The latest Consumer Price Index data shows that inflation, broadly brought on by skyrocketing food and energy prices, is seeping into the car insurance industry. Along with rising prices in other industries, that means car insurance premiums are getting more expensive. Finding ways to is more important than ever.
One of the best ways to save on your auto insurance bill is to switch providers — just be sure to keep in mind your state’s minimum coverage requirements. And while inexpensive car insurance policies exist, it’s important to balance cost savings with. If you get into a car accident, for example, you could end up paying more in damages than you might have with better, more expensive coverage.
If you’re looking to lower your auto insurance costs, here are our picks for the best cheap car insurance providers.
Best cheap car insurance companies
Geico’s advertising presence has made it one of the most recognizable brands in auto insurance, and this insurance provider’s prices and customer service have made it one of the most beloved. It’s hard to beat the famous gecko.
Geico famously tells drivers that they could save 15% or more by switching to the carrier, but how does it provide such savings? The answer comes with the company’s comprehensive discounts. As a Geico policyholder, you could get discounts based on your car’s safety equipment (airbags, antilock brakes, antitheft systems), your driving habits (good driver, seat belt use), your employer (federal employee, military and some individual employers) and courses you take (defensive driving, driver’s education course).
Geico also racks up awards. Most recently, the company won two Webbys, indicating excellence in online user experience. Geico Mobile was a 2021 Winner for both Best Practices and Technical Achievement for Apps & Software.
Check out our full review of Geico Auto Insurance.
The General Automobile Insurance Services has been serving customers for over 50 years and, like Geico, has gained notice from a series of TV commercials and a catchy slogan. In addition to car insurance, The General offers life insurance policies through parent company American Family Insurance, opening the opportunity to bundle, which may save you even more money if you’re also in the market for life insurance.
The General acknowledges that not every driver can boast the cleanest record, and that mistakes — such as accidents and driving violations — happen behind the wheel. Still, the company endeavors to provide reasonable rates to drivers who may fall under the “nonstandard” label. It’s also worth noting that insurance acquired through The General is underwritten by a number of companies that have been recognized by AM Best with an “A” rating, while The General itself has obtained an A- (excellent) rating.
The General extends additional benefits to all customers. For instance, the company offers a “low down payment” option for its plans, as well as discounts based on your car’s safety equipment, your own driving record and more.
Travelers insurance’s extensive list of discounts is impressive. From discounts for safe driving and multicar policies to good student discounts and even discounts for owning a hybrid or electric vehicle, there’s something for everyone to take advantage of from this insurer. Moreover, Travelers offers savings on insurance bundles, giving you up to 13% off home and car policies when you bring them under the same roof. The average annual minimum coverage premium from Travelers is $477, just under $70 less than the industry average, according to data from Bankrate.
In order to be eligible for a policy with the United Services Automobile Association, you need to be either a US service member, a veteran or a qualifying family member. USAA offers a slew of perks focusing on military coverage, including discounts for vehicle storage while deployed, which could save you up to 60% off your premium.
Needless to say, that disqualifies most people — but if you are eligible for auto insurance with USAA, the insurer has a host of car insurance discounts available, so most drivers will likely be able to save even more money. Discounts include those for safe driving, taking driving training or defensive driver courses, insuring multiple vehicles, continuing a family membership and storing a car on a military base.
Auto-Owners is in a little over half of the US, selling policies in 26 states. The great thing about this regional insurer is that the local network of 48,000 agents allows policyholders to get individual attention from their local representatives. Additionally, Auto-Owners has low rates, on average, for minimum coverage.
The national average annual minimum coverage premium sits at $545, but Auto-Owners’ minimum coverage policies cost just $325 per year on average, according to data from Bankrate.
Auto-Owners has been in this business for more than a century, and they’ve adapted to new technology across time as the mobile app makes it easy to manage your account, track your claims and call for roadside assistance. Like Travelers, Auto-Owners has an extensive list of discounts you may be able to take advantage of, including bundling, student away at school, teen driver monitoring and good student discounts.
