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What Is Car Insurance?

"in Plain English” 

Car insurance is a contractual agreement between you and your auto insurance company that protects you financially from things such as accidents or theft. Car insurance will cover your physical car, personal items inside the vehicle (like a laptop), and liability coverage if you are held legally responsible for physical harm to someone else.

How Does Car Insurance Work?

The way car insurance works is that once the policy is in force, it will cover damage to your vehicle and provide liability protection for someone else’s injuries. Your auto insurance can also cover medical bills if you or your passengers are hurt in an accident or an uninsured or underinsured motorist hits someone. 

Who's Covered By My Auto Insurance?

Auto Insurance policies will cover you, your spouse, and any other family members you name on the policy. Your policy would also cover you if you are driving someone else's car as long as you have their permission.  Finally, if you let someone drive your car, even if they aren't on your insurance policy they are still covered.

How To Compare Car Insurance Quotes Online?

The best way to compare auto insurance quotes is to make sure you choose the exact coverages, limits, deductibles, and premium payment options (monthly or annually) for each quote. You will want to: 

  • Get your info - If you want this process to go fast, you will need to have personal information and information on the car, such as your driver’s license number, VIN for the vehicle, and any information on your driving history.
  • Pick the amount of coverage - Find out what your state’s minimum requirements are for coverage, and then start from there.
  • Think of the limits you may need - You need at the least the state minimum; however, keep in mind that the state minimum doesn’t fully cover you. 
  • Choose your deductible - The lower your plan deductible, the more expensive the policy will become. The policy owner must pay the deductible before an insurance company starts helping with coverage. 

Remember, you must do apples to apples and choose the same amount on each coverage for each auto insurance quote you get online.

THE SIMPLY INSURANCE WAY

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Coverage in minutes.

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What Does Car Insurance Cover?

Your car insurance policy is going to be made up of different types of coverage and each type of coverage will protect you in different situations. Below is a layout of what these policies usually cover:

Liability Insurance: In a majority of states, this is the only required coverage which means that if you're in an accident and are responsible (also called at-fault), liability will pay for:

  • Damage to other cars
  • Other drivers' and their passengers' injuries
  • Damage to objects (mailbox, pole, house, etc.)
  • Lawsuits if someone sues you because of an accident

Comprehensive coverage: Covers random events that you have no control over:

  • Your car being stolen
  • Busted Windshield or glass damage
  • Vandalism, riots, explosions, and fire
  • Falling trees/branches and other objects
  • Rocks or other objects kicked up by cars
  • Storms, floods, wind, hail, earthquakes, and lightning
  • Hitting a Deer or an Animal

Collision: This part of the policy will cover accidents with other cars and objects no matter who's at fault. Collision will also cover you if you overturn your car accidentally.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Property Damage: This might shock you, but around 13% of drivers are uninsured around the nation, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. If a driver without insurance (or one without enough insurance) hits your vehicle this coverage would kick in.

Personal injury protection (PIP): PIP also goes by Medical Payments coverage and is offered in most states. However, PIP is available only in the states that require it to be offered. Basically any time a car causes someone injury, these coverages will both pay for:

  • Medical bills if you or your passengers are injured in a car accident (no matter who's fault)
  • Medical bills if anyone who's covered on the policy is injured when riding with someone else.

PIP varies by state, is a bit broader and may cover other losses such as funeral expenses, lost wages, and rehab costs.

Uninsured/underinsured motorist bodily injury: Pays for injuries and lost wages if an accident is caused by an uninsured motorist.

What Your Car Insurance Won't Cover?

It's essential to know exactly what car insurance is and what it isn't; below we go over a few things that car insurance won't cover. 

  • Mechanical Repairs - Your auto insurance will not cover mechanical repairs unless they were caused by a covered loss such as a collision, fire, or vandalism. Normal wear and tear on your car isn't something a car insurance company will handle.
  • Commercial Driving Isn't Covered - If you are using your car for any commercial reasons like Doordash or for ride-sharing companies like Uber or Lyft; your car insurance won't cover it. However, there are some companies that offer coverage for ridesharing services for an extra cost.

Is Car Insurance Mandatory?

Yes, car insurance is required by law in every state except for New Hampshire; this means that 49 out of 50 states in the U.S. will require you to have an active auto insurance policy.

The actual minimum requirements you need for car insurance will vary by state; however, usually, the below coverage types are required:

  • Liability insurance
  • Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage
  • Personal injury protection or medical payments

And here's the thing:

If you drive without insurance, you could get a fine, have your license revoked, or even go to jail so it's essential that you have this coverage.

INSURANCE WHERE YOU LIVE

Car insurance by state.

How Much Is Car Insurance?

The average cost of auto insurance in America is about $1,134.00 per year (or around $94.50 per month), according to a report from the NAIC (National Association Of Insurance Commissioners. Keep in mind that your specific costs will be different from any other driver, and your final rates will be determined after you apply for a policy.

What Determines Car Insurance Premiums?

Car insurance premiums are determined by several things like your car's value, how long you have been driving, if you have a history of speeding tickets, and even the deductible and coverage amount you choose for your policy. 

  • Are You A Safe Driver - No accidents or files claimed in the past will show that you are a safe driver. 
  • You Don't Speed - No history of speeding tickets on your MVR will show that you are a good driver.
  • The Value of Your Car - A regular car costs less to repair than a luxury car.
  • How Old You Are - The older you are the more experience you should have behind the driving wheel. This means you are less likely to wreck which is why your rates can go down as you get older.
  • The Deductible And Coverage Amounts You Choose - Like most things, the more car insurance cover you purchase the more expensive it will become. Also, the lower your deductible the higher your premiums will go.
  • Your Credit History -  You probably didn't know that you have an insurance score just like you have a credit score. It's actually been proven by several studies that a low insurance credit score means you have a higher probability of filing a claim. This means your rates will be higher with a lower score.

In general, each insurance company will have their own underwriting guidelines that they follow so that's why it's always best to shop around for quotes.

Car Insurance Comparison Chart By State

Main, North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana and Wisconsin break out as the top 5 most affordable states when it comes to average annual car insurance premiums. The top 5 most expensive states are Louisiana, Rhode Island, Florida, Nevada, and Colorado

STATE

AVERAGE ANNUAL COST

AVERAGE MONTHLY COST

Alabama

$1,178

$98

Alaska

$1,116

$93

Arizona

$1,635

$136

Arkansas

$1,318

$110

California

$1,281

$107

Colorado

$1,721

$143

Connecticut

$1,600

$133

Delaware

$1,671

$139

District Of Columbia

$1,466

$122

Florida

$1,946

$162

Georgia

$1,481

$123

Hawaii

$1,074

$89

Idaho

$1,038

$87

Illinois

$1,279

$107

Indiana

$973

$81

Iowa

$1,010

$84

Kansas

$1,264

$105

Kentucky

$1,625

$135

Louisiana

$2,112

$176

Maine

$867

$72

Maryland

$1,453

$121

Massachusetts

$1,342

$112

Michigan

$1,223

$102

Minnesota

$1,249

$104

Mississippi

$1,341

$112

Missouri

$1,459

$122

Montana

$1,347

$112

Nebraska

$1,314

$110

Nevada

$1,731

$144

New Hampshire

$1,119

$93

New Jersey

$1,675

$140

New Mexico

$1,242

$104

New York

$1,703

$142

North Carolina

$950

$79

North Dakota

$1,252

$104

Ohio

$962

$80

Oklahoma

$1,445

$120

Oregon

$1,347

$112

Pennsylvania

$1,179

$98

Rhode Island

$1,998

$166

South Carolina

$1,316

$110

South Dakota

$1,340

$112

Tennessee

$1,154

$96

Texas

$1,566

$130

Utah

$1,348

$112

Vermont

$1,035

$86

Virginia

$1,025

$85

Washington

$1,144

$95

West Virginia

$1,298

$108

Wisconsin

$968

$81

Wyoming

$1,263

$105

Rates are based on a 30 year old male with a good driving history, rates were pulled from the top leading car insurance sites in the nation.

How Much Car Insurance Do I Need?

You need at least $500,000 in car insurance coverage for both property damage and bodily injury liability, even if you live in the two states that don't require you to have car insurance. Regardless of the type of car you drive, having the minimum amount of coverage is essential.

However, do keep in mind that the minimum amount of insurance required by your state will not be enough to protect you 100%.

For Example: 

Let's say you are only required to have $15,000 of liability coverage in your state, but you cause $65,00 worth of damages. Are you going to be able to pay out the additional $50,000 when you go over your insurance limit?

It's also possible that your state will only require you to obtain liability coverage, which would leave your own car completely unprotected.

Now, if your car is super old and you don't really care much about it to get full coverage, it's still essential to have some form of comp & collision coverage on your policy.

Your comp & collision will cover the cost of damage to your car but not before you pay your deductible. You will have to pay a deductible when you add comprehensive and collision to your policy.

It's usually between $500 to $1,000 and is required to be paid before the insurance company will start covering costs. Always consider how much you can afford to pay out of pocket when choosing a deductible.

