Best Car Insurance Companies of 2018
When it comes to auto insurance companies, the best ones are often the most versatile in their coverage options and services. In order to put together our list of the best car insurance companies, we’ve scoured the industry looking at customer service, shopping experience, and more.
Price is the single most important factor for a lot of car insurance shoppers. Choosing a policy based on rates alone could cost far more out of pocket when filing a claim, however. Statistically speaking, that will happen to each driver at least once every 18 years. It pays to get the right amount of coverage, whether it’s the cheapest package or not.
The Simple Dollar’s Top Picks for Best Auto Insurance Companies
- Best Overall: Amica
- Best Customer Service: State Farm
- Best Policy Options: The Hartford
- Best for Military: USAA
What car insurance is required by law?
In virtually all states, drivers are required by law to have mandatory liability insurance coverage. This is done as a way to ensure that the driver can cover the cost of damages to other people or property in the unfortunate event of an accident. Some states implement a “proof of financial responsibility” requirement, which is a little more flexible.
How I Picked the Best Car Insurance Companies
First, I conducted an in-depth analysis of 15 auto insurance providers. I gathered data on 86 different features (like a 24/7 claims center or discounts for electric vehicles), organized them into 12 categories, and scored each company on a 100-point scale. Below are the categories I used, along with the weight each one was given in the test.
Next I incorporated learnings from auto experts, insured drivers, and third-party studies into my evaluation and calculated the final scores. I organized this research into three distinct categories, which are outlined below.
- Claims and Price Satisfaction: I looked at J.D. Power’s 2014 Auto Claims Satisfaction Reports, Insure.com’s Best Car Insurance Companies for 2014, and Consumer Reports’ 2014 Car Insurance Ratings to get a bird’s-eye view of the industry across the nation. I also conducted a survey of 100 insured drivers who had filed a claim within the past 12 months.
- Ease of Shopping: I applied for quotes from over 15 auto insurance companies to evaluate the shopping experience. I also considered J.D. Power’s 2014 Auto Insurance Purchase Experience Ratings, which asked customers about their personal take on local agents, call-center representatives, and websites.
- Financial Strength Ratings: I used A.M. Best to gauge financial stability. Any company with a “B” grade or below is considered vulnerable, so I chose companies with an “A-” or above.
The Best Car Insurance Companies of 2017
Amica: Best Overall Car Insurance Company
Amica was the strongest company overall in my research, and ranked number two in J.D. Power’s 2015 customer satisfaction report — that means out of 11,469 surveyed drivers, it had the second highest satisfaction rating among more than 20 different companies. It also received the highest Consumer Reports rating among auto insurance providers. Consumer Reports even noted that an overwhelming number of customers reported “relatively few” problems during the claims process.
- A high J.D. Power satisfaction rating: Amica received a perfect score in 4 out of 7 categories in J.D. Power’s 2015 auto insurance study.
- High financial stability ratings: Amica boasts a “Superior” financial stability rating from A.M. Best, which is the highest rating available.
- No repair facility restrictions: Unlike most every other insurer, Amica has zero restrictions on which body shop you use for repairs.
- “Platinum Choice” coverage: Amica offers an additional tier of coverage called Platinum Choice, which costs more, but includes identity fraud monitoring, full glass coverage, prestige rental coverage, and rewards for good driving.
- Best array of coverages: Amica offers the most driver and vehicle coverages of all my top recommendations. Its list includes GAP insurance and interior vehicle coverage, which aren’t offered by State Farm, The Hartford, or USAA.
- Quote process is less than desirable: Whether you start online or over the phone, you will eventually wind up on the phone to get an official quote — that can tack an extra 20 to 30 minutes to the process.
- Fewer driver discount opportunities: Amica is missing a few key driver discounts, including pre-pay, low mileage, and military discounts. Consequently, it scored only 46 out of 100 in my driver discount evaluation.
- Few online resources: There are a few FAQs on the site, but Amica lacks in-depth online materials to help customers get a complete grasp on their purchases without having to talk to someone. Additionally, some policy changes require direct assistance from an Amica agent, which can be time-consuming.
State Farm: Best Car Insurance Company for Customer Service and Interaction
State Farm is the largest car insurance company in the nation, per Insurance Journal in 2016. Fortunately, it’s also one of the best — especially when it comes to the customer service experience. In 2015, State Farm received high praise from J.D. Power for its service interaction and claims handling. And of all the insured drivers I surveyed, it received the most positive remarks by far.
It is incredibly easy to get in touch with State Farm. You can call one of the company’s 18,000 agents, go online, or even send a picture of your damaged car with your smartphone using the Pocket Agent mobile app. Compare that to Amica, which doesn’t allow you to connect with an agent via an app, or file a claim through an agent. State Farm also gets high marks for a pain-free shopping experience that lets prospective customers call their local agent or chat with a representative online if they have any questions.
- Superior claims handling: No other insurer makes it easier to file a claim — a fact corroborated by its high service rating, 18,000 agents nationwide, and excellent mobile app. Sure, most other auto insurers offer the basic trifecta of phone, app, and email contact to agents, but State Farm’s is the easiest to use by far.
- Great financial standing: State Farm has an A.M. Best outlook of stable, and a “Superior” overall rating — the highest given.
- Best online quote tool: Out of all the competition, State Farm has the simplest online quote tool. In less than five minutes, it’ll guide you completely through the process, replete with thorough examples of coverage options.
- Missing a few common driver discounts: Like Amica, State Farm lacks two extremely common discounts: pay-in-full, and automatic pay. These two discounts don’t save a ton of money, but are definitely nice options to have — and are offered by my third pick, The Hartford.
- Lacks a couple of important coverages: Unlike its competitors, State Farm doesn’t offer stacked uninsured motorist or new car replacement coverages. That could be a deal breaker for someone who lives in a state with an incredibly high rate of uninsured drivers.
The Hartford: Best Car Insurance Company for Policy Options
The Hartford is only the nation’s 11th largest insurer, but it still packs a punch. In fact, it had the highest score in my 12-category feature evaluation (92 out of 100). It also offers a wide range of policy options and benefits (including rates based on how much you actually drive your car and a new car replacement program for cars totaled shortly after purchase) and was the only insurer to score a perfect 100 in my vehicle-discount evaluation.
- Mechanical breakdown coverage: Mechanical breakdown insurance helps cover the cost of repairs that aren’t covered by your car’s warranty. The Hartford is the only one of my top picks that includes this coverage.
- Useful policy benefits: The company provides not only a solid set of coverages, but also a great selection of policy benefits. For instance, frequent travelers will appreciate The Hartford’s towing and roadside assistance programs.
- Excellent purchase experience: The Hartford is one of two national providers to receive a perfect “Overall Purchase Experience” score from J.D. Power.
- Less-than-average claims satisfaction: The Hartford received a perfect score in my claims management evaluation, but according to J.D. Power, customers are still less than satisfied — it received only a 2-star rating for service interaction.
- Fewest online educational resources: The Hartford offers the fewest online learning materials among this field of competitors.
USAA: Best Car Insurance Company for Members of the Military
Throughout my research, I found that the company’s stellar reputation holds true. If you are a member of the US armed forces, or are related to one, there is no better option than USAA.
It is one of the three highest-rated automotive insurers in the country. The only downside is its limited availability: USAA only services the immediate families of active and former members of the military. Given those restrictions, the quote process is a bit more intense compared to its competitors, but that’s a small price to pay for its exemplary service.
- Rated no. 1 nationally for purchase experience: USAA received the only perfect score in J.D. Power’s 2016 report.
- Solid financial stability: A.M. Best gives USAA the highest possible stability rating: “Superior.”
- Membership restrictions: USAA is only available to members of the military and their immediate family.
