Factors that impact your cost of car insurance

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Almost all drivers must carry a minimum amount of car insurance to drive legally. There is no standardized amount each driver pays. Car insurance companies use many factors to determine how much your auto insurance premiums will be. These factors include your vehicle type, driving record, claims history and the state you live in, and may also include your age, gender, credit score and ZIP code depending on your state’s auto insurance regulations. Knowing the factors that impact your cost of car insurance can help when comparing auto insurance quotes and reviewing policy renewals.

Auto Insurance

Key takeaways

  • Your vehicle type, motor vehicle record and previous claims history are a few factors that determine car insurance rates.

  • The type of vehicle you drive, how frequently you drive and the coverage you choose also makes a difference.

  • Asking about discounts, bundling policies and only filing claims when necessary are ways to save on car insurance.

What factors affect car insurance rates?

When purchasing car insurance, your insurer will need to know several pieces of information to quote you a premium. You can usually prepare details about yourself, your vehicle and your insurance history ahead of time to make your process of shopping around easier.

Credit score

Your credit score is important for more than just a car loan; it could also be an influencing factor when you apply for car insurance. Although insurance companies don’t use your direct credit score, they may reference what is considered a credit-based credit score. However, there are some states that do not allow the use of your credit score when calculating car insurance rates, including California, Hawaii and Massachusetts.

If you are wondering why your credit score is so important, it is used to help predict future behavior. “Credit has been used in the insurance industry since the 90s to help carriers assess the risk of claims being filed,” says Cynthia Moore of Salzburg Insurance in Norfolk, VA. She explained that based on research conducted, people with a lower credit score are statistically more likely to file more claims than those with a higher credit score. Because of this, insurers may factor in the added risk by setting a higher premium.

Average annual full coverage car insurance premiums by credit rating





National average






Every aspect of your location could play a role in determining your premium amount in most states, from your state to your city and even down to your ZIP code. John Espenschied of Insurance Brokers Group, LLC, told us that the state where your vehicle is parked or garaged is a huge factor. “Rates by states can vary by as much as 400%, with Louisiana being one of the highest in the nation,” he warns. “Twelve states require personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, which significantly boosts the cost of car insurance,” Espenschied explains. “These states are known as no-fault states and require your insurance company to pay for your bodily injury if you are involved in an accident regardless of fault.”

According to Moore, your garaging ZIP code provides details of population size, which can impact the likelihood of thefts and accidents. Although it is important to note that, in California and Michigan, car insurance companies are not allowed to use your ZIP code to determine your rates, along with several other non-driving factors.

Those who live in severe weather areas may also face higher premiums due to related causes of loss. For example, the NICB reports that more than 422,000 insured vehicles were damaged by Hurricane Harvey, about 300,000 claims after Hurricane Katrina, and 250,500 claims following Superstorm Sandy.


Average annual full coverage premium

Average annual minimum coverage premium





















































































New Hampshire



New Jersey



New Mexico



New York



North Carolina



North Dakota















Rhode Island



South Carolina



South Dakota





















Washington, D.C.



West Virginia









Prior insurance

Your insurance history affects your car insurance rates in two separate ways. Prior insurance shows that you have continually maintained insurance, which is required by every state but New Hampshire, according to Espenschied of Insurance Brokers Group. “People who drive with no insurance and then decide to buy insurance have a much higher likelihood of canceling, especially if purchased simply to renew license plates or go to court to show proof of insurance,” he explained. However, if you have five or more years with one insurance company, Espenschied said it will typically qualify you for better rates. “It shows longevity and willingness to keep insurance year after year.”

However, if you have had a lapse in coverage, it could work against you. Some insurance providers may charge you more to cover the additional risk.

Driving record

Even with a long insurance history, careless driving habits can negatively impact your premiums. Having incidents on your driving record could lead to insurers viewing you as high-risk and charging higher rates. Comparatively, those with clean driving records may more easily find cheaper rates and qualify for additional savings, such as safe driver and claims-free discounts.

Average annual full coverage premium

Clean driving record


Speeding ticket conviction




DUI conviction


Age and gender

During your lifetime as a driver, your rates will see spikes and decreases based solely on your age, in most states. Teen drivers have four times as many crashes as drivers who are 20 or older, according to the IIHS. This is often a result of inexperience and risky habits. At the other end of the spectrum, the Institute reports that drivers over the age of 70 have higher crash rates than middle-aged drivers – although still not as many as young drivers.

Gender also plays a factor in calculating car insurance rates in many states.

“Men typically have higher premiums than women, especially in the under 25 category,” said Moore of Salzburg Insurance. “Rates stay level between 30-65 and then, with most carriers, you will start to see an increase in rates for drivers over 65, and especially over 75.” When asked why, Moore explained that studies show older drivers have a slower reaction time and decreased vision, causing more claims.

According to the IIHS, male drivers are more likely to speed, drive while impaired and skip wearing their seatbelts, which explains the trend toward higher premiums. The total number of vehicle deaths for males was more than double compared to females every single year between 1975 and 2020. However, data from recent years shows this disparity among genders is narrowing, a trend greatly attributed to the increase in vehicle safety features. Crash statistics show that every decade, the newer vehicle models reduce deaths for both genders. In fact, since 1975, death rates have decreased 14% for males and 10% for females.

The following states do not use gender as a determining factor in calculating premiums: California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

Average annual full coverage premiums by age and gender

*18-year-old rates are for drivers on their own policy.


