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By Danika Miller, Staff Writer

The Best Cheap Auto Insurance Companies

To find the best cheap auto insurance, we compared quotes from 36 nationwide providers. Four providers stood out, but your cheapest option depends on your car, your driving record, and other personal details. To find your own best provider, you can compare quotes from our top picks using the quote tool above.

The 4 Best Cheap Auto Insurance Companies

Travelers Auto Insurance — Best for Discounts

Best for
Discounts
Travelers

Travelers

Pros
Lots of driver discounts
Impressive supplemental coverage
Cons
Average claims satisfaction scores

Why we chose it

Lots of driver discounts

If you’re looking for the cheapest auto insurer, we suggest you start with Travelers. It offers the highest number of discounts among our top picks, and its deductions are primarily based on you, the driver.

For example, Travelers awards you a 2% to 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.

Impressive supplemental coverage

In addition to the basics, Travelers includes hard-to-find options for accident forgiveness, gap insurance (that covers the difference in price between the value of your wrecked vehicle and the amount still owed on its loan), and ridesharing coverage.

The choices Travelers is missing — like pet injury protection — are usually only offered by one major provider, so we let those slide. This isn’t a guarantee that the company will have everything you’re looking for, but by offering a wide range of coverage, it provides more opportunities to protect the things that matter most.

Points to consider

Average claims satisfaction scores

Travelers scored five points above the industry average (866 out of 1,000) in the 2018 J.D. Power claims satisfaction survey. That’s better than State Farm or Allstate but still “about average,” according to J.D. Power. Common complaints include long waits for claims resolution and difficulty contesting settlements. While everyone’s experience will vary, Travelers is less likely than companies like State Farm to impress in terms of customer service.

Progressive Auto Insurance — Best for "High-Risk" Drivers

Best for
"High-Risk" Drivers
Progressive

Progressive

Pros
Discounts geared toward "high-risk" drivers
Usage-based insurance option
Cons
Fewer supplemental coverage options

Why we chose it

Discounts geared toward "high-risk" drivers

Though Progressive may not have the highest number of discounts, it offers an impressive range. You’ll receive effortless deductions for things like opting for paperless billing, making monthly payments on time, and signing a new policy early. 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, it’s incentive to improve.

Usage-based insurance option

Traditionally, insurance companies determine your rate using personal information and accident history. The “riskier” you are to insure, the higher your premium. But Progressive also offers an alternative based on your actual driving habits.

The program, called Snapshot, uses a telematic device in your car to send driving data to the company. It’ll note things like how quickly you brake and accelerate, how often and far you drive, and if you use your phone while driving. This way, the risk of insuring you can be more accurately weighed against your habits and the miles you drive. For infrequent drivers or city-dwellers who don’t rely on their cars to get around, this can be another opportunity to see significant savings on auto insurance.

Points to consider

Fewer supplemental coverage options

While Progressive covers the basics, we found it lacking in supplemental coverage additions. Ridesharing coverage, accident forgiveness, and new car replacement are all noticeable absences. Popular additions like personal injury, umbrella, and property protection aren’t offered, either. If you think you may want any of these options, you’ll want to look at a provider with more comprehensive coverage, such as Travelers or Allstate.

Allstate Auto Insurance — Best for New Drivers

Best for
New Drivers
Allstate

Allstate

Pros
Best-in-class resources
Discounts for students
Cons
Below-average customer satisfaction score

Why we chose it

Best-in-class resources

If you’re new to auto insurance, or don’t totally understand the details of your policy, you can find a guide for that on Allstate’s website. There are articles, videos, and infographics that clearly detail how to read your policy, how to compare rates, and how to save money. Even if you don’t end up signing with Allstate, we still recommend checking out its website for the resources alone. If you’re a customer, you can use its online portal to file a claim, adjust your coverage, alter your deductibles, and add new drivers and vehicles.

Discounts for students

While Allstate doesn’t boast the most discounts, the ones it offers will benefit families with student drivers — especially if your student’s car includes safety features like an anti-theft device or anti-lock brakes.