- Missing three key vehicle coverages: USAA doesn’t offer GAP insurance, interior vehicle coverage, or new car replacement coverage.
Other Car Insurance Companies to Consider
Progressive is worth noting due to its variety of discounts and special coverages that could shave a decent amount of green off your monthly bill. For example, the Snapshot tool allows Progressive to reward you based upon your driving habits. Have an anti-theft device? There’s a discount for that too. The company also offers pet injury coverage — which is included with collision, and comes standard in most states. However, Progressive’s scores across the board were only average, and I couldn’t justify recommending it over my top picks. And, despite what Flo, Progressive’s famous, peppy insurance cashier, would lead you to believe, its mobile apps ratings average out to just under 3 out of 5 stars.
If you live in the South, Midwest, or Mid-Atlantic regions, Erie Insurance is worth your consideration. Erie has consistently received high marks from J.D. Power and Consumer Reports, but didn’t make it into my top four recommendations due to limited availability — it only serves residents in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and certain parts of DC.
Outside of that, Erie is one of the best commercial auto insurers, offering policies that come standard with coverage for road service, lawyer fees, and loss of earnings. It also has particularly comprehensive coverage options that include extras such as money toward rental cars after a crash (this is usually an add-on policy with most insurers).
Auto-Owners Insurance is available in 26 states located primarily in the South and Midwest. It uses an agent-only model that promotes customer relationships, so if you prefer talking to a human being, Auto-Owners is a great choice. The company also scored a nearly perfect score in J.D. Power’s 2015 satisfaction report, falling short only in the realm of its rental car experience.
States Serviced by Auto-Owners:
Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin
Choosing the Right Amount of Coverage
Let’s say I live in Florida and cause an accident that injures another person to the tune of $40,000. If I only have the state’s minimum bodily injury protection ($10,000 per person, $20,000 per accident), I’d be responsible for the remaining $30,000. But, if I had purchased more than Florida’s minimum — say $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident — I wouldn’t have to pay a single dime out of pocket.
Sure, upgraded coverage means a higher monthly premium. But which would you rather do: Pay an extra $80 a month or wind up owing a lump sum of $30,000 out of pocket? It would take an accident-free 30 years to spend the same amount on the extra coverage. And remember: statistically speaking, you are going to get in a wreck every 18 years. Hopefully, it’s nothing more than a fender bender, but if the worst should happen, you’ll appreciate being fully covered.
That’s why it’s incredibly important to understand what type of coverages you need, and how much coverage you need, before you start shopping for a policy. And in the same vein, it’s also crucial to compare rates that include more than your state’s minimum required coverages (which you can find online at your state’s DMV). You do not want to be the victim of a serious accident only to find out after the fact that you’re underinsured.
Below is a comparison of the coverages offered by my top four auto insurance companies, and a breakdown of each type of coverage.
|Vehicle and Policy Coverages||Amica||State Farm||The Hartford||USAA|
|Bodily Injury Liability||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Personal Injury Protection||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Property Damage Liability||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Rental Car Coverage||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Stacked Uninsured Motorist Coverage||✓||X||✓||✓|
|Uninsured Motorist Property Damage Coverage||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Pet Injury Coverage||X||X||X||X|
|Interior Vehicle Coverage||✓||X||X||X|
|New Car Replacement||✓||X||✓||X|
Types of Auto Insurance Coverages
Bodily Injury Liability: Coverage against bodily injuries to others in an accident that is your fault.
Personal Injury Protection: Coverage for injuries sustained by the driver or any passengers, often including medical bills and lost wages.
Property Damage Liability: Coverage against property damage to another party in an accident that is your fault.
Rental Car Coverage: Coverage for your rental car if it is damaged or stolen.
Stacked Uninsured Motorist Coverage: Coverage that allows you to combine or “stack” the individual limits of coverage on multiple insured vehicles in the same household.
Uninsured Motorist Property Damage Coverage: Coverage that protects against property damage caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist.
Pet Injury Coverage: Coverage for injuries to your pets sustained in an auto accident.
Collision: Coverage against any damage resulting from a collision.
Comprehensive: Coverage against any non-collision vehicle damage including fire, theft, or vandalism.
GAP Insurance: Coverage that pays the difference between the actual value of a totaled car and the balance remaining on an auto loan.
Interior Vehicle Coverage: Coverage of personal belongings inside of the car, like your clothes, sound system, or purse.
New Car Replacement: Coverage that will replace a totaled car with a brand-new version if it is less than one year old.
Are car insurance extras worth it?
As the name suggests, car insurance extras are coverage options that usually do not come with a standard policy. Examples include roadside assistance and accident forgiveness. These coverages can be added to a policy for an extra cost. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if they are worth it. By carefully assessing your coverage needs, you can come to a conclusion whether the extras are worth the cost or not.
You should shop for a policy every two years
Contrary to popular belief, car insurance companies don’t just calculate rates on risk alone. It goes much deeper than that. Welcome to the world of “price optimization,” which is the practice of setting rates based upon how much insurers think customers are comfortable paying. Simply put, it’s a way to maximize profit.
In 2013, Earnix found that 45 percent of larger insurance companies analyze a ridiculous amount of customers’ personal data (like social media posts, credit scores, and web shopping habits). Then, they churn the data through a proprietary algorithm that estimates how likely you are to shop around. By doing so, they can charge you based upon a perception of your level of comfort, raise profit margins, and do it all without causing you to lift an eyebrow.
The best way to prevent falling victim to this practice is to shop for a new policy every one to two years. Companies are aware of your online activity, so the more quotes you get, the less likely you are to be tagged as someone who won’t jump ship for a better deal. Plus, it helps you find a policy rate that reflects you as a person and isn’t based on predictive analytics.
Should I use an agent or go online?
Depending on which companies you consider, you may have to decide whether to do business with an insurance agent or purchase a policy online. If you value face-to-face relationships and personal service, it’s hard to beat an agent. But all agents aren’t created equal. Some are “captive,” meaning they sell car insurance for only one company. Others are “independent,” meaning they can sell car insurance for multiple companies. Here are a few things you should consider for each scenario.
Using Captive Agents
The biggest benefit to captive agents is that many aren’t primarily motivated by commission. That means they have less of a reason to “sell you” and more of a reason to spend quality time educating you. Going with a captive agent also makes sense if you’re already committed to a particular company. Additionally, they will know their company’s policies and coverages from top to bottom.
Using Independent Agents
Independent agents have special access with several companies and help you to find the best rate available. However, some companies pay higher commission than others, and that means you may face pressure to choose a particular company or coverage plan.
During my research, I interacted with several independent agents who refused to give me a single detail about higher-priced plans. Despite my persistence, I was repeatedly asked, “Why would you want to consider something that costs more?” and did not get the information I wanted. On the flip side, if your rates go up after committing to a policy, independent agents are best-suited to help you negotiate a lower price.
Some companies allow customers to do business directly online. If you’re a self-starter, this could very well be the most convenient option. And in some cases, it may also be the cheapest option.
The biggest downside to buying a policy on your own is the risk of underinsuring yourself. Buying the wrong policy, or a policy that doesn’t have state-mandated coverage levels, could cost you a pretty penny if the worst should happen.
In the end, you’ll need to first determine your exact needs when it comes to coverage and then shop for an affordable policy. Just because an auto insurance policy is cheap doesn’t mean it’s the best. Our quote tool can also help you put together a list of candidates. All you need to do is input your ZIP Code and start comparing rates from our top picks (State Farm, USAA, Amica, The Hartford) and more.
Best Car Insurance Companies: Summed Up
|Car Insurance Companies||Best For…|
|State Farm||Customer Service and Interaction|
|The Hartford||Policy Options|
|USAA||Members of the Military|
If you want the best protection money can buy, buying an auto policy from one of the best car insurance companies is essential. By buying a high quality policy from a reputable provider, you’ll gain both peace of mind and protection from life-changing financial losses.
