Car insurance is financial coverage for your car in the form of liability, property, and medical protection. For instance, theft and damage due to accident would fall under property coverage. As with most automotive coverage, car insurance is legally mandated throughout the United States. Each state, however, has very different minimum requirements. Typically, uninsured motorist and liability coverage are both obligatory.

Although there are a few exceptions, generally speaking every driver on the road needs car insurance. If you are going to be permanently garaging your car for a set period of time, however, you could go insurance-less for that period. Also, if you are driving someone else's car but are sufficiently covered by their policy, you will not need car insurance as well. If you are not covered, or under covered by the owner's policy, you might want to look into non-owners insurance, particularly if you tend to borrow cars often. 

When choosing a car insurance plan, make sure that the policy covers your specific requirements. Though premiums may differ based on levels of coverage selected, many plans offer a combination of vehicle and personal coverage. While most companies offer liability, personal injury protection, collision, and uninsured motorist coverage, all insurance companies also offer additional features, meant to promote greater peace of mind. These can include comprehensive coverage, umbrella coverage, mechanical breakdown, rental car coverage, and interior coverage.  

Finally, make sure to ask yourself these questions prior to selecting a policy: What is the process for submitting a claim? Are there any policy discounts available? Do they offer 24/7 roadside assistance, as well as emergency services? Are the deductible and monthly premium ratio within your budget? Additionally, premiums will vary depending on the person insured. Factors that can all play a significant role in your final premium include your geographic location, gender, age, vehicle type, credit score, and driving history.

Top 7 Companies

Our Partner
9.4 / 10
  • 12 month rate guarantee
  • New/ better car replacement coverage
  • Specialty vehicles (motorcycle, classic car, off-road, recreational vehicle)
  • Good financial ratings
  • Good list of available discounts
  • 24/7 reporting
Our Partner
9.2 / 10
  • Compare up to 60 insurance brands online
  • A+ BBB accredited & 4.5/5 eKomi rating
  • Auto Insurance comparison available in every continental state
  • Customization tool to tune coverage levels
  • Easy checkout: buy online, over the phone or through local agent
  • Millions of customers served
Our Partner
9.0 / 10
  • See How Much You Could Save with GEICO
  • Save up to $500 or more on car insurance
  • Discounts are available for over 850+ organizations & alumni associations
  • Obtain your quote online today - It's fast, easy & free!
Our Partner
8.9 / 10
  • Average QuoteWizard user saves $65 a month
  • Millions Served Since 2006
  • No Personal Information Required for Quotes
  • Get Low Rates from Top Companies
  • Over 43,000 local insurance agents
Our Partner
7.7 / 10
  • Personalized recommendations based on customer preferences
  • Talk to a personal insurance agent online
  • Find and compare car insurance quotes for free
  • Quick price and coverage calculator
  • Real and accurate quotes
  • Wide network of car insurance options
Our Partner
7.5 / 10
  • Good list of discount items
  • Rental car coverage
  • Gap insurance
  • 24/7 roadside assistance and customer service
Our Partner
7.2 / 10
  • Competitive premiums
  • Strong financial ratings
  • Rate protection
  • 24/7 claims reporting
  • Rental reimbursement
  • Towing and labor included
  • Good discounts
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How We Compare Car Insurance

Coverage & Benefits


Car insurance coverage can entail a number of different elements, some of which are required by state law. Therefore, the first step in choosing your plan is determining the specific coverage needed for your home state. Once you've met the minimum legal requirements, then you can increase your limits and options, in order to obtain more protection. Following, you'll find in-detail explanations of the different types of coverage. Bear in mind that beyond the broad coverage types offerd by most insurance compabies, there are additional add-ons that aren't required by law, but can be a good choice for some consumers. Every insurance company has different add-ons available, but some of them are common across the board.

Basic Coverage

Liability Insurance: Liability insurance pays for injuries and property damage to the other party if you were the cause of the accident. It does not cover your own injuries or property. Most states have a legally required minimum amount of liability insurance. However, if you can afford it, it’s generally a good idea to have liability that is well above the minimum, in order to ensure sufficient coverage.

Collision: Property damage liability does not cover your vehicle in any way. Collision coverage is needed to defray the costs of any damage to your vehicle in the case of an accident, when it hits or is hit by another vehicle, or when you hit another object. Keep in mind that collision coverage doesn’t cover all damage, so read your policy to see what falls under its terms.

Comprehensive: Comprehensive insurance covers damages and losses from incidents other than a collision. Normally this includes coverage from theft, vandalism, glass damage (broken windshield, side mirror, etc.), damage sustained from an animal or falling object, fire, and more. Only the specifically listed peril will be covered, so make sure you know what’s included with the policy before signing a contract. 