Erie Insurance is another century-old carrier on this list that provides robust coverage to its customers. It’s difficult to place Erie on this list given that it’s only available in 12 states — but if you can find it, it’s an option worth looking into.
Erie’s average minimum coverage premium is cheap at just $476 per year, just about $70 less than the national average, according to Bankrate. Moreover, the company also boasts high customer satisfaction scores from J.D. Power, a low number of complaints from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and a high collision repair score from Crash Network.
Not only can you bring your home and auto insurance under one roof, Erie auto coverage may also include pet, ride-sharing (like Uber or Lyft) and personal item coverage, depending on which coverages you purchase.
Erie operates in its native Pennsylvania, as well as Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois, West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, New York, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Virginia and DC.
Cheap car insurance compared
|Best for||Company||Average annual minimum coverage premium*|
|Variety of discounts||Travelers||$469|
|Drivers with spotty records||The General**||N/A|
|High customer satisfaction||Erie Insurance||$476|
*The industry average for annual minimum coverage premium is $545. Our data comes from CNET’s sister site Bankrate, which compiles data from Quadrant Information Services. Quotes are based on a 40-year-old male and female driver with a clean driving record and good credit.
**As our pick for drivers with spotty records, The General’s rates will depend on which factors have increased your risk, including at-fault accidents and citations for driving under the influence, or DUIs. As such, we don’t report average annual minimum coverage premiums for The General.
Cheap car insurance FAQs
What should I consider when looking for cheap car insurance?
- Saving money is important, but so is having a policy with the coverage you need. If a specific auto insurance policy is insufficient for you, it doesn’t matter how little it costs. Being under-insured is almost as bad as being an uninsured motorist.
- Try to identify which factors may ultimately affect your insurance rate, such as your age, driving record and vehicle type. Keeping these details in mind will help guide you in your search.
- It’s important to get an auto insurance quote from many different providers (factoring in the discounts they offer) and then weigh those prices against the quality of the coverage options being offered.
- If you can work with an insurance company you already use for other insurance coverage, or an insurer that offers special benefits to employees at your workplace, you can potentially save even more money on your auto insurance policy.
- You may be able to save money on your insurance premium by adjusting your coverage or deductibles, but it may be beneficial to speak to an agent before making changes so that you better understand how your coverage will work in the event of an accident. By speaking to your insurer, you may also be able to find additional discounts to help lower your premium.
What determines your car insurance rates?
Aside from varied prices from insurance providers, many factors influence the cost of your car insurance, including:
- Your age (in all states except Hawaii)
- Driving history
- Credit score (in some states)
- The amount of coverage you seek
How can I lower my insurance rates?
Finding an auto insurance company that can save you money is important, but there are things you can do on your own to ensure you save money on car insurance. You might be able to get a discount by bundling auto insurance with another form of coverage (such as homeowners insurance). You can also see if your place of work receives a group discount. In the long term, safe driving can also lower your premiums. It is also possible — though not necessarily recommended, as skipping coverage can put you at risk — to save money by omitting certain coverage options.
Read our recommendations for best car insurance overall, best for military members and best for teens and young drivers.
CNET reviews insurance carriers and products by exhaustively comparing them across set criteria developed for each category. For auto insurance, we examine average annual premium rates for full coverage, consumer complaints, collision repair scores, the carrier’s financial strength, auto claims satisfaction and overall customer satisfaction. For cheapest rates, we compare the national average annual premium for minimum coverage against the average for each company. Our data comes from a multitude of sources.
Auto insurance rates come from Bankrate, which gathers data using Quadrant Information Services. We also use both J.D. Power annual surveys that collect data on customer auto claims satisfaction and overall customer satisfaction.
Consumer complaints are taken from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, which collects consumer complaints across states, indexing complaints on a scale that takes into account the industry average. We collect the financial strength rating of each carrier from the AM Best Rating. Lastly, we collect collision repair scores from the Crash Network Insurer Report Card, which gathers data from collision repair professionals, including mechanics, to gauge the quality of collision claims service from insurance carriers.
More car insurance advice
The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.