While there are plenty of companies to choose from, the best car insurance companies offer certain features that help them stand out.
In addition to policies that can be tailored to your unique insurance needs, they generally offer superior customer service, an up-to-date website where you can pay your bill or check your policy details, and a top-notch claims process that makes recovering from an auto accident as seamless as possible.
Because car insurance has become such a competitive space, shopping around for the best automobile insurance rates is crucial. Where one company might charge higher rates due to your age or driving history, another might offer special discounts based on an entirely different set of criteria.
Most of the time, the only way to find out how much you’ll pay is to apply for several quotes and compare them side by side.
This post was created to introduce some of the best car insurance companies in the business, plus provide an overview of how each business operates.
BEST CAR INSURANCE COMPANIES IN 2018
When your goal is finding the best policy at an attractive price, it pays to compare several of the highest rated companies side by side. When figuring out which companies to highlight, we looked at several auto insurance related studies, including J.D. Power’s Auto Claims Satisfaction Study. From those studies, we handpicked several companies that received high ratings across the board.
Progressive Insurance is a well-known company with a large base of customers and strong reviews. According to a recent study by JD Power on insurance companies and how they handle claims, they came in extremely competitive when it comes to pricing, among other things.
Did you know Progressive has more than 18,000,000 drivers insured today?
This means roughly 1 in 10 drivers in America has chosen Progressive over all the others. Stack on an exquisite lineup of discounts like the safe driver discount, pay-in-full discount, a multi-car discount, their multi-policy discount, and more, and you’ve got quite a front-runner.
How about bundling your home and auto to save another 5%?
How about their Snapshot® program to let all you safe drivers take advantage of even more savings?
How about the ability to literally Name Your Price®?
Other benefits Progressive offers include plenty of opportunities to save, a solid online presence (#1 rated website), and their Snapshot program®, which rewards good driving behavior.
Why you might like Progressive:
- Plenty of available discounts and highly competitive pricing
- Great online presence
- Loan or Lease payoff program
- Roadside assistance
- Strong company financial ratings
- Definitely worth getting a quote when you’re comparing Car Insurance
One mistake many consumers make when they are shopping for Car Insurance is not comparing rates.
It’s often cumbersome to shop a lot of companies, which is why we suggest visiting QuoteWizard.com. QuoteWizard is the largest independent insurance lead company in the United States which offers a tool which can help you get several quotes all at once.
If you decide to use QuoteWizard, they make it extremely simple to find auto insurance plans to meet your needs. They’ll get your zip code since rates vary by location and then collect information about your car’s make and model. You’ll be able to add additional vehicles if you’d like to bundle (and save up to 20%).
Finally they’ll ask for information such as your name and email before providing you with the best providers available in your area for your vehicle(s).
Why you might like QuoteWizard:
- Many people don’t take the time to properly compare rates on car insurance. Fortunately there’s a service like QuoteWizard.
- Save time and money in a matter of minutes
Founded in 1922, State Farm Insurance has a history of financial stability and customer service satisfaction. With physical offices and agents dispersed throughout the country, State Farm is also known for offering individual service that simply cannot be matched by online-only firms.
The company’s biggest benefits include its brick-and-mortar stores and agents, the many discounts it offers, and its strong mobile app. State Farm also makes it easy and painless to get quotes online, which means you don’t have to head into a local office if you don’t want to.
Why you might like State Farm:
- Local offices and agents provide in-person help
- Great mobile app and website
- Plenty of discounts available
One of the main advantages of buying auto insurance through Esurance(owned by Allstate) is you have the control and flexibility to build a policy which fits your needs. Esurance was one of the first companies which start selling directly to the customer instead of going through an agent.
They have made it incredibly simple to customize your plan, get a quote, and get approved for protection. The problem with all the customization and convenience is it’s going to come at a price.
Esurance says they are the “insurance for the modern world,” and they truly are. They let anyone get a quote as long as you have an internet connection. The days of going into an insurance office are long gone. Now you can get an insurance policy without having to spend hours on the phone.
Why you might like Esurance:
- Quick and easy access to auto insurance
- Customized options
Liberty Mutual Insurance
Founded in 1912, Liberty Mutual Insurance insures more than 1.5 million vehicles and has some of the top customer service ratings.
Why you might like Liberty Mutual:
- Ranked “among the best” by J.D. Power’s 2016 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study
- Great standard coverage, as well as the option to add:
- Accident forgiveness: Your insurance rates won’t go up when you’re involved in your first accident.
- New car replacement: If you total your car when it’s less than a year old and has fewer than 15,000 miles, they’ll reimburse you the cost of a new car, not just the depreciated value.
- Better car replacement: You’ll be reimbursed for a car that is one model year newer and 15,000 fewer miles than your totaled car.
- Deductible fund: Reduce your deductible by $100 when you add this feature, and then another $100 every year after that.
- 24-hour claims service
Why you should keep looking:
- Policies can be expensive if you are purchasing a single policy.
This new company is disrupting the auto insurance industry. If you are searching for car insurance, their easy to use system will allow you to compare insurance companies without inputing your personal information.
If you’re looking for a car insurance company that offers high quality insurance policies with the opportunity for discounts, Allstate Insurance should be on your short list. Allstate received fairly high ratings across both studies mentioned in this article, with its highest marks received from customers who reported a positive rental car experience.
Allstate Insurance offers the best of both worlds when it comes to the user experience. With brick and mortar offices and agents placed all over the country plus a user-friendly and helpful website, customers have the opportunity to get in-person help or access information online at any time.
Why you might like Allstate:
- Most areas have a physical office and local agents
- Multiple opportunities for discounts for bundling, anti-theft devices, and passive restraint
- Consumer-friendly website
Why you should keep looking:
- Several comparable companies received higher ratings across the board
- Can be expensive if you don’t bundle policies
USAA received extremely high marks from J.D. Power’s Claims Satisfaction Survey, including 5/5 in overall customer satisfaction. In addition, USAA customers were extremely satisfied with their final settlement after an accident, which is one of the most important indicators or a high quality insurance company.
The biggest downside to USAA is that it is only available to members or former members of the United State military and their close family members. So, if you’re in the general public, you won’t have the opportunity to buy a policy from USAA.
Why you might like USAA:
- Top ratings, including overall customer satisfaction
- Superior customer service
- Diverse policy options to meet anyone’s needs
While Auto-Owners Insurance keeps a fairly low profile, they receive extremely high marks across the board. In fact, J.D. Power awarded Auto-Owners Insurance the highest rating in their 2015 Auto Claims Study, with a 5/5 in every category except for rental car experience. That puts Auto-Owners Insurance ahead of the pack in terms of overall customer satisfaction whenever a claim is filed.
The fact that Auto-Owners Insurance has been around since 1916 should also put consumer’s minds at ease. During that time, they have exhibited financial stability consistently. Auto-Owners Insurance also has 6,300 independent agents, meaning you can buy your policy directly from an individual who understands your needs.
Why you might like Auto-Owners Insurance:
- High ratings for customer service and claims experiences
- Individual agents who care
- Variety of discounts available
Why you should keep looking:
- Policies can be expensive if you don’t qualify for discounts
- Website isn’t as user-friendly as it could be
With more than 200 years of history in business, The Hartford has built an excellent reputation for customer service and claims processing. As of today, the company is still receiving high marks from companies like J.D. Power. In its 2015 Auto Claims Satisfaction study, The Hartford received excellent marks (4/5 or 5/5) in every category except for service interaction.
Although The Hartford is an old company, they still offer some of the best technology in the business. Using their website, you can shop around for and even apply for a new policy. Plus, you’ll have 24/7 access to agents either on the phone or online.
Why you might like The Hartford:
- Multiple policy discounts
- Top ratings for claims management
- Guaranteed renewals of your policy as long as you can drive
Why you might keep looking:
- Low ratings for service experiences during the claims process
- The best benefits go to AARP members
Why you might keep looking:
- Only available to U.S. military members, veterans, or their close family members
Who hasn’t heard of GEICO? Their lizard-like mascot is one of the most recognizable insurance company spokesmen (spokes-lizard?). Just because they are one of the most recognizable doesn’t mean they are the best option.
They have a quote tool you can use on their website to determine how much you’ll pay for your plan. You can also submit a claim or make a payment through their website as well.
There are a lot of benefits of having an auto insurance policy through GEICO. You’ll have access to several additional coverages you can add:
- Emergency roadside assistance
- Breakdown coverage
- Ridesharing insurance
- Auto Repair Xpress
All of these benefits are going to impact your monthly premiums. Some of them are more affordable than others, but they can be a great way to get the most out of your auto insurance coverage.
Why you might like GEICO:
- Additional riders
- Excellent customer reviews
Why you might want to keep looking:
- Not the most affordable option
- Difficult claim process
HOW TO PICK A POLICY WITH THE BEST AUTO INSURANCE COMPANIES
Knowing which companies received the highest marks year after year is just part of the battle. Beyond researching the best auto insurance companies on the market, you’ll also need to decide which type of policy to buy – and how much coverage you really need. On top of those factors, you’ll need to consider how high your deductible should be.
Consumer Reports offers an extremely helpful guide that highlights the steps you can take to find the best policy for your needs. Even if you’re fairly happy with your policy, they suggest shopping around to compare rates at least every two or three years. That way, you have a good idea of where car insurance rates are headed and how much you could save if you switch. Plus, it never hurts to shop around. Based on your age, your driving record, and other factors, the policy you have now could be considerably cheaper if you switched firms.
Here are some tips to consider as you shop around and compare policies:
Pick a top-rated insurer
By checking auto insurance ratings, you gain insight from each company’s existing customer base. Consumer Reports suggests reading through the most recent auto insurance claims and satisfaction studies to see which companies consistently come out on top.
Set the right deductible
No matter whether you buy liability coverage or full coverage for your vehicle, you need to pick a deductible that meets you needs. Consumer Reports suggests choosing a higher deductible if you want to save on monthly premiums, but setting a lower deductible if you want to avoid a large out-of-pocket expense in the event of a car accident. “If you have a good driving record and haven’t had an at-fault accident in years, or ever, opting for a higher deductible on collision coverage might be a good bet,” writes Consumer Reports. Just remember to keep that much cash on hand in case you need it.
Don’t buy state minimum coverage if you truly want a high quality auto policy
While state minimum coverage is less expensive in the short-term, it can prove extremely costly if you have a claim that far exceeds the cap on the policy you purchased. By investing in a policy that offers more generous coverage limits, you can save yourself some heartache and protect your personal property in the event of a costly accident.
Ask friends and family for recommendations
While reading auto insurance provider reviews and ratings is a smart move, you can also ask family and friends for their recommendations. General ratings can help you gauge the quality of any company; however, personal reviews tend to hold more weight. Ask friends and family members whether they have had a good experience with their auto insurer before you purchase a policy. You may be able to nail down the best insurer for your needs based on the suggestions of others.
Get quotes from multiple companies
If you’ve read plenty of insurance company reviews and still can’t decide, it might help to get several quotes to compare. Depending on where you live and other factors, one company could offer a much better deal on auto insurance than the rest. In this scenario – where one company is much cheaper over all – you should figure out why the price is so affordable. Are you comparing apples to apples?
Compare similar policies
Speaking of an “apples to apples” comparison, this part of your search is crucial. To find the right auto insurance company and policy for your needs, you need to compare similar auto insurance policies among multiple providers. This means comparing policies with the same levels of coverage and a similar deductible.
HOW TO CHOOSE CAR INSURANCE COVERAGE LIMITS
While you can buy a similar level of auto insurance coverage from multiple insurers, it might be wise to tailor your policy to your specific needs. The higher your coverage limits, the more you’ll generally pay for your premiums. However, having higher coverage limits also means more security in the event of a catastrophic accident. The same is true for your deductible as well; with a lower deductible, you’ll pay a lot less out-of-pocket if an accident should occur. On the flip side, you’ll pay higher premiums to have a lower annual deductible.
As you navigate the intricacies of comparing policies among different insurers, it’s important to decide on the coverage limits you’re comfortable with as well. Consider these tips as you move forward with the purchase of a new auto insurance policy to meet your needs:
Consider your assets
If you own your home and have plenty of other assets, you should consider buying a policy with higher coverage limits than what is normally offered. For more peace of mind, consider buying the top tier of auto coverage to protect your family. With more coverage in place, you can ensure you won’t run out of coverage in the event of a catastrophic accident – or worse, get sued by someone who plans to go after your assets in court.
Of course, some people also buy a generic umbrella policy to kick in in times like these. With an umbrella policy, you’ll have additional coverage to tap into if your auto insurance policy’s limits have been reached, or if someone sues you in a court of law.
Take your car payment into account.
If you paid cash for your car or paid it off slowly over time, it’s your right to choose an auto insurance policy with any limits you desire. If you financed your car and still owe money, on the other hand, your lender might dictate the type of policy you have to buy.
Most lenders who carry auto loans will require you to add comprehensive coverage with collision benefits to your policy. This type of coverage is definitely more expensive, but it will help defray the costs if you should damage or total your car while you’re still making payments.
Gap coverage is another type of coverage that will “bridge the gap” between what your car is worth and how much you owe. Since many newer cars tend to lose value quickly, this type of coverage can be a smart purchase towards the beginning of your auto loan.
Figure out what kind of driver you are
If you’re a reliable driver who has never been in an accident, having the highest levels of coverage may be the last thing on your mind. If you’re not a great driver or have been in several accidents, on the other hand, you may be keenly aware of just how important those coverage limits are.
At the end of the day, the type of driver you are and how often you drive may play a part in the coverage limits you select. If you drive infrequently, you may be more comfortable with lower or average limits. If you drive at high risk times or commute back and forth to work, on the other hand, more or better coverage might help you sleep better at night.
Decide how much you can afford to pay if you have an accident
Coverage limits play a huge role in how much your auto insurance premiums cost, but so will your deductible. Since you’ll be required to pay your deductible in full to access your insurance benefits after an accident, it’s important to make sure your deductible is affordable enough you can cover it with your savings. The right auto policy for your needs will have the right combination of healthy coverage limits with an annual deductible you can actually afford.
WANT THE LOWEST AUTO INSURANCE RATES? DO THIS.
While auto insurance rates are extremely competitive, they still vary widely depending on the company you use and the type of policy you purchase. With that being said, there are still plenty of ways to keep your costs lower than average. If price is an important consideration in your search, consider these tips:
Ask about discounts
Some of the best car insurance companies offer discounts on anything from bundled policies to good credit, zero claims, theft protection devices, and more. Others offer discounts for paying your six-month premium in-full or installing an electronic device that lets the company monitor your driving habits over the long haul.
Allstate Insurance, for example, offers Drivewise – a discount program for customers who install a tracking device into their vehicle. By letting Allstate monitor your driving habits, you can qualify for a discount of up to 30 percent.
Take advantage of low mileage discounts
If you work at home or have a short commute to work, some car insurance firms will extend a discount. Low mileage discounts can also apply if you carpool to work and share miles and expenses.
Qualifying for a low mileage discount may require you to prove how much you drive each year. Further, each auto insurance company has their own limits on how many miles you can rack up and still qualify for this discount.
The best way to find out if you qualify for a low mileage discount is to ask your auto insurance agent when you apply for coverage – or even after you qualify.
If your goal is saving money, the most important step in your search for car insurance is shopping around. Auto insurance rates can easily vary by hundreds of dollars per year with the same car and driver. If you want the best shot at affordable rates, it’s crucial to shop around with at least 5-6 auto insurance firms.
Fortunately, shopping around online or over the phone is easy. Most of the time, a quick phone call or online inquiry is all it takes to get a handful of new auto insurance quotes in minutes. Make sure to shop with private companies and insurance brokers who may be able to offer a car insurance quote from different insurers.
Also, don’t base your decision on price alone. Where securing an affordable policy is important, the quality of your auto insurance policy is equally crucial. Buying a cut-rate policy won’t leave you better off if you get in a wreck and really need coverage. When shopping for a policy, you should focus on price and value.
Consider raising your deductible
Whether you’re shopping around for a new auto insurance policy or planning to keep the one you have, raising your annual deductible is a smart way to save on your monthly premiums.
If you want a $500 deductible to access your auto coverage, your insurance will be more expensive than if you chose a $1,000 deductible from the start. To save money, you should choose the highest deductible you can reasonably afford to pay.
If you do choose to go with a higher deductible, make sure you keep enough cash on-hand to cover it at any time. If you have a $1,000 deductible on your auto policy, for example, you should set aside at least that much in an account – or make sure you keep enough cash to cover your deductible in your regular emergency fund.
Reduce coverage on older cars
While you might consider full coverage on your cars, that doesn’t mean you need it. Where full coverage is smart on newer cars, liability insurance coverage may be a smarter move for older, paid-off models.
To find your break-even point, check out how much your car is actually worth on a website like Kelley Blue Book. If the cost of full coverage on your car is nearly as much as the car is worth itself, converting your policy to liability only can help you save money without jeopardizing your financial life.
Keep your credit in good shape
Most of the best auto insurance companies check your credit before they extend a new policy. If your credit is excellent, this will only help you get the best auto insurance rates. If your credit is poor, on the other hand, you might be asked to pay a whole lot more.
To keep your credit in good health, check your credit score and report frequently. While Credit Karma lets you see an estimate of your credit score for free at any time, AnnualCreditReport.com is a government-approved website that lets you see your full credit report from all three credit reporting agencies once per year for free.
Keep insurance costs in mind when you choose a car
The newer your car is, the more expensive your car insurance premiums will likely be. Also consider the fact that some car models with expensive replacement parts can cost more to insure regardless of age.
Consumer Reports suggests asking your car dealer to show you the “Relative Collision Insurance Cost Information Booklet,” produced annually by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That way, you’ll be in the best position to avoid models with insurance costs that are higher than most.
THE BOTTOM LINE
When shopping around on the best deal for auto insurance, it’s important to look at more than just premiums. The best auto insurance companies should offer more than affordability – they should also receive good ratings and reviews from their existing customer base, same goes for life insurance, burial insurance and health insurance.
The best way to find this out is to complete some research on your own. Look at some of the recent studies completed and read through them, then read as many online reviews as you can find. Also, make sure to shop around and compare rates among the handful of companies you feel comfortable with. The more you shop around and compare, the better off you’ll be.
Thinking about shopping your auto insurance? A huge percent of people never shop their insurance needs — and that’s a bad idea considering that modern American business punishes loyalty, rather than rewarding it.
Car insurance ads on TV promise accident forgiveness, vanishing deductibles and other selling points. But those features are just a side show to the main act, which is a company’s reputation with satisfying customers after a claim is made.
Best and worst auto insurers
Consumer Reports took a look at the auto insurance industry by surveying nearly 24,000 readers in the winter of 2017 about their satisfaction on the claims process, the cost of premiums and the overall customer experience.
Here are the winners and losers, according to the magazine:
10 top-rated insurers
(#1 is best)
- Amica Insurance
- New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company
- USAA Property & Casualty
- Auto Club Group
- Erie Insurance Group
- PEMCO Mutual Insurance Company
- Auto-Owners Insurance Group of Companies
- Auto Club Enterprises Insurance Group
- Travelers Group
10 lowest-rated insurers
(#1 is worst)
- MAPFRE North America Group
- MetLife Auto & Home Group
- Mercury General Group
- Progressive Insurance Group
- Liberty Mutual Insurance Companies
- Nationwide Group
- Farmers Insurance
- Berkshire Hathaway Insurance Group (Geico)
- State Farm
How much should you expect to pay for an auto insurance policy?
According to an industry association analysis of data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the average American paid $866 for a policy in 2014 — the latest year for which numbers are available.
Of course, that can vary greatly from state to state, where you’ll find everything from an average of $572 in Idaho to $1,264 in New Jersey!
Shopping your insurance every three years is a great way to save money. We’ll have more on that in a bit. But first, consider these factors on your current policy…
Your deductible is important
When it comes to car insurance, be sure the deductible you have isn’t too low. Take as high a deductible as you’re allowed to if you have a loan on your car. That’s usually $1,000.
Having a low deductible pushes premiums higher. It could also tempt you to make a claim for a small incident that will leave you in trouble with insurers going forward. More on that in a bit, too.
Pay attention to the level of coverage
State minimums for liability
If you have any assets in life to protect, you should think about going past the state minimums for liability.
If you own a home, have savings, etc., you do not want to do state minimums for liability. Why? Because that one time you hit a car in your blind spot or whatever the case may be, you can have serious exposure for liability.
The liability risk for fixing someone’s car is peanuts. The big money is when somebody is injured or says they’re injured. A lot of times people are able to dream up injuries from watching the ads on TV with the lawyers on who say they can get you big money when you’re involved in an accident.
You don’t want to fall into that trap if you have assets to protect.
Of course, if you have no assets and you rent a home rather than owning, then it’s acceptable if you want to just do state minimums.
Collision and comprehensive
Collision and comprehensive covers the damage to the car from a driving event or something else.
When do you need it and when should you drop it?
The general rule is when the cost of comp and collision exceeds 10% of your old vehicle’s value, that’s the time to dump it and just have liability coverage. You can determine your vehicle’s value at Edmunds.com, KBB.com or NADA.com.
So let’s take a simple example. Say your vehicle is worth $4,000. If you’re paying anything more than $400 annually (that’s 10% of $4,000) for comp and collision, it no longer makes any financial sense. One notable exception to this rule: If there’s no way you could financially cover the loss of your vehicle, forget the math and keep paying for comp and collision.
If you have a newer car, you need to have comprehensive and collision — along with that higher deductible of $1,000.
If you’re buying a new car and you can’t afford the $1,000 deductible, then you probably can’t afford the new car in the first place.
What you need to know about making a claim
You never want to make a claim on auto insurance for something small — like a cracked windshield or a broken side-view mirror — because the consequences are so ugly.
The insurer can surcharge you for a number of years; eliminate the discounts you would otherwise qualify for; or put a black mark on your C.L.U.E. report, a little-known industry database of claims. The latter effectively limits your ability to shop with the competition for 36 months.
The hidden dark side of roadside assistance
Auto insurers are great about offering add-ons to your policy that seem in theory like great conveniences at a great price. But using these seemingly benign “benefits” could marginalize you in the insurance marketplace and result in jacked-up rates!
Some auto insurers that offer roadside assistance treat your use of it as an at-fault claim and put that through on your C.L.U.E. report — even though you only needed a tow or the fix or a flat tire!
“It’s the Wild West with no rules on what insurers can decide to report on your C.L.U.E. report,” money expert Clark Howard says. “And you have no right of appeal either.”
So here’s the # 1 rule about roadside assistance: Never get it from your own insurer. Get it from AAA or elsewhere.
Shopping around is the best way to get a lower rate
If your auto insurance is costing you too much, you’ve got to look around at other insurers. Here’s how to start the process…
Begin by identifying solid companies
Clark has long talked about the merits of Amica Mutual and USAA. But those aren’t the only two companies you should look at. Consider buying a one-time subscription to Consumer Reports and checking their latest list of the best auto insurance companiesto find others that should make it onto your shortlist.
Get your quotes
Once you have a list of candidates, you’ll want to start getting quotes. This typically takes around 15 minutes on the phone per insurer. Have your most recent policy in front of you in case any questions come up about the make and model of your vehicle(s).
Working with an insurance broker is another option. He or she will get multiple quotes for you and you’ll have access to all the insurers they do business with. It’s an easy one-stop shop that lets you still have the flexibility of comparison pricing.
Once you get the quotes back, it’s time to compare them. Each quote should be based on the same amount of coverage so you can do an apples-to-apples comparison. What if a poorly ranked company offers you a great quote? Clark says to avoid them! While the premium might be tempting, you want to be sure your insurer is there for you when the chips are down.
Don’t forget about discounts!
There are a ton of different discounts out there. Here are some you can ask about:
- Antitheft devices
- Multiple policies with the same company
- College students living away from home
- Defensive driving courses
- Drivers ed courses
- Low annual mileage
- Long-time customer
- More than one car
- No accidents in three years
- No moving violations in three years
- Student drivers with good grades
The auto insurance market in the U.S. is dominated by a few key players. In fact, the top ten auto insurance companies control more than 70% of the market. While the top ten insurance companies underwrite a large number of policies, they have very distinct characteristics. To help you choose the best insurance company for your situation, we created a list of the top ten largest auto insurance companies in the U.S. and discuss what makes each of them unique.
- What are the Biggest Auto Insurance Companies?
- Mutual vs. Stock Insurance Companies
- Big vs. Small Insurance Companies
|Rank||Auto Insurance Company||Premiums Written ($bn)||Market Share|
What are the Biggest Auto Insurance Companies?
When looking at the rankings of the top auto insurance companies in the United States, most of the names are recognizable due to their national television advertising campaigns. The top ten insurance companies offer varied insurance rates, customer claims experience and features. We discuss the top ten biggest auto insurance companies in the U.S. and what you should know about each of them below:
1. State Farm
State Farm operates as a mutual insurance company, meaning that it’s owned by its policyholders. State Farm is the largest auto insurance company in the U.S. and possesses 18% of the total available market share. Nearly one in five dollars spent on private passenger auto premiums in the U.S. is paid to State Farm. The company currently employs approximately 70,000 employees and has nearly 19,000 agents. In accordance with its large market share, State Farm’s latest annual report shows a net gain of over $1.7 billion.
Our Thoughts: State Farm is a great auto insurance company for anyone who wants a local agent and a personalized insurance experience. However, State Farm doesn’t typically offer drivers the most competitive rates. If you want or need a curated experience, and are willing to pay for it, State Farm is a great choice.
GEICO, well known for its animated gecko, has served as an underwriter to more than 16 million auto policies, which insure more than 24 million vehicles. The company’s size allows it to employ more than 36,000 people across nine regional offices, three service centers and three claims centers. GEICO’s original customer base consisted of U.S. government employees and military personnel. Today, the insurance company’s customer base has expanded to include people in the private sector.
Our Thoughts: We consider GEICO to be one of the best auto insurance companies. GEICO offers low rates, national availability and an easy shopping experience. If you’ve had a prior accident, however, you’ll likely receive unfavorable rates from GEICO.
Progressive—the third biggest insurance company in the country—was established in 1937. The company offers the ability to purchase auto insurance directly, online or by phone. Alternatively, customers can sign up through independent insurance agents. The company employs over 33,000 people and has over 400 offices. Progressive is a publicly traded company.
Our Thoughts: Progressive offers highly competitive rates to drivers with previous accidents. However, claims satisfaction ratings and coverage options are average at best. Due to this, we recommend for prospective Progressive customers to shop around and compare rates before signing up for coverage.
Established in 1931, Allstate is the second largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company in America. Similar to State Farm, Allstate has a roster of local agents ready to serve your needs. The company currently employs over 79,000 people. Esurance, a subsidiary of Allstate, operates in the same space. According to Allstate, the Esurance brand is targeted towards self-directed and brand-sensitive customers while Allstate is geared for customers who enjoy local and personal service.
Our Thoughts: We consider Allstate to be a middle-of-the-road insurance company due to its high rates and average claims satisfaction ratings. Allstate’s redeeming factors are the wide variety of discounts that it makes available to its customers.
USAA was founded by 25 Army officers who decided to insure each other’s vehicles in 1922. Today, the company serves millions of members associated with the U.S. military, including:
- Current Military Members
- Former Military Members
- Family of Military Members
- Cadets or Midshipmen
USAA is headquartered in San Antonio, Texas. The corporate campus’ length extends three-quarters of a mile. USAA is the largest private company located in San Antonio.
Our Thoughts: USAA is one of the best auto insurance companies in the country. If you meet their qualification criteria, you’ll enjoy competitive rates, great customer service and speedy claims responses. The only downside of USAA is its restricted membership.
6. Liberty Mutual
Liberty Mutual is one of the top insurance companies in the U.S. and has been around for over 100 years. Liberty Mutual also has large international presence—with operations in 17 countries. The international companies sell property and casualty, health and life insurance policies. The auto insurance industry is a large part of Liberty Mutual’s business, representing 36% of their net written premium from insurance as of their latest annual report.
Our Thoughts: Liberty Mutual is a mediocre insurance company. The competitiveness of Liberty Mutual’s car insurance rates will depend on your geographic location. While this is often true with most insurers, Liberty Mutual’s rates vary more than typical. In addition, Liberty Mutual’s customers rank the insurance company’s claims satisfaction process as below average.
Farmers began as an insurance company providing coverage to rural farmers’ vehicles. Since then it has evolved to become the seventh largest insurance company in the country. It’s hard to find an insurance company that offers more products than Farmers. It offers basic auto insurance, pet insurance, and even investment products among a variety of other insurance products. Farmers employs nearly 21,000 people, which allow it to underwrite over 19 million policies across 50 states.
Our Thoughts: Farmers offers decent discounts, coverage options and great customer service. Ultimately, Farmers’ non-competitive rates hold it back from becoming a great auto insurance company.
Nationwide, a Fortune 100 company, paid over $18 billion in claims and other benefits to members in 2017. The company does business across several verticals—including financial services, commercial lines and personal lines—in all 50 U.S. states. Nationwide has contributed over $430 million to nonprofit organizations since 2000.
Our Thoughts: Despite Nationwide not being the most affordable insurance company, its customer reviews tend to be positive. The company offers customers the standard coverage and discounts that you’d expect from a large national insurance company.
Travelers is more than 160 years old, making it one of the oldest insurance companies operating today. In fact, Travelers issued its first auto insurance policy in 1897, before the Ford Model-T was invented. The company has over 30,000 employees and 13,500 independent agents and brokers in multiple countries—including the United States, Canada, and Brazil.
Our Thoughts: Low complaint ratings and competitive rates make Travelers an excellent choice for auto insurance coverage. In particular, Travelers offers great rates for families with clean driving histories. However, drivers with previous accidents and violations should steer clear as Travelers’ rates rise significantly with an accident on record.
10. American Family
American Family was established with the initial goal of insuring farmers. In the 1930s, the company expanded and began to focus on insuring non-farmers as well. Today, the company is one of the biggest insurance companies in the U.S. In a recent year, American Family paid out over $3 billion in home, auto and umbrella insurance claims.
Our Thoughts: American Family is a solid choice for your auto insurance needs. The company offers decent rates, which have the potential to be great when policyholders utilize some of its many discounts.
Mutual vs. Stock Insurance Companies
The main difference between mutual and stock insurance companies is the ownership configuration—stock insurance companies are privately or publicly owned companies that offer voting rights to stockholders. Mutual insurance companies, however, are owned by their policyholders.
Since stockholders benefit from the stock’s appreciation, people argue that the short-term interests of investors don’t always align with the long-term interest of the company. Many feel that mutual insurance companies are better because the policyholders’ interests align well with what’s best for the company, specifically lowering insurance rates and paying out dividends to attract more customers. Below, we list the top ten auto insurance companies by type, excluding USAA, which is an insurance exchange for military personnel.
|Mutual Insurance Companies||Stock Insurance Companies|
Big vs. Small Insurance Companies
The trade-off between large insurance companies and small ones typically involves giving up competitive rates for an improved customer experience. When using a small insurance company for your auto insurance, you’ll likely communicate exclusively with one insurance agent. While you generally lose a personal connection when selecting a large national insurance company, the large auto insurance companies tend to have more financial stability. In fact, the top insurance companies in the country underwrite and pay out billions of dollars per year. Additionally, the large insurance companies are able to leverage their resources to offer drivers lower insurance rates.
It’s possible that you’ll have to worry about solvency if you choose a policy from a small company. If you manage to find a small insurance company with a base level of financial stability that you’re comfortable with, consider how much in price you’re willing to pay for better service. If you value great service, you might prefer a small insurance company.
Another consideration when choosing between a large and small auto insurance company is availability, coverage options and discounts. While you’re likely to have a better experience with a small insurance company, it may not have the availability, benefits and discounts that large insurance companies do. For example, the major insurance companies in the U.S. often have representatives that are available 24/7. Additionally, small insurance companies don’t typically offer the long list of discounts and coverage options that national insurers, like Allstate and State Farm, offer. If around the clock availability or having discounts and coverage options are important to you, consider a large insurance company.
Of course, premiums matter. We get it. But since rates depend on many different factors — like your age, driving history, and even your ZIP code — the best way to find the most affordable price on the policy you want is to compare quotes. Use our quote tool above to get started.
A 2015 survey conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International found that 66% of auto insurance policyholders never or rarely check to see if they could get less expensive coverage compared to their current policy. For most, it’s just another monthly expense. Statistically, though, the average driver will be involved in an accident every 18 years, which means you’re going to need to use it at least three times in your lifetime. We reviewed auto insurance companies on more than just price — we looked at the claims process; we surveyed experts; and we dug deep into coverage and discounts.
The Best Auto Insurance
- GEICO — Best Overall
- Travelers — A Close Second
- Progressive — Honorable Mention
- Allstate — Honorable Mention
- State Farm — Honorable Mention
It’s easy to think of auto insurance as just another monthly expense — until you need it. Quality coverage is the difference between a hassle-free claims experience and potentially devastating financial consequences. The best auto insurance provides peace of mind with strong financial solvency, extensive coverage options, and discounts that will keep your policy within your budget, without sacrificing protection. We found five providers that we like — and two we love. Any of them are great options; for most people, the choice will come down to whichever is the cheapest.
Our top pick is GEICO, thanks to its above-and-beyond coverage options and commitment to customer service, including a top-rated mobile app and high claims satisfaction among its customers. With agents and offices around the country, GEICO has all the tools necessary to meet your insurance needs — without leaving you feeling like just another customer.
Travelers, our runner-up, comes with just about all the benefits of GEICO. The most extensive coverage options of all our top picks make Travelers one of the best insurers around — it might have been the best were it not for claims satisfaction scores that came in below the industry average. Even still, we’re confident that Travelers can keep you covered at a price you like — just don’t count on a claims experience as painless as GEICO’s.
It’s a good idea to get quotes from multiple insurers so you know you’re getting the best rate available. We recommend looking at additional quotes from Progressive, Allstate, and State Farm. Coverage and discounts vary between them, but all three are backed by strong financial ratings and nationwide availability. If you’re not sure which providers come equipped with the coverage options you’re looking for, fear not — we take a closer look at each of them below.
How We Found the Best Auto Insurance
We started with 18 of the best nationwide auto insurance companies from around the country: Providers that offer coverage in at least 40 states with no special eligibility requirements.
Choosing a large company guarantees more resources for you, the customer — that means broad coverage, 24/7 service, and tools to make filing claims and shopping for policies painless. Together, these resources provide comfort that a smaller company just can’t offer. And when you’ve been in a car accident, you’re going to want all the comfort you can get.
This meant skipping smaller, more niche providers like New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company and, most notably, USAA. USAA is only available to current or retired members of the armed forces and their families. But if you’re eligible, get a quote — it’s widely considered the gold standard in insurance.
We wanted providers that sell their own policies.
Not all insurance agents work exclusively with one insurer. Some companies, like The General, operate through a network of independent agents who act as intermediaries between you and your insurer. These brokers can compare plans from a variety of companies on your behalf, and some people prefer them for this reason: Their obligation is to you, the client, rather than the company that employs them. But they won’t be the one ultimately responsible for paying your claim — and that’s reason to pause.
Working with an insurer that administers its own policies helps protect against uncertainty, like how your policy would be affected if your independent broker’s office went out of business. So, we excluded any companies that don’t issue their policies directly.
Financial solvency was critical.
There are a million things to worry about when you’re involved in an accident. Whether or not your insurance company will be able to pay your claim shouldn’t be one of them.
A strong financial rating is the best way to guarantee your provider can pay what you need, when you need it, so we made sure all of our picks had strong ratings based on the Insurance Information Institute’s guidelines: We first looked for companies that received an A- or better (“strong”) from A.M. Best, a rating agency specifically focused on the insurance industry. And because the Insurance Information Institute recommends getting ratings from more than one agency, we decided the best needed to earn at least an A+ (“low risk”) from Standard & Poor or an Aa (“very low risk”) from Moody’s.
Amica fell short here. While it’s frequently hailed for its customer service, it didn’t request (and thus didn’t receive) ratings from Standard & Poor or Moody’s. Such a decision struck us as odd given that evaluations from both agencies are common and a simple way for providers to build credibility in the insurance industry.
While Amica would have otherwise ranked highly among our contenders, we think it’s important that all of our top picks can guarantee strong financial solvency beyond a doubt, so that you’re never left worrying about your insurer’s ability to follow through on promised coverage.
Then we took a closer look at what it’s like to be a policyholder.
Our must-have conditions left us with seven auto insurance companies that will be able to support you financially when you need them most. But our quest for the best took us a few steps further: We wanted to figure out which companies would be the easiest to work with, so we took a closer look at their claim tools, coverage details, and available discounts. The best had to shine in all three areas.
1. Painless Claims Processing
You probably won’t think much about your auto insurance until you need it. John Espenschied, agency principal and owner of Insurance Brokers Group, told us that claims processing is one of the most important factors to consider when shopping for auto insurance:
“You can buy cheap insurance anywhere, but if you find out that the provider isn’t able to adequately handle your claim, you might be disappointed in the settlement if and when you need to use your insurance.”
In a recent survey, we found that our readers’ biggest complaints about their current insurance company related to customer service and their final settlement amount. So, we used J.D. Power’s 2017 claims satisfaction study to find out which insurers had done the best job settling claims for their customers.
Scores are assessed on a 1,000-point scale, and all of our final contenders ranked above 850. Even though the industry average (858) is slightly better than this, even the lower scoring companies like Progressive and Travelers perform exceptionally well in categories like coverage and discounts, so we gave them a pass on those 8 points.
As technology becomes increasingly integrated into daily life, mobile capabilities become all the more integral to providing strong customer service, too. For insurance companies, this means apps that allow customers to view their policies and manage the claims process start to finish. But the quality of these capabilities varies between insurers — we favored those companies that use technology to make the insurance process easier, rather than adding stress to an already-stressful situation.
2. Above-And-Beyond Coverage
Everything about insurance is personalized, and your demands are as varied as the factors that go into your premium. The best auto insurance companies provide a wide range of coverage options so your plan fits you the way it should — tailored to your specific needs.
If you don’t know what type of coverage you need, you’re not alone. We’ve compiled a list of the ‘must-have’ coverage options you should look for in any policy, as well as some common supplemental coverage choices. These options aren’t always included in standard auto policies — even the ones we consider necessities — but purchasing them will guarantee a base layer of protection for any accident.
Beyond the standard protections you’ll need, supplemental coverage will keep you protected against the additional costs that often come with accidents. Features like car rental coverage may not seem essential when you view them as just another added cost, but the increase in your rate may still be lower than the cost of renting a replacement vehicle if your damaged car is in the shop for a while. The options offered by providers vary widely in both availability and cost. We’ve broken down the supplemental choices of each of our top picks below so you can be sure they’ll have coverage to fit your unique concerns.
3. Deep Discounts
Discounts keep your premium down when other factors (like that pesky credit score) won’t. These fall into two main categories: driver and vehicle. We favored insurers with a wide array of discounts, since those providers will be able to offer costs savings for more customers. While not everyone will be eligible for every discount, the companies that offer more discounts give you more chances to save.
Price shouldn’t be your main concern — having the proper coverage is far more important — but there’s certainly no harm in saving money when you can.
We compared all of our top picks to see how each provider stacks up and found that there were some noticeable differences: Travelers, for example, won the numbers game with just over 33% more discounts than Nationwide. But keep in mind that you won’t qualify for all of them. Some, like deductions for paperless billing, are widely available and don’t have special eligibility requirements. Others will be determined based on conditions beyond your control, like age, driving record, or the technology built into your vehicle. And your provider may have a maximum total you can take off your premium. Plus, insurers prioritize discounts differently: Insuring multiple cars under GEICO can save you up to 25% on your premium, while State Farm only offers up to 20% for its multi-car discount. That’s why it’s so important to compare quotes, not just the number of deductions you qualify for.
Pricing wasn’t our priority — on purpose.
It’s nearly impossible to predict the cost of insurance for anyone other than yourself. Premiums are based on factors specific to the driver, including age, vehicle, driving history, credit score, and even where you’ll be doing most of your driving. Young drivers, for example, face higher rates than their older counterparts. And if they drive a sports car — vehicles that often come equipped with fewer safety features and higher horsepower — they’ll be paying more for their coverage.
Every insurer weighs these factors differently, which means the only way to find the best price for your policy is to get multiple quotes from different insurers. The good news: All of our top picks offer strong coverage that will be able to provide you with the protection you need. After you’ve established the level of coverage you’re looking for, it’s okay to choose your insurer based on premium.
The top auto insurance companies for car insurance in the United States include some well-known names like Progressive, Nationwide, Liberty Mutual, GEICO, Farmers, State Farm and Allstate among many other regional favorites. However, this did not get them all awards from the consumer. How do these big names compare when consumers are asked about their experience being insured with them, or even more importantly, in a claim?
Wouldn’t you like to know? Fortunately, there is a survey that measures just this, and we’re going to share those results with you here.
What Makes One Insurance Company Better Than Others?
The best answer to this is whichever one fits your lifestyle and needs best. While a lot of people tend to get influenced by advertising and word of mouth, others tend to go with well-known brand names or become impressed with the size of an auto insurer and try and go for the largest one. In reality, because many of these companies use local services and local agents or franchises, before going on what your impression is of an insurance company or how large they are, it is always worth your while to see what the consumer reports or independent consumer surveys tell you about how your car insurance company ranks in your region.
The Top Ranked Car Insurance Company In Your State May Surprise You
Insurance is a business that relies on human intervention and services, and this is where the human touch will often make or break what you get out of your insurance.
If you are working with an amazing claims adjuster, or insurance broker or agent, your experience will definitely be far better than the average.
We’ll go through the J.D. Power Auto Insurance Customer Satisfaction Study (2015) for you below. Do you see your car insurer in the results? How did your insurance company rank?
You’ll find your answers here.
Which Car Insurance Company Offers the Best Service and Price Near You?
Research like this can become especially important if you are moving to a new area. Your experience with your car insurance company in one place, may not equal the same experience elsewhere due to the varying factors by region. As we go through the results, you’ll see that no one insurer dominated across the country*.
Did Your Car Insurance Premium Go Up? You’ll Also Find Out How Your Insurance Company Compares on Price
This list may also be able to help you evaluate if you’re getting the best deal on car insurance and give you an indication of whether or not it is worth switching your car insurance company to save money on your car insurance.
Want to Know Which is the Best Car Insurance Company In Your State?
J.D. Power rated car insurance companies based on independent and unbiased consumer surveys for customer satisfaction in the following five categories:
- Overall Satisfaction
- Policy Offerings
- Billing and Payment
- Interaction and Claims
The following are the award winning automobile insurance companies listed by region based on the recent 2015 data in the J.D. Power consumer survey.
If your car insurance company did not get the award, you could click the link for your region to see how your insurance company ranked. I have also included commentary where an insurance company did not necessarily get the award but still received the top rank for claims. Sometimes getting the best price is not always the most important aspect of your auto insurance, so I encourage you to click through your region link to see the full report.
USAA Insurance* Had High Rankings in Many Areas
It is notable that USAA Insurance ranked equally in a few regions as the award winning recipient, however, because it is only open to United States Military and their families, it was not considered for the award, which takes general accessibility into consideration. Where USAA was equally ranked, I indicated in the award line with a star (*).
In these cases, if you are eligible for USAA insurance, it is certainly worth looking at, especially since USAA also provides home insurance, pet insurance, and many other specialty programs.
Auto Insurance for Colorado
The landlocked and mountainous state of Colorado is ideal for a scenic drive for quiet reflection in the presence of nature. Unfortunately, the mountainous conditions can also create hazardous driving conditions that are significantly dangerous during the snowy winter months when the weather can be very unpredictable. Although drivers should be as cautious as possible, sometimes accidents are unavoidable and auto insurance is necessary to help get you back on your feet in case of an unexpected accident. Like most states, Colorado takes many factors into account when it comes to auto insurance plans such as age, gender, zip code, vehicle type, garage availability, and more importantly, personal driving record.
One of the more unique standards the state has is that drivers are not legally obliged to purchase comprehensive and collision coverage. However, some insurance agents require that you purchase it despite the law, so it’s always important to look out for this catch if this insurance options isn’t what you are looking for. Colorado also allows residents to purchase split limit coverage as long as it is at a minimum of $65,000. Knowing these unique requirements will help buyers determine what they need in terms of bare-minimum coverage and what they would prefer. Since the insurance companies in Centennial, Highlands Ranch, and other surrounding areas of Colorado don’t necessarily adhere to the standards of the state, it’s especially important for buyers to double check the availability and requirements of a variety of car insurance companies to find the best one for their needs.
Comparing quotes and rates from various auto insurance companies’ websites is one way to begin your research, but it may not provide the most accurate portrayal of each company. This is because the company has an underlying motive to attract your business and thus, will not likely share information that may put their company in a negative light. With the independent agents that Compass Insurance offers, you can compare car insurance companies from a completely unbiased perspective with the sole intention to inform rather than sell. We detail all of the fundamental aspects and offers of the top carriers in Colorado to help you find the best coverage and best price for your needs.