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Your car is one of the biggest purchases in your life. It gets you to and from work so you can keep making money! Our auto insurance guides help you figure out what you need to protect it, while our tools help you compare local car insurance options so you can save on quality coverage.

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Auto insurance buyer's guide

What determines the price of your auto insurance premiums?

  • Your neighborhood — Each state has different car insurance requirements and these laws can affect how much you pay. Plus, insurance companies research the crime rate in your city and neighborhood to assess risk block by block. These assessments affect how much you might pay for an auto insurance plan.
  • Your driving record — If you have a clean driving record, you'll pay less for a car insurance plan than someone with violations or claims.
  • Your age — If you're between 35 and 65, you're likely to pay less for vehicle insurance because companies believe you'll get into fewer accidents.
  • Your credit score — Insurance companies believe that if you have a good credit score, you're more financially stable and less likely to file small claims for low amounts. Therefore, you may pay less in car insurance premiums.

  • Make and model Expensive cars mean a higher replacement value if they are totaled, so they can cost more to insure. However, it's not always best to buy the cheapest car on the market either. Vehicles with safety features that prevent theft or accidents could save you money on your auto insurance rates.
  • Milage — The more miles you drive per year, the more likely you are to have an accident. If your car has low miles you're less likely to file a claim and might pay less for car insurance premiums.

  • Policy type — Getting the bare minimum of legally required auto insurance coverage will typically cost less than comprehensive coverage with all the upgrades. The less coverage you have, the less you will pay, and the less protected you will be. So make sure you have enough coverage to protect you without overpaying for a plan.
  • Deductible — Typically, the higher your deductible, the lower your car insurance premiums. However, deductible represents the amount you'll pay out of pocket if your car gets damaged, so make sure it's an amount you can afford.
  • Discounts — If you qualify for discounts on auto insurance coverage, you could potentially save a lot. Always ask your insurance company what discounts they offer new customers.

Types of car insurance policies

Mandatory coverage requirements

Coverage requirements are different in every state, but most states require the following:

  • Bodily injury liability — If you're involved in an accident where another driver is injured or dies, then this coverage will help with medical expenses and liability if you're sued.
  • Property damage liability — If you or another driver in your car cause damage to someone else's vehicle or property, such as a fence, building or street sign this coverage will help pay for that damage.
  • Discounts — If you qualify for discounts on auto insurance coverage, you could potentially save a lot. Always ask your insurance company what discounts they offer new customers.

Some states will also require these coverages:

  • Medical payments or Personal Injury Protection (PIP) — PIP coverage will pay for medical expenses from injuries to you or your passengers. If you're forced to miss work, it can also cover lost wages.
  • Uninsured motorist coverage — If you're in a hit-and-run accident, or if your accident is caused by an uninsured driver, this coverage reimburses you.

Optional coverage

Most people don't realize that basic, legally-mandated auto insurance mostly covers damages you cause to other vehicles. To cover damage to your own vehicle, you'll need the following optional auto insurance coverages:

  • Collision — If you hit another vehicle or object with your car, collision coverage reimburses you for damage when you're at fault. It doesn't cover mechanical failure or normal maintenance on your car, but it will cover damage caused by hitting potholes or flipping your vehicle.
  • Comprehensive — There are lots of events that can damage your car aside from an accident, such as weather or theft. You are not necessarily at fault if a burglar smashes your window, but since there is no other motorist with insurance to cover these damages, you will need to provide your own coverage. Comprehensive coverage protects against damage caused by theft or vandalism, fire, flood, hail, falling debris, and other hazards.
  • Glass coverage — Windshield damage is common and it may not damage other parts of your car. Some auto policies include no-deductible glass coverage, but if yours doesn't, you can buy supplemental glass coverage to protect against hail or road debris. These policies may also cover damage to side windows, rear windows and glass sunroofs.
  • Under-insured motorist — Like uninsured motorist coverage, under-insured motorist insurance covers your costs in a serious accident when the other driver lacks the coverage to pay.
  • Gap insurance — Collision and Comprehensive insurance policies only cover the depreciated value of your car—and new cars depreciate quickly. It doesn't cover what you paid for it originally or the full replacement cost if you buy a new one. Gap insurance covers this missing amount if your car is totaled or stolen. If you have a lease, this coverage is usually included automatically. However, if you buy your car new, you may want to look into purchasing gap insurance to pay the difference.

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