Best Inexpensive Car Insurance: We Found Good Coverage for Less Money

You need car insurance by law, most likely, but that doesn’t mean you have to overpay.

byEric Rosenberg| UPDATED May 19, 2022 7:16 AM
Best Inexpensive Car Insurance: We Found Good Coverage for Less Money

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“I want the most expensive car insurance I can find,” said no one, ever. Drivers are required by law to carry at least a minimal level of coverage in most states. And while it’s usually a good idea to get more than merely minimum coverage, it’s also good for your finances to find the least expensive insurance company offering the right coverage for your needs.

If you’re looking for the best inexpensive car insurance, it’s essential to look at a few factors in addition to the price. These include the company’s financial stability, reputation for customer service and claims, and other features that could improve your customer experience. Here’s a look at some of the best providers if you’re focused on finding inexpensive car insurance.

This article may include references to products or services where The Drive has an affiliate relationship with the providing company. The Drive and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Read more.

Our Top Picks for Inexpensive Car Insurance

Geico

State Farm

USAA

Metromile

Nationwide

Progressive

Lemonade

Geico

Pros

  • Typically the least expensive
  • Positive customer service, claims ratings
  • Discount opportunities

Cons

  • Not always least expensive
  • More expensive after a ticket or DUI

Summary

Geico is an insurance company available to most people in the U.S. It’s known for low rates and high customer satisfaction ratings.

Geico is perhaps best recognized for its talking gecko that says you can save 15 percent or more. It turns out that this isn’t just hype. Geico is consistently among the lowest-cost options when people search for car insurance. If you also have renters or homeowners insurance with Geico, you can save more through bundling, a common feature at large insurance companies.

Geico is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffet’s massive conglomerate, helping it earn the highest level of financial stability ratings from AM Best. It also ranks highly for overall customer and claims satisfaction in the annual J.D. Powers survey. Geico tends to be the best cheap car insurance for those with a good record. If you have a ticket, DUI, or other infraction on your record, Geico could cost you more than others.

State Farm

Pros

  • National insurance company offering many types of insurance coverage
  • Strong financial stability and customer ratings
  • Cheapest for those with a ticket or DUI

Cons

  • May not be the best deal for your driving record
  • No gap insurance coverage

Summary

State Farm is a national insurance company that may be more forgiving if you’ve made a driving mistake.

State Farm is another of the biggest insurance companies in the U.S., with a long history of covering many needs. Insurance through State Farm also consistently costs less. State Farm is notably cheapest after a ticket or DUI. Every insurance company uses a proprietary formula to determine rates, so your results may vary.

State Farm does an excellent job of offering a little something for everyone. Additional coverage options include rideshare insurance and emergency roadside service. You can handle most of your needs online or through an agent, whichever you prefer. State Farm was highly rated for customer satisfaction in most regions in the J.D. Power annual auto insurer ratings.

USAA

Pros

  • Very low rates for qualifying drivers
  • Excellent customer service ratings
  • Services customized for military households

Cons

  • Only available to military and veteran households

Summary

USAA is a bank and insurance company designed for military households with low rates and excellent service. If you’re on active duty, a veteran, or your parent is, you can sign up for an account. Otherwise, you’re likely out of luck.

If you or your spouse are active-duty military, a veteran, or the child of a veteran of any armed forces branch, you should check out USAA. For auto insurance, USAA ranks as one of the best for rates and customer service. However, you can only join USAA if you’re in its narrow list of family members unless you have a current or past connection to any branch of the armed forces yourself.

The high ratings and low costs make USAA highly desirable if you are eligible. If you’re part of an active duty household that frequently moves or faces deployment, you will likely enjoy the features and benefits designed with your unique needs. In addition to bundle discounts for other insurance policies, you should also look for banking products from USAA available with almost no fees.

Metromile

Pros

  • Pay very little when car is parked
  • Charges based on a reasonable per-mile rate
  • Cap to number of miles you are charged per day

Cons

  • No savings for high-mileage drivers

Summary

Save money if you drive an average number of miles or fewer. Get the most savings if you work from home or have a very short commute.

With Metromile, insurance costs are based on a monthly flat rate plus a per-mile rate that varies based on your driving. If you work from home or live near work or school, Metromile could offer huge savings compared to traditional insurance plans. According to Metromile, drivers going an average number of miles with a typical daily commute are still likely to find savings by switching to paying per mile with Metromile.

There’s a limit to the number of miles you’ll pay per day when you go on a road trip. However, if you drive long distances frequently, you might find Metromile isn’t the best choice. You can use tools at Metromile to check your rate and estimate your total monthly cost based on your average driving. The required tracker device is also helpful for diagnosing engine codes if your car has an issue or finding your vehicle if it’s ever stolen.

Nationwide

Pros

  • Operations in every state
  • Often among the least expensive option
  • Many types of insurance offered

Cons

  • Below average customer satisfaction ratings
  • Not available in all states

Summary

Nationwide is a giant insurer that offers most types of insurance in most states, but it lags when it comes to customer service ratings.

Nationwide is one of the biggest insurance companies in the U.S., with nationwide operations and options to get bundled coverage for your home or other needs. It earns strong ratings for financial stability but lags competitors in J.D. Powers annual customer satisfaction ratings, coming in dead last in the central region.

However, if rates are your top priority it’s worth adding Nationwide to your comparison pool. If Nationwide finds your customer profile to be less risky, you could find you get the cheapest rate from Nationwide.

