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Car insurance rates by state, 2017 edition

En Español: Las tarifas de seguro automotor por estado

For the fourth consecutive year, Michigan “wins” for the most expensive state for car insurance. Insure.com’s annual state-by-state comparison of average annual premiums found Michigan’s average premium to be $1,076 higher than the national average annual premium.

The Wolverine State has never been below third place in all the years the study has been conducted. Louisiana moved up to the second spot after placing fourth last year on the expensive list.

Rural states rule the inexpensive list. Maine heads up the cheap states with Ohio and Idaho ranking No.2 and No. 3 respectively.  

Car insurance rates among states vary widely, from $864 in Maine to $2,394 in Michigan. The national average premium for the full-coverage policy reviewed by the Insure.com study is $1,318, down one percent from last year’s amount.

Rank State Premium
National average $1,318
1 Michigan $2,394
2 Louisiana $1,921
3 Connecticut $1,897
4 Rhode Island $1,848
5 Florida $1,840
6 DC $1,696
7 California $1,673
8 Wyoming $1,538
9 Delaware $1,526
10 Texas $1,506
11 Oklahoma $1,476
12 Georgia $1,440
13 Arkansas $1,409
14 New Jersey $1,375
15 West Virginia $1,369
16 Kentucky $1,365
17 New York $1,352
18 Colorado $1,351
19 Arizona $1,348
20 Nevada $1,342
21 Maryland $1,327
22 Mississippi $1,326
23 Pennsylvania $1,313
24 Oregon $1,308
25 Hawaii $1,294
26 North Dakota $1,291
27 South Carolina $1,286
28 Massachusetts $1,242
29 Minnesota $1,241
30 Alabama $1,226
31 Montana $1,217
32 Washington $1,216
33 New Mexico $1,201
34 Kansas $1,192
35 Tennessee $1,186
36 Illinois $1,159
37 Wisconsin $1,154
38 Alaska $1,132
39 New Hampshire $1,124
40 Nebraska $1,112
41 Missouri $1,107
42 Utah $1,068
43 South Dakota $1,058
44 Virginia $1,040
45 Indiana $1,021
46 Iowa $1,017
47 North Carolina $1,010
48 Vermont $948
49 Idaho $942
50 Ohio $919
51 Maine $864

Use the interactive map below and hover over any state to display the average annual rate, comparison to national average, and the percent of change from last year.

Car insurance rates are based on a variety of risk factors. Some factors you can’t control, such as your age, but many you can -- such as your driving record, claims history and credit score. You can also control the car you purchase and where you live. Location, location, location isn’t just a mantra for buying a house in a nice area with a good school district; it’s also normally a big rating factor for auto insurance companies.

State car insurance requirements vary from one state to the next, as do the amount of claims -- especially for weather-related items such as hail damage, which can affect rates. There are other factors that affect state insurance rates, some of the main ones being state laws, local court systems, crime, traffic and crash rates.

The percentage of uninsured drivers in the state and how much competition there is among the car insurance companies also affects car insurance rates. Typically, having more auto insurance providers in your state will provide you with a better opportunity to obtain cheaper rates.

Most expensive states for car insurance

#1 Michigan

Michigan has dominated the top spot for expensive states by capturing the No. 1 spot five of the eight years Insure.com has conducted the study. Beyond the last four years, Michigan was also pronounced the most expensive in 2011 and placed second in 2010 and 2013. The lowest it has come in was third in 2012. This year Michigan’s average annual premium is $2,394 -- 82 percent higher than the national average of $1,318.

Michigan’s unique no-fault car insurance system is the culprit for the high annual car insurance rates. Not unlike other no-fault states, Michigan requires car owners to buy personal injury protection (PIP) coverage that pays for the medical expenses of the policyholder and household residents if they are injured in an auto accident. This coverage also extends to passengers who don’t have their own PIP insurance. 

Where Michigan’s coverage becomes unusual are the limits.

Other no-fault states place a limit on the PIP amount; Michigan’s PIP policy instead guarantees unlimited lifetime medical benefits to those injured in an auto accident. Car insurance companies pay up to $555,000, and then the nonprofit Michigan Catastrophic Claim Association (MCCA) picks up medical expenses exceeding that limit. Michigan drivers help fund the MCCA by paying an annual assessment fee. Currently it is at $170 per vehicle. 

Insurance fraud also helps push the auto insurance premiums higher. The Michigan Insurance Fraud Awareness Coalition estimates that around 10 percent of all no-fault claims are fraudulent, costing insurance companies about $150 million. It concludes that this crime costs Michigan motorists $200 to $300 each year in higher car insurance costs.

The high cost of auto insurance in Michigan results in many drivers unable to afford a policy but who continue to drive. Michigan is estimated to have 21 percent of drivers on the road operating without car insurance. A large number of uninsured motorists prods car insurance rates higher because there are fewer insured drivers paying premiums to help offset the risks taken on by the car insurance companies.

 

#2 Louisiana

In 2010, 2012 & 2013 Louisiana held the mantle of the most expensive state. Louisiana dropped down to fourth place the last couple of years but is back up to second place with an annual premium of $1,921, which is 46 percent higher than the national average. 

Like Michigan, Louisiana has a higher than average amount of uninsured motorists on the road.

Nearly 14 percent of Louisiana drivers are estimated to be driving without insurance. And, a lot of insured motorists  only carry a bare bones policy. 

According to Louisiana’s Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon, about 40 percent of drivers carry the minimum car insurance limits required by state law. With a lot of “working poor” in Louisiana, Donelon has noted that those in auto accidents see ads by lawyers saying they will get them money and feel entitled to get a big check for a minor accident. Thus litigation is another reason that Louisiana car insurance rates are so high.

Donelon has cited as an example of the excessive amount of litigation by highlighting the Louisiana Farm Bureau. This insurer is part of a six-state chain of insurance providers; it carries around 17 percent of the policies from the six states, but handles a whopping 50 percent of the lawsuits resulting from auto accidents.  When insurers pay out more in claims, the cost is passed to motorists in the form of higher premiums.

Rates in Louisiana also continue to rise due to additional reasons that Donelon has pointed out – widespread distracted driving and cheap gas.

The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission reported that from 2011 to 2015, 192 people in Louisiana died and almost 27,000 people were injured because of a distractions. Cheaper gas results in more drivers out on the road, who now are more distracted than ever, which leads to more accidents.  The cycle continues as the claims could then end up in litigation. 

 

#3 Connecticut

Connecticut grabbed third place with an average annual premium of $1,897; a cost that is 44 percent more than the national average.

One reason for the high rates -- the Nutmeg State has a higher density of vehicles on the road per square miles than most other states. Anyone who has driven on Route 95 in Connecticut in the summer knows how many cars cram onto that highway. That isn’t good for a driver’s blood pressure and the accidents that result from the congested roads hiked up auto insurance rates.

Katharine L. Wade, Connecticut insurance commissioner, says another reason for the higher rates is that Connecticut residents purchase higher amounts of liability coverage and full coverage for their cars. According to the NAIC, Connecticut has the highest disposable income per capita of $58,747. This results in many residents buying more expensive vehicles and paying more in insurance costs for them. Or, even those with lower liability limits and cheaper cars potentially paying out a lot in claims due to a number of expensive cars on the roadway that they could damage.

Wade also says Connecticut auto insurance rates have been steady the last two years with rate increases of 3.1% and 4.4% over the past two years.

The way rates are filed may be another reason for higher rates in Connecticut. Insurance companies can set rates in Connecticut with few state oversight regulations. In, cheaper states the rate-filing rules  are a more stringent. North Carolina requires insurance companies to get prior approval from state regulators. Vermont requires prior approval, rates to be filed at least 30 days before the proposed effective date and rates can be disapproved for lack of supporting information.

Connecticut drivers have more than 100 auto insurance companies for motorists to choose from, so shopping around the various competitors is a wise idea to find the best rates.

The high cost of car insurance pushes many drivers out of the market. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), an estimated 21 percent of Michigan drivers were uninsured in 2012. High numbers of uninsured drivers raise rates because there are fewer drivers (and their premiums) to share the risk pool.

The high cost also leads to – while technically legal – unscrupulous behavior. Some Michigan drivers will purchase a seven-day policy (which insurers in Michigan sell) so they have proof of insurance when registering their vehicle and then let the policy expire after a week, leaving them uninsured.

Unfortunately, rates are probably not coming down anytime soon. Until the PIP requirement is changed or ditched altogether, insurance rates will remain high in Michigan.

Cheapest states for car insurance

#1 Maine

Quiet, rural and truly tranquil is how Maine is thought of and that also helps toexplains why car insurance premiums are so cheap here. A lack of huge urban areas and congestion that metro areas bring helps keep car insurance rates low. Maine nabbed the top spot for least expensive states this year with an annual average premium of $864, which is 34 percent less than the national average.

Maine Bureau of Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa says reasons for the lower rates are because the state’s auto insurance industry isn’t heavily regulated and it is one of the most competitive auto insurance markets.

Maine weather also plays a role, as there typically are no tornados or hail storms, both of which hike up rates because they cause many drivers to file claims all at once.  And Maine has responsible car owners. Only Massachusetts has fewer drivers uninsured.  The national average is 1 in 8 drivers being uninsured, while it’s less than 1 in 20 in Maine.

