Best Cheap Car Insurance Companies

Find out which insurers offer the most value for the lowest price

We publish unbiased reviews; our opinions are our own and are not influenced by payments from advertisers. Learn about our independent review process and partners in our advertiser disclosure.

Getting online quotes from multiple auto insurance companies is the easiest way to compare car insurance prices, though you want to make sure to select the same coverages and deductibles for a true comparison. But even when all factors seem the same, rates can vary dramatically among insurers because of the parameters they use to calculate premiums, such as your driving record, mileage, location, age, gender, and even your credit score. 

To find the best cheap car insurance companies, we requested quotes using the same driver profile and vehicle information. We also looked at insurers with different pricing strategies, such as Root’s emphasis on driving habits. Then we compared each company’s coverages, discounts, services, member perks, and independent ratings to determine the best overall value at the lowest price.

Best Cheap Car Insurance Companies in 2021

Best Cheap Car Insurance Companies
Best Cheap Car Insurance Companies

Best Cheap Car Insurance : Nationwide


Nationwide

Nationwide

Our Nationwide quote was actually the second cheapest overall, but it takes the top spot on our list because the insurer with the lowest quote, USAA, only offers insurance to the military community (see below). Nationwide’s selection of optional coverages and its long list discounts show it doesn’t skimp on offerings to keep prices down. Infrequent drivers may receive even better prices based on Nationwide’s pay-per-mile program, SmartMiles.

Optional Coverages

In addition to the standard coverages like liability, personal injury protection, collision, and comprehensive, Nationwide offers a number of add-ons:

  • Towing and labor coverage
  • Rental car expense coverage
  • Gap coverage (pays the difference between your totaled car’s lease/loan balance and its actual cash value)
  • Accident forgiveness
  • Roadside assistance
  • Vanishing deductible (gives you $100 off collision and comprehensive deductibles—up to $500—for every accident-free year)
  • Total loss deductible waiver (waives the comprehensive or collision deductible for total losses)

Discounts

Nationwide offers a solid range of car insurance discounts:

  • Multi-policy
  • SmartRide (telematics-based driving discount)
  • Accident-free
  • Good student
  • Defensive driving course
  • Vehicle anti-theft devices
  • Safe driver (no at-fault accidents or major violations for 5 years)
  • Easy pay (automatic bank payments)

Customer Service

J.D. Power studies show Nationwide’s overall customer satisfaction with its auto claims is about average. But the company scores below average for customer satisfaction with the overall auto insurance customer experience and its independent insurance agents. That means you may have mixed experiences when dealing with the company.

What We Like
  • Affordable prices for basic coverages

  • Good optional coverages for more customized policies

  • Comprehensive learning center with educational articles and resources

What We Don't Like
  • Average to below-average J.D. Power scores

Read our full review of Nationwide Car Insurance

Best for Military Members : USAA


USAA

 USAA

USAA membership is open to current and former military members and their immediate families. Those who qualify will be hard-pressed to find another insurer offering USAA’s combination of unique benefits and affordability. USAA’s premiums were the cheapest of all the quotes we received, despite the fact that it offers benefits like international auto policies that cover cars during overseas shipments, dedicated international support numbers, an on-base garaging discount, and liability coverage for government-owned vehicles.

Optional Coverages

While USAA has all the basics covered, it also gives members a solid range of optional coverages:

  • Wage earner disability benefits (pays a percentage of income for you or a covered passenger if you’re unable to work after an accident)
  • Essential services disability benefits (pays non-family member to do services like grocery shop and clean if you can’t because of car accident injuries)
  • Death benefit (pays a beneficiary if a car accident results in your death)
  • Car replacement assistance (pays an additional 20% of car’s actual cash value in a totaled loss)
  • Accident forgiveness (available after 5 years of being accident-free)
  • Rental reimbursement
  • Towing and labor
  • Roadside assistance
  • Rideshare insurance

Discounts

USAA car insurance discounts include: 

  • Early quote (quoting before current policy renews)
  • Safe driver
  • Defensive driving course
  • Good student
  • New vehicle
  • Multi-vehicle
  • Annual mileage
  • Vehicle storage
  • Family discount (10%)
  • Length of membership
  • Military installation (15% off comprehensive coverage when car is garaged on base)
  • Multi-policy (10%)

Customer Service

USAA’s customer satisfaction ratings are outstanding in J.D. Power studies—it scores highest in nearly every study in which it appears, and would be ranked #1 if its membership restrictions didn’t prevent it from being truly compared with other insurers. These results show that customers enjoy their overall experience and claims handling with USAA.

