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Understanding Car Insurance Rates

  January 21st, 2019  By Maggie Overholt

How Much Does Car Insurance Cost?

The average American pays around $85 per month, or $1,000 per year, for their car insurance. However (and it’s a big “however”), those rates can vary hugely depending on your circumstances. Premiums take into account your age, driving record, vehicle, location, and many other factors. What’s more, every insurer evaluates cost a little differently, which is why it’s so important to compare rates from multiple car insurance companies before buying.

Below, we compare car insurance rates based on age and driving record. We also take a look at how prices stack up with some of the nation’s top insurers. Please note that these are only sample quotes meant for comparison — your own rates will vary. Feel free to start here for more information about our quote-testing process.

How Age and Driving Record Affect Car Insurance Rates

Age and driving record are the two biggest players when it comes to car insurance rates. Statistically, these are the key indicators of how likely you are to be in an accident or file a claim. Rates will always be higher if you have infractions or accidents on record. Premiums also tend to be much higher for teens and 20-somethings, with prices dropping off once you reach middle-age.

Car Insurance Rates in Your 20s

Car Insurance Rates in Your 30s to 40s

Car Insurance Rates in Your 50s+

*Travelers and Nationwide don’t offer quotes for high-risk drivers online. If your record prevents you from getting online estimates, call the provider and an agent will determine your quote over the phone.

Do These Car Insurance Rates Apply to Me?

Car insurance rates are highly personal, and there’s no guarantee that your quotes will match the ones shown here. However, sample rates can give you an idea of which insurers are likely to cut you a better deal. For instance: If you’re in your 20s with a less-than-perfect driving record, you can see from the graph above that you’ll probably be better off getting quotes from Allstate and Progressive than from Farmers or American Family.

Keep this rule of thumb in mind while you’re researching car insurance. Prices you see advertised on TV or comparison websites can offer guidance, but they’re never a given. The only way to find the cheapest car insurance for you is by requesting quotes from multiple companies and seeing how they measure up.

How We Tested Car Insurance Rates

We requested quotes for a four-door Honda Civic — one of the most popular cars in the U.S. — from 2012, because the majority of Americans are driving older or used vehicles. In terms of coverage, we looked at a basic liability policy with expert-recommended levels:

  • $50,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $100,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $25,000 property damage per accident

Since car insurance prices hinge on age and driving record, we tested quotes for three major age groups (20s, 30s, and 50s). We also worked with insurance agents to learn how different risk levels are typically defined by insurers. Here’s what we mean when we say low-, medium- or high-risk:

  • Low-risk driver: Has a totally clean driving record. No accidents or infractions.
  • Medium-risk driver: Has had one accident in the past year with property damages totaling more than $1,000 but no physical injuries.
  • High-risk driver: Has had two accidents and one speeding ticket in the past year. Both accidents caused property damages totaling more than $1,000, and one included a bodily injury.

Prices also vary by location. For a more holistic look at car insurance rates, we sourced quotes from one state in each major U.S. region: California in the West, Colorado in the central region, Texas in the South, Florida in the Southeast, and Massachusetts in the Northeast. The rates you see above are averaged across all five states.

What’s Next?

  • If you need car insurance but aren’t sure where to start looking, check out this list of the top 20 car insurance providers
    in the U.S. We’ve rated the biggest insurers based on financial strength, customer service, and claims satisfaction, so you can see at a glance how they compare.
  • Want something with a little more detail? Start with our review of the best national car insurance companies for in-depth information about the 10 best providers. (Pro tip: You can find links to many more car insurance reviews at the end.)

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