Cheapest car insurance in Washington, D.C. for 2021

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Following decreased road traffic in 2020 due to the pandemic, Washington, D.C., traffic is beginning to get back to its normal flow. This, unfortunately, results in more congested roadways and a higher likelihood of collisions and fatalities. So far, D.C. has seen 17 traffic fatalities to date in 2021 compared to last year’s total of 10 fatalities for the same timeframe. As a majority of the city’s residents commute in their own vehicles, car insurance is not only a required purchase but also useful in keeping motorists sufficiently covered.

The average cost of car insurance in Washington, D.C. is relatively expensive, ringing in at $704 annually for minimum coverage and $1,855 annually for full coverage. However, residents should not be discouraged, as there are plenty of options for cheap car insurance in Washington, D.C. Bankrate reviewed several insurers’ annual quoted premiums based on our sample profile to narrow down the city’s cheapest options

The cheapest car insurance in Washington, D.C.

Avoiding long commutes may be a near-impossible task for D.C. drivers, but finding affordable coverage does not have to be. Many of the nation’s top providers — based on market share — offer low average annual rates with good coverage, plentiful discounts and strong claims handling. Based on each company’s average annual rates gathered using Quadrant Information Services and additional research into each of these focus points, we narrowed down the following five options for the cheapest auto insurance in Washington, D.C.

Car insurance company Average annual premium for minimum coverage Average annual premium for full coverage
USAA $383 $876
Erie $438 $1,212
Geico $466 $1,420
Progressive $881 $1,601
State Farm $906 $1,994

USAA

With average minimum coverage premiums $321 under the capital average, USAA may be the best carrier for the cheapest car insurance in Washington, D.C. The area is home to ten military bases, making the insurer a viable option for active-duty military, veterans and immediate family members who qualify for coverage. In addition to savings options while on deployment or by maintaining USAA coverage for an extended amount of time, drivers may also enroll in USAA’s brand new safe-driving program. With SafePilot, policyholders could earn up to 10% by signing up and up to 30% at policy renewal.

As another standout quality, USAA consistently earns the highest J.D. Power scores for customer satisfaction. The most recent 2020 J.D. Power Claims Satisfaction Study is no exception, though USAA is technically rank-ineligible due to its membership requirements. Still, for qualifying D.C. customers, the exclusive coverage and affordable rates might make USAA a top choice.

Learn more: USAA Insurance review

Erie

In addition to offering the lowest annual premiums for all drivers in covered states without membership requirements, one of Erie’s top-selling features is Erie RateLock. With it, drivers can lock in their premium to avoid rate increases, even in the event of a claim. As long as the registered address, insured vehicles and drivers remain unchanged, so will the premium. This option may even make the appeal of purchasing additional coverages, like personal items, more appealing since premiums will only be adjusted to reflect the add-on.

With an A+ (Superior) AM Best rating, D.C. policyholders may have heightened confidence in the insurer’s ability to make timely claim payouts. This only further adds to the likelihood of having a positive insurance experience.

Learn more: Erie Insurance review

Geico

Regardless of what kind of driver you are, Geico has options. It is one of the few insurers that offer military discounts, as well as a host of other ones that are relatively simple to qualify for. For example, drivers who are associated with one of Geico’s more than 500 group partnerships could earn a special discount. There are also multiple discounts under the customer loyalty, driver’s education, driving history and vehicle equipment categories.

Drivers may be amazed that they can find cheap car insurance with D.C.’s largest private passenger carrier, but it is possible with Geico. While coverage tends to be basic, there are options like mechanical breakdown insurance.

Learn more: Geico Insurance review

Progressive

Much like its name, Progressive offers multiple useful online and digital tools for car insurance. Many drivers have a budget in mind when selecting coverage, which Progressive helps make easier with its Name Your Price tool. Customers who use it can share how much they are looking to pay and be returned coverage options that fit their insurance needs and budget as best as possible. There is also Progressive Snapshot, which could save drivers an average of $146 per year on premiums with tracked safe driving habits.

In addition to options like rideshare coverage and a deductible savings bank for policy periods completed without new claims, drivers insured with Progressive may easily view their policy and report claims on the go through its mobile app.

Learn more: Progressive Insurance review

State Farm

Although offering coverage at more expensive rates than the capital’s average, State Farm is the second-largest private passenger insurer in the D.C. area. This could allude to D.C. driver’s trust in the carrier to provide appropriate coverage, potentially justifying the higher price. State Farm also ranks highly in claims satisfaction in the 2020 J.D. Power Auto Claims Satisfaction Study, with 881 out of 1,000 points.

To reduce premiums, drivers could apply one or more of State Farm’s available discounts, such as insuring a vehicle equipped with safety measures and completing an approved driving course. The insurer does not have many options for add-ons, but drivers who want a more robust policy could opt for full coverage and purchase roadside assistance for additional protection.

