The Best Cheap Auto Insurance
To find the best cheap auto insurance, we analyzed 18 nationwide providers for policies that offer plenty of discounts without skimping on coverage. Two providers stood out, but the one that’s ‘cheapest’ depends on you, your car, and your driving record. To find your best price, you’ll have to compare quotes from our top picks.
Total Discounts 15
2017 J.D. Power Claims Satisfaction score 851/1000
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Online Claim Filing ✔
A Close Second
Total Discounts 14
2017 J.D. Power Claims Satisfaction score 870/1000
24/7 Support ✔
Online Claim Filing ✔
Total Discounts 12
2017 J.D. Power Claims Satisfaction score 853/1000
24/7 Support ✔
Online Claim Filing ✔
Total Discounts 11
2017 J.D. Power Claims Satisfaction score 864/1000
24/7 Support ✔
Online Claim Filing ✔
Total Discounts 10
2017 J.D. Power Claims Satisfaction score 865/1000
24/7 Support ✔
Online Claim Filing ✔
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The Best Cheap Auto Insurance
- Travlers — Best Overall
- GEICO — Runner-Up
Price is obviously a major consideration when it comes to auto insurance, but it shouldn’t be your main concern. If your provider can’t actually help you when you’re in an accident, it won’t matter how much (or how little) you paid for your policy.
Our favorite cheap auto insurance provider is Travelers, a company that leads the pack in both coverage and discounts. Supplemental options include everything from common add-ons like rental reimbursement to rarer benefits such as GAP insurance, which covers the difference in value between a wrecked vehicle and the amount remaining on its loan. We also love that many of Travelers’ deductions are accessible to a broad swath of customers, with driver discounts for simple behaviors like paying your bill on time.
GEICO, our runner-up, comes with similar coverage and discounts to Travelers. Where the two differ is in their priorities: GEICO tends to favor vehicles’ safety features over their driver’s habits, which makes the company a strong option for owners of newer cars. Plus, GEICO’s high claims satisfaction and attention to customer service mean it won’t keep you waiting when you need support.
In order to find the lowest rate, you’ll need to get quotes from multiple insurers. We recommend looking at Progressive, Allstate, and State Farm, three insurers that have no trouble providing the basic coverage you need, plus supplemental coverage options you want. These providers don’t perform quite as well as our top picks — overall they have fewer add-ons and lower financial strength ratings. However, they also come with a generous number of discounts, which can translate to your lowest rate if you qualify.
How We Found the Best Cheap Auto Insurance
In our earlier review of the best auto insurance, we examined nearly 20 nationwide auto insurers to find those with the strongest financial ratings and claims processing abilities that will keep you satisfied if the unexpected occurs. These companies protect you when you need it, with the resources to ensure you’re not left dealing with the aftermath of an accident alone. Here, we’ll take a closer look our top companies’ discounts.
Our mission: Find out which insurers offer the best coverage with the most opportunities to save.
Just remember that no single insurer is guaranteed to have the lowest rates for everyone. The price of your premium will vary based on factors specific to you — your age, location, car model, credit score, driving record, and more. That’s why you should compare quotes from each of our top picks.
We looked for coverage that will keep you safe.
Your insurance needs are as varied as the factors that determine your rate. That means the best policy will fit like a tailored shirt, with just the right amount of flexibility to ensure you can use it wherever, whenever. But the insurance agents and attorney we spoke to agree: There are some things that aren’t worth sacrificing. We’ve put together a list of coverage options you should always look for based on their recommendations — even if they aren’t included in standard auto policies. Opting for these will ensure you have the minimum level of protection for any accident.
- Bodily injury liability pays the expenses stemming from injuries you might cause in an accident. Medical treatment isn’t cheap — it’s essential to protect your assets in case a doctor’s visit is added to your insurance costs.
- Collision covers damages that may result from colliding with another car, object, or from flipping your vehicle. This coverage is particularly important since these are the accidents most likely to occur in everyday life.
- Comprehensive protects against theft or damage that isn’t from a collision with another car or object. That means things like earthquakes, fires, vandalism, and damage caused by animals. If you’re in an area with high rates of such environmental factors, it’s important to protect yourself with comprehensive coverage — you’re likely paying more in your premium for them as is.
- Personal injury protection (PIP) / medical payment is similar to bodily injury liability but instead covers the costs of injuries to yourself and any passengers in your vehicle. You certainly don’t want to be underinsured when it comes to your own medical attention — choosing PIP helps protect you from financial damages that might come as a result of physical ones.
