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Buying a new or new-to-you car is one of the most important financial decisions that a person can make in their life. However, spending tens of thousands of dollars for a hunk of metal on wheels is just the beginning of what can oftentimes be a lengthy – and costly – ownership experience.

Car insurance is one of the most expensive recurring costs related to owning a vehicle. In most places, it's required by law. You hope to never have to use it, but when you do, you're far better off than if you were uninsured. Those who shop for insurance for the first time may be aghast at the prices. The truth is, there are a multitude of factors that go into the cost and rates of insurance. Some are under your control, or specific to you: your age, gender, driving record, level of coverage, credit rating, and what kind of car you drive. Other factors, such as state insurance coverage regulations and stipulations from lenders and leasing companies, are out of your control.

Another huge factor that goes into how much you'll pay is where you live. Insurance rates vary state-by-state, and sometimes by thousands of dollars. In U.S. News & World Report’s most recent study of car insurance rates, the most expensive state's average representative rate is about three times the amount in the least expensive state.

Rates can even change drastically between neighboring states. In the cradle of United States auto manufacturing, Michigan, the average annual representative rate is $2,685. Go south to Indiana or Ohio, and the annual study rates drop to $1,017 and $988, respectively. We’ll explain the reasons for these differences later in this guide.

Which States Have the Cheapest Car Insurance?

Our comprehensive analysis of auto insurance rates reveals that Maine has the lowest representative prices spanning the wide variety of customer profiles included in our study. On average, our driver profiles in Maine would pay $875.78 per year for coverage.

New Hampshire, Idaho, Ohio, and Wisconsin fill out the remaining four spots as the cheapest five states to insure a car. States that complete the top ten of the least-expensive are Indiana, Washington, Alaska, North Dakota, and Vermont.

According to our study, the five most expensive states to insure a car are Michigan, Missouri, Louisiana, Florida, and New York. Keep in mind that rates can also vary significantly within each state, as the zip code where the insured vehicle or policyholder resides is a large deciding factor.  

How We Found the Cheapest States for Car Insurance

At U.S. News, we’re all about helping people make life’s important decisions. Our college rankings, launched in 1983, set the standard in educational rankings. Our rankings in other fields, like healthcare, government, and the automotive sphere, help people and thought leaders make choices that make lives better. Now we’re continuing to empower you with the information you need to make the right choices for your life with our Cheapest Car Insurance Rankings. 

Our Study Rates

For this study, U.S. News worked with Quadrant Information Services to analyze a report of insurance rates in all 50 states from the nine largest national car insurance companies, though not every company operates in every state. Quadrant obtained publicly available rate data that car insurers file with state regulators. Our study rates are based on profiles for both male and female drivers aged 25, 35, and 60. Vehicles used include the 2015 Honda Civic, 2015 Toyota RAV4, and 2015 Ford F-150, with annual mileage ranging from 6,000 and 12,000. Three car insurance coverage levels were used, as were credit tiers of good, fair, and poor. Clean driving records and records with one accident, one speeding violation, and one DUI were also used in the calculations of certain driver archetypes. 

To get the study rates shown here, we computed the mean rate for male and female drivers aged 25, 35, and 60 who drive 15,000 miles per year and have medium coverage, good credit, and a clean driving record. The rates shown here are for comparative purposes only and should not be considered “average” rates available by individual insurers. Because car insurance rates are based on individual factors, your car insurance rates will differ from the rates shown here. 

The 10 States With the Cheapest Car Insurance Costs

  1. Maine: $875.78
  2. New Hampshire: $886.78
  3. Idaho: $975.51
  4. Ohio: $987.62
  5. Wisconsin: $1,010.52
  6. Indiana: $1,017.23
  7. Washington: $1,090.54
  8. Alaska: $1,113.93
  9. North Dakota: $1,138.58
  10. Vermont: $1,143.71

Why Do Auto Insurance Rates Vary State to State?

There are many reasons why some states (and areas within states) have higher or lower auto insurance premiums than others. Legal requirements, traffic congestion, economic conditions, weather, and competition are some of the top factors that lead to different rates.

Legal Requirements

Different states require different levels of insurance coverage, with a couple not requiring it at all. Varying coverage requirements lead to higher or lower premiums in those states. Michigan, for example, has the highest rates in the country, according to our analysis, mainly because it requires unlimited medical benefits to cover crash injuries. 