What’s more, if one of the drivers on your policy is under 25 and is a full-time student with good grades, has completed the insurer’s teenSMART driver education program, or is attending school within 100 miles of where they store their car, they’ll qualify for Allstate’s “smart student” discount. Because younger drivers are riskier to insure, a price break like this is usually hard to come by.

Points to consider

Below-average customer satisfaction score

Among our favorite insurers, Allstate ranked on the lower end of customer satisfaction with a J.D. Power score of 857 out of 1,000 — four points below the industry average. According to the survey, potential customers mentioned that Allstate’s representatives were less helpful than its competition and that its quotes were often more expensive. Your premium depends on many factors, and it's still worth pulling a quote, but keep in mind that your experience with the company may vary.

State Farm Auto Insurance — Best for Uber and Lyft Drivers

Best for
Uber and Lyft Drivers
State Farm

State Farm

Pros
Rideshare coverage
Impressive claims satisfaction ratings
Cons
Fewer discounts

Why we chose it

Rideshare coverage

Rideshare businesses like Uber and Lyft are becoming more popular, and drivers need unique coverage to insure their vehicle. Historically, rideshare employees would have to acquire a separate, commercial policy. But with State Farm, you can make sure you’re covered around the clock. Just note that this relatively new option is currently limited to 42 states.

Impressive claims satisfaction ratings

Arguably, the most important part of an insurer's customer service is its claims processing experience. If you aren’t satisfied with how your claims are handled and resolved, you’ll be less inclined to file a claim and utilize the insurance you pay a lot of money for. We’re happy to report that State Farm scored 864 out of 1,000 in the 2018 J.D. Power customer satisfaction survey, three points above the industry average. And with 18,000 agents across the country, we’re confident that State Farm can live up to its score.

Points to consider

Fewer discounts

When it comes to finding the cheapest auto insurer, State Farm may not top your list; it offers the fewest discounts of our four top picks. You’ll find discounts for having multiple policies and safety features like airbags and anti-lock brakes. However, if you have young or elderly drivers on your policy, own a home, or are insuring a new car, you may want to start elsewhere.

Luckily, its general lack of discounts doesn’t mean that your premiums will be more expensive. Many factors contribute to your rate — and that’s why comparing quotes is so important.

Guide to Cheap Auto Insurance

How to maximize your car insurance savings

Don’t skimp on the basics

While it may be tempting to choose the cheapest, most bare-bones policy, there is certain coverage that’s not worth cutting, no matter the savings. We consulted the experts — a mix of insurance agents and accident attorneys — to find six basic coverage types that every auto policy should have. As you look for an affordable policy, keeps these necessities in mind:

Bodily injury liability

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

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

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) or medical payment

Personal injury protection (PIP) or medical payment are similar to bodily injury liability but instead cover 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

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)

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 have to pay far more than just your premium.

Dig into discount opportunities

Knowing which discounts 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.

Travelers
Progressive
Allstate
State Farm
Multi-policy
Safe driver
Good student
Multi-car
Driver training
Electronic funds transfer
Early quote/early signing
Student away at school
Continuous insurance
Homeownership
Affiliate programs
Paperless
Drivers under 18

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 save you money over time to sweat the small stuff yourself.

Rate check every two years

A 2013 study by Earnix 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, such as your internet activity and credit score, 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 views you as a more volatile customer and is less likely to increase your rate.

Getting quotes every few years will help keep your insurer focused on retaining your business — and can help you find a better deal from other providers, too.

Cheap Auto Insurance FAQ

How much does auto insurance cost?

On average, auto insurance can cost between $99 and $250 per month. But it all depends on factors from your personal profile, like age, driving history, credit score, vehicle type, and number of vehicles. If you’d like to lower your monthly rate further, consider opting for a higher deductible. However, this means you’ll be paying more out-of-pocket when there’s an accident. Experts recommend choosing a deductible amount that you can afford to pay off in the event that you get into an accident. Some people chose to open a separate savings account for this purpose.