- Property damage liability pays for damage to other people’s property that you might cause in an accident. That includes other vehicles, buildings, telephone poles, fences, and any other property; chances are an accident you’re in will affect more than just your vehicle.
- Uninsured / underinsured motorist (UM / UIM) protects you against the costs of being in an accident with uninsured or underinsured motorists, or hit and run drivers. It’s frustrating to have to pay for another motorist’s insurance negligence, but if you don’t have UM / UIM coverage, you’ll probably be forced to pay far more than just your premium.
Choosing these coverage options will keep you protected in most scenarios but they won’t pay for everything. If you’re involved in a particularly pricey accident, your standard policy will only cover expenses up to a certain amount.
That’s where supplemental coverage comes into play.
Additional protections like umbrella coverage — which pays liability costs that exceed the limits of your standard auto policy — help provide an extra layer of financial security. Others, like pet injury — which helps with veterinary expenses stemming from an accident — will only appeal to a handful of drivers. But if you have a four-legged family member that often rides in the car with you, this optional protection becomes a necessity.
Selecting the right supplemental coverage is a matter of mixing and matching providers’ plans with the things that are important to you.
No single insurer will offer coverage that’s best for everyone, but strong companies will have plenty of options to choose from.
Travelers offers the most supplemental coverage choices of our contenders, followed closely by GEICO and Allstate. This isn’t a guarantee that they’ll have everything you’re looking for, but by offering a wide range of available coverage, they provide more opportunities to protect the things that matter most to you.
For a detailed look at supplemental coverage, check out our review of the best auto insurance — we break down the specific options offered by each of our top picks.
Discounts are where you’ll find your savings.
Once you’ve established the coverage you want, it doesn’t hurt to pick the plan that will save you the most money. More discounts doesn’t necessarily mean more savings but it does mean more opportunities to save, so we favored those providers with a wide range of available deductions.
Surprisingly, we found some sizable differences among our top picks. Travelers and GEICO had the most discounts, edging out competitors like Progressive for overall total. Both of these insurers had around 33% more discounts than major providers like Nationwide.
Some of these depend on factors beyond your control, like your age or the safety features installed in your car, so you won’t qualify for every discount an insurer offers. Others, like a deduction for switching to paperless billing, are based on behaviors that are accessible to a broad swath of customers. We prioritized deductions like these since more drivers will be able to use them.
Savings for specific discounts will vary by provider — each insurer prioritizes factors differently. For example, both GEICO and State Farm offer discounts for insuring multiple cars under the same policy, but State Farm only offers up to 20% for its multi-car deduction; GEICO can save you up to 25%. Plus, your provider may have a limit to the total you can save through discounts. That’s why it’s critical to compare quotes, not just the deductions you qualify for.
Insurance companies love boasting about how simple it is to get a quote, but the truth is you’ll need a few things first:
- Vehicle information number (VIN)
- Garaged address
- Name of registered owner
- Prior insurance carrier and expiration date
- Date of purchase
- Date of birth
- Driver’s license number and state of issue
- Ticket and accident history
- License suspension information
Our Picks for the Best Cheap Auto Insurance
Best Overall — Travelers
Travelers is, simply put, one of the best auto insurers in the game. It comes out in front for discounts and supplemental coverage, beating out the competition with extensive available options for both. That means you’ll be able to find both the standard protections you need and the add-ons that fit your lifestyle, with enough discounts to potentially give you lower rates than you’ll find from other providers.
The discounts Travelers offers are primarily based on you, the driver. It rewards its customers with deductions for having multiple vehicles or multiple policies through Travelers, up to 8% and 13%, respectively. These discounts obviously won’t be available if you rent your home or only own one car, but Travelers also offers easy-to-earn deductions simply for being loyal: That includes up to 15% savings for paying your bill on time and 3-10% if you sign up for a new policy.
While we wish it offered a discount for paperless communication, Travelers does include a 2–3% discount for using an electronic funds transfer to pay your bill — if you’re already paying your bill online, setting up a recurring payment directly from your bank account allows you to easily earn this discount while also being rewarded for paying each bill on time. These are simple ways to save that almost anyone can benefit from.
Unfortunately, Travelers’ doesn’t have quite as many discounts for your vehicle. There aren’t deductions for safety features, though the company does have up to 10% off for vehicles that are less than three years old. While this isn’t as extensive as the vehicle discounts available through insurers like GEICO, you may be able to offset some of these missing deductions on your own by taking a driver safety course or maintaining a good driving record.
