At The Zebra, we know better than most just what a pain buying car insurance can be. We also know that students suffer from higher-than-average policy rates. Talk about a double-whammy. That’s why, this year, we’ve decided to continue The Zebra’s annual scholarship with the goal of helping to alleviate the financial pressures of college-bound students in Virginia, while also getting an insider view of the Old Dominion State.
We identified the auto insurance companies with the cheapest rates, but, as with anything, you want to be sure you are getting high quality service from your insurance company. Reliable car insurance companies are critical in ensuring a smooth customer-insurer relationship. There are a few factors we deemed most important to evaluate a company on which affect policy holders' satisfaction, such as, the average shopping experience, customer service, ability to resolve complaints, and quote filing process.
If you opt for the minimum required coverage in Virginia, prepare to pay an average of $385 annually. This is more affordable than the U.S. average by 41%. If you opt for better coverage, you can select a policy with comprehensive and collision coverage, protecting against costs incurred by car collisions, theft and vandalism, or weather incidents. It's worth noting that better coverage has a price: in Virginia, a comprehensive policy with a $1,000 deductible costs $792, 105% more than liability-only coverage. For a comprehensive policy with a $500 deductible, expect to pay 135% more than you would for a basic liability-only policy.
Other pros of Progressive include it being an online company. You can get a quote directly from the Progressive website without having to speak to an agent. Cons of Progressive involve its customer service. Customers in the J.D. Power survey only gave mediocre remarks for Progressive for its buying experience and claims handling process. It isn't the worst, but Progressive is far from the best in the field. Because of this, Progressive might be the best insurer ideally for customers prioritizing low rates, especially after an accident, and do not mind a bit more cumbersome claims handling process.

Many insurance companies offer a discount for enrolling in their telematics program, which means they’ll monitor your driving through either a phone app or small, installable tool. Some companies will offer a discount just for allowing them to track your driving, while others will monitor while you drive and offer price reductions based on your skills.


Results: Compare produced seven quotes ranging from $148 per month to $329 per month. The quotes were all from fairly obscure companies; I didn’t see any of the big-name providers. The site allowed me to customize coverage, but only by going back to the coverage selection part of the process—meaning that I had to wait for the quotes to re-load each time. It also didn’t allow as many customization options as Insurify. Only one of the quotes permitted online checkout; all the others required speaking on the phone with an agent. I did like that the quotes all let you choose between a pay-as-you-go policy (with a down payment) or a pay upfront policy (at a slight discount).
If you opt for the minimum required coverage in Virginia, prepare to pay an average of $385 annually. This is more affordable than the U.S. average by 41%. If you opt for better coverage, you can select a policy with comprehensive and collision coverage, protecting against costs incurred by car collisions, theft and vandalism, or weather incidents. It's worth noting that better coverage has a price: in Virginia, a comprehensive policy with a $1,000 deductible costs $792, 105% more than liability-only coverage. For a comprehensive policy with a $500 deductible, expect to pay 135% more than you would for a basic liability-only policy.

Quotes that are given through agents or brokers often include their own commission that is being paid by the insurance carrier as a percentage from the premium itself. While some captive agents receive salaries, most agents and brokers rely on their commissions for their income and this is how they make money. Their commission can range anywhere from 0-1% for some annuities policies, 8-20% for car and home insurance to 40-100+% for some life insurance policies, on the first year of the policy. They also earn their money every time you renew your policy, mostly from 1-2% for life insurance renewals (zero after three years) to 2-5% (some even receive up to 15%) for car and home insurance renewals. However, going for the cheapest premium is not something that we always recommend, sometimes it is better to pay more for a premium that covers you well and answer all of your specific and personal needs.
To decide which companies were the best rated, we decided to take a look at which ones received the least complaints relative to their business size. Using data from the North Carolina Department of Insurance, we calculated a complaint index that compares the number of complaints to the number premiums in dollars. Below is a table ranking the insurance companies in North Carolina by the lowest index numbers (best) to highest (worst) complaint index. If the index is less than one, the insurer is better than the average, and if it is greater than one, it is worse than the average. For example, if the company’s complaint ratio is 1.15, the company has a 15% higher share of complaints compared to its market share.
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.
Drivers with good driving records typically enjoy lower car insurance costs than drivers with histories of speeding tickets, at-fault accidents, or DUI citations. Virginia drivers without a recent at-fault accident can save 33% on their car insurance premiums, on average — nearly matching the 32% US average. In addition to earning a cheaper premium for driving incident-free, you may qualify for a safe-driving bonus through your car insurance company. The amount of these discounts may vary, but they typically run between 5 and 10%.

Winston-Salem, the county seat of Forsyth County, tied with Mebane for the 2nd best car insurance rates in the state. Our profiled drivers pay about $755 for a year's worth of full coverage. We found the best rates to be at Auto Owners, North Carolina Farm Bureau, Penn National, Allied, and Erie for Winston Salem. With an average annual rate of $650 between the five companies, this means local drivers covered under these five auto insurers typically save 13% when compared to the usual Winston-Salem Driver. Perhaps most well-known for successful business ventures, Winston-Salem is the birthplace of many companies, such as Krispy Kreme, Camel Cigarettes, and Hanesbrands. It is the fourth largest city in North Carolina and is called the “Twin City” and “City of the Arts and Innovation” for its dual focus on fine arts and technological research.

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.


"After being with my insurance company for just shy of 10 years, and after having shopped at companies that everyone around my hometown swore were the cheapest (including unadvertised "bargain" companies and giant comparison shopping brands), I decided to shop here at Cheap Car Insurance and ended up saving just under $1,100 off my annual insurance bill, which is a lot more than I ever could have imagined anyone saving, especially me, an avid online shopper and extreme bargain hunter [...]


Naturally, insurance companies use your driving past as an indicator of how you will drive in the future. It can be difficult to find affordable car insurance if you have a checkered driving history. While it’s very unlikely you will find an insurance company that won’t increase your premium after an at-fault accident or other violation, the degree of the rate increase will vary by company. Let’s compare rate increases for some common violations across major insurance companies.
It’s important to consider how your previous auto insurance record reflects on your car insurance quotes. Gaps in insurance — or periods spent with bare minimum coverage — can increase your quote, as insurance companies see you as financially unstable and more risky to insure. A lengthy insurance history with high limits and fewer claims can lead to cheap car insurance quotes.
Source: Insure.com, from a study commissioned by Insure.com from Quadrant Information Services. Averages are based on a 40-year-old male driver who commutes 12 miles to work, with policy limits of 100/300/50 ($100,000 for injury liability for one person, $300,000 for all injuries and $50,000 for property damage in an accident) and a $500 deductible on collision and comprehensive insurance. The policy includes uninsured-motorist coverage. Rates were averaged across multiple ZIP codes and insurance companies. Average rates are for comparative purposes; your rate will depend on your personal factors.

The car you drive and the way you use it have a big impact on the coverages you need. We let you customize coverage that's right for your needs and budget. The right auto policy can cover you in worst-case scenarios and help you pay for medical expenses, loss of income and other situations as a result of an accident. Learn more about the different types of car insurance coverage.
Example (Comprehensive): You park your car outside during a major hailstorm, and it's totaled. If you have comprehensive, we'll pay out for the full value of your car (minus your deductible amount). Example (Collision): You back out of your garage, hit your basketball hoop, and cause $2,000 worth of damage to your vehicle. If you have collision, we'll then pay for your repairs (minus your deductible amount).
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