How to Get Car Insurance if You Can't Afford It

If you find that you can’t afford car insurance, note that there are some steps you can take to lower your premiums. MoneyGeek explores the ways that comparing insurance quotes, reducing your coverage, applying for discounts or purchasing a pay-per-mile policy can help you save on your annual rates.

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Last Updated: 11/4/2022
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Car insurance premiums are determined based on many factors out of your control, such as your age and location. However, coverages also affect the cost — the lower the coverage, the more affordable the premium. It’s possible to find car insurance premiums as low as $17, depending on where you live.

Beyond lowering your coverage, you can also save on a policy by comparing car insurance quotes, finding discounts you may be eligible for or buying pay-per-mile insurance.

Key Takeaways


Save on car insurance by comparing quotes and acquiring discounts.


Improve your credit score and keep a safe driving record to lower your premiums over time.


If you rarely drive, consider getting pay-per-mile or behavior-based insurance.

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Why Trust MoneyGeek? Our analysis covered data from Quadrant Information Services and state insurance departments using various driver profiles in different states to help you find the best and cheapest car insurance policy for your particular needs. We gathered information on premiums, deductibles, coverages and other important information from relevant state agencies to demonstrate the importance of comparing auto insurance quotes when shopping for the most affordable policy.


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What to Do if You Can’t Afford Car Insurance

When you need car insurance but can’t afford it because rates are too high, there are ways to find more affordable options. MoneyGeek listed some key strategies below to help lower the cost of auto coverage. The first few measures — comparing quotes and changing coverage limits — are quick and easy to do. Options like improving your credit score and removing driving violations from your record can take anywhere from a few months to a year.

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How to Find Affordable Minimum Coverage Insurance in Your State

If you can't afford car insurance and have trouble finding a policy that suits your needs, note that a minimum coverage policy is the lowest level of coverage you should purchase. The minimum amount of coverage you'll need depends on the laws in your state, as it can vary depending on where you live.

While a policy following a state’s minimum coverage limits may be cheaper than most, note that it might not be how much car insurance you’ll really need. Minimum coverage policies don’t come with comprehensive or collision insurance, which protect your vehicle, yourself and passengers in an accident.

To help you find the cheapest options, MoneyGeek listed the most affordable insurance companies for the average driver in each state. For instance, Nodak Mutual in North Dakota offers car insurance at an average of $17 per month, while GEICO provides coverage for $19 in Idaho.

Cheapest Minimum Coverage Insurance Company in Each State - On Average

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While MoneyGeek listed the cheapest car insurance options on average, comparing quotes yourself is the best way to find the best option for you and your needs. The most affordable option for you depends on individualized factors, such as your age, location and driving history.

Drivers in These States May Be Eligible for State-Funded Programs

Certain states provide assistance programs for drivers who can’t afford car insurance, including:

  • California’s Low-Cost Automobile Insurance Program (CLCA): Provides drivers with a policy that has 10/20/3 coverage limits.
  • New Jersey’s Special Automobile Insurance Policy (SAIP): This dollar-a-day program supplies medical coverage to low-income drivers.
  • Hawaii’s Aid to the Aged, Blind and Disabled Program (AABD): Gives free auto insurance to elderly individuals and those who meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of being disabled or blind.

How to Make Car Insurance Cheaper With Discounts

Car insurance discounts can dramatically reduce the cost of your auto insurance premium. They’re a great way to lower rates for those who can’t afford car insurance. You may qualify for car insurance discounts based on your:


Personal Driver Profile

Personal factors — like your age and location — may qualify you for discounts.


Vehicle Equipment

Discounts are available for having common safety features, such as safety airbags, anti-lock brakes or anti-theft systems.


Driving History and Habits

Insurers will usually offer hefty discounts if you remain accident-free and have a good driving record.


Payment Options

How you pay for your policies can reduce your premium. For instance, paying in full or going paperless can lower your overall bill.



Bundling your policy with other insurance options — like home or health insurance — can score you a significant discount with insurers.

Note that, while discounts can lower your premiums, what matters most is your final quote. In some cases, the companies that offer the most discounts don’t have the lowest overall prices. Comparing rates and deals from multiple companies can help you find the cheapest policy for you.

When to Consider Pay-Per-Mile Car Insurance

If you’re a driver who doesn’t use your car often, you may benefit from pay-per-mile or behavior-based car insurance. These are more affordable options than typical car insurance policies. However, MoneyGeek found that drivers need to drive less than 26 miles per week for pay-per-mile insurers like Metromile to be cheaper than traditional providers.

The Different Types of Pay-Per-Mile Insurance

Pure Pay-Per-Mile Insurance:
This type of insurance charges drivers a base rate along with a per-mile fee.

Behavior-Based Car Insurance:
This is where your premiums are based on your driving performance.

Hybrid Policies:
Some companies may offer you a mix of pay-per-mile and behavior-based insurance.

Make Car Insurance More Affordable Over Time by Improving Key Factors

One of the best ways to reduce the cost of your car premiums is to ensure that you have a good driving record and credit score. These two factors have a significant impact on the cost of car insurance.

However, changing these factors may take a good deal of time. In some cases, it can take years for a traffic violation or ticket to be removed from your record. You can gradually improve your credit score by paying past balances and catching up on any past-due accounts.

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Even if you have accidents on your driving record or a low credit score, some insurers are still available that offer affordable policies. MoneyGeek found the cheapest companies for those with bad driving records or low credit scores, on average.

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About the Author


Mark Fitzpatrick is a senior content manager with MoneyGeek specializing in insurance. Mark has years of experience analyzing the insurance market and creating original research and content. He graduated from Boston College with a Bachelor of Arts and Johns Hopkins University with a Master of Arts.