Adding young drivers to your policy will raise your premium — 152% on average, according to Insurance.com — but if you have children in school, you have even more chances to save. Travelers offers a Good Student discount up to 8% if your child maintains a “B” average or higher; if they’re in college, you may also be eligible for up to 7% savings with a Student Away at School deduction.
Travelers’ coverage is equally solid. In addition to covering the basics, it includes options for accident forgiveness, GAP insurance (which covers the difference in price between the value of your wrecked vehicle and the amount still owed on its loan), and ridesharing coverage, which were hard to find elsewhere. The choices Travelers was missing — like pet injury protection — were usually only offered by one major provider, so we let those slide.
If there’s a notable downside to Travelers, it’s claims satisfaction: Travelers scored below the industry average in the 2017 J.D. Power Claims Satisfaction Study. Common complaints include long waits for claims resolution and difficulty contesting settlements, which can make the insurance process — already a stressful experience — even more difficult.
Still, Travelers leads our contenders with the most extensive coverage and discounts — we’re confident that you’ll be able to find the protection you’re looking for, whether you want to cover the basics or just add an extra layer of security to your assets. And with several deductions that are broadly accessible for nearly every customer, Travelers should be one of the first auto insurers you go to when looking for your lowest rate.
Runner-up — GEICO
GEICO was the top pick in our review of the best auto insurance and honestly, it came pretty close to taking the number one spot in this one as well. GEICO impressed us with strong financial ratings, high claims satisfaction, extensive coverage, and, of course, discounts. As it turns out, the 15% you could save in 15 minutes by switching to GEICO is more than just a slogan.
GEICO’s coverage includes all the essentials and then some. That extends to rental reimbursement to keep you on the road if your vehicle is damaged and accident forgiveness, an add-on that can save substantial amounts — a few extra dollars a month is still likely to be less per year than the percentage increase to your premium that could occur after an accident.
Where GEICO fell short was supplemental options for features like GAP insurance and new car replacement, which aren’t necessities but are nevertheless appealing to many customers — we hoped to see these choices from an insurer as prominent as GEICO.
When it comes to discounts, GEICO is neck-and-neck with Travelers, but its priorities are different. While Travelers places particular emphasis on the customer, GEICO is far more vehicle-heavy with its discounts. Anti-lock brakes can earn you up to 5% and having daytime running lights can get up to 1% off. 1% may not seem like much, but GEICO was one of only two competitors to offer this discount (State Farm is the other). GEICO also offers discounts up to 25% for both anti-theft systems and driver-side airbags, and up to 40% for full-front seat airbags. If your car comes with the right equipment, you could see some serious savings from GEICO without doing a thing.
The problem is that not everyone has a car with these safety features and GEICO’s driver discounts were somewhat lacking. There were a few deductions we liked, such as a discount for going paperless and hefty savings of up to 26% if you’ve gone five years without an accident. But for the most part, GEICO’s discounts weren’t as easily accessible for everyone. And we think the best cheap auto insurer should offer chances to save to all of its customers.
That doesn’t mean GEICO doesn’t care about its policyholders. In fact, GEICO had the highest claims satisfaction score of all our contenders. Plus, it employs an intuitive website that makes getting a quote simple, as well as a top-rated mobile app that can be used to view your policy, file claims, and even call for roadside assistance. But when it comes to discounts, we favor insurers like Travelers, who make it easy to save using your own driving habits and behaviors.
Other Cheap Auto Insurance Companies to Consider
For most insurance customers, Progressive is known for two things: Flo, the company’s perpetually (and at-times painfully) peppy spokeswoman, and a willingness to take on riskier drivers than the competition. Such customers often face steep premiums for a higher level of risk, which makes the need for discounts all the more important. With Progressive, that translates into some pretty unique offerings.
Progressive came just behind Travelers and GEICO in overall discounts, and it’s more like the former than the latter: Most of Progressive’s deductions relate to the driver and their policies.
This includes multi-car and multi-policy discounts, incentives if you own your home, and rewards for going without lapses in coverage. Discounts for paperless billing, signing a new policy early, and making monthly payments on time allow customers to save with simple actions, and the company offers deductions we didn’t find with any other provider, including one for drivers under 18, who will likely face some of the highest rates of any demographic. Progressive also boasts a safe driver discount that averages 31% savings, though this likely won’t benefit those riskier drivers.