Traffic Congestion

In general, consumers in urban areas can expect to pay higher insurance rates than those in rural areas, as increased congestion leads to higher crash rates. Urban areas are also more prone to car break-ins, theft, and vandalism. Because of these factors, states with lower population densities see cheaper insurance rates. Within states, car insurance customers in rural zip codes can expect to see significantly lower prices than those in urban areas.

Economic Conditions

States (and areas within states) with a high rate of poverty, low wages, or high unemployment can expect to have higher insurance rates than more prosperous areas. Not only is crime typically higher in depressed areas, but more drivers are likely to be uninsured or underinsured. If someone can’t afford to buy insurance or simply decides not to but drives anyway, the cost burden of their accidents is borne by insured drivers.

Weather

Drivers in states that have a history of severe weather are likely to have higher car insurance premiums than those in milder climates. States like Louisiana, for example, that frequently experience both minor and major flooding, plus the effects of hurricanes, see the costs of those disasters reflected in their insurance rates. In Michigan, it's the cost from winter weather and its impact on roads that causes vehicle damage and contributes to high insurance costs. In the central U.S., hail damage leads to higher premiums for comprehensive auto insurance policies.

States with milder weather can see lower rates, as the chance of damaging weather and destructive road conditions are smaller.

Competition

Car insurance customers in states where there is lots of competition among car insurers are in a great position to see lower annual average car insurance rates than those in areas where only a few firms are competing. Not all insurance companies do business in all fifty states and the District of Columbia.

10 States With the Lowest Annual Insurance Rates

As we outlined above, much of the cost of your car insurance premium is in your hands. Some of the best ways to get the cheapest rate are by having a good driving record, a solid credit score, and picking the right coverages and deductibles. However, insurance shoppers who live in these states have a built-in advantage to scoring cheaper insurance.

10) Vermont

Vermont has the second-lowest population of all the U.S. states, and its population density is midpack for the country. With objectively a small number of people driving around, it's little surprise that the state fares well for cheap car insurance.  In our analysis, we found the average representative rate for the driver profiles we studied to be $1,144. That’s about $272 less than the national average for those same driver profiles across our whole study.

Gallo Images / Getty Images

According to our study, USAA is the least expensive insurer in Vermont, with an average study rate charged of $619 per year. If you don’t qualify for USAA, which is limited to current and former military members and their families, check out Geico and Nationwide. Both of those companies have average yearly representative rates under $1,000.

Read more in our guide to car insurance in Vermont »

Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in Vermont

Company

Average Rate

USAA

$619.28

Geico

$784.39

Nationwide

$964.92

State Farm

$1,113.07

Allstate

$1,453.32

Progressive

$1,927.25

Average

$1,143.71

9) North Dakota

If you've ever wanted to be at "the center of it all", you might head to a metropolis like New York City or Los Angeles. Take that phrase a little more literally, and you'll end up in North Dakota, which boasts a few small towns that claim the distinction of being at the geographical center of the North American continent.

Mark C Stevens / Getty Images

This is another sparsely populated state, which lends itself to low insurance rates. Our study shows that for our representative group of insurance customer profiles, USAA offers the best annual study premiums – and by a long shot. Average USAA driver profiles would pay a representative rate of $669 per year. That’s $216 less than average national study rates for our representative consumer profiles.

Insurance customer profiles at all the other companies in our North Dakota survey pay more than $1,000 per year for similar coverage. American Family, State Farm, and Nationwide, would charge study rates of $1,011, $1,055, and $1,058 per year, respectively. The average premium charged to the North Dakota customer profiles in our study is $1,139.

Read more in our guide to car insurance in North Dakota »

Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in North Dakota

Company

Average Rate

USAA

$669.18

American Family

$1,010.92

State Farm

$1,055.35

Nationwide

$1,056.76

Geico

$1,079.24

Progressive

$1,233.31

Farmers

$1,304.08

Allstate

$1,699.77

Average

$1,138.58

8) Alaska

Alaska has the lowest population density of any state, at just over one person per square mile. You could go days without seeing another soul in "the final frontier," all the while enjoying low car insurance rates. We found that our representative insurance buyer profiles would pay an annual premium of $1,114, which is eighth-lowest in the nation, and $302 below the national average.

Paul Soulders / Getty Images

USAA customer profiles ended up paying the least in the study, averaging $825 for our representative group of buyer profiles. State Farm profiles would pay the next lowest representative premiums, at $1,027.

