Auto Insurance

In 41 States, Drivers With Poor Credit Could Save $1,000-Plus a Year By Shopping Around for Car Insurance

The average cost of full coverage auto insurance across the U.S. based on our driver profile is $3,398 a year for someone with poor credit, but we found a low premium of $1,755 — accounting for $1,643 in potential savings annually.
A model car sits on sets of coins.
A model car sits on sets of coins. Source: Getty Images

According to a 2021 ValuePenguin survey on insurance shopping, 26% of Americans have never compared multiple insurance quotes. However, 76% of consumers who have shopped around say they've saved money by doing so.

Comparing quotes is especially important with auto insurance premiums expected to rise by 8.4% in 2023. But how much could consumers save? This study looks at where consumers with poor or good credit could save the most money by switching to the cheapest auto insurance policy.

Here's what we found.

Key findings

  • By shopping around for the cheapest auto insurance policy, U.S. drivers with poor credit could save $1,643 annually. The average cost of full coverage auto insurance across the U.S. based on our driver profile is $3,398 a year — however, we found a low premium of $1,755, accounting for the potential savings. Meanwhile, drivers with good credit could save $952 annually by getting the lowest premium.
  • Shopping around for auto insurance with poor credit could be most impactful for drivers in New Jersey. The average cost of auto insurance for New Jersey drivers with poor credit is $5,455 a year, though we found a low premium of $1,691 — a difference of $3,764. The next biggest differences are in Texas ($3,516) and Michigan ($3,494). In total, poor credit drivers in 41 states could save at least $1,000 by shopping around.
  • Drivers with good credit could still save by shopping around, but the differences aren't as significant. The average cost of auto insurance in Texas for a driver with a good credit score is $2,798 a year, though we found a low premium of $950 — a difference of $1,848, the biggest across the U.S. The next biggest differences are in Maryland ($1,634) and Rhode Island ($1,608).
  • Georgia households with a vehicle shop around the most for auto insurance. Residents made 2.06 auto insurance inquiries per 1,000 households with a vehicle in November and December 2022 — the highest in the U.S. and 142.4% above the national average. Georgia was ahead of Nevada (1.63) and Delaware (1.47).
  • The most car insurance inquiries in November and December 2022 came from Nissan Altima 2.5 owners. Following the Altima 2.5 was the Toyota Camry LE and Nissan Rogue S.

U.S. drivers with poor credit could save $1,643 shopping for auto insurance

Credit matters for car insurance. In fact, poor credit raises rates by 72% compared to having good credit. Finding cheap car insurance may seem difficult, but shopping around could help poor credit drivers save significantly.

How much could drivers with poor credit save? Based on a 48-year-old male driver with a Nissan Altima 2.5 and no accidents or tickets on his record, the average cost of full coverage auto insurance in the U.S. is $3,398 a year. However, the lowest premium available in our sample was $1,755 — meaning drivers with poor credit could save $1,643 annually.

According to ValuePenguin car insurance expert Nick VinZant, shopping around helps because of the difference between insurance companies' rate calculations.

"Shopping around is one of the best ways to save money on auto insurance," he says. "That's because each insurance company uses different factors to calculate rates and specializes in insuring different types of drivers. By shopping around, you could find the one that's best for you."

Meanwhile, drivers with good credit could save $952 annually by getting the lowest premium. The average cost of auto insurance across the U.S. is $1,974. However, the lowest premium in our sample was $1,022.

Shopping for insurance with poor credit is most impactful in these states

In terms of the highest insurance price difference for those with poor credit, Jersey drivers come out on top. In New Jersey, the lowest premium available for drivers with poor credit in our sample was $1,691 a year — $3,764 lower than the average premium of $5,455.

Why New Jersey? Because state regulations vary, insurers in some states heavily emphasize credit scores when determining rates — and the Garden State ranks as one of the worst for drivers with poor credit. In New Jersey, drivers with poor credit pay 117% more than those with good credit — making it the state with the fourth-largest percentage discrepancy.

In addition, New Jersey has a no-fault insurance system, which requires drivers to carry personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. These premiums can vary widely, and shopping around could greatly reduce costs here.

5 states with biggest difference between lowest annual premiums and average premiums for drivers with poor credit scores

Rank
State
Average
Lowest premium
Difference between lowest premium and average cost
1New Jersey$5,455$1,691$3,764
2Texas$5,275$1,759$3,516
3Michigan$5,159$1,665$3,494
4Rhode Island$4,540$1,690$2,850
5Missouri$4,432$1,656$2,776

Source: ValuePenguin analysis of Quadrant Information Service data. Note: Rates are based on a 48-year-old man with no accidents or tickets on record driving a Nissan Altima 2.5.

Following New Jersey, drivers with poor credit could save the most in Texas. While premiums average $5,275, the lowest premium we found was $1,759 — a difference of $3,516. Similar to New Jersey, Texas ranks as the sixth worst state for drivers with bad credit. On average, these drivers pay 113% more than those with good credit.

In third, Michigan drivers with poor credit could save the most by shopping around. While the average premium is $5,159, the lowest premium in our sample was $1,665 — $3,494 lower. Though Michigan law prohibits insurers from using credit scores to set rates, Michigan has the second-highest rate of uninsured drivers in the country, which could drive up costs for insured drivers and account for the wide gap in quotes here.

In total, poor credit drivers in 41 states could save at least $1,000 by shopping around.

Full rankings

States with biggest difference between lowest annual premiums and average premiums for drivers with poor credit scores

Rank
State
Average
Lowest premium
Difference between lowest premium and average cost
1New Jersey$5,455$1,691$3,764
2Texas$5,275$1,759$3,516
3Michigan$5,159$1,665$3,494
4Rhode Island$4,540$1,690$2,850
5Missouri$4,432$1,656$2,776
6South Carolina$4,678$1,967$2,711
7Delaware$5,303$2,601$2,702
8Maryland$4,262$1,620$2,642
9New York$5,109$2,498$2,611
10Louisiana$5,213$3,042$2,171
11Florida$4,874$2,865$2,009
12Arkansas$3,986$1,998$1,988
Show All Rows

Source: ValuePenguin analysis of Quadrant Information Service data. Note: Rates are based on a 48-year-old man with no accidents or tickets on record driving a Nissan Altima 2.5.

How much could drivers with good credit save?

Although drivers with good credit scores don't stand to gain as much by shopping around, drivers in some states may find significant savings. Across all states, Texas drivers with good credit scores stand to gain the most. The average cost of auto insurance for these drivers is $2,798 a year, though we found a low premium of $950 — a difference of $1,848.

5 states with biggest difference between lowest annual premiums and average premiums for drivers with good credit scores

Rank
State
Average
Lowest premium
Difference between lowest premium and average cost
1Texas$2,798$950$1,848
2Maryland$2,499$865$1,634
3Rhode Island$2,431$823$1,608
4Louisiana$3,367$1,810$1,557
5Missouri$2,382$858$1,524

Source: ValuePenguin analysis of Quadrant Information Service data. Note: Rates are based on a 48-year-old man with no accidents or tickets on record driving a Nissan Altima 2.5.

The next biggest difference is in Maryland, where the lowest premium we found was $865 — $1,634 lower than the average premium of $2,499.

Rhode Island follows: While average premiums are $2,431, the lowest premium we found was $823 — a difference of $1,608. In Rhode Island, insurance companies must file their rates with the state to ensure they're not deemed excessive or inadequate, which may help ensure that rates are competitive and encourage insurers to offer lower rates to drivers with good credit scores.

Full rankings

States with biggest difference between lowest annual premiums and average premiums for drivers with good credit scores

Rank
State
Average
Lowest premium
Difference between lowest premium and average cost
1Texas$2,798$950$1,848
2Maryland$2,499$865$1,634
3Rhode Island$2,431$823$1,608
4Louisiana$3,367$1,810$1,557
5Missouri$2,382$858$1,524
6Delaware$3,266$1,761$1,505
7Nevada$2,236$790$1,446
8South Carolina$2,677$1,253$1,424
9Florida$2,970$1,568$1,402
10Arkansas$2,299$1,040$1,259
11Connecticut$2,311$1,075$1,236
12Oregon$2,004$779$1,225
Show All Rows

Source: ValuePenguin analysis of Quadrant Information Service data. Note: Rates are based on a 48-year-old man with no accidents or tickets on record driving a Nissan Altima 2.5.

Georgia drivers are most likely to shop around for insurance — here's which states follow

With potentially thousands of dollars saved in shopping around for insurance, it's worth looking at which states are taking advantage of rate shopping. Georgia households come in first — residents made 2.06 auto insurance inquiries per 1,000 households with a vehicle in November and December 2022. That's 142.4% above the national average of 0.85 per 1,000 households.

Following that, Nevada ranks second. Drivers here made 1.63 inquiries per 1,000 households with a vehicle, 91.8% above the national average. Delaware follows. With 1.47 inquiries per 1,000 households with a vehicle, Delaware inquiries are 72.9% above the national average.

5 states with the most auto insurance inquiries per households with a vehicle

Rank
State
Inquiries per 1,000 households with a vehicle
% difference from average inquiries
1Georgia2.06142.4%
2Nevada1.6391.8%
3Delaware1.4772.9%
4Arizona1.4671.8%
5Alaska1.3660.0%

Source: ValuePenguin analysis of QuoteWizard and U.S. Census Bureau data.

Full rankings

States with the most auto insurance inquiries per households with a vehicle

Rank
State
Inquiries per 1,000 households with a vehicle
% difference from average inquiries
1Georgia2.06142.4%
2Nevada1.6391.8%
3Delaware1.4772.9%
4Arizona1.4671.8%
5Alaska1.3660.0%
6Colorado1.2749.4%
7Texas1.2648.2%
8South Carolina1.2344.7%
9Florida1.1940.0%
10Maryland1.1130.6%
11District of Columbia1.0321.2%
11Oklahoma1.0321.2%
Show All Rows

Source: ValuePenguin analysis of QuoteWizard and U.S. Census Bureau data.

Most inquiries? Altima 2.5s

It's not just states, as inquiries vary by car owners, too. The most car insurance inquiries in November and December 2022 on the QuoteWizard platform came from Nissan Altima 2.5 owners (this is why we included the Altima in our shopping around insurance sample).

The Toyota Camry LE and Nissan Rogue S followed the Altima.

Auto insurance inquiries by car models

[table align_vertical="top top align="left left" footnote="Source: ValuePenguin analysis of QuoteWizard data."] Rank | Model _ 1 | Nissan Altima 2.5 _ 2 | Toyota Camry LE _ 3 | Nissan Rogue S _ 4 | Honda Accord EX _ 5 | Ford F-150 SuperCrew _ 6 | Honda Civic EX _ 7 | Nissan Sentra S _ 8 | Ford F-150 _ 9 | Honda CR-V EX _ 10 | Hyundai Elantra SE _ [/table]

Shopping for new insurance? Here's what experts recommend

If you're looking to switch auto insurance providers, VinZant says there are a few things you can do to ensure you find the lowest rate. Particularly, he recommends:

  • If your credit score leaves something to be desired, search for an insurance company that targets drivers with low credit scores. "I think drivers with a lower credit score could save more because certain auto insurance companies specialize in insuring drivers with lower credit scores," he says. "There can be a lot of competition among auto insurance companies, which could drive prices down."
  • For your next car, consider buying a model that's cheaper to insure. You could save as much as 16% a year compared to the average driver by switching to models like the Ford F-150 — if you have the budget to make the change.
  • Take steps to ensure your driver record is clean. That's because speeding tickets, accidents and especially a DUI could raise your rates by as much as 83% for years. If your driving record isn't clean, you could take some steps to reduce your rate (depending on the violation). For example, a defensive driver course could help you get certain speeding tickets dismissed.

Methodology

ValuePenguin researchers analyzed 100,000 auto insurance inquiries on the QuoteWizard platform in November and December 2022. We used this with the U.S. Census Bureau 2020 American Community Survey (with five-year estimates) to estimate the number of inquiries per 1,000 households with a vehicle.

We used Quadrant Information Service to gather full coverage quotes in every ZIP code in all 50 states and the District of Columbia for a 48-year-old man driving a Nissan Altima 2.5. We assumed the driver had no accidents or tickets on their record. We broke down quotes by those with good and poor credit scores.

Full coverage policy

Coverage type
Coverage limits
Bodily injury liability$50,000 per person/$100,000 per accident
Property damage liability$25,000 per accident
Uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury$50,000 per person/$100,000 per accident
Comprehensive and collision$500 deductible
Personal injury protectionMinimum when required by state

These rates were publicly sourced from insurer filings and should be used for comparative purposes only as your quotes may differ.