Personal Injury Protection (PIP): Also known as “no-fault coverage,” this type of coverage is only available in no-fault states, which means that in the event of an accident, blame isn't placed on either driver. PIP pays for your injuries irregardless of fault, and generally covers your medical expenses until your benefit limits are exhausted. At that point, your health insurance would have to kick in and cover the rest.

Medical Payments: Similar to personal injury protection in that it covers medical costs resulting from a covered accident, but does not cover other related expenses; sometimes referred to as MedPay.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist: If you are in an accident with an uninsured driver and you don’t have PIP or collision coverage, you would have to pay your own medical and repair bills out of pocket. This is where uninsured motorist coverage comes into play, because it covers those expenses in the event that the other party has insufficient or no insurance. This type of coverage is also required in many states.

Additional Coverage

One additional option is called personal umbrella coverage. Umbrella insurance provides an additional layer of personal liability protection. In the event of a severe accident with damages in excess of your base liability coverage, umbrella protection kicks in once your liability limits are exhausted. This is more of a “peace of mind” add-on that ensures maximum and thorough protection for both you and your vehicle.

Many companies also have accident forgiveness, which means that your premium would not be affected in the event of a car accident. Restrictions apply, so be sure to thoroughly read the fine print. Other common add-ons include rental car coverage, new car replacement, better car replacement, mechanical breakdown coverage, and interior car coverage. Again, these add-ons are never required, but they do allow you to customize your insurance policy to meet all of your needs.

Rental Reimbursement: Covers the cost of car rental while the policyholder's vehicle is being repaired as a result of a covered accident.

Towing & Labor Cost: Covers the cost of towing and roadside assistance for policyholders.

Sound System Coverage: Protects policyholders from expenses resulting from theft or damage to installed sound systems.

Glass: Covers the cost of repairing damage to car window during theft or weather related damage.

Vet Bills: Covers the cost of care for pets that are injured in a covered accident.

The benefit limits of these different types of coverage are determined by a combination of state law and the cash value of your vehicle. If any damages exceed your benefit limits, you are responsible for paying those expenses. Each state has different requirements. For instance, some impose insurance limits of 25/50/10. This means that the policy pays up to $25,000 for a single person’s injuries in an accident you cause, $50,000 for bodily injury for all occupants' injuries, and up to $10,000 for damage to the other driver’s property. That would be the minimum coverage, and the ceiling is then dependent on the value of your vehicle.

Pricing and Discounts


In 2012, the average annual cost to insure a car in the United States was $815 a year. If you already have car insurance that number may seem outrageous, either because you pay way more or way less than $815 every year. That’s because insurance companies have access to an enormous amount of data they use to figure out which individuals are more or less likely to file a claim. Some factors are mostly out of your control, while others can be changed and either improve or worsen your rate. If you’ve yet to receive any quotes, or you’re interested in knowing about the different variables that can affect your car insurance premiums, read on to better understand some of the ways in which insurance companies determine your rate.

  • Location: Location has a major impact on your insurance rates. State laws vary significantly, and this can affect minimum coverage and benefit limits. You’ll pay more if you live in a densely populated area, or somewhere prone to natural disasters. If you live in the city but park your car in a secure structure, you will pay less in premiums than somebody who parks on the street.
  • Gender: Women generally pay less for car insurance. Statistics show that men drive more often, and are more likely to be in an accident or receive a DUI.
  • Age:  Drivers under 25 and over 65 years old pay higher rates than individuals who fall somewhere within that age range. Keep in mind that marital status also affects your rate. Married couples generally pay less than single individuals.
  • Type of Vehicle: Simply put, the faster your car can go, the more you’ll pay for insurance. An expensive, high-performance sports car is going to cost WAY more to insure than a sensible family car.
  • Driving History: This is the big one, and probably the most obvious factor affecting your car insurance rates. As you accumulate tickets and violations, your rates will climb. The severity of the infractions on your record is also important, because a speeding ticket(s) will increase your rate a lot less than a DUI or a reckless driving charge. Additionally, though you can’t rewrite the past, attempting to be a safer driver moving forward can have a positive effect on your premiums.
  • Credit Score: Even your credit score affects how much you pay. Insurance companies cite data that shows the higher your credit score, the less likely you are to file a claim. Some states have actually banned this practice, but unless you live in California, Hawaii, or Massachusetts, your credit will likely factor into your premiums.
  • Deductible: The deductible is the amount that you’re responsible for paying before the insurance company begin to pay for any repair costs. For instance, if your car requires $5,000 in repairs and your deductible is $500, the insurer would pay $4,500. If, however, your car only requires $450 in repairs, you would be responsible for all of it. Deductibles typically apply to the collision and comprehensive coverages within your policy.

