Vermont residents luck out with some of the most affordable auto insurance in the nation. It has a low number of uninsured drivers and a pretty spread-out population, which makes it less risky in the eyes of the insurance companies. The typical monthly premium in Vermont is almost 40 percent below the national average — that’s already a savings of nearly $650 per year. Most drivers may still be paying more than they have to for coverage, however.
A state survey of the auto insurance market found that rates charged by different companies varied by as much as 50 percent, and that “a majority of consumers don’t shop around when buying or renewing an auto insurance policy.” If you do some shopping around, you’ll find that you can pay more for exactly the same thing, when it’s not all that hard to grab a few quotes and take advantage of the competitive market.
Get quotes for the state’s minimum coverage, and you can save more than $1,700 a year simply by choosing Geico. It would be easy to say Geico is the cheapest for everyone, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. Just because Geico is the best car insurance option for one person doesn’t mean it will be for you, too.
Insurance providers have their own formulas for calculating rates, taking things like your driving history, address and vehicle make and model into account. They even care if you’re married or not. Every company weighs these factors a little differently, so you have to get quotes from several of them to find out which formula is best for you. Get at least five quotes.
Online quotes are easy. It only takes about five minutes and most, if not all, of the required data is information you’ll already know. If you don’t know your vehicle identification number or the average number of miles you drive each year, you should look that up before you begin. Otherwise, you’re probably all set. Some companies require you to call for a quote. In those cases, expect to add another 10 minutes to the process.
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Our Top 5 Picks for the Best Cheap Car Insurance in Vermont
Our picks are based on their reputation for financial strength and strong customer service; they all have “excellent” or “superior” grades from A.M. Best, a top financial-strength rating agency and the highest J.D. Power customer satisfaction ratings in New England. Statistically, you’re going to be in an accident at least once in your life (and if you live until you’re 85, it’s more likely you’ll be in four or five accidents). That’s stressful enough without adding unhelpful agents or financial insolvency into the mix, so you want to make sure you choose your insurer wisely. A cheap company that’s not there for you when you need it simply isn’t worth the savings.
The Vermont Department of Financial Regulation: “Cost is never the only factor in choosing a policy. Quality and convenience of service make a difference, as well as the reputations of companies and agents. Not all insurers offer the same coverage options. You want to find the best combination of service, reliability and price.”
Vermont’s Minimum Coverage Requirements for 2019
Vermont mandates drivers carry both liability and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. The required liability coverage includes $25,000 of bodily injury coverage per person and $50,000 per accident, plus $10,000 of property damage coverage. Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage have higher minimums with $50,000 of bodily injury coverage per person and $100,000 per accident, along with $10,000 for property damages.
Yes, that means higher premiums, but consider this:
- On average, a driver files a claim for an accident once every 17.9 years. If you have already been in an accident before, that doesn’t mean you’re safe for the next 18 years.
- The average cause of an accident that permanently disables someone is $93,800. And that’s before you figure in property damages for wrecking their vehicle.
Say you have only the minimum liability coverage ($25,000/$50,000/$10,000) and you get into an accident that causes someone a serious injury, not to mention totaling their car. Your insurance would have your back until you hit that $25,000 cap, and then you would be on your own. And you simply may not have $55,000 lying around to cover the rest. That means you’re likely to end up on the wrong end of a lawsuit, and that’s a place you wouldn’t want to be.
Now consider the cost of upgrading coverage. A bare-minimum policy from Geico can cost you about $570 a year. Doubling those limits brings the total to only $644. That’s only an extra $74 a year. It means that, in the event of a bad accident, you’ll have only $30,000 to pay out of pocket. That’s still less than ideal, but it’s better than the first option.
You may also want to think about adding some protection for your vehicle. Collision coverage pays for repairs to your vehicle following an accident. If you have a lease or loan, you may be required to purchase this, as well as comprehensive coverage, which pays for damages to your vehicle resulting from something other than a collision with another vehicle, like fire or vandalism. If your car isn’t anything spectacular, and you don’t really care if it gets beat up, it’s not worth the extra cost. If you have an expensive car, however, your situation might be different.