What We Like
  • Coverages, discounts, and services designed for the needs of military members

  • Stellar J.D. Power scores across multiple studies

  • Most affordable car insurance without sacrificing offerings or customer service

What We Don't Like
  • Membership isn’t open to everyone

  • Quotes are only available after creating an account and qualifying for membership

Read the full review of USAA Car Insurance

Best Accident Forgiveness : Progressive


Progressive

Progressive

Progressive’s Small Accident Forgiveness keeps your rates from going up after a claim that’s less than $500. This benefit is automatically included in your policy for free, it starts on day 1 of your policy, and it’s available in most states. After three consecutive years of being accident-free and at least five years of being a member, you can also earn Large Accident Forgiveness for claims over $500. 

These perks are part of Progressive’s Loyalty Rewards Program, which offers additional benefits as you stay loyal to the insurer. For example, after 20 years of continuous membership, you can earn the Lifetime Renewal Guarantee benefit. That means Progressive won’t deny your policy renewal, even if you’ve had a certain number of accidents within a specified time period—a big advantage compared with most insurers. You might think you’d pay more for these perks, but our Progressive quote was still cheaper than the average of those we received. Plus, if you already know how much you want to pay for car insurance, Progressive’s Name Your Price tool is a fast way to see different coverage options that fit your budget.

Optional Coverages

Progressive offers a solid list of add-on coverages, depending on your location:

  • Roadside assistance
  • Loan/lease payoff (pays off totaled car’s balance up to 25% of its cash value)
  • Rental car reimbursement
  • Custom parts and equipment value (covers up to $5,000 of after-market accessories)
  • Rideshare coverage
  • Deductible savings bank (subtracts $50 from collision and comprehensive deductible each claim-free policy period)

Discounts

Progressive has an impressive selection of car insurance discounts:

  • Multi-policy (5% on average)
  • Multi-car (12% on average)
  • Continuous insurance 
  • Snapshot (based on driving habits; averages $145 off)
  • Teen driver
  • Good student
  • Distant student
  • Homeowner (10% on average)
  • Online quote (4% on average)
  • Sign online (8.5% on average)
  • Paperless
  • Pay in full
  • Automatic payment

Customer Service

Progressive’s J.D. Power score on the Auto Insurance Satisfaction Study is slightly below average, as is its score on the Auto Claims Satisfaction Study. However, Progressive is rated better than most insurers on J.D. Power’s Independent Insurance Agent Satisfaction Study. Overall, Progressive’s customer service appears to be a mixed experience, though your best bet might be to work with a local agent.

What We Like
  • Name Your Price tool helps you find a policy within your budget

  • New customers who were with a previous insurer for 3+ years start at the Platinum level of Loyalty Rewards

  • Deductible savings bank doesn’t have a max limit, so deductible can reach $0

  • Coverage automatically includes accident forgiveness for claims up to $500

What We Don't Like
  • Mixed customer service scores show experiences may vary

Read the full review of Progressive Car Insurance

Best for Safe Drivers : Root


Root Insurance

Root Insurance

Root claims its policyholders can save up to $900 per year compared with their previous insurance policy, partly because of how the company sets your rates. While many car insurers offer savings in exchange for tracking your driving behavior, Root uses your driving habits as the biggest factor in your quote. You have to take a test drive for several weeks to get a quote. Your driving record is also a large part of Root’s assessment, and the company doesn’t insure anyone it deems high-risk or prone to accidents and claims. Root car insurance is available in 30 states.

Optional Coverages

Root offers all the basic types of car insurance, as well as a couple of optional add-ons:

  • Roadside assistance (included for free, except in California)
  • Rental (rental car or Lyft reimbursements)

Discounts

Root automatically builds discounts into your quote, so its website doesn’t list its discounts. The only one the company specifies is a bundling discount if you also sign up for home insurance (10%) or renters insurance (5%). 

Customer Service

Root is newer and smaller than many other insurers, so it hasn’t been included in national surveys like J.D. Power studies yet.

What We Like
  • Rates are based primarily on how you drive, not your demographics

  • All relevant discounts automatically applied to quotes

  • Roadside assistance is included for free (except in California)

What We Don't Like
  • Only available in 30 states, with six more and D.C. coming soon

  • Requires a 2-3+ week test drive in order to get a quote

  • Doesn’t allow you to retake the test drive if you don’t receive a quote

Read the full review of Root Car Insurance

Best for Improving Your Driving : State Farm


State Farm

 State Farm

State Farm’s Drive Safe and Save program uses your phone and a separate Bluetooth beacon to track your acceleration, braking, speed, phone use while driving, and more. You can also see your driving score for the past two weeks, which can inspire you to make changes to become a better driver—and save up to 30% on already reasonably priced premiums.

State Farm’s Steer Clear program also helps policyholders under 25 become better drivers through training, practice, and mentoring. At the end, drivers get a certificate they can send to an agent to qualify for a discount. 

Optional Coverages

Beyond the standard coverage, State Farm offers:

  • Rental car reimbursement and travel expense coverage
  • Emergency road service coverage
  • Rental car insurance
  • Rideshare insurance

Discounts

State Farm car insurance discounts include, depending on your location:

  • Drive Safe & Save
  • Steer Clear
  • Accident-free (insured car has no accident claims for at least 3 years)
  • Defensive driving course
  • Student away at school
  • Good driving
  • Driver education course
  • Good student (up to 25%)
  • Vehicle safety (up to 40% on medical-related coverage)
  • Passive restraint
  • Anti-theft
  • Multi-car
  • Multi-policy

Customer Service

State Farm scored average or better on various J.D. Power studies, though it didn’t win any top prizes.

What We Like
  • Lots of discounts, many aimed at younger drivers

  • Rewards safe driving habits with discounts

  • Rideshare insurance covers all phases of rideshare driving

What We Don't Like
  • Sometimes uses non-original equipment manufacturer (non-OEM) or recycled parts for claim repairs

  • Doesn’t always assign your nearest agent when quoting online

Read the full review of State Farm Car Insurance

Final Verdict

Car insurance doesn’t have to stretch your budget. The companies on this list offer affordable basic coverages that may be enough to fit your needs. Most also offer at least a few extras so you can customize the best cheap car insurance policy for your needs.

Compare Providers

Best Cheap Car Insurance Companies of 2021
Insurance Company Why We Picked It
Nationwide Best Cheap Car Insurance
USAA Best for Military Members
Progressive Best Accident Forgiveness
Root Best for Safe Drivers
State Farm Best for Improving Your Driving

FAQs

How Can You Find Cheap Car Insurance?

The best way to find cheap car insurance is to compare quotes from several national and regional insurers using the same coverage and deductible levels. Raising your deductibles, bundling auto and other policies, and signing up for telematics-based driving programs can also help you save. 

If you’re on a budget but have an emergency fund, consider foregoing comprehensive and collision coverage if you drive an older car with a low actual cash value. The premium savings from declining these coverages may be worth it to you. 

While "no-down-payment car insurance" might sound like a great option, read the fine print. It's usually a marketing term, and installment payment fees could mean you wind up paying more over the policy's term.

How Much Coverage Do You Need?

The minimum amount of coverage you need is what your state requires for liabilities like bodily injury and property damage. Some states also have medical payments and uninsured motorist coverage minimums. But these minimums may not be enough to cover liabilities in serious car crashes or property damages if you hit a luxury car. Instead, it’s best to go with the highest coverage you can reasonably afford. 

Other important coverages are comprehensive and collision if you want your insurer to cover car damages from theft, fires, accidents, and other hazards. You can save on these coverages by choosing higher deductibles that still fit within your budget. 

Methodology

To create our roundup, we compared quotes across the 10 largest auto insurers by direct number of premiums written, and we researched companies with alternative pricing models, such as Root and Metromile. From there, we selected the five that offered the best overall value for their price based on coverages, discounts, availability, member perks, and customer satisfaction scores. 

Where we obtained quotes, we used the profile of a 35-year-old woman from Illinois driving a 2018 Ford Explorer with no prior accidents to compare costs for policies that met the minimum limits for Illinois.

Article Sources

  1. Insurance Information Institute. "What Determines the Price of an Auto Insurance Policy?" Accessed Jan. 19, 2021. 

  2. Nationwide. "SmartMiles." Accessed Jan. 19, 2021. 

  3. Nationwide. "Full Coverage Insurance." Accessed Jan. 19, 2021. 

  4. Nationwide. "Auto Insurance Discounts." Jan. 19, 2021. 

  5. J.D. Power. “Auto Insurance Claims Satisfaction Reaches Record High as Carriers Refine Time-Consuming Processes, J.D. Power Finds.” Accessed Jan. 19, 2021. 

  6. J.D. Power. “Insurers Come Up Short for Independent Agents Despite Critical Role Agents Play in Driving Business, J.D. Power Finds.” Accessed Jan. 19, 2021. 

  7. J.D. Power. “Auto Insurance Websites Surpass Agents in Importance to Customer Interaction, J.D. Power Finds.” Accessed Jan. 19, 2021. 

  8. USAA. "Service. Savings. Satisfaction." Accessed Jan. 19, 2021. 

  9. J.D. Power. “Property & Casualty Insurers Raise Digital Games as COVID-19 Elevates Customer Expectations, J.D. Power Finds.” Accessed Jan. 19, 2021. 

  10. Progressive. "What Is Accident Forgiveness?" Accessed Jan. 19, 2021. 

  11. Progressive. "Loyalty Rewards." Accessed Jan. 19, 2021. 

  12. Progressive. "The Name Your Price Tool." Accessed Jan. 19, 2021. 

  13. Progressive. "Types of Car Insurance." Accessed Jan. 19, 2021. 

  14. Progressive. "Auto Insurance Discounts." Accessed Jan. 19, 2021. 

  15. Root Insurance. "Car Insurance for Good Drivers." Accessed Jan. 19, 2021. 

  16. Root Insurance. "Frequently Asked Questions," see "Why don't you insure everyone?" Accessed Jan. 19, 2021. 

  17. Root Insurance. "Take the Root Test Drive and Save." Accessed Jan. 19, 2021. 

  18. Root Insurance. "Car Insurance Availability by State." Accessed Jan. 19, 2021.

  19. Root Insurance. "Types of Coverage." Accessed Jan. 19, 2021. 

  20. BusinessWire. "Root Launches Homeowners Insurance." Accessed Jan. 19, 2021. 

  21. Root Insurance. "Renters Insurance. For All Your Stuff," see "Bundle and save." Accessed Jan. 19, 2021. 

  22. State Farm. "Have Drive Safe & Save™ Questions? We've Got Answers." Accessed Jan. 19, 2021. 

  23. State Farm. "Steer Clear® Safe Driver Discount." Accessed Jan. 19, 2021. 

  24. State Farm. "Car Insurance Coverage from State Farm." Accessed Jan. 19, 2021. 

  25. State Farm. "Take Control of Your Auto Insurance Discounts From State Farm." Accessed Jan. 19, 2021. 

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  27. National Safety Council. “Costs.” Accessed Jan. 19, 2021. 

  28. Insurance Information Institute. “Facts + Statistics: Insurance company rankings.” Accessed Jan. 19, 2021.