Car insurance calculator: calculate your costs

Even the smartest car shoppers can forget to estimate the cost of car insurance before they buy. Depending on the vehicle and the insurance company, the cost of car insurance can vary by hundreds of dollars per year for the same driver.

It’s worth getting some initial car insurance quotes for models you’re considering buying. Along with fuel consumption and maintenance costs, car insurance costs should be factored into the calculation the total cost of owning a car.

NerdWallet’s auto insurance score program

The national average car insurance rate is $1,592 a year for “full coverage,” according to NerdWallet’s 2021 rate analysis. But your rates will vary depending on the car you buy, among other factors. Full coverage car insurance not a specific type of policy. Rather, it refers to a combination of coatings. For our rate analysis, comprehensive coverage includes liability, comprehensive coverage, collision protection, uninsured/underinsured motorist, and any additional state-mandated coverage.

How to calculate the cost of car insurance

Follow these steps for an accurate car insurance quote:

  1. Decide how much coverage you need. If you are buying a new car, include collision and comprehensive, which cover damage or loss of the vehicle. If you get a car loan for a used car you will need this coverage because the lender will require it. If you’re unsure, some insurers’ websites include auto insurance calculators to help you determine your coverage needs.

  2. Get quotes for the same amount of coverage for the vehicles you are considering buying. NerdWallet’s car insurance comparison tool can help you get started.

Factors that affect the cost of car insurance

The make and model of your car aren’t the only factors that go into a car insurance quote. Others include:

  • Personality characteristics such as age, gender and marital status. For example, teenage drivers have higher auto insurance quotes on average than any other age group.

  • The coverage you choose. The more coverage you have, the higher your insurance rates.

  • Your driving record. A recent DUI, speeding ticket, or at-fault accident can raise your rates.

  • Your location. Each state has different auto insurance minimums, and factors such as your neighborhood’s crime rate and population density will affect the cost of your insurance.

  • Your credit score. Drivers with bad credit usually have higher car insurance rates. Insurers use a credit based insurance score, which is different from your normal credit score to determine your likelihood of filing a claim. A credit-based insurance score is determined by factors such as payment history and outstanding debt, but not personal information such as income or occupation. California, Hawaii and Massachusetts have banned insurers from using credit scores when calculating auto insurance rates.

  • Your car insurance history. This can include whether your car insurance has lapsed, insurance claims, how long you’ve been with your insurer and your last insurance company.

How much car insurance do you need?

Most states require a minimum car insurance amount, but you’ll probably want more than the minimum coverage. Some drivers choose to get comprehensive coverage to protect themselves from any type of accident. Remember that comprehensive cover is not a type of policy, but usually a combination of compulsory and optional covers. But full coverage doesn’t include everything. Extras such as roadside assistance and gap cover may need to be added separately.

Full coverage car insurance can include:

Medical expenses due to injuries or death from an accident you caused.

Liability for property damage

Costs to repair property you damaged in an accident.

Uninsured Motorist Bodily Injury Liability

Medical expenses after an accident with an uninsured driver.

Uninsured motorist property damage coverage

Repair costs after an accident with an uninsured driver.

Repair costs from road traffic accidents, regardless of who is at fault.

Repair costs from events beyond your control — including weather events, hitting an animal while driving, theft and vandalism.

Why some cars cost more to insure

Some cars cost more to insure than others because carriers use accident and theft statistics to help determine rates for each model. So if the car you choose is prone to being stolen or crashed more, chances are you’ll pay more for insurance. For example, the reason sports cars cost more is because they are more likely to be driven fast and crashed badly by their owners.

Here are some specific vehicle characteristics that affect car insurance costs:

  • Retail price. In general, the more expensive the car, the more expensive the insurance will be. If you are buying comprehensive and collision coveragethe insurance company will have to pay the market value of the car if the car is stolen or damaged beyond repair.

  • Parts costs. High-end models often use parts made of carbon fiber and other specialized materials that are expensive to repair. This raises the cost of damage claims.

  • Safety. Over time, cars that do a good job of protecting drivers and their passengers reduce insurance costs. Fewer injuries mean fewer claims for medical payments and personal injury protection.

How to save on car insurance

The best way to find the cheapest car insurance rates is by shopping around. Check it out car insurance quotes and look for a company with a good reputation for customer service.

When shopping for auto insurance, be sure to compare quotes for the same levels of coverage. A company that offers a certain discount may still be more expensive than an insurer that offers coverage at a low cost overall. And don’t forget to ask your insurer about any discounts that may be missing from your policy.

Frequently Asked Questions

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