How Car Insurance Rates Are Calculated

Do you feel in the dark or confused about how car insurance rates work? You aren’t alone – rates can vary from insurance company to company and from policyholder to policyholder. Your rates are determined by various factors and underwriting guidelines. There is no ‘one size fits all’ in car insurance.

blue car on scenic background. How Car insurance Rates are Calculated

Because there is not just one particular thing that causes your rates to increase or decrease, and various companies offer differing rates, it can be hard to understand which rate and which policy is the best for your particular situation. We’ve rounded up the most common factors that make up car insurance rates across carriers to help you navigate the winding road of car insurance costs.

Gender: Generally speaking female drivers’ car insurance rates tend to be lower than male drivers’ rates. This can most likely be attributed to statistics; data over the years has shown that women are less risky drivers than men. Men are more likely to get into an accident or be a little too heavy on the gas pedal, meaning they are higher risk drivers – which equates to higher car insurance rates.

Location: Where you live matters when it comes to car insurance rates. Insurance companies take instances of theft, and insurance claims, into account when determining your overall rate. They even examine the overall population of specific states, cities, and suburbs – if you live in or garage in a more densely populated area, your rate is likely to be higher.

Vehicle type: Carriers also look at how valuable your car currently is, and how much it could potentially cost to repair or replace the vehicle when determining your premium amount. Vehicles with high safety ratings tend to get better rates too; which means choosing a safer vehicle when buying a car can pay off down the road, potentially saving you hundreds of dollars in insurance costs.

Marital status: Married couples also tend to get better rates than single individuals. Couples who are married or in a domestic partnership are less likely to be in an accident than someone who is not married. So don’t forget once you get hitched to call your insurance company and let them know that you need to add your partner to your policy, be sure to check for new discounts!

Accident history: Unfortunately, the biggest predictor of your future driving behavior is your past driving history. So if you have been at-fault for an accident in the past, this will play a huge part in determining your car insurance rate. People with prior accidents on their driving record will most likely be given a higher rate due to the at-fault accident. In the event of an accident, you will see an increase in rates upon renewal of your insurance policy.

Driving record: Just like with accident history, your driving record is a strong predictor of how risky of a driver you are. When you get an insurance quote the carrier will pull a Motor Vehicle Record. If any tickets or traffic convictions come up, these will affect your rates. In general, driving history will count towards your car insurance rates for 3 years from the violation date.

Annual mileage: Traditional insurance companies take into consideration how many miles you drive a year. If you fall under a certain threshold for low mileage you could receive a discount on your rate.

Credit score: Insurance companies typically use your credit score information to determine your rates. In general, those with better credit history are considered to be less risky drivers, hence they receive lower rates.

Insurance companies take all of these factors into account when determining car insurance rates. No two individuals have the same background, history, or live the same life, so your car insurance rate is likely different than that of your neighbor. Understanding all of the risk factors that insurance companies asses can help you in the long run; if your rates are high now consider altering your driving behavior, spending some time working on improving your credit score, or shopping for a safer vehicle.

If you are a safe driver, and still feel like you are getting ripped off by your car insurance monthly premium, Metromile is excited to offer low mileage drivers a better option on car insurance with pay-per-mile. If you are driving 10,000 miles or less a year you could potentially see great savings with Metromile. To get a quote go to and start by typing in your zip code.