Read more in our guide to car insurance in Alaska »

Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in Alaska

Company

Average Rate

USAA

$824.61

State Farm

$1,026.55

Progressive

$1,126.20

Geico

$1,173.10

Allstate

$1,419.21

Average

$1,113.93

7) Washington

This state in the Pacific Northwest boasts lush geography and ample economic opportunities in the technology and aerospace sectors. You might know of a pretty famous coffee company that hails from Washington, too.

Joe Daniel Price / Getty Images

In our study, Washington offers the sample customer profiles the seventh-lowest representative rates in the country. USAA has the lowest study rates available, at $740 per year. The next cheapest insurer in Washington is Progressive Insurance, with an average rate in our study of $812. Geico also comes in at under $1,000 for a year of coverage on our sample profiles.

Statewide, our representative group of consumer profiles would pay an average of $1,091 for a year of car insurance in Washington. That's $325 lower than the average national study rate.

Read more in our guide to car insurance in Washington »

Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in Washington

Company

Average Rate

USAA

$740.49

Progressive

$811.81

Geico

$962.06

Nationwide

$1,044.75

State Farm

$1,068.48

Farmers

$1,309.40

Allstate

$1,391.22

American Family

$1,396.14

Average

$1,090.54

6) Indiana

Professional race car drivers who visit Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Indy 500 each Memorial Day weekend may not be able to take advantage of low car insurance rates. For most other Hoosiers, there's good news: your state has the sixth-lowest car insurance representative premiums in the country.

Brian Kennedy / Getty Images

On average, the customer profiles in our study would pay $1,017 per year, which is about $400 less than the national average study rate.

As in many other states, USAA has the lowest insurance representative rates for our driver profiles, at $645 per year. Geico isn't far behind, with an annual cost of $716 according to our study. You have several other options with an annual rate of under $1,000: Progressive, State Farm, and Travelers.

Read more in our guide to car insurance in Indiana »

Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in Indiana

Company

Average Rate

USAA

$644.55

Geico

$715.81

Progressive

$770.64

State Farm

$923.80

Travelers

$957.36

American Family

$1,157.51

Nationwide

$1,230.18

Farmers

$1,263.93

Allstate

$1,491.28

Average

$1,017.23

5) Wisconsin

Wisconsin is America's Dairyland, but the state isn't famous for cheese alone. You can also count beer, brats, the Badgers, and a top-5 finish in our study of the least-expensive states for car insurance. In our analysis of auto insurance rates, our driver profiles would pay an average representative premium of $1,011 per year, or $405 less than the national average for the same driver profiles.

Henryk Sadura / Getty Images

USAA is the clear winner in Wisconsin, with the lowest study rates for the representative insurance buyer profiles. On average, our profiles paid $568 annually. Geico and State Farm have the next-lowest study rates, at a similar $857 and $880 per year, respectively.

Read more in our guide to car insurance in Wisconsin »

Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in Wisconsin

Company

Average Rate

USAA

$567.85

Geico

$857.07

State Farm

$879.55

Nationwide

$927.65

American Family

$1,001.87

Progressive

$1,074.05

Allstate

$1,383.74

Farmers

$1,392.38

Average

$1,010.52

4) Ohio

Toledo, Ohio is famous in the automotive industry as the headquarters of and main production center for Jeep and its adventurous vehicles. Ohio is also the sole production center of the Acura NSX supercar. And did you know that seven U.S. Presidents were born in the Buckeye State?

Holly Hildreth / Getty Images

The insurance rates in our study show that Ohio has the fourth-lowest representative rates in the country. On average, our representative profiles would pay $988, which is $428 below the national average according to our analysis.

The cheapest insurance provided in Ohio is USAA, with an average annual study premium of $614 for our representative customers. Geico clocks in at just over $700 annually, while Travelers would cost the sample profiles a little under $800 per year for coverage.

Read more in our guide to car insurance in Ohio »

Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in Ohio

Company

Average Rate

USAA

$614.47

Geico

$707.78

Travelers

$793.15

American Family

$862.57

State Farm

$943.37

Progressive

$1,061.99

Farmers

$1,119.87

Allstate

$1,369.33

Nationwide

$1,416.05

Average

$987.62

3) Idaho

Idaho produces nearly one-third of the United States' total potato crop, keeping French fry fanatics and chip connoisseurs satiated. Residents of the Gem State can also enjoy some of the cheapest insurance premiums in the country, according to our research. Our representative driver profiles would pay an average of $976 per year for their coverage, which is about $440 less than the national average for the same profiles.

Anna Gorin / Getty Images

Our study reveals that, on average, USAA would be the cheapest car insurance option for the sample profiles that we evaluated. Their average annual study premium would be just $517. The next cheapest companies are still a few hundred dollars more per year: State Farm is $793, Travelers is $837, and Geico is $858. If you don't qualify for USAA, focus your search on one of those three latter insurers.

Read more in our guide to car insurance in Idaho »

Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in Idaho

Company

Average Rate

USAA

$517.47

State Farm

$793.16

Travelers

$837.45

Geico

$858.47

American Family

$1,038.32

Farmers

$1,077.88

Nationwide

$1,244.77

Allstate

$1,436.55

Average

$975.51

2) New Hampshire

Unlike most other states in the country, it's not mandatory to have car insurance if you live in New Hampshire. You are, however, still liable for damages you cause in an accident. It's a good idea to carry coverage because the financial losses and potential legal problems you might face could be substantial.

Noppawat Tom Charoensinphon / Getty Images

In our most recent study of nationwide auto insurance premiums, New Hampshire offers the second-lowest representative costs available, on average. For our representative profiles, an annual study premium would be $887, which is $529 lower than the national average for the same group of driver profiles.

USAA offers the cheapest coverage to our representative group of driver profiles, with an average annual study premium of $534. That’s about $350 less than the average of the six New Hampshire insurance companies in our study. Progressive is the next least expensive insurer in the state, coming in at an average representative premium of $765.  Both Geico and Progressive have average representative rates of just over $800.

Read more in our guide to car insurance in New Hampshire »

Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in New Hampshire

Company

Average Rate

USAA

$534.18

State Farm

$765.09

Progressive

$807.22

Geico

$815.61

Nationwide

$1,001.39

Allstate

$1,397.18

Average

$886.78

1) Maine

Maine has beautiful, rocky coastline and bountiful harvests of seafood, including world-class clams and lobster. It also has the lowest average auto insurance rates in the country, according to our study of a representative group of consumers. The average annual car insurance representative premium in Maine is $876, which is $540 lower than the national average. That's also about a third of the cost of the average study rate ($2,685) in the most expensive state in our analysis, Michigan.

Kenneth C. Zirkel / Getty Images

Maine sees the closest competition for cheapest insurer in any of our top-10 least expensive states, with Geico and USAA each striving for the lowest rate. It's USAA, though, that comes out on top, with annual representative rates that average $527. Geico average premiums for the consumers in our study total $544.

Read more in our guide to car insurance in Maine »

 

Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in Maine

USAA

$526.95

Geico

$543.46

Travelers

$668.83

State Farm

$805.68

Progressive

$916.10

Allstate

$1,197.42

Farmers

$1,472.00

Average

$875.78

Get Cheap Car Insurance Quotes in Your Area

Get great auto insurance coverage at an even better price.

What You Can Do to Keep Your Car Insurance Rates Low

Realistically speaking, you shouldn't pack up and move to a new state on a whim simply to save some money on car insurance. However, if you're already planning on moving due to other factors, it's good to expect to know what to pay once you get there. As you look specifically for where to live, keep in mind that prices can vary considerably within a state. Some factors include whether you're in an urban or rural area, and the loss history insurance companies face in different zip codes.

Take the Keystone State of Pennsylvania, for example. In our study, the representative rates for the driver profiles in Philadelphia average $3,481. That's far and away the highest average representative rate among major cities in the state. Head a little north to the Lehigh Valley cities of Allentown and Bethlehem, and you could see average study premiums of $1,905 and $1,829, respectively. Even out west in Pittsburgh, the annual rate for profiles in our study is just $1,867.

Many other factors that go into the costs of car insurance are a result of your choices and behavior behind the wheel. Choosing the right coverages, appropriate deductibles, and best insurance company can save you huge amounts of cash each year while ensuring you’re fully covered if something goes wrong. Be sure to reevaluate your selections regularly or in the event of a major change, such as getting a new vehicle, adding a new driver, or a change in job that may require you to do a lot more (or a lot less) driving.

The most responsible drivers also have the most to gain when it comes to saving money on insurance. Avoiding speeding tickets and at-fault accidents, as well as paying your bills on time, will protect your driving record and credit rating. In most states, auto insurance companies can look at your credit history when determining premiums.

The Best Car Insurance Companies in 2020

Our Car Insurance Ranking

  1.     USAA
  2.     Geico
  3.     Allstate
  4.     State Farm
  5.     Farmers
  6.     Progressive
  7.     American Family
  8.     Nationwide
  9.     Travelers

The Cheapest Car Insurance Companies in 2020

Average Annual Rates:

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