Insurance companies protect their profits by charging different people different rates for their premiums, based on the risk they represent – that is, how likely they are to get in an accident. Drivers in high-risk groups, which include inexperienced drivers and drivers with lots of tickets or previous crashes, will pay more for car insurance because they’re more likely to make a claim. The same is true for people who live in areas where their cars are more at risk to things like theft or natural disasters. People with expensive or hard-to-fix cars will also pay more because they’re likely to make more-expensive claims.
You will need to know the make, model, year and VIN (Vehicle Identification Number). An online quote form may be able to pre-fill a large portion of this information by using the VIN found on the dashboard under the windshield or your state’s vehicle registration paper work. Sometimes an insurance form may ask you to differentiate between the different models and security features.

But according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, newly licensed drivers are about eight times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes in their first six months than more experienced drivers. The takeaway? Experience counts. The Center for Disease Control suggests that increased education programs and parental involvement in instruction are associated with reductions of as many as 40% of fatal and injury crashes among 16-year-olds.
Part of why car insurance quotes are so confusing is because car insurance itself is confusing. For starters, there are different types of coverage. Some are required by law; some are not. And the specifics vary by state. We’ve got a full explainer on how car insurance works right here. But, since it’s so crucial to understanding your quotes, here’s an overview of the major components of an auto insurance policy — and what they cover.
Liability coverage is legally required in Virginia and pays for injury and lost wages that you cause to another driver or their passengers as well as damage to the other driver’s vehicle in the event that you are considered “at fault” in an accident. The coverage limits are determined by each individual state and normally split into three categories. In Virginia, the minimum is listed as 25/50/20 and explained below:
If you drive under a certain amount of miles every year, you can tell your insurance company and possibly qualify for a low mileage discount. This is a common discount that many drivers actually qualify for but are not aware of. If you only use your car for occasional short trips, you can sign up for a usage-based insurance program that determines your rates based on how much you drive.
Modified Car Insurance: defined by many companies as being significantly altered in its engine, body, chassis or interior from its original condition, which can negatively or positively change the value; many insurers will not provide collectible coverage for these types of vehicles (for example, an antique car in which much of the stock equipment has been replaced or that runs on nitro fuel).
Whether you can get a cheap car insurance quote may come down to your zip code. If you live in a densely populated area, with a high number of auto insurance claims, your premium will be more expensive than that of a person living in a less dense and less claim-laden part of town. Even if you haven’t filed any claims, you could pay more based solely on your neighborhood.
Compare major insurers' financial strength and claims satisfaction ratings to better predict the level of service you will receive. Claims satisfaction — assigned by J.D. Power — is rated on a scale of 2 to 5, with 5 being "among the best" and 2 being "the rest." Financial strength — calculated by A.M. Best and ranging from "Poor" to "Superior" — assesses an insurance company's financial strength and ability to satisfy its policy and contractual obligations.
Results: The final page offered five quotes ranging from $141 per month to $215 per month, and three links to other websites that I could use to get additional quotes. Unlike the other comparison websites, the quotes weren’t in any order (the others sorted their results from smallest to largest). Each quote included a company rating, policy features and a button that would either take you to the company’s website or allow you to compare it with another company. A list of options on the left side of the page allowed me to check off the features that I wanted to include, and eliminated companies not offering those features.
Although it’s not hugely impactful, drivers with a Masters or Ph.D. save $44 per year on car insurance premiums, compared to those without a degree. Car insurance companies see clients with higher education levels as less risky and reward that decreased risk with a lower premium. The only states that do not consider education when determining rates are California, Massachusetts, Georgia, Hawaii, and Montana.

Modified Car Insurance: defined by many companies as being significantly altered in its engine, body, chassis or interior from its original condition, which can negatively or positively change the value; many insurers will not provide collectible coverage for these types of vehicles (for example, an antique car in which much of the stock equipment has been replaced or that runs on nitro fuel).
If you have a clean driving record — no at-fault accidents, speeding tickets, DUIs, or other recent citations — you'll probably pay less for car insurance. Conversely, a bad driving record will cause your rates to skyrocket: car insurance premiums typically increase by 29% after a DUI, 33% after an at-fault accident, and 15% after a speeding ticket in Virginia. The post-citation penalties assessed by car insurance companies after speeding tickets and at-fault accidents in Virginia align with nationwide averages, but drivers receive lower-than-average rate hikes after DUI violations. If you have a clean driving record, be sure to check for good-driving discounts from your insurer.
Know when to cut coverage. Don’t strip away coverage just for the sake of a lower price. You’ll need full coverage car insurance to satisfy the terms of an auto loan, and you’ll want it as long as your car would be a financial burden to replace. But for older cars, you can drop comprehensive and collision coverage, which only pay out up to your car’s current value, minus the deductible.

Liberty Mutual is a full-line insurance company that offers both personal and business insurance. Liberty Mutual car insurance has a 5 percent market share and underwrites $11.6 billion in policies. It’s a publicly owned company, so profits go to shareholders. Liberty Mutual offers a full suite of insurance policies but doesn’t offer banking services.
Nationwide's insurance professionals can quickly design a car insurance quote that meets your precise needs, even for those on a budget. Rather than going with the cheapest car insurance quote, make sure the company you choose provides flexible coverage and billing options. For instance, Nationwide allows members to pay monthly, quarterly or semi-annually online, through the mail or over the phone. It’s important to keep long-term flexibility in mind when deciding on an insurance carrier, not just go with the cheapest car insurance option.
×