You would probably expect a new vehicle to cost more to insure than an older one, but it is not always that simple. Newer cars are typically more expensive to insure due to having new parts. However, if your new car qualifies for additional savings, like for having safety features, it may be less expensive to insure than an older-year car.

In addition to newness, size also plays a role. If you know a vehicle’s make and model, you may be able to better gauge what car insurance premiums you will see.

Car model

Average annual full coverage premium

BMW 330i




Honda Odyssey


Toyota Prius


Ways to lower your insurance premium

Despite rate factors, there are other ways to lower your car insurance premium and save money on your policy.

  • Ask about discounts: Several insurance companies offer many types of car insurance discounts for things like claims-free, loyalty and pay-in-full.

  • Bundle your insurance: When you bundle your home and auto insurance policy with the same company, you can likely earn cheaper premiums on both. You could also bundle other types of insurance, like condo, boat, life, and health insurance.

  • Opt for a higher deductible: Drew Scott, senior vice president of Scott Insurance in Stratford, CT, said this can be a helpful approach, but to see significant savings, you might want to opt for a higher deductible for several vehicles. Keep in mind that although your monthly payment will be lower, you will have a higher out-of-pocket expense if you are in an accident.

  • Consider claims carefully: Espenschied advises against filing or contacting your insurer about insignificant, small claims. Even if no money is paid out, Espenschied explained all claims – even zero pay-out claims – cost time, money, and energy to investigate.

  • File with the other driver’s insurance: If someone dings your car, Espenschied recommended trying to file a claim with their insurance company before attempting to contact your company. “Chances are, the other party will be willing to pay you directly for a small claim so that they don’t have to have it on their record at renewal time.”

  • Add safety features: If your car does not have adaptive headlights, anti-theft devices, blind spot detection, rear-view cameras or anti-lock brakes, you could consider having them installed to earn savings. Many insurers offer discounts for safety features. Additionally, the added security could reduce your chances of an accident.

  • Shop around: Whether you have a policy currently in action or are coming up on the end of your policy period, it could pay to shop around for car insurance at least once a year to ensure you are paying the best price for your coverage. You may find that you can get better rates by switching carriers, which might be useful information to have before your policy renewal date.

Frequently asked questions

    • Carrying only the state minimum required liability limits may result in the cheapest car insurance premiums, but the true cost may put you at a major financial risk. That’s because if you are involved in an at-fault accident and the costs are higher than your car insurance limits, you’d be responsible for paying the excess out of pocket. Having a policy with higher liability limits, along with optional coverage, like collision and comprehensive, may be more expensive up front, but it could save you more in the long-run.

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    • How frequently you drive as well as the mileage you put on your vehicle in a given time span may impact your car insurance rates. Drivers who use their car less may be able to qualify for low-mileage or reduced use discounts if they meet certain thresholds of eligibility.

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    • Because you will likely add your spouse to your policy once you are married, marriage could impact your rates. Although whether your premium increases or decreases is largely dependent on your unique situation, some insurers do offer savings that married policyholders may be able to benefit from, such as multi-car discounts for insuring more than one vehicle.

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    • When you have been convicted of a moving violation, the increase in your premium can be significant. Not only may a surcharge apply to your premium, but you could lose existing good driving discounts. Generally, a speeding ticket or accident will stay on your record from three to five years, whereas a DUI may stay on your record five to 10 years, or permanently. However, the length of time a poor driving record will impact your premium depends on both your state’s department of motor vehicle laws and your insurance company.

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Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2023 rates for ZIP codes and carriers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Rates are weighted based on the population density in each geographic region. Quoted rates are based on a 40-year-old male and female driver with a clean driving record, good credit and the following full coverage limits:

  • $100,000 bodily injury liability per person

  • $300,000 bodily injury liability per accident

  • $50,000 property damage liability per accident

  • $100,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per person

  • $300,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident

  • $500 collision deductible

  • $500 comprehensive deductible

To determine minimum coverage limits, Bankrate used minimum coverage that meets each state’s requirements. Our base profile drivers own a 2021 Toyota Camry, commute five days a week and drive 12,000 miles annually.

These are sample rates and should only be used for comparative purposes.

Credit: Rates were calculated based on the following insurance credit tiers assigned to our drivers: “poor, average, good (base), and excellent.” Insurance credit tiers factor in your official credit scores but are not dependent on that variable alone. The following states do not allow credit to be a factor in determining auto insurance rates: California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Michigan.

Credit-based insurance scores: Rates were calculated based on the following insurance credit tiers assigned to our drivers: “poor, average, good (base) and excellent.” Insurance credit tiers factor in your official credit scores but are not dependent on that variable alone. Four states prohibit the use of credit-based insurance scores as a rating factor in determining auto insurance rates: California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Michigan.

Incident: Rates were calculated by evaluating our base profile with the following incidents applied: clean record (base), at-fault accident, single speeding ticket and single DUI conviction.

Model: To determine cost by vehicle type, we evaluated our base profile with the following vehicles applied: BMW 330i, Ford F-150, Honda Odyssey, Toyota Prius and Toyota Camry (base).

Age: Rates were calculated by evaluating our base profile with the ages 18-60 (base: 40 years) applied. Depending on age, drivers may be a renter or homeowner. Hawaii & Massachusetts rates indicate age is not a contributing factor.

Gender: The following states do not use gender as a determining factor in calculating premiums: California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania.


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