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One of the best ways to get cheap car insurance is by comparing car insurance quotes — and the companies offering them. To get you started, NerdWallet looked at car insurance prices across the country for different driver profiles and coverage levels to find the cheapest rates. We’ve sliced the data in several ways to give you an idea of average costs and what factors might nudge your car insurance rate up — or even better, down.
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To calculate the added cost in purchasing comprehensive and/or collision coverage we looked at annual insurance quotes for a 30 year old male from New York across four different insurance companies, and the ten best-selling vehicles in the US. We look at the range of rates you could pay from basic liability to policy plans with comprehensive and collision coverage. Collision typically costs more than comprehensive, although some companies require you to carry both rather than just one. Comparing quotes across at least three companies can get you lower car insurance rates.
Comprehensive car insurance covers damage to your car if it collides with something other than another car, like an animal or a tree, or if it’s damaged by vandalism, theft, or natural disaster. Again, if you lease your car or have an outstanding loan on it, this type of coverage will be required, but if you pay your car off, or it becomes worth less money than it would cost to repair, you can decline this coverage.
If you’re a first-time homebuyer who’s never had to deal with an insurance company before, State Farm may be your company. With a helpful website featuring industry-best educational resources, a quick and easy quoting process, and a stellar mobile app where you can view your policy, pay your bill, and file claims, State Farm offers one of the easier insurance experiences in the industry.
American Family: American Family car insurance is the lowest-ranked company on our list. While a fair number of customers said filing a claim with American Family was easy, that was about the only positive thing they had to say, with the company faring poorly on measures of customer service, communication about claim status, value, and claim resolution.
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The amount of coverage required by law varies from state to state. If you’re a cautious person, you might opt for a more expensive policy with better coverage. If you have a lot of assets, experts recommend that you get enough liability coverage to protect them; otherwise, the other party involved in an accident could sue and attempt to collect on those assets.
Let's use the aftermath of a major storm to illustrate the differences between collision and comprehensive. Within that storm, let's consider two hypothetical events: First, a heavy telephone pole was blown down and fell on your truck, or second, you swerved to avoid a falling tree and wound up crashing into a guardrail. In the first event, you couldn't control when or why a tree fell on your car. This kind of accident would get reimbursed under your comprehensive policy. In the second situation, you were driving the car and ultimately swerved into the guardrail. This makes it a collision, and collision insurance pays for the damages.
Texas is one of four states that have seen the highest increase in auto insurance premiums over the last seven years, according to Consumer Reports. While part of that jump is due to increased repair costs for the added technology in new cars, extreme weather also plays a role, with Hurricane Harvey a recent glaring example. Over half a million vehicles flooded in Texas during that storm, significantly raising insurers’ annual losses for 2017, and in turn causing around an 8% jump in premiums this year. Add the fact that Texas is No. 1 in the nation for hail damage losses, and its position at the top of the rate hike leaderboard is no surprise.
Next, take a good hard look at your driving record and credit report, and clean both up if they’re not in good shape. Moving violations, citations for driving under the influence, accidents, and a low credit score all tell car insurance companies you’re at higher risk of being in an accident, making a claim, and costing them money. Some car insurance companies will give you a discount if you can prove you’re a safe driver by installing a tracking device in your car, which can lead to lower rates over time (however, if the tracker shows you routinely drive in an unsafe manner, your rates might go up). A few years without a citation or an accident, as well as a steadily improving credit score, can help you save on car insurance.
So, what does the best car insurance look like? The best car insurance companies balance their rates with the amount of coverage they offer, so their customers don’t pay more than they have to and are covered when they need to make a claim. The best car insurance companies work with you to figure out how much car insurance you need and explain your policy to you. When you need to file a claim, the best auto insurance companies walk you through the process, keep you informed, and work with you to resolve any issues you have. The best auto insurers will help you understand how car insurance works and make you feel like you’ve gotten the best value for your money when you insure your vehicle. The best car insurance companies will also offer you auto insurance discounts for things like having multiple policies or a good driving record. Finally, the best car insurance companies have great customer service, keep their customers updated on the status of their claims, and make sure the customer is satisfied with the way the claim is resolved.
But liability coverage levels come in threes — you’ll probably see something like 50/100/50 up to 250/500/250 in typical policies. You can think of these limits like: individual injuries / total injuries / property damage. Insurers are a little more technical, calling them bodily injury liability, total bodily injury liability and physical damage liability.
How much car insurance you need depends on how much coverage you are legally obligated to get, as well as how much coverage you need for your situation. Each state has certain legal requirements for car insurance, and not meeting them can result in negative consequences. Check out our car insurance state guides to see the legal car insurance minimums in your state.