Progressive is middle of the road when it comes to coverage, but it does a solid job protecting the basics. Beyond standard coverage, Progressive offers some rare options like pet protection, but overall offers little that isn’t widely available. However, it does allow customers to opt for a usage-based policy. Known as Snapshot, this plan uses a telematic device in your car to send driving data to the company. This way, the risk of insuring you can be more accurately gauged based on your habits and the miles you drive. For low-use drivers or customers in urban areas who don’t rely on their cars to get around, this can be another opportunity to see significant savings on auto insurance.
Allstate is a solid insurer, with good financial ratings and claims satisfaction scores. It also offers a wide range of supplemental coverage options, including a usage-based plan like Snapshot by Progressive. When it comes to discounts, Allstate is alright — ultimately, we were left looking for more.
Allstate offers a few rarer deductions, like new car discounts and a deduction for students away at school. And it offers a healthy balance of driver and vehicle discounts, with savings opportunities for signing new policies early and safety features like anti-lock brakes. But it was notably missing some common discounts that we had started to treat as given since we saw them so often from other providers. This includes a multi-car discount, which is available from all of our top picks except Allstate. And while technology like anti-theft devices reward customers, other safety features like airbags and daytime lights get no nod from Allstate.
Allstate won’t let you down when it comes to coverage though, and overall it’s a competitive provider with a total number of discounts that isn’t far behind the best. But the details of those discounts may surprise you — be sure to take a close look at which ones you qualify for, and compare them with the deductions you can expect from other insurers.
State Farm is known as the “good neighbor” insurer, and that’s precisely what it is: good, just not great. We liked State Farm’s financial solvency ratings and the second highest claims satisfaction of all our contenders. But the actual coverage State Farm offers, as well as the discounts to make it more affordable, fell a little flat. That doesn’t mean it’s bad: State Farm includes all the basics and even offers ridesharing coverage that’s more widespread than Travelers’. But there were few other supplemental coverage options to distinguish State Farm from the pack.
Discounts were a similar story. Multi-policy and multi-car discounts are available, as well as student discounts for good grades and students away from school, which makes State Farm particularly attractive to families with multiple drivers. Safety features can also help you save, with discounts for anti-lock brakes, airbags, and daytime lights that will benefit drivers with newer cars. But many of the other discounts we like — such as driver training deductions and paperless billing — were nowhere to be found.
State Farm is undoubtedly a solid choice; it just did little to go above and beyond our expectations. Like with Allstate and Progressive, it’s absolutely worth getting a quote to see if the discounts you do qualify for will help you find your lowest rate from State Farm.
How to Maximize Your Car Insurance Savings
Offered By: ● Travelers
● State Farm
Knowing which ones you’re eligible for (and which companies offer them) will help you find the best rate for your plan. That’s why we pulled together a list of the deductions offered by each of our top picks.
- Multi-Policy discounts are available to customers who bundle their insurance plans: if your insurer also offers home or life protection, you’ll be able to save by keeping all your policies with the same provider. ●●●●●
- Safe Driver discounts are among the most common in the industry. These reward good driving records — if you haven’t had an accident in the last several years, you’ll likely be rewarded with your premium. ●●●●●
- Good Student discounts provide savings for student drivers who maintain a solid GPA at school — generally around a B average or higher. ●●●●●
- Multi-Car discounts are offered for insuring multiple vehicles under the same plan. ●●●●
- Driver Training lowers your premium if you’ve taken or enroll in a driver safety program. These courses teach responsible driving habits and decrease your risk of being in an accident. ●●●
- EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer), Paid in Full, and Good Payer deductions reward responsible premium payments and are a low-hassle way to save money on your insurance. ●●●
- Early Quote or Early Signing discounts are another simple way to save. Companies like their customers to sign new policies early — this commitment gives them the security of knowing you aren’t leaving for another provider — and they’ll often be willing to reward you accordingly. ●●●
- Student Away at School is a discount for families with students who only need coverage when they’re home on breaks and holidays. ●●●
- Continuous Insurance deductions are offered to customers who don’t allow their coverage to lapse. ●●
- Home Ownership rewards customers who have purchased property. Having your own home demonstrates stability to providers, so they’ll view you as a lower risk to insure. This gives them an incentive to offer you a lower rate in exchange for your business. ●●
- Affiliate Programs reward drivers who are members of an insurer’s affiliate program. Such affiliates earn commission based on referrals that drive business to the provider. ●●
- Paperless discounts are among the easiest to qualify for. All it takes is switching your communication method to email to see a deduction in your monthly premium. ●●
- Military and Deployment is a surprisingly rare discount for members of the Armed Services. ●
- Drivers Over 50 or Retired discounts are obviously limited by age. If you’re over 50 or retired, this is an easy way to save. ●
- Federal Employee discounts reward those customers employed by the federal government. ●
- Drivers under 18 is a deduction for young drivers. This is almost unheard-of among auto insurers, since teenagers are among the most likely demographic to be involved in an accident. ●
- Anti-lock Brakes is a discount for qualifying vehicles. If your car comes equipped with anti-lock brakes — brakes that prevent locking up and thus avoid skidding — you may be able to save on your insurance costs. ●●●
- New Car discounts are available to customers with newer vehicles — this is generally because such cars are equipped with the latest safety features that will keep you safer on the road. ●●
- Anti-theft Device discounts work much the same as those for anti-lock brakes. This deduction is available to owners of vehicles with technology to reduce the risk of theft, including extra locks and electronic tracking systems. ●●
- Airbags are a standard safety feature in all cars, but the location of these bags — and their subsequent savings — varies by vehicle. Cars with full-front seat airbags will likely see greater discounts than those with only driver-side airbags. ●●
- Daytime Lights increase visibility for yourself and other drivers. Insurers like GEICO and State Farm are more than happy to reward you for adding another degree of precaution. ●●
- Usage-based discounts are offered for installing devices in your vehicle that will monitor driving habits and behaviors, like your speed of acceleration and the frequency at which you brake abruptly. If you’re a cautious driver who doesn’t spend much time behind the wheel, you may be able to save significant amounts by opting for one of these plans. ●●
- Hybrid/Electric Vehicle discounts reward you for thinking of the environment with your vehicle. ●
Remember: Auto insurance is about ‘where’ as much as ‘when’.
Of all the ways you’re looking to cut costs on your premium, we’d guess that packing up and moving isn’t one of them. But where you live could be affecting your rate more than you realize. Factors such as theft statistics, population density, and the number of claims in your area can lead you to pay more for your coverage than you might living elsewhere.
These factors are largely out of your control and are unfortunately unavoidable unless you want to relocate. But there are a few things you can do to help protect against the increased risk your region might carry. If you live in an area with extreme weather patterns, such as frequent flooding or earthquakes, look for a policy that includes comprehensive coverage to shield you from damage that isn’t protected under collision coverage. Comprehensive coverage will also protect against damage caused by animals — if you live in a region with high deer populations, for example, you’ll likely pay more for your policy — and losses stemming from car theft. While you can’t control the environmental factors that affect your rate, you can make sure you’re protected from the negative consequences these factors create.
Pay for small repairs yourself.
Unless your plan includes some form of accident forgiveness, filing claims of any size will cause your premium to go up. For small repairs, the price to fix it may be less than the increase in your premium — a chipped windshield, for example, can often be repaired for under $100, while a subsequent increase of just 10% on your premium could run you well over that amount in annual insurance costs. Since repairs are a one-time expense, it may end up saving you money over time to sweat the small stuff yourself.
Rate check every two years.
A 2013 study by Earnix, pricing analytics software company, found that 48% of larger insurers determine premiums based on how much they think customers will be willing to pay. This practice, known as price optimization, is estimated by mining personal data like Internet activity and credit scores to determine your likelihood of switching companies if your premium goes up.
The good news? When mining your data, insurance companies see how often you get quotes from other insurers. If you’re shopping around on a regular basis, your provider will view you as a more volatile customer and be less likely to increase your rate. Getting quotes every couple years will help keep your insurer focused on retaining your business and, of course, can help you find a better deal from other providers.
The Bottom Line
Discounts are one of the most frequently used sales techniques by insurance companies, and for good reason: If you’re eligible, they can help you save significant amounts of money. But not everyone will qualify, and even if you do, not all discounts will translate to substantial cost savings. Consumer Reports found that common discounts for having anti-theft measures like a tracking device installed in your car only led to an average savings of $8 per year. So while discounts may purport to help you save money on your annual insurance costs, it’s important to compare quotes rather than just the deductions you qualify for.
More In-Depth Auto Insurance Reviews
Auto insurance is a complex business, and you’ll want to know everything you can about your insurer. Luckily, we’ve been doing this for a while. Check out our in-depth auto insurance reviews below for more information about individual insurers, but be sure to keep your eyes peeled — we’ll be making updates to these reviews soon to maintain consistency with our latest research.