Car insurance is required for Ohio residents who operate a motor vehicle. If you’re a Columbus driver looking for a great deal, you may want to start by researching the best cheap car insurance companies in your area. Based on Bankrate’s objective analysis of third-party customer satisfaction scores, financial strength ratings, average premiums and available policies, we found the following companies may be the top choices for your wallet in Columbus: Geico, Erie, USAA, Auto-Owners and Westfield.

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While the average Columbus driver pays $1,167 per year for their full coverage car insurance and $400 per year for minimum coverage according to premium data provided by Quadrant Information Services, most of the companies below offer lower than average rates for residents of Ohio’s state capital.

Best car insurance companies in Columbus

There are several Columbus insurance providers that receive high marks for price, coverage options, discounts, customer satisfaction and financial strength. The companies in the table below offer the best car insurance in Columbus based on Bankrate’s analysis and the Bankrate Score, which is based off of a possible five points:

Insurance company J.D. Power customer satisfaction score Bankrate Score Average annual premium for minimum coverage Average annual premium for full coverage
USAA 895/100* 5/5 $261 $880
Geico 837 / 100 4.7/5 $321 $877
Erie 857 / 100 4.6/5 $280 $1,073
Auto-Owners 842 / 100 4.5/5 $374 $1,163
Westfield Not rated 4/5 $425 $1,438

*USAA is not officially ranked by J.D. Power due to eligibility restrictions

USAA

USAA, the seventh-largest U.S. insurer based on market share, is often considered to be one of  the best insurance providers in the country by consumers and third parties, but coverage is only available for Columbus drivers who are active-duty military service members, veterans or qualifying family members. USAA typically offers comprehensive coverage packages and a variety of discounts. According to the company, drivers save an average of $725 per year when they switch to USAA from another insurer. USAA earned the highest J.D. Power customer satisfaction score amongst the five insurers on our Columbus list, though it is not officially ranked due to eligibility restrictions. It also carries an A++ (Superior) financial strength rating from AM Best.

Geico

Geico, the second-largest U.S. auto insurer based on market share according to the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I), offers the lowest full coverage premium on our list, so it may be a great option for budget-conscious shoppers. The company also offers a wide variety of discounts, including savings for active-duty military and veterans, federal employees and employee/membership groups. However, before buying, keep in mind that Geico received more than the average number of complaints filed with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). Geico also has the lowest J.D. Power customer satisfaction score on our Columbus list but carries an A++ (Superior) financial strength rating from AM Best, the highest level possible.

Erie

Erie, a super-regional carrier, stands out for its robust coverage options and generous discounts. Every full coverage policy comes with liability, collision and comprehensive protection, plus pet coverage, locksmith services, auto glass repair coverage, roadside assistance and personal items coverage. In addition, Erie offers a variety of discounts to help drivers lower their premium. Each new policy includes a rate lock guarantee and a free disappearing deductible program. However, if you prefer to complete your business online, Erie may not be the best option. The company requires you to purchase a policy or file claims through a local Erie independent agent. Erie is rated A+ (Superior) by AM Best for its financial strength.

Auto-Owners

Columbus drivers who are looking for great customer service should consider Auto-Owners. The super-regional company has fewer than the average number of customer complaints per the NAIC Company Complaint Index. Auto-Owners also has affordable average rates, good discounts and a few endorsements for added protection. One downside is that it lacks many of the digital features that other carriers have, like online quotes and online claims but it does have a broad network of local independent agents. Auto-Owners carries an A++ (Superior) financial strength rating from AM Best.

Westfield

Westfield is an Ohio-based super-regional insurance company that offers its products exclusively through independent agents. It boasts fewer than the average number of  complaints as reported in the NAIC Company Complaint Index. With Westfield, Columbus drivers have access to reliable customer service and several endorsements. Drivers need to work with a local independent agent to get a quote, file a claim and make basic changes to their policy, so it may not be the right choice for policyholders who want to manage their policy online. Westfield is not rated by J.D. Power but carries an A (Excellent) financial strength rating from AM Best.