When choosing a plan, you are usually responsible for setting the deductible amount, so keep in mind that lower deductibles mean higher premiums, and vice-versa. Think about what you could realistically afford in the event of an accident, and not just how much you want to pay in premiums. Having a low premium is nice in the sense that your car insurance costs less on a month-to-month basis, but if paying your entire deductible would cripple you financially (let’s say your deductible is $1,000 and you have no money in savings), that could hurt you way more in the long run. Try to strike the right balance between the two.

Another thing to consider, and an easy way to save, is to inquire about discounts. Many companies offer student discounts, multiple vehicle discounts, good driver discounts, and more. Obviously the type and amount of coverage you purchase will also change your premiums, but you control how much or how little you need (within your state's minimum coverage requirements). Car insurance is highly personalized, so you won’t really know how much you’ll pay until you get quotes from a bunch of insurance companies. The best way to save on car insurance is to do some thorough comparison shopping.


Multiple Vehicle: Discount for covering multiple vehicles under a single policy. Safe Driver: Policyholders receive a discount for having a clean recent driving history. Anti-Theft: Discount for having theft protection devices on their vehicle. Low Milage: Those who drive very little can receive a discount. Vehicle Safety: Policyholders receive a discount if their car is equipped with air bags, anti-lock braking systems, and other safety features. Homeowner: Discount for those who own their home. Student: Enrolled students with qualifying grades receive a discount. Seniors: Policyholders over the age of 55 receive a discount, usually for completing some type of driver safety course. Bundled Policy: Those who have multiple types of insurance with the provider (homeowners, travel, etc) receive a discount.

Additional Discounts

Hybrid/Electric Vehicle: Discount applies to policies covering electric or hybrid vehicles. Group Savings: Policyholders receive a discount if they belong to one of several specified groups, such as unions. Newly Married: Those who are recently married will receive a discount. Full/Automatic Payment: Discount for paying the premium in full, or setting up automatic/recurring payments. Green/Paperless: Some companies have discounts for choosing electronic payments. Hybrid Cars: Environmentally-conscious companies offer discounted rates for hybrid cars.

Financial Strength


You car insurance company's financial strenght is important because it provides a good measure for determining whether they'll be able to meet their obligations on your policy. A company’s financial ratings not only reflect their resources and history, but are also a testament to their sound business policies. There are a number of industry-trusted sources that offer independent reviews or ratings for insurance companies, including A.M. Best and Standard & Poor's, both of whom offer a financial rating and an issuer strength rating. 

Some of the factors that these rating companies take into account include the type of company (whether they underwrite their own policies, function as subsidiaries to other underwriters, or are simply a marketplace, offering quotes from various different underwriters). The company's marketshare is also an important element to consider, especially as it relates to their time in business. For instance, one would expect long-standing businesses to have a correspondingly large marketshare, and if this weren't the case, then we'd have to take a closer look as to why. 

Company Type

We classify life insurance providers into three categories. Underwriters are insurance companies that underwrite their own policies. Subsidiaries, or partners, are companies either owned by an underwriter, or who have partnered with a single underwriter for all of their policies. A marketplace is a company that offers consumers quotes across multiple underwriters.

Marketshare 2016

Marketshare and premium information was compiled from the 2016 National Association of Insurance Commissioners Market Share Report.

Customer Experience


Stellar customer service is incredibly important when it comes to car insurance, as claims filing is universally acknowledged to be a complicated and frustrating process. Car insurance is a major expense for many people, so their insurance company should be committed to flexibility and positive consumer experiences. In order to independently evaluate customer experience, we looked at several factors. Firstly we considered the 2016 National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) data on complaint ratios. The NAIC not only compiles complaints by company, but also assigns them a score in relation to the rest of the car insurance industry. Secondly we looked at results from the 2017 JD Power Auto Insurance Survey, which questioned an undisclosed number of car owners about their claims processing experience. Lastly we looked at a given company's BBB rating and complaints, and Trustpilot score.

Submitting claims can be made immeasurably harder or easier depending on how a company structures their customer service. Many, if not all, insurance websites have a dedicated customer service page, making it easy to compare and contrast their various services; as well as 24/7 claim reporting, which essentially means that they are always available when you need them. You can always file a claim by phone, but the most popular option nowadays is to file via an online portal, from where you can file a claim, and view or refer to previous open ones, all with the touch of a button. These portals also allow you to purchase additional coverage if you need it, and quickly get in touch with a customer service representative through live chat support. Almost everyone offers instant online quotes as well, which makes shopping around simple.

