Who Has the Best Cheap Car Insurance?

If you own a car, car insurance is a required expense in 48 of the 50 states. A lack of diligence when shopping for your car insurance could lead to a hefty monthly bill, as well as headaches if you actually need to file a claim. We researched and explored quotes from over 128 companies in 2,700 cities to determine which insurers had the lowest costs, nationally and in each state. Our team also evaluated which companies had the best track record for customer service and the claims process.

Table of Contents

What is the Cheapest Car Insurance Company?

After our analysis of 2,700 cities and 128 companies, we found that Erie was the most affordable major insurer in the country with an average yearly rate of $1,052 based on our sample driver - about 31% cheaper than the national average across every insurer. The very largest of the five is GEICO, the second largest auto insurer in the U.S. by market share.

Graph shows the five cheapest car insurance companies in the United States

In the table below, you can see how the average annual rates for the 15 most affordable large auto insurers in the country compared based on quotes we obtained for an example 30 year old driver.

RankCompany Annual Rate
1 Erie $1,052
2 GEICO $1,067
3 American Family  $1,099
4 Auto Owners  $1,201
5 Progressive $1,241
6 Farmers $1,249
7 State Farm $1,372
8 State Auto  $1,397
9 Nationwide $1,404
10 Allied $1,470
11 Allstate $1,718
12 Safe Auto  $1,855
13 MetLife $1,957
14 Victoria $2,057
15 Encompass $2,129

*Premiums based on our sample driver

Three Cheapest Insurers

  • Erie

    Erie is the United States' 13th largest insurer despite being found in only nine states. Overall, it was frequently the cheapest insurer for drivers in its market, beating state averages by 28%. In states like Virginia and Pennsylvania, drivers could find Erie for 40% less than the state average.  

  • GEICO

    The nation's second largest insurer is the second least expensive one as well. Though found in every state, drivers in New York and Utah can save up to 50% by going with GEICO. On average, GEICO beat state averages by 28%.

  • American Family

    Though not the most well known brand of auto insurance, we still found American Family in nearly 1,000 cities nationwide where it beat state averages by 14%. Drivers in Washington and Colorado can even reap premiums 32% and 29% under their state averages. 

The Cheapest Insurers By State

The price of car insurance can vary greatly between states. One company may be expensive in Utah, but inexpensive in New York. In some states, a small, local company could even offer the best price. Below, click through to your state to see which company and cities have the least expensive car insurance based on the numerous studies we've conducted.

What Is The Best Car Insurance Company?

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. There are a few factors we deemed most important to evaluate a company on which affect policyholders' satisfaction, such as, the average shopping experience, customer service, ability to resolve complaints, and quote filing process. We've identified a few companies that consistently ranked better than their competitors, and will show how the major car insurance companies fared on these four factors.

Best Overall Auto Insurer: Erie

Erie is the best overall company for car insurance, based on these four metrics. The country's 13th largest auto insurer scored high in the 2015 J.D. Power study for shopping experience, receiving high marks for how happy a customer was with their pricing, and service of local agents. 

Despite its smaller size, Erie offers the same types of discounts larger national insurers provide such as bundling, anti-lock brakes, anti-theft, young driver and senior driver among others. Erie also offers a unique benefit where if you stay accident free with the company for 15 years, you will never be charged for an at-fault accident again thereafter. 

The biggest downside to Erie is that it is only available in Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. If Erie is not around you, most likely one of the other big five national insurers will be. 

Best Car Insurer among the Big Five Companies: State Farm 

Of the biggest auto insurers in the U.S. - State Farm, GEICO, Allstate, Progressive and Farmers - the former is the greatest overall. State Farm may not be the cheapest for our 30 year old driver, but the massive company has a force of over 18,000 agents who frequently rank high for customer satisfaction. State Farm also offers over 15 discounts most drivers qualify for equalling hundreds of dollars worth of savings. 

The company is also known for the ease of which customers can file claims, offering several options including an online mobile app. As the nation's largest insurer, it is backed by a strong financial strength ensuring that all justifiable claims can be paid out.

How Insurance Companies Ranked for Customer Satisfaction

Below we go into more detail on the four factors we used to evaluate car insurance companies and how insurers rank for each. We reviewed rankings from the 2015 J.D. Power studies, reviews from consumeraffairs.com, and consumer complaint data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). 

