Heightened losses in recent years have led to a 7.2% rate hike across the 10 largest auto insurers in 2017. This rate increase followed a year in which eight of the 10 largest auto insurers reported a negative underwriting profit. In the table below, a combined loss ratio of more than 100% indicates the company incurred more in losses and expenses than it earned in premiums.
If you’ve ever compared car insurance rates, you know how many options are available. Depending on a variety of individual rating factors, certain companies will price your insurance differently. You could end up paying more by choosing the wrong company or failing to compare enough companies. We've outlined the factors that go into your car insurance premiums, as well as some tips for how to find the best possible rates. Let’s get started.
NerdWallet averaged rates for 40-year-old men and women for 20 ZIP codes in each state and Washington, D.C., from the largest insurers, up to 12 in each state. “Good drivers” had no moving violations on record and credit in the “good” tier as reported to each insurer. For the other two driver profiles, we changed the credit tier to “poor” or added one at-fault accident, keeping everything else the same. Sample drivers had the following coverage limits:
Farmers has the fifth-largest market share in Texas at 8.2%. According to J.D. Power, Texans are more impressed with their Farmers claims experiences than they are with Allstate’s. Unfortunately, Consumer Reports readers expressed a bit more annoyance with the timeliness of their payments when comparing Farmers to State Farm and Allstate. Farmers’ financial strength is also a couple of notches lower than the rest. This doesn’t mean that the company's about to go bankrupt — it’s just the difference between “quite stable” and “completely rock-solid.”
It’s important to note that every company considers credit very differently, and even among insurers this factor fluctuates by state. For example, NerdWallet’s 2019 car insurance rate analysis indicates that while State Farm charges higher rates for poor credit in many states, it doesn’t seem to do so in Maine. Similar variations are true for many other companies as well.
Texas is one of four states that have seen the highest increase in auto insurance premiums over the last seven years, according to Consumer Reports. While part of that jump is due to increased repair costs for the added technology in new cars, extreme weather also plays a role, with Hurricane Harvey a recent glaring example. Over half a million vehicles flooded in Texas during that storm, significantly raising insurers’ annual losses for 2017, and in turn causing around an 8% jump in premiums this year. Add the fact that Texas is No. 1 in the nation for hail damage losses, and its position at the top of the rate hike leaderboard is no surprise.
A lot goes into an auto insurance rate quote, including your ZIP code, coverage levels, marital status, annual mileage, driving history and vehicle make, year and model. In most states, your gender and credit history are also used to determine rates. And again, the reason auto insurance comparison shopping is so important is because rates between companies are different for each person, too.
Car insurance rates vary greatly depending on age. Your risk profile as a driver will change throughout your life, so you may be eligible for discounts at some points in your life while other times you may see your car insurance premium increase. This is why you want to keep shopping for car insurance throughout your life so you ensure the best value.
The cheapest car insurance, period, will likely carry the minimum coverage required in your state. In most states, this is liability insurance only, which covers property damage and medical bills for others due to accidents you cause. Some states also require uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, which pay for your injuries or damage if an at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance.