Car Insurance in Arizona

Arizona has an exceptionally low liability requirement for car insurance and that means rates in the state are 25 percent lower than the national average. While that’s great news — we’ve already got it pretty cheap — the even better news is that you might still be able to squeeze a few more dollars out of your monthly premium. It certainly did for me. All it takes is some will power and an hour’s worth of comparison shopping.

I got four quotes and found that State Farm had the best yearly rates for both state-minimum ($464) and upgraded coverage ($599). GEICO came close to those rates, so it’s possible they might offer a lower price in your personalized quote. American Family and Liberty Mutual had much higher rates. The difference between the top and bottom was an impressive $924. GEICO and State Farm might been the lowest for you, too, but it’s worth it to compare quotes nonetheless since everyone’s situation is different.

Insurance companies analyze a ton of factors when calculating your rate, like your age, your vehicle’s make and model, your driving history, and even your ZIP code. What’s more, each insurer weighs those factors differently. That’s why, even though I’d love to recommend one provider that’s always the cheapest option, the real answer is the only way to find out which one offers the cheapest car insurance for you is to get the quotes (and I’d recommend getting at least five).

As long as you know your vehicle’s basic information (make, model, configuration, et cetera), quotes are easy to apply for and only take about 10 minutes each. You can even apply online instead of waiting on hold for a phone representative. Quote requests don’t affect your credit, so dive in and don’t be shy about compiling as many as you can. It took me less than an hour to research all of my options, and that’s worth it to me since it showed me that I could save more than $75 a month.

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Our Top 4 Picks for the Best Car Insurance in Arizona

To find my lowest possible premium and the best car insurance out there, I applied for four different quotes from companies that had excellent customer service ratings and are financially secure.

Insurer My quote
State Farm $464
GEICO $495
American Family $997
Liberty Mutual $1388

Since JD Power is an authority in customer satisfaction — and you really do want the customer service for you car insurance to be great — I started my search with its rankings for auto insurance agencies in the Southwest. This region has fewer well-ranked companies to choose from than most, so I added all agencies ranked 3 stars or higher to my list. I cross-referenced my list with A.M. Best Rating Services, a site that grades the financial solvency of insurance providers. All of the companies on my list scored well, so I proceeded to request quotes from these four national brands.

Why does financial solvency matter? When it comes time to pay your claim, if your insurance company doesn’t have the liquidity to pay, you’ll likely be in a for a headache trying to get your funds. There’s no way a cheaper premium would be worth the tradeoff for me in this instance.

My quotes for the minimum legally-required auto insurance from State Farm and GEICO were nearly identical, but  I couldn’t believe how expensive the American Family and Liberty Mutual quotes were — that $924 difference nearly tripled the price for the same coverage. If you have the budget to spend a bit more, it’s smart to upgrade cheap car insurance with a less expensive company, rather than spending more to get the exact same coverage from a different brand.

How I Gathered My Quotes

Some insurance providers still require you to speak to a live agent on the phone, but all four of the companies that made my list have online quote tools. It’s not only more convenient to request a quote online, but it makes it even easier to check and uncheck boxes for any additional coverage that you might need or be considering. You’ll have a much better idea of what your insurance covers if you’re able to go through these options at your own pace, rather than listening to an agent list them out over the phone.

Requesting a quote online only takes about 10 minutes, so I recommend simply dedicating an hour to comparing as many online as you can. If you have questions or need advice, you can always call an agent at any of these insurance providers, even those with online quote tools.

Even If You’re Happy, It’s Best to Shop for a New Policy Every Couple of Years

You know how your cable company jacks up your rates when you’re not looking, and then magically lowers your bill as soon as you threaten to cancel? Car insurance companies have a habit of doing the same thing. “Price Optimization” is the euphemism for this unfair practice, and if you don’t stay on top of your rates, you could be punished for your loyalty (and what the company’s consider to be indifference). Insurers analyze your online data and personal information to predict your tolerance to a price increase, and one of the ways they do is checking to see if you’ve been shopping around. Luckily, there’s an easy way to put a stop to it.

If you shop around for a new policy as little as once every year or two, you’ll show up on their radar as a someone who isn’t against changing providers. That should keep your bill from increasing. And if you find a lower rate for a similar policy, but would like to keep your current company, give them a call — they’re likely to lower your premium.

“Shopping around will foil price optimization because if you shop around, the insurance company’s going say, ‘This guy’s gonna leave if I raise the price, so let’s hold it down.’” –Bob Hunter, Consumer Federation of America (source: NPR)

Fifteen states have spoken out against price optimization over the past few years, and some have even made the practice illegal. Unfortunately, Arizona has yet to take a stand. Until that happens, it’s up to you to make sure you don’t fall prey to the pervasive practice.

Arizona’s Minimum Coverage

The Bare Minimum

To be in compliance with Arizona state law, you must to be insured for $15,000 for the injury or death of one person in an accident, $30,000 for more than one person, and $10,000 for the damage of another person’s property. This is often referred to as a 15/30/10 plan. That’s one of the lowest state-minimum car insurance requirements in the nation.

The Best Car Insurance is Not Just Cheap Car Insurance

While Arizona law requires you to have liability insurance of $15,000, the average cost of a serious injury caused by a car accident is $80,700. That’s nearly $65,000 higher than the legally-required insurance covers. And that doesn’t even include the cost of a damaged car. With state-minimum insurance, you’d only be covered for $10,000 worth of someone else’s property damage, and $0 of your own. The average person is involved in a car accident every 17.9 years, so even if you’re a safe driver, Arizona’s minimum required insurance won’t have you fully covered.

I looked into upgraded coverage that includes up to $50,000 for the injury/death of one person in an accident, $100,000 for more than one person, and $50,000 for the damage of another person’s property (a 50/100/50 plan). This is a good place to start for more comprehensive insurance, although I’d recommend looking into 100/300/100 premiums, too.

This additional coverage insures me at more than triple the rate of the state’s cheapest car insurance, but it only costs an extra $36–$140 a year, depending on the carrier. It’s an easy decision to pay slightly more for peace of mind. Over the course of 18 years, I’m paying between $650 and $2500 to make sure that I’m not on the hook for more money than I’ve got in my savings account. I suggest running the numbers and seeing which option makes the most sense for you.

Insurance Company Yearly Premium for State-Minimum Coverage (15/30/10) Yearly Premium for Enhanced Coverage (50k/100k/50k)
State Farm $464 $599
GEICO $495 $635
American Family $997 $1086
Liberty Mutual $1368 $1404

What Happens If I’m Caught Without Insurance

If you’re caught driving without auto insurance in Arizona, your vehicle registration and driver’s license may be revoked. And you don’t have to get pulled over to be caught — the Arizona Department of Transportation receives automatic notification if your insurance lapses and you’ll  have 10 days to correct the problem if your insurance was suspended in error.

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Beat the Average Premium: 9 Ways to Snag Cheap Car Insurance

Many of the factors that affect your insurance premium, like your age and accident history, are out of your control, but there are some things you can do to help lower your rate. Check out the tips below for some ideas.

Nine Ways to Lower Your Car Insurance


Why are Arizona’s rates so affordable?

What to Expect
Average Monthly Premiums
Arizona: $101 United States: $139
Anaheim $159
Phoenix $109
Glendale $107
Peoria $100
Mesa $100
Gilbert $99
Tempe $98
Scottsdale $97
Chandler $96
Tucson $96
Yuma $87
Source: Quadrant

While Arizona’s crash statistics are slightly higher than the national average, insurance rates are an average of 25 percent lower; Arizona has 1.4 fatalities per 100 million miles driven compared to 1.1 as a national average. Still, drivers pay an average of $380 less per year than the average American. This discrepancy is likely due to Arizona’s low minimum requirement for car insurance, which is one of the lowest in the nation, and drags down the average payment.

What if I’m not a full-time resident?

If you live in Arizona at least seven months of the year, send your kids to school without paying nonresident tuition, or work a non-seasonal job, you need to have your car registered with the state and insured to state minimums. If you’re not an Arizona resident, make sure your car is registered in the state of your primary residence and insured to that state’s minimums.

Expert’s Corner

I asked Bryan A. Larson from the legal team at Larson Law a couple of questions about car insurance. And fortunately, my own personal research identified with his expertise regarding personal injury cases. Here’s what he had to say:

On the topic of minimum coverage:

The average cost of damages from a serious but non-fatal wreck is frequently in the tens of thousands of dollars range with $50,000 to $100,000 being fairly common.

If you go to an insurance salesman and simply say, “Just give me the minimum,” the coverage you will have will be very easy to exceed, even in a simple auto accident.

(Remember: The average permanent injury per person is over $80,000. And since the minimum for Arizona is only $15,000 for injury per person, the risk is even greatly than in other states with higher requirements.)

On which auto insurance companies are easiest to work with:

As a general rule, no insurance company has your best interest in mind, in spite of how “friendly” they appear. The primary objective of every adjuster is to close the file with the least amount of financial exposure to his company as possible. This may include discouraging you from getting adequate or appropriate medical care or even trying to discourage you from obtaining legal counsel.

(My take away: Just like with price optimization practices, it’s important that I’m paying attention to my best interests — not just going with the flow and assuming my insurance company is going to take care of me.)

The Bottom Line

Arizona auto insurance customers have a wide variety of price points to choose from, but without shopping around there’s no way to find out just how big that spread is. You should be able to find the best car insurance possible by comparing quotes from several different agencies (and asking about the premium increases you’d have if you upgraded your coverage). In my opinion, it’s worth it to upgrade your insurance to make sure you’re fully covered in the event of an accident.

There’s no need to pay more for the same level of insurance, though, so choose one of the cheaper companies and then use what’s left in your budget to add additional coverage for protection and peace of mind. While every situation is different, setting aside just an hour to research and compare quotes saved me over $900 a year. Dive in and collect as many quotes as you can.

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Enter your zip code to compare rates from some of my top recommendations.