Some people are hesitant to file a car insurance claim, fearing that their premiums will increase even if they aren’t at fault. However, this isn’t necessarily true, and an insurance company will look at the damage involved and who is responsible for the accident before deciding whether or not a claim results in a rate increase. If you find yourself in an auto accident, whether it’s a fender bender or your car is totalled, exchange insurance information with any involved parties. Even damage that looks cosmetic may have comprehensive damage that you can’t see, so you should file a claim.
You will need to know the make, model, year and VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). An online quote form may be able to pre-fill a large portion of this information by using the VIN found on the dashboard under the windshield or your state’s vehicle registration paper work. Sometimes an insurance form may ask you to differentiate between the different models and security features.
Beyond the state regulations, you will also find a wealth of opportunities to learn more about auto insurance as we continue to expand the information within our Car Insurance Center. Everybody looks for the best deal on car insurance rates, so we also offer you information and the ability to get car insurance quotes from some of the most-respected insurance companies around.
Car insurance is required in every state (and Washington DC) with three exceptions: New Hampshire, Missouri (uninsured drivers must submit “proof of financial responsibility” to the Department of Revenue), and Virginia (where drivers must pay a $500 fee to drive uninsured). These states still require at-fault drivers to pay for any bodily injury and property damage.
Across the board, the longer and with the higher limits you have insurance, the cheaper your premium will be. Using historical data, insurance companies see those with above state minimum requirements as less likely to file a claim or get into an accident. Because of the decreased risk you present, insurance companies tend to lower your rates. In essence, the longer you've been insured for, the lower your rates will be, with all other metrics kept constant.
How much you drive, or your annual mileage, is a huge rating factor in places like California but can still positively and negatively affect your premium in other states. If you live in California, you can expect a 25% gap in average annual premiums between those who drive 0-7,500 miles a year and those who drive more than 15,000 miles a year. On average, however, the less you drive, the more it saves you — but not by much.
Plus, there are hundreds of car insurance companies. What are the chances that the one company you selected is the cheapest car insurance for you? Unless you are comparing prices, you won’t know how much you could be saving. In one comparison, a woman in Texas got prices that ranged from $77 a month to $300. That’s over $2,600 in savings every year from switching car insurance companies.
Compare popular auto insurance companies' financial stability and claims satisfaction ratings to better understand the quality of service they will provide. Claims satisfaction — measured by J.D. Power — is ranked on a scale of 2 to 5, with 5 being "among the best" and 2 being "the rest." Financial strength — calculated by A.M. Best and running from "Superior" to "Poor" — determines an insurer's financial strength and ability to meet its policy and contractual obligations.
The type of vehicle you insure will impact your car insurance rate. Insuring a large truck or luxury vehicle is more expensive than insuring a sedan with standard trim. This is because collision and comprehensive coverage are designed to replace your vehicle in the event of an accident. The more it costs to replace your vehicle, the more it costs to insure it. Simple as that.
No matter which insurance company you chose, getting into an at-fault accident will raise your rates. Nationwide may be the cheapest company for car insurance after an accident, depending on the value of the claim. If the value of the damage you caused is greater than $2,000, Nationwide could offer the best cheap car insurance quotes. If the value of the claim is less than $1,000, Farmers is often cheaper.
NerdWallet averaged rates for 30-year-old men and women for 10 ZIP codes in each state and Washington, D.C., from the largest insurers in each state. “Good drivers” had no moving violations on record and credit in the “good” tier as reported to each insurer. For the other two driver profiles, we changed the credit tier to “poor” or added one at-fault accident, keeping everything else the same. Sample drivers had the following coverage limits: