How to Get the Most Auto Insurance Coverage for the Money

Auto insurance will cost you, but savings can be had.

The cost of auto insurance puts a huge dent in some wallets. Drivers in Michigan, Louisiana, and Oklahoma pay far above the national average while drivers in Maine pay the least.[1] Among auto insurers, rates can vary widely, and consumers don’t always know why they’re being charged so much.

You can’t do much about the state where you live—besides moving—but you can get the most coverage for your money by keeping some things in mind as you shop for auto insurance.

Credit Matters

Your credit history reflects on what you pay for auto insurance. Insurers develop an “insurance-risk score” or “insurance credit scoring” based in part on your credit score, theorizing that you’re less likely to file a claim if you have good credit.[2] Your credit score is easily available to you, but your insurance score is not (typically, you’ll have to visit a credit monitoring service such as TransUnion to find it, not your insurance company). In any case, if your credit score is high, then your insurance rates should reflect your insurability.

Personal Demographics

Your marital status, gender, age and the city where you live are factors in determining insurance premiums. The last category can make a big difference in what you pay—if your zip code or street address is coded wrong, you might be charged a rate far above what you should be paying.[3] Therefore, it is important to review your declarations page for accuracy.

What You Drive

Before purchasing that turbocharged sports coupe, contact your auto insurer to get a quote for car insurance. Indeed, your agent can tell you which cars cost the most to insure in any given vehicle segment. Engine size isn’t the only consideration: insurers charge more for cars that don’t hold up as well in an accident. They may also raise rates for cars without recent safety features including side curtain airbags, rearview cameras, and lane departure warning.[4]

Your Driving Record

If you have tickets, then you may have points on your driving record. Points send a signal to auto insurers to raise your rates based on an algorithm set by each insurer. Your insurer won’t tell you how that works, but you can contact your Department of Motor Vehicles to obtain your driving record. If old points have not been removed from your record or points have been wrongly assigned to your record, you can have the DMV make the correction and forward a copy of your updated record to your insurer.[5]

Seek Discounts

Insurance companies offer discounts for drivers who drive just a few thousand miles in one year. Further, discounts are offered if you insure your auto and home with the same company, have been with that company for several years, are a safe driver or have recently completed a driver’s training course. Ask your insurance agent about available discounts—information that’s not always readily volunteered.[6]

Shop Around

Get at least three price quotes from different insurers with similar coverage to make comparisons easier. You may be able to save money by dealing directly with a company over the phone or via the Internet instead of through an insurance agent.

If you belong to an alumni association, a business group or some other association, a group plan can offer additional discounts. Moreover, ask your employer if the company offers a group plan for its employees and their families.

Save Money

It pays to review your auto insurance policy annually as it may reveal overlooked discounts or even mistakes that are costing you money. Never assume your policy reflects your current information as your address may have changed, drivers may have been added or dropped, or other factors may influence what you pay.


[1] Car insurance rates by state, 2019 edition —

[2] The Balance: What is Insurance Credit Scoring?

[3] The New York Times: Your Neighbor in an Adjacent ZIP Code May Pay Less for Car Insurance —

[4] Insurance Information Institute: What determines the price of an auto insurance policy? —

[5] North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles: Driving Records —

[6] Allstate: 6 Car Insurance Discounts That May Save You Money —

See AlsoIIHS Crash Testing and Your Insurance Premiums

Image by 3D Animation Production Company from Pixabay

Author: Matthew Keegan
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.

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