Progressive

Pros

  • Large auto insurance provider
  • Ride-hailing and pet coverage
  • Bundle discounts available

Cons

  • Rated lot for claims satisfaction
  • Not always the least expensive

Summary

Progressive is a huge insurer that may come in with the lowest rate for your needs, but customer reviews are mixed.

Progressive is another massive insurer with operations in many parts of the U.S. It has solid ratings for financial stability, but ratings are mixed for customer service. It ranked second worst for claims in the 2021 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Survey from J.D. Power, a big red mark on its listing. But pricing can make up for that if cost is your top priority.

If you have a history of accidents or tickets, Progressive may be your cheapest option overall. However, it’s always best to shop around with a few top choices to find your best rate. Also, check out the long list of supported discounts to make sure you’re paying as little as possible.

Lemonade

Pros

  • Easy online experience
  • Includes innovative features
  • Discounts for safe driving habits

Cons

  • Newer insurer with fewer ratings
  • Driving monitored by mobile app

Summary

Lemonade is a newer insurance company with innovative features that make it easy to use if you’re comfortable handling your insurance and claims through an app.

Those comfortable with technology should check out Lemonade. This insurer offers unique features, including emergency crash assistance and free roadside assistance, and the company plants trees to offset customer carbon emissions from driving. Lemonade also offers pet, homeowners, renters, and life insurance.

Lemonade requires users to install an app that tracks their driving habits. The benefit is that safe drivers and low-mileage drivers can save money on their insurance. The downside is that your insurance company tracks unsafe driving habits, so you could wind up paying more. It gets positive reviews from customers for its online signup, quote, and claim process.

Average Cost of Inexpensive Car Insurance

The U.S. has wonky insurance laws that make insurers operate state by state. That means rates vary widely by state, with additional variance for your specific zip code, driving history, the car you drive, and other factors. According to government data, car insurance rates have steadily ticked upward over the last decade. For 2019, the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Institute found the average insurance cost to be $1,070 per year or about $90 per month.

How to Save on Insurance

Insurance rates vary from person to person, and there are many factors considered in your insurance rates. We have some tips on how to save on car insurance:

  • Shop around. Because every insurer uses a different formula to calculate rates, you might find one insurer is cheaper for you even if it’s not the cheapest for your friends or family.
  • Seek out discounts. Every insurer has its own list of discounts and opportunities for savings. Ask your agent or customer service about available discounts.
  • Drive safely. Driving safely is huge for keeping your rates low. Tickets, accidents, and other claims can quickly increase your rates.
  • Drive a less expensive car. Rates are higher for newer, more expensive, and higher-risk cars. While it may not be fun to trade in a sporty coupe for a family sedan, it can help you save significantly on insurance rates.

Key Features

  • Premiums. This is how much you pay to have insurance even if you don’t have an accident. Premiums are often paid monthly, quarterly, semiannually, or annually.
  • Deductibles. A deductible is what you pay for repairs in the event of a claim before your insurance kicks in to cover the rest.
  • Flat rate vs. pay per mile. Traditional insurance charges a flat rate per period no matter how much you drive. Modern insurers also offer pay-per-mile programs where you pay less if you drive less.
  • Customer service and claims. If you need to change your policy or have an accident, who you gonna call? And are they going to be helpful?

Essential Cost Variables

As with everything, many variables will affect the cost of your insurance as no two people are exactly alike. With that in mind, here are the variables that’ll change the cost of your insurance. 

Age

New drivers in their teens tend to pay the highest rates, which go down with age. Once you hit a certain age near retirement, rates generally increase again for older drivers.

Gender

Men and women pay different rates, with men generally paying more for insurance than women because they tend to cause more accidents.

Credit Score

Drivers with bad credit tend to be a more considerable insurance risk than drivers with excellent credit. Paying your credit cards and loans on time and keeping balances low helps your credit score.

Location

Drivers with homes in urban areas or ZIP codes with more claims tend to pay more. If you live in a boring suburb or rural area and can park in a garage every night, you’ll likely pay less than an urban dweller relying upon on-street parking.

Vehicle

Sports cars, expensive cars, and newer cars usually cost more to insure than older and less expensive cars. Models with higher accident rates pay more, while those with low accident rates and lower replacement or repair costs require lower rates.

Type of Coverage

While you pay more for more extensive coverage, it’s usually worth the cost if you get in an accident or need to file another type of claim. You can pay less for lower coverage and higher deductibles.

FAQs

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q. How can I find the best inexpensive car insurance?

A. Rates vary based on many factors. If you’re looking to save money, it’s often a good idea to shop around

Q. What insurance company offers the lowest rates?

A. Geico, State Farm, and USAA tend to be among the cheapest insurance companies for drivers. Comparing your rate will help you find the best deal.

Q. How can I get lower rates on my car insurance?

A. Drive safely, improve your credit score, and shop around for lower-cost coverage if you want to save money on car insurance.

Q. Should I use pay-per-mile insurance?

A. Pay-per-mile car insurance may require a tracker in your car, but that’s not always bad. If you drive an average number of miles or less, you can probably save money using pay-per-mile insurance. Anyone who works at home or has a very short commute will likely find the most significant savings. They also help hunt down your car if it’s ever stolen.

Our Methodology

To choose the best companies and products for this list, I looked at a large number of financial products from various providers. I focused on cost, product features and options, ease of use, customer service, and past customer ratings as the most important factors in this ranking.

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