Cheapest car insurance in Columbus

Drivers in Columbus pay more for car insurance than the average driver in Ohio. The average cost of car insurance in Ohio is $1,034 per year for full coverage and $328 for minimum coverage. However, drivers can get a lower rate by choosing a cheap car insurance company:

Insurance company Average annual premium for minimum coverage Average annual premium for full coverage
USAA $261 $880
Erie $280 $1,073
Geico $321 $877
State Farm $335 $1,011
Progressive $351 $1,084

The providers listed in the table above offer the cheapest rates in Columbus. However, each company has strengths and weaknesses. For example, USAA has the cheapest minimum coverage policies on average, but coverage is only available to members of the military community. Geico and State Farm have low rates, but do not offer certain coverage options, such as gap insurance.

These five companies each have outstanding financial strength ratings, with either an A+ or A++ rating from AM Best. However, their customer satisfaction scores from J.D. Power vary. Progressive, Erie and USAA are rated above average for the North Central region, whereas Geico ranks slightly below average. State Farm is ranked second-highest in the North Central region for customer satisfaction, according to the 2021 J.D. Power customer satisfaction scores.

Columbus insurance requirements

Every driver in Columbus who has a vehicle registered in the state of Ohio is required to carry at least a minimum amount of liability insurance coverage. The minimum insurance requirements for licensed Ohio drivers are 25/50/25 personal liability insurance, which includes:

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

Uninsured motorist coverage must also be offered, but can be declined in writing.

The cheapest insurance policy available in Columbus is minimum coverage insurance. However, many drivers purchase more coverage than what is required for a greater level of financial protection. If a driver causes an accident and their financial responsibility is greater than their policy’s limit, they have to pay the difference out-of-pocket, which could be thousands of dollars.

Some drivers in Columbus are required to carry full coverage insurance, particularly if they have a leased or financed car. Many lenders and leasing companies will require drivers to have full auto coverage insurance until their loan is paid off or the lease term ends, because it reduces the financial risk for the lending company or lessee.

Car insurance discounts in Columbus

Many drivers in Columbus are able to take advantage of the best car insurance discounts to get a cheaper premium. Here are some of the most common car insurance discounts in Columbus:

  • Good student: Students who get good grades in high school or college, or maintain a minimum grade point average, can usually earn a discount on their insurance policy.
  • Claims-free: Drivers who have no insurance claims or accidents on their record within the past several years (typically a minimum of three years) often qualify for a discount.
  • Pay in full: Drivers who pay their annual premium in full at the start of the policy term may save money on their insurance policy.
  • Safe vehicle: Most insurance companies give drivers a discount if their car has safety features like anti-lock brakes or an anti-theft system.
  • Homeowner: Homeowners often qualify for an insurance discount, especially if they bundle their home and auto insurance policy with the same provider, earning discounts on both policies.

Frequently asked questions

What is the best car insurance company?

The best car insurance company is different for every driver. It depends on where the driver lives, what their budget is, how much coverage they need and what type of coverage they need. Some of the highest-rated insurance companies, according to Bankrate’s analysis, are USAA, Geico, Erie, Auto-Owners and Westfield.

How much does car insurance in Columbus cost?

The average driver in Columbus pays $1,167 per year for full coverage insurance and $400 per year for minimum coverage insurance, both of which are higher than the state averages, respectively. But keep in mind that every driver pays a different rate based on more than a dozen individual rating factors which may include age, gender, ZIP code, credit-based insurance score, make and model of their vehicle, coverages and deductibles chosen, and auto claims history, according to the Triple-I.

How much car insurance do I need in Columbus?

Drivers in Columbus are required to carry at least 25/50/25 personal liability coverage and they must be offered uninsured motorist coverage, though this may be declined in writing. However, many drivers choose to purchase full coverage insurance for more financial protection in the event of an at-fault accident.

How do I figure out which coverage types are right for me?

To determine which coverage types you need, you may want to consider the state’s financial responsibility law along with your personal needs. State liability requirements in Ohio are extremely low and only cover the other driver’s damages in an accident. As a result, many drivers choose to purchase full coverage insurance, which also includes comprehensive and collision coverage and higher levels of personal liability protection than a minimum coverage policy. Certain add-on coverage types might also benefit you. For example, if you lease or finance your vehicle, you may want to consider gap coverage, which pays out to cover the difference between what you owe on your vehicle and what it’s worth after being totaled in an accident. An insurance professional can help you decide which coverage types are right for you to ensure you and your family are financially protected from auto claim losses.

Methodology

Bankrate utilizes Quadrant Information Services to analyze 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 sample drivers own a 2018 Honda Accord, commute five days a week and drive 12,000 miles annually.

These are sample rates and should be used for comparative purposes only. Your quotes may be different.