Best Car Insurance Company for Claims Process: Auto Owners

We looked at the J.D. Powers 2015 study, which explored the country's 20 largest auto insurers and how they rank for their claims process. The number of accidents have increased in recent years as the number of drivers grew due to lower gas prices and unemployment. Selecting a company that offers a smooth claims process is perhaps just as important as price. Companies that scored a "5" ranked best.

RankCompanyInitial Claims ProcessServiceAppraisalRepair ProcessSettlementOverall
1 Auto Owners 5 5 5 5 5 5
2 USAA 5 4 3 4 5 5
3 Amica 5 3 5 3 5 5
4 The Hartford 4 2 3 5 4 5
5 Nationwide 4 4 4 4 3 4
6 GEICO 4 2 3 2 3 3
7 Progressive 3 3 3 2 3 3
8 State Farm 3 3 4 3 3 3
9 Allstate 3 3 4 3 3 3
10 Liberty Mutual 3 3 3 3 3 3

Company with the Easiest Shopping Experience: Erie

The shopping experience is another important factor to consider when getting car insurance. We looked at another 2015 J.D Power study which weighed major companies on the flexibility of the policies they offered, how happy customers were with their pricing, and the service of the local agent. The company that scored the highest was Erie Insurance, which was also the most affordable insurer in the nation based on our sample drivers' quotes. A score of "5" is the best.

RankCompanyPolicy OfferingsContentment w/ PricingLocal AgentOverall
1 Erie 4 5 4 5
2 Liberty Mutual 5 4 5 5
3 USAA 5 5 NA 5
4 The Hartford 5 5 3 5
5 American Family 4 4 4 4
6 Auto Club Group 4 4 5 4
7 State Farm 4 3 5 4
8 Allied  3 3 5 4
9 Travelers  3 4 3 4
10 Amica 4 3 3 4

Auto Insurer with the Least Complaints: Travelers 

Here, we looked at the National Association of Insurance Commisioner's reports on the auto insurance companies that receive the fewest complaints relative to their market share. We analyzed the 20 companies with the largest market shares in America. Carriers with complaint ratios less than "1" receive fewer complaints compared to those above "1". You can read more about the metric here.  

RankInsurance CompanyComplaint Ratio
1 Travelers 0.08
2 Amica 0.34
3 Farmers 0.52
4 AAA 0.55
5 Allstate 0.58
6 Mercury 0.61
7 Liberty Mutual 0.63
8 American Family 0.66
9 Nationwide 0.7
10 21st Century 0.73

Most Well-Reviewed Car Insurance Company: Auto Owners

For this metric, we went to consumeraffairs.com and analyzed the ten highest-rated insurance companies with at least ten reviews. Auto Owners emerged with the highest ratings, receiving a score of 4.1 out of 5 from 20 reviewers, follwed by Erie with a 4 out of 5.

RankCompanyNumber of ReviewsScore
1 Auto Owners 20 4.1
2 Erie 74 4
3 Allied 14 4
4 Safeco 36 3.9
5 State Farm 2,383 3.6
6 Farm Bureau 209 3.4
7 American Family 226 3.1
8 Allstate 1,279 3
9 USAA 935 3
10 Auto Club Group 497 3

Methodology: How We Got Our Info 

We collected quotes from a variety of insurance companies across 2,700 towns and cities in the U.S, for 128 insurance companies. Our sample driver was a 30 year old male who drove a 2011 Toyota Camry. To obtain quotes, we kept parameters for getting coverage the same, such as that he was single, and had a clean driving record. The only parameter that changed was the zip code where he lived in the U.S. The amount of coverage we opted for gave our driver bit more than what is required of state minimums.

Coverage TypeStudy Limits 
Bodily Liability  $50,000 per person/ $100,000 per accident
Property Damage  $50,000 per accident 
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist BI $50,000 per person/ $100,000 per accident 
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Property  $50,000 per accident 
Comprehensive & Collision $500 Deductible 
Personal Injury Protection Min. When Required by State

Sources: 

J.D. Power Study
NAIC Complaint Report
Consumeraffairs.com

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