Best Car Insurance Companies

According to Nerdwallet, the best car insurance company is Amica, followed by Erie Insurance. However, the best car insurance company isn’t always the company that has the cheapest rates.

It would be best to look at things like their A.M. Best rating for financial strength or their J.D. Power ratings that give feedback from actual customers.

When trying to find the best auto insurance companies, you should check their compliance data with the National Association Of Insurance Commissioners.  

THE SIMPLY INSURANCE WAY

Car Insurance made easy.

Agents not required.

Get quotes and sign up online without talking to an agent. But, we are here if you need us. 

Unbiased, expert advice.

Get unbiased insurance education from licensed experts and also avoid dodgy sales calls.

Coverage in minutes.

You can get auto insurance coverage within minutes of getting your quotes and applying.

How To Get Cheap Car Insurance?

Finding affordable car insurance doesn't have to be complicated.  In fact, there are a few steps you can take to make sure you get the best price on your policy. 

  • Shop Around - This might seem like the most obvious answer; however, most people don't shop around for cheaper auto insurance.  They tend to stick with the same company for long periods of time, even though their rates increase every 6 months.
  • Increase Your Deductible - The higher your deductible the lower your insurance premiums will become.  However, keep in mind that if you have a higher deductible you will be responsible for paying any costs up to that amount before insurance will kick in.

How To Save On Auto Insurance?

You can save several ways on auto insurance; however, your total savings will be determined by the insurance company you purchase coverage through. Although each insurance company is different, most of them offer several discounts, including: 

  • Drive Safe - Some car insurance companies will give you a discount on your premiums for showing a history of safe driving (such as no accidents) or for taking a driver’s education course. 

  • Automate Your Bill Pay - If you automate your bill pay and sometimes even go to paperless billing, some insurance companies can lower your premiums.
  • Be In A Fraternity - Being a part of certain colleges or fraternities can get you discounts on your monthly premiums.
  • Pay Yearly Not Monthly - Most insurance companies offer a discount on your premiums for paying annually instead of monthly.
  • Protect Your Car - Adding anti-theft devices like a LoJack system or a security camera could get you a discount with certain insurance companies.

How To Buy Car Insurance Online?

Buying car insurance online has never been easier; regardless of whether you are getting insurance on your first car or looking for better rates, you can get quotes and coverage in minutes.

Believe it or not, it’s only five steps to go from quotes to being covered:

  • Gather Your Personal Info - You will want to have information about yourself and your car "on-hand" so that you can get the most accurate quote.  Things like your drivers license number, the make, model, year, and vin number of the car, how you plan to use the car (personal or business) and even the color of the car.
  • Get An Instant Quote - Once you have the information on your car together it's time to get a fast quote.  Most companies will show you a "Good, Better, Best" layout with the ability to customize your policy.
  • Choose Your Policy Options - After reviewing the quotes, you should look over the coverage amounts and policy deductibles to make sure you have the options you need for your policy. 
  • Complete An Online Application - Once you have viewed your quotes and picked out your policy options it's time to complete your application.  You can usually do this in one sitting (less than 15 minutes)
  • Pay For Your Policy (You’re Covered) - Upon submitting your application your next step will be to pay for your policy so that it goes "in-force," and then You're covered!  

Why Trust Simply Insurance?

We make things simple. At Simply Insurance, you get to compare only the top online home insurance companies. We've done all the hard work and picked out the top companies so that you don't have to go through all of the top insurance companies in the nation... I mean, no one really has time for that. 

Years of licensed experience. As licensed agents, we help our customers navigate the entire insurance buying process. We don't work on commission and can answer any questions you may have in regards to your insurance policy.

Keeping it in "Plain English." We pride ourselves on creating content that is easy to understand and that doesn't have a ton of "insurance-ese". Insurance education is essential to us and we put our customers needs first. 

Frequently Asked Questions


Who has the cheapest car insurance?

According to Valuepenguin, the three cheapest car insurance companies (based on a 6-month rate) are USAA at $215, Farm Bureau Mutual at $218, and Erie Insurance at $226.

What is the best car insurance quote site?

Simply Insurance is one of the best car insurance quote sites. Their entire process is simple and easy, and we do the hard work for you by writing in plain English and finding the best offers. 

Which car insurance company is best at paying claims?

J.D. Power and Consumer reports have ranked Amica and USAA highly for their claims process with scores of 94 for Amica and 92 for USAA. 

Can someone drive my car if they are not on my insurance?

Yes, someone can drive your car if they are not on your insurance. However, if they don't have their own insurance, you will have to use yours.


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