At The Zebra, we know better than most just what a pain buying car insurance can be. We also know that students suffer from higher-than-average policy rates. Talk about a double-whammy. That’s why, this year, we’ve decided to continue The Zebra’s annual scholarship with the goal of helping to alleviate the financial pressures of college-bound students in Virginia, while also getting an insider view of the Old Dominion State.
Most insurers — and we're not just talking about auto insurance companies here — use some type of credit-based insurance score to help determine how risky a potential customer is. The practice is a bit controversial, which is why some states have laws against using it (see above). But the general thinking behind insurer credit checks is: If someone is bad with their finances, they might be irresponsible in other areas of life, too. You can learn more about how car insurance rates are determined here.

If you have a clean driving record — no at-fault accidents, speeding tickets, DUIs, or other recent citations — you'll probably enjoy relatively cheap car insurance rates. Conversely, a bad driving record will cause your costs to skyrocket: car insurance premiums typically increase by 31% after a DUI, 26% after an at-fault accident, and 15% after a speeding ticket in Tennessee. The post-citation penalties assessed by car insurance companies in Tennessee are slightly more forgiving than nationwide averages. If you have a clean driving history, be sure to inquire about your insurance company's safe driver discount.


In virtually all states, drivers are required by law to have mandatory liability insurance coverage. This is done as a way to ensure that the driver can cover the cost of damages to other people or property in the unfortunate event of an accident. Some states implement a “proof of financial responsibility” requirement, which is a little more flexible.

While Auto-Owners Insurance keeps a fairly low profile, they receive extremely high marks across the board. In fact, J.D. Power awarded it “better than most” or “among the best” in every category in its 2018 Insurance Shopping Study. That puts Auto-Owners Insurance ahead of the pack in terms of overall customer satisfaction whenever a claim is filed.
If you own your home and have plenty of other assets, you should consider buying a policy with higher coverage limits than what is normally offered. For more peace of mind, consider buying the top tier of auto coverage to protect your family. With more coverage in place, you can ensure you won’t run out of coverage in the event of a catastrophic accident – or worse, get sued by someone who plans to go after your assets in court.
GEICO, well known for its animated gecko, has served as an underwriter to more than 16 million auto policies, which insure more than 24 million vehicles. The company’s size allows it to employ more than 36,000 people across nine regional offices, three service centers and three claims centers. GEICO’s original customer base consisted of U.S. government employees and military personnel. Today, the insurance company’s customer base has expanded to include people in the private sector.
Since most people choose one of these large insurers, NerdWallet compared quotes from the five largest auto companies in ZIP codes across the country. Rates are for policies that include minimum coverage required in each state, plus collision and comprehensive coverage. Our “good driver” profile is a 30-year-old with no moving violations and credit in the “good” tier. Use the tabs to see rates for drivers with credit in the “poor” tier and those with one at-fault accident as reported to the insurer.
When comparing car insurance quotes, it helps to compare apples to apples; in other words, you want to be sure that the quotes you get are for identical - or at least very similar - auto insurance policies. Once you have a better idea of the type of coverage you’re looking for in a policy, this will be easy. To better understand coverage types start here
Coverage limits play a huge role in how much your auto insurance premiums cost, but so will your deductible. Since you’ll be required to pay your deductible in full to access your insurance benefits after an accident, it’s important to make sure your deductible is affordable enough you can cover it with your savings. The right auto policy for your needs will have the right combination of healthy coverage limits with an annual deductible you can actually afford.

You might wonder how auto insurance quotes are calculated. It's important to understand the primary goal of an insurance company is to effectively predict risk and assign premiums based on the risk a particular driver may pose. Car insurance companies assess your entire driving profile to estimate this risk, including factors such as location, demographics, insurance history, driving record, and vehicle.
It is one of the three highest-rated automotive insurers in the country. The only downside is its limited availability: USAA only services the immediate families of active and former members of the military. Given those restrictions, the quote process is a bit more intense compared to its competitors, but that’s a small price to pay for its exemplary service.
First, you can play with your deductible. We all like to have the least amount of out of pocket expense if we are involved in an accident. However, the lower the deductible, the higher your premium will be. Select a higher deductible amount. If you have chosen a $500 deductible, rerun your quote with a $1,000 or higher deductible. This will assuredly lower your overall premium. 

The car your drive makes a big difference in your insurance rate. Vehicles built for performance, with high MSRP (manufacturer's suggested retail price), and foreign-built models are often costlier to insure. Vehicles that don't cost as much to repair or aren't built for faster driving — such as vans and sedans — are correspondingly cheaper to insure.

When you get an insurance quote, an agent might add extraneous coverage. Unlike your home, your vehicle will rapidly depreciate in value, meaning the coverage you once had might not be necessary after a few years. For example, collision and comprehensive coverage are designed to protect your vehicle from damage. But if your vehicle is worth less than $4,000, the value of insurance payout you would receive may not justify the cost of your insurance premium.
There are two other methods that come immediately to mind. First, you could pay your premiums annually or semi-annually. Some car insurers offer anywhere from a 3% to 10% discount for doing so. The other thing you can consider is increasing your deductible. That's the amount of money you pay out of pocket before insurance kicks in, so you'd pay more in case of an accident, but your monthly premium would be lower.
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