How much does auto insurance increase after an accident?

According to a study done by InsuranceQuotes and Quadrant Information Services, drivers saw an increase average of 44% after they filed a claim (worth $2,000 or more) — meaning your premium could nearly double just for using your insurance. The study found that increases will range by state, depending on the local regulations that affect how insurers set a premium. In California, the average rate increase is 63%, while in Maryland it’s only 21%. If you have a minor repair with a cost that’s close to your deductible, it may not be worth filing a claim. But don’t hesitate to use your insurance when you need it most; after all, that’s what it’s for.

Can you drive a new car without insurance?

Technically, it is illegal to drive a car without insurance, and you’ll want to notify your insurer of the car as soon as possible. If you know you’re about to purchase a car, you should get quotes for auto insurance first. If you already have a policy with another vehicle, that coverage will extend to your car for anywhere between four and 30 days, depending on your policy.

What is the cheapest auto insurance company?

The cheapest auto insurance company for you depends on where you live, what type of car you drive, your driving record, and other factors. Travelers is our top pick for number and variety of discounts. For “high-risk” drivers, we recommend Progressive. For new drivers, we like Allstate. For Uber and Lyft drivers, State Farm offers some of the most comprehensive coverage.

How do I lower my auto insurance rate?

The simplest way to lower your monthly rate is to raise your deductible. You’ll have to pay more out of pocket if you ever file a claim, but that can be worth it depending on your driving record and your saving habits. You can also look at the discounts your insurer offers and make adjustments to qualify for them. Things like adding safety features, opting for an e-bill, or taking a safety course are all simple actions that qualify as discounts for some companies.

The Best Cheap Auto Insurance Companies: Summed Up

Travelers
Progressive
Allstate
State Farm
Best for
Discounts
"High-risk" drivers
New drivers
Uber and Lyft drivers
A.M. Best financial strength rating
A++
A+
A+
A++
J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study rating
866/1,000
849/1,000
857/1,000
864/1,000
Number of supplemental coverages
14
10
12
8
Number of discounts
16
12
11
10
Online claim filing
24/7 support

Other Cheap Auto Insurance Companies to Consider

While the four companies above are most likely to be your cheapest options, there are a few other companies to consider depending on your needs. It’s always worth comparing quotes from our picks with a few additional options to see which strikes the best balance between coverage and price.

USAA Auto Insurance

Why it’s worth considering

If you’re an active or former military member — or related to one — we highly recommend considering USAA for car insurance. USAA provides exceptional customer service and timely, fair claims payments, as evidenced by top ratings in J.D. Power's customer satisfaction survey and Consumer Reports’ claims satisfaction study. USAA also earns some of the best possible financial scores: “A++” from A.M. Best, “AA+” from S&P Global, and “Aaa” from Moody’s. These ratings mean that USAA promises rock-solid backing for your policy, as well as a stable credit outlook in just about any economy.

Why we didn’t choose it

USAA only insures active or former members of the military and their families. We don’t list it as a top pick because most people aren’t eligible for coverage. However, if you do qualify for USAA car insurance, we suggest getting a quote — it’s likely to offer great service and be competitively priced.

American Family Auto Insurance

Why it’s worth considering

American Family receives great ratings for customer service and claims from J.D. Power and Consumer Reports, but AmFam’s discounts are what make it competitive with our four picks. The company offers generous discounts for good students, safe drivers, families, vehicle safety features, multi-policy bundling, paperless billing, and more.

Why we didn’t choose it

American Family car insurance is only available in 19 states. We focused on companies that cover 40 states or more. If AmFam is available in your state, it’s worth taking a look:

  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Georgia
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota
  • Utah
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

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.

The Best Auto Insurance Companies by State

Every state offers a unique set of insurance providers, and there are plenty of circumstances that affect the policies and coverage available to you. We've reviewed the best auto insurance options in every state using a methodology similar to the one for this review on nationwide providers.

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