Learn more: State Farm Insurance review

Minimum coverage requirements for Washington, D.C. drivers

Like in most states, Washington, D.C., drivers are required to carry at least a minimum amount of car insurance when operating a vehicle. Because D.C. is a no-fault area, personal injury protection (PIP) must also be offered by insurers, though drivers have the option to waive the coverage. The remaining 25/50/10 limits account for:

  • $25,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $50,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $10,000 property damage liability per accident

Additionally, drivers must carry at least the same amounts of uninsured motorist coverage as bodily injury liability. For property damage, uninsured motorist coverage of at least $5,000 must be included, with a $200 deductible.

Drivers who purchase minimum coverage insurance typically pay some of the lowest premiums. However, most drivers benefit from getting more coverage than what is required. While there is no guarantee that full coverage will cover the full cost of an at-fault accident, the higher coverage limits provide additional financial backing and coverage for damage to your own vehicle. Comparatively, minimum coverage is often not enough to fully satisfy the cost of an at-fault accident. If a driver causes an accident and their financial responsibility is higher than their policy’s limit, they must pay the difference out of pocket. Drivers of leased vehicles may be required to purchase full coverage by their lender.

How to get cheap car insurance in Washington, D.C.

To help obtain cheap car insurance, Washington, D.C., drivers can employ a variety of techniques. Some common options ways to save are:

  • Shop around: Not all car insurance companies are created equal. Instead of choosing the first provider you find, spend some time researching and comparing quotes from different companies based on your personal criteria.
  • Raise your credit score: Insurance companies often look at your credit score to determine your rate. Improving your credit score takes time, but may lower your premium. Setting up a budget, paying bills on time and paying off debts are a few ways you could begin to rebuild your credit.
  • Increase the deductible: The higher your deductible is, the lower your monthly payments will be. However, this also results in a higher out-of-pocket cost in the event of a claim. Most insurance experts recommend that policyholders only increase their deductible if they can afford the increased personal expense.
  • Pay in full: Many car insurance carriers offer discounts for drivers who can pay their annual policy in full and upfront.
  • Apply discounts: Many insurers have a list of discounts. To earn the most savings, consider insurers that offer several discounts for which you qualify.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best car insurance in Washington, D.C.?

There are dozens of car insurance companies in Washington D.C. Drivers should consider shopping around and comparing providers to find the company that meets their needs and fits within their budget. The best car insurance company will vary for each driver.

What is the average cost of car insurance in the U.S.?

The average American driver pays $,1674 a year for a full coverage car insurance policy. In Washington D.C., the average driver pays $1,855 annually for the same amount of insurance, which is considerably higher. Generally speaking, most drivers in Washington, D.C., pay more for car insurance than the average driver in the United States. This is likely due in part to heavy traffic congestion and high rates of car accidents in Washington, D.C. However, your own rates may fall outside of the average based on your driving record and age, among other factors.

What does full coverage car insurance include?

Full coverage car insurance usually includes liability, uninsured and underinsured motorists coverage, medical payments, collision and comprehensive (sometimes called “other than collision”) coverages. Some insurance companies also offer endorsements like roadside assistance or rental car reimbursement with full coverage policies.

What is the likelihood of an insurance claim in Washington, D.C.?

Since January 2021, accidents in Washington, D.C., have led to 133 major injuries and 17 fatalities. Many of these likely led to costly insurance claims and lawsuits, making the purchase of appropriate and affordable coverage incredibly meaningful. While car insurance cannot prevent major accidents from occurring, it can provide the necessary financial assistance to deal with covered incurred losses with minimal personal financial strain.

Methodology

Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 2021 rates for all ZIP codes and carriers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Quoted rates are based on a 40-year-old male and female driver with a clean driving record, good credit and the following full coverage limits:

  • $100,000 bodily injury liability per person
  • $300,000 bodily injury liability per accident
  • $50,000 property damage liability per accident
  • $100,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per person
  • $300,000 uninsured motorist bodily injury per accident
  • $500 collision deductible
  • $500 comprehensive deductible

To determine minimum coverage limits, Bankrate used minimum coverages that meet each state’s requirements. Our base profile drivers own a 2019 Toyota Camry, commute five days a week and drive 12,000 miles annually.

These are sample rates and should only be used for comparative purposes.

Written by
Mariah Posey
Insurance Editor
Mariah Posey is an insurance writer and editor for Bankrate.com. She's originally from New Jersey and holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Elon University. Prior to joining the team, she worked as a copyeditor and writing consultant at her alma mater. Mariah has covered topics ranging from news to tech and lifestyle and has a vested interest in producing engaging content for audiences.