There are other customer service perks to consider, such as roadside assistance, towing/repairs, local insurance agents, and much more. Research all of these factors so you can find an insurance agency that is going to meet all of your needs.

NAICS Complaint Ratio 2016

This is a ratio of the number of complaints a company received as compared with the total premiums it's written in a calendar year. The median complaint ratio across all companies is 1. A score below 1 means that the company received fewer than average complaints. A score above 1 means the company received a higher number of complaints than average.

JD Power Overall Satisfaction Score

JD Power is an American global marketing information services company. They score businesses based on a number of factors, including the customer ratings for their overall insurance claims experience. With regard to auto insurance, the company judges consumer experience in six areas and then assigns an overall score. These six areas are: first notice of loss, interaction with claims adjuster, appraisal, repair process, rental car experience, and settlement.

BBB Rating

The Better Business Bureau is an American non-profit organization founded in 1912 with the aim of "advancing marketplace trust," in their own words. To that end, they score and accredit companies according to performance inline with BBB standards, addressing customer concerns, and general integrity. We took into consideration a company's BBB grade, and their number of positive, negative, and neutral reviews.

Trust Pilot Rating

TrustPilot is a consumer review-based website that allows users to rate and evaluate businesses, providing real-life feedback of their experience with a company.

Customer Questions & Answers

How Much Auto Insurance Do I Need?

In all states except New Hampshire, Virginia, and Mississippi, you need to carry at least the minimum coverages prescribed the laws of that state. These requirements vary widely. Furthermore, different states require different types of coverage. Some require personal injury protection coverage. Some require un- and underinsured motorist coverage. Check insurers operating in your state to see what the minimum coverage and coverage types are. And consider, too, that the minimum coverage may not be at all sufficient to protect you and your family.

How Much Does Car Insurance Cost?

The cost of car insurance varies tremendously by state, by driver, by vehicle, by coverage, and by insurer. Studies which attempt to derive an average cost also vary in their methodology and results. One 2017 study pegged the average annual American auto insurance costs at $1,318. The same study found that the lowest average annual costs were found in Maine at $864 while the highest were in Michigan at $2,394.

Who Is Covered by My Auto Insurance Policy?

Automobile insurance covers the people listed on the policy. This generally includes all members of your household who are of driving age and who are named as insured persons. It’s also possible – and a good idea - to list people who occasionally use your car, but who are not household members. Beyond the named insureds, the answer is less clear-cut and varies by policy and by state law. Coverages such as personal injury protection and medical payments insurance apply to all people who are in your car at the time of an accident. If you loan your car to someone who is then in an accident, then often your insurer will cover damages, injuries, and liabilities caused by the driver. But beware: the general rule that car insurance follows the vehicle and not the driver has many exceptions.

Does My Car Insurance Cover Me When I Drive Someone Else's Car?

Car insurance generally follows the car, not the driver. So if you drive someone else's car with his or her permission, you will be covered by the owner's insurance, unless you are listed as an excluded driver on the policy. Conversely, if you lend your car to a non-excluded driver (meaning anyone you did not specifically exclude on your policy) who gets into an accident, your car insurance will cover the claims. There are situations, however, when some insurance benefits maintained by a person who borrows another person's car may be accessed in the event of an accident. In this case, the car owner's policy is primary and pays first, while the car driver's policy is secondary. Further, since car insurance generally covers vehicles, not drivers, you should make sure that every car you own is separately listed on your auto insurance policy. Carrying insurance on just one of your vehicles does not mean that you are insured to drive the other vehicles you own.

Will My Car Insurance Policy Cover Me out of the Country?

Very few, if any, American automobile insurance policies cover the policyholder when he or she is driving in a country outside of the US or Canada. Some policies will cover damage to your car when it is driven in Mexico within 25 or 50 miles of the border, but still will not provide liability coverage. Some American insurers offer overseas policies through foreign affiliates to members of the military, government employees, and expatriates, but these policies much be purchased specially.

Does Car Insurance Pay for Rental Cars?

If you own and insure your own vehicle, your policy’s general liability and comprehensive coverages will usually apply when you rent a car. Your medical payments and personal injury protection coverages, in most cases, will also follow you. However, note that your own coverage limits still apply regardless of the value of the rental car you are driving. If you pay to insure an old Ford Escort but get into an accident while driving a rented new Mercedes-Benz, your insurer will pay up to the value of the Escort, not the value of the rental car.