Driving without insurance in Vermont could earn you a fine and points on your driving record. Additionally, you must obtain a certificate (also known as an SR-22) proving you have financial responsibility insurance, which is a type of liability insurance that covers you, no matter which car you’re driving, rather than your vehicle. (Fair warning: It’s not cheap insurance.) You must maintain this insurance for a minimum of three years and failure to do so will result in the suspension of your license. The paperwork burden for financial responsibility insurance is pretty steep, too: the Vermont DMV has what it calls “very specific requirements” for keeping a record of this type of insurance on file, and they won’t accept anything other than a certificate from an insurance company (not an insurance agent). You may already know this, but it’s worth saying: Going without car insurance makes no sense at all.
There are a lot of factors that affect your rates, but there are just as many ways for you to drive them down. Getting a bunch of quotes already puts you ahead of most people. If you drive your car only a few days a week, that could cut back on your annual mileage and earn you some discounts.
Why are Vermont’s rates so cheap?
Vermont’s auto insurance premiums are some of the cheapest in the nation, thanks in large part to the state’s rural setting. A low-population density means a smaller chance of accidents, and that’s good for you and the insurance company. Vermont also sees the fewest vehicle thefts of any state nationwide. Factor in the low percentage of uninsured drivers and it’s easy to see why insurers offer Vermont residents rates nearly 40 percent below the national average.
I was in an accident and the other driver’s insurance company says I’m 50 percent at fault? Can they do that?
Yes, they can. And, it means that they’re only going to pay for 50 percent of the loss. In Vermont, there’s a doctrine of comparative negligence — if you’re found to be partially at fault, the other driver’s insurance company can limit the amount they’re going to cover. That’s another reason to consider carrying collision insurance. If you’re responsible for some, you’d have coverage for yourself, too, not just the other driver.
What should I do if I’m having a hard time getting coverage?
Every driver is guaranteed certain coverages through the Vermont Automobile Insurance Plan, also known as the assigned risk plan. If you’re having a hard time finding coverage, ask about this plan in particular; any insurance agent will be able to tell you more about it.
How can I know if my credit score is going to affect my rates?
The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires insurers to notify consumers if they experience any kind of adverse action, such as a denial of coverage, premium increase, or cancellation of coverage due to the information in their credit report. You can expect your insurer to give you a description of the parts of your credit history that are adversely impacting your insurance rates, such as your “insurance score,” which is a combination of your credit score and other factors like age, ZIP code and driving record. They’re also legally required to give you the name of the national credit bureau that supplied the information. If that ever happens, you should get your free copy of that credit report and correct any errors you may find. (Of course, you should monitor your credit score annually and regularly address any errors.)
Is Vermont a no-fault insurance state?
No, Vermont is not a no-fault insurance state. Drivers can purchase PIP (personal injury protection) insurance if they want, but it is by no means a requirement.
How long do I need to carry my S2-22 insurance in Vermont?
The standard requirement is three years. The three years starts the day the SR-22 was filed.
Even If You’re Happy, It’s Best to Shop for a New Policy Every Couple of Years
Insurance premiums are supposed to be based on risk, but in the past few years, insurers have begun weighing your likelihood of switching providers as well. They determine this by looking at your credit score, how long you’ve been with your current provider, and even your online shopping habits. You would think staying loyal would earn you a discount, but thanks to price optimization, it may actually cost you.
That’s why it’s best to shop around for new coverage every year or two. Doing this shows insurers you can’t be trusted to stay with them out of loyalty alone, and it’ll cause them to offer you a more competitive rate. Not shopping around can make insurers think you’re complacent, and they’ll sneak in extra charges to capitalize on that.
Vermont is one of more than 15 states that has either banned or placed some sort of regulation on price optimization. As of June 2015, any insurance provider operating in Vermont may not raise rates based on consumer shopping habits because it is against state law. That’s good news.
Even still, you should shop around. If you’re a safe driver, your risk is likely to decrease year over year. Based on risk alone, you’re likely to find that every year you’re a little bit less expensive to insure. Good drivers who haven’t had an accident or ticket in recent years will certainly qualify for a lower policy. You can even do a search for drivers with no violations when looking for a new policy.
Another way to control your policy? Improve your credit score. Drivers with poor credit take a huge hit on their policy. Poor credit drivers can see their premiums go as high as those who have had an accident.
And finally, although young drivers have high premiums, when you start to get older, shop around. Once you’re out of your 20s, you’ll pay less for your policy. You’ll pay even less in your 30s, 40s and even your 50s. So, is it worth it to shop around as you get older? Definitely.
Vermont residents already get a pretty sweet deal on auto insurance, but you can save yourself even more by shopping around. You’ll never know until you actually hit the dirt and get some quotes.