurance policy.

Find the Best Car Insurance

Enter your ZIP code below and be sure to click at least 2-3 companies to find the very best rate.