Rachael Brennan has been working in the insurance industry since 2006 when she began working as a licensed insurance representative for 21st Century Insurance, during which time she earned her Property and Casualty license in all 50 states. After several years she expanded her insurance expertise, earning her license in Health and AD&D insurance as well. She has worked for small health in...

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Reviewed by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer

UPDATED: Jul 14, 2021

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In a nutshell...

  • Your driving history affects your car insurance rate
  • The make, model, and age of your vehicle influence what you pay for insurance
  • Your auto insurance premiums can vary based on your zip code
  • Even your credit score can make a difference in your car insurance rates
  • You can find the cheapest auto insurance available by shopping around

It’s frustrating when every car insurance quote you receive seems exorbitant in price. After all, this is an expense you must pay to drive legally. When the cost is through the roof, it can put a strain on your monthly budget.

A host of factors influences your auto insurance premiums. You might think your driving record is the main thing that matters.

It’s true that your driving history, particularly whether you’ve had accidents or moving violations, is one of the biggest factors when insurance companies calculate your premiums. But other variables also come into play including:

  • The vehicle you drive
  • Where you live
  • Even your credit score

See how much you could save on car insurance by comparing rates using our free quote tool above.

Your Driving Record


Your driving record is a significant factor in determining your auto insurance rates. Many drivers elect to attend traffic safety school after a moving violation.

They still have to pay the cost of the ticket. But they keep their insurance company from hearing about the violation. Moving violations and accidents can cause your car insurance premiums to jump.

Insurance companies look at other factors aside from accidents and tickets. Your age and how long you’ve been driving can affect your rates. Insurance companies are notorious for charging higher rates to young drivers.

It might seem like age discrimination. But statistics bear out the fact that young drivers have higher accident rates.

If your driving record is keeping you from finding cheap car insurance, you have a couple of options. One is to simply wait. Try to make it a year or two with no accident or tickets. Most companies will then offer you lower premiums.

Your other option is to seek out companies that specialize in high-risk drivers. These insurers offer affordable coverage to drivers who cannot otherwise get it.

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Your Vehicle

The vehicle you drive can make a big difference in how much it costs to insure it. As a general rule, the more expensive the vehicle, the more expensive the insurance.

Expensive cars cost more to repair and replace in the event of an accident. They’re also more likely targets for theft and vandalism.

If cheap car insurance is a priority, you want to keep this in mind when shopping for a vehicle. Get an insurance quote on each vehicle you’re considering. The premium difference between vehicles might surprise you.

Your Location


Your car insurance premiums can vary based on where you live. Insurance companies consider your zip code when quoting you a rate. They do this for several reasons.

The biggest is that the risk of accident or theft is much higher in certain places than in others.

Cities with bad traffic pose a greater threat of accident involvement. Atlanta and Los Angeles are good examples.

Things happen when a city has more cars than its roads are designed to handle. Your premiums are sure to rise if you move from a rural area to a dense metropolitan region.

Your zip code’s crime rate also affects your cost for car insurance. Insurers cover you for theft and vandalism, not just damage from accidents. Their risk is higher if you live in an area where lots of vehicles get stolen or defaced.

When you move to a new city, research the zip codes you’re considering. See if there’s a car insurance premium difference from one neighborhood to another.

Your Credit Score

You already know that a low credit score can cause you to pay more for a car loan but it can also make your car insurance more expensive.

Companies vary in how much they weigh your credit score into their decision. Some don’t consider it at all, while others make it a major factor.

If you know you have credit issues, keep this in mind when shopping for car insurance. You might be able to clean your credit up without much trouble. This is true if you have collection accounts or overdue bills that are lowering your score.

Creditors often agree to remove negative information once you satisfy your outstanding debt.

Your other option is to seek out companies that don’t factor credit score into your premium. Your best bet is to do this research before you start applying to companies. Credit inquiries can lower your score even further.

For this reason, you want to first determine the list of companies to which you’d like to apply. Then, whittle down that list before you begin submitting applications.

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Shopping for Cheap Car Insurance


The amount of research you do to find cheap car insurance affects the rate you’ll end up paying. You might not receive an affordable quote from the first few companies you try especially if the following conditions are true of you:

  • You have a poor driving record
  • You’re a young driver
  • You live in an area deemed high risk
  • Your credit is shaky

The internet gives you more options than ever to find affordable car insurance. Most well-known companies offer quotes online. Sometimes you don’t even have to submit an official application.

Third-party insurance sites give you a way to compare companies side by side. Just be careful when dealing with them. Some third-party sites don’t provide useful information. They simply want your email address so they can bombard you with spam.

You also might consider working with an insurance broker. A broker is someone who maintains relationships with a variety of companies. They can shop you around and find you the best deal.

It’s a convenient option if you want to compare several companies but have a single point of contact.

Car insurance isn’t always cheap. This is especially the case if you’re a young driver or have a shaky driving history. But by doing due diligence and shopping around, you can find the best deal available.

Comparing car insurance quotes is a great way to get started finding affordable coverage. Enter your zip code below to get started.