To save even more on insurance, Cioppa recommends that drivers shop around, work to become a safe driver, pay your premiums online, improve your credit history, make sure you ask about discounts and choose the highest deductible you can afford so you’ll pay lower premiums.

#2 Ohio

Competition is big in Ohio – and we aren’t just referring to how OSU fans feel about football. Ohio Department of Insurance Director Jillian Froment says strong competition in the auto insurance market (nearly 250 insurance companies) helps contain costs, as well as allowing Ohioans "more options to find the right policy at the right price." Froment adds that Ohio has "fair and vigilant regulations" that helps support consumers. 

 

Ohio’s annual average premium is $919, 30 percent cheaper than the national average – though up two percent from last year’s cost.

Ohio's recent annual auto insurance rate has been small and remained steady with inflation, Froment notes. Ohioans who have seen a bump up in auto insurance can go comparison shop and may be able to find lower premiums elsewhere.

 

#3 Idaho

The cheapest car insurance in the western U.S. is found in Idaho. With an average annual premium of $942, it’s 29 percent cheaper than the national average and the only state out west with rates under $1,000.

Idaho benefits from a rural population, moderate weather, and a competitive marketplace with 185 auto insurance companies competing for business.  It also helps to have a “friendly” regulatory environment and a lower rate of litigious activity involving auto accidents. That all leads to lower auto insurance premiums, says Elaine Mellon, Idaho’s Consumer Services Bureau chief.

She says her office advises consumers to get the level of coverage that fits their needs rather than just going with the cheapest coverage.

“Many insurers offer a variety of discounts, and we try to provide consumers with an awareness of some of the factors that may keep their rates low,” says Mellon.

Whether you’re located in an expensive state or cheap state – or one somewhere in between – comparison shop to get the best premiums possible. Each auto insurance company rates differently on risk factors and finding one that gives the best overall rates for your combination of qualities (good and bad) can save you hundreds of dollars a year.

View our slideshow on the top five most and least expensive states for 2017 for more information.

Best-selling vehicles in 2017

The annual study compiled annual rates from six large insurance carriers in 10 ZIP codes in every state.  A hypothetical driver with a full-coverage policy is used.  The driver is a 40-year-old male who has a clean driving record and good credit history.

To keep from skewing the data with high-end luxury and sports vehicles, the study averaged rates for the 20 best-selling vehicles in U.S. for the first quarter of 2017. Each model was rated on its cheapest-to-insure trim level.  You can see rates for more than 1,800 models in Insure.com’s Most and Least Expensive Vehicles to Insure tool.  This year’s 20 best-selling vehicles includes:

  1. Ford F-150 XL
  2. Chevrolet Silverado 1500
  3. Ram 1500 Express
  4. Nissan Rogue S
  5. Honda CR-V LX
  6. Toyota Camry LE
  7. Honda Civic LX
  8. Toyota Corolla L
  9. Toyota RAV4 LE
  10. Ford Escape SE
  11. Nissan Altima 2.5 S
  12. Honda Accord LX Sensing
  13. Ford Explorer XLT
  14. Chevrolet Equinox LTZ
  15. Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo
  16. Hyundai Elantra GT
  17. Chevrolet Cruze Limited
  18. Nissan Sentra S
  19. Ford Fusion S
  20. GMC Sierra 1500

Source: autoNXT best-selling vehicles for first quarter of 2017

This apples-to-apples comparison is different than other research, such as the rate comparison conducted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). The NAIC’s numbers display the average amount that state residents spend for auto insurance, regardless of the type of car they insure or amount of coverage they purchase.

Additional reporting by Les Masterson

Average cost of car insurance by state

AL AK AZ AR CA CO CT DC DE FL GA HI ID IL IN IA KS KY LA ME MD MA MI MN MS MO MT NE NV NH NJ NM NY NC ND OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VT VA WA WV WI WY
More than $100 below national average
Within $100 of national average
More than $100 above national average

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Methodology

Insure.com commissioned Quadrant Information Services to calculate auto insurance rates from six large carriers (Allstate, Farmers, GEICO, Nationwide, Progressive and State Farm) in 10 ZIP codes per state. Rates were compiled in May 2017.

We averaged rates in each state for the cheapest-to-insure 2017 model-year versions of America’s 20 best-selling vehicles and ranked each state by that average. Rates are for comparative purposes only within the same model year.

Rates are based on full coverage for a single, 40-year-old male who commutes 12 miles to work each day, with policy limits of 100/300/50 ($100,000 for injury liability for one person, $300,000 for all injuries and $50,000 for property damage in an accident) and a $500 deductible on collision and comprehensive coverage. The hypothetical driver has a clean record and good credit. The rate includes uninsured motorist coverage. Actual consumer rates will depend on individual driver factors.

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