Good insurance companies provide a variety of coverage and service options, great customer service, and a smooth claim resolution process, all at an affordable rate. Since virtually every state requires drivers to have a minimum amount of auto insurance coverage, you might as well get a policy – and an insurer – you can be happy with in both good times and bad.
While it’s easy to get lured in by an insurance carrier offering extremely low rates, try to remember that price is not the only factor to consider when you’re choosing an auto insurance company – in fact, it’s probably not even the most important factor. In normal circumstances, the most noticeable aspect of your auto insurance policy is your premium payment, so it’s easy to focus solely on price. However, when something goes wrong – you get in an accident, your car is stolen, etc. – the other aspects of your insurance policy and the quality of your carrier will suddenly become a lot more important. If you’ve chosen wisely, your car insurance carrier can make the claims process an easy and relatively pleasant experience; if not, your carrier can make an already miserable situation even worse.
Insurify, a free insurance comparison website that provides real-time, accurate quotes, set out to analyze all major car insurance companies and rank them with a single, multi-point score. The result is the Insurify Composite Score— a number that gives you an easy way to see which carriers are the best fit for you before you need to use your policy. And by choosing a policy with the right coverage level from a highly rated carrier, you can give yourself peace of mind on the road.
The Insurify Composite Score is calculated by analyzing multiple factors that reflect the quality, reliability, and health of an insurance company. Inputs to the score include financial strength ratings from A.M. Best, Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, and Fitch; J.D. Power ratings, Consumer Reports customer satisfaction surveys, mobile app reviews, and user-generated company reviews. Insurify’s data scientists took these variables, weighted them, and combined them into a single, easy-to-understand numeric score for each carrier.
Top Rated Car Insurance Companies
After crunching the data, these 10 car insurance companies stood out above the rest of the pack. While it’s always important to shop around when comparing auto insurance, getting your next policy from one of these carriers will help ensure you’ve got a carrier you can trust to protect you and your vehicle.
1. Amica – Best Overall
Insurify Composite Score: 94
Company name: Amica Mutual Insurance Company
Year founded: 1907
Number of customers/policies: 1.6 million policies
Awards and rankings:
‘A+’ financial rating from A.M. Best
Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Auto Insurers in the New England Region in the J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Auto Insurance Study
Product highlights: Amica is a mutual insurance company. That means the company is owned by its policyholders and its purpose is to provide insurance for them, not to make a profit. As a result, mutual insurance companies can often afford to offer much lower rates than standard insurance carriers. Amica’s Car Connection program allows customers to get special pricing on new and used cars through the program’s dealer network.
Available discounts: Amica offers safe driver, loyalty, multi-product and e-discounts, among others.
Once you’ve narrowed your search down to a handful of top-quality insurance carriers, it’s time to consider just what features you’re looking for in your auto insurance policy. Most states set minimum car insurance coverage limits for their residents, but minimum coverage may not provide enough protection for you. Instead of relying on those minimums, consider your own situation and needs and set your insurance policy limits accordingly.
Auto insurance policies don’t come with a single limit and deductible: instead, there are typically a number of coverage limits based on the type of claim a customer might make. Most claims are categorized either as collision or comprehensive claims; car insurance policies can also offer coverage to help you with the financial repercussions of an accident, such as medical bills and lost wages.
Comprehensive and Collision Coverage
Auto insurance coverage falls into two broad categories: comprehensive coverage and collision coverage. Collision coverage protects you financially when your car runs into something else, be it another car, a lamp post, or an animal. Comprehensive coverage protects you for every other type of automobile claim: if your car is stolen, if a tree falls on it, or if it’s carried off by a tornado or drowned in a flood. Comprehension and collision coverage are typically bundled together and have the same coverage limits.
In some cases, you may not need comprehensive and/or collision coverage at all. If your state allows you to waive this coverage and your vehicle is worth less than $3,000, comprehensive and collision coverage may not be a cost-effective choice – you’d likely end up spending more on premiums than you’d ever get back from filing a claim.
On the other hand, if you’re still paying off your vehicle both comprehensive and collision coverage are likely required by your lender, and the lender may also set a maximum deductible on your coverage or have other requirements in place. Check with whichever company is providing your auto loan before giving up this coverage or changing your deductibles or coverage limits.
Personal Injury Protection, Medical Payments, Health Insurance
Car accidents often lead to injuries, and in such a situation personal injury protection, medical payments, and health insurance coverage from your car insurance policy can save you from devastating medical bills. These three types of coverage help cover the cost of accident-related injuries in different ways.
Personal injury protection coverage pays for any medical bills that you and your passengers incur from a car accident, and usually will cover any lost wages as well. 12 states require drivers to carry a minimum level of personal injury protection insurance; in other states, this coverage is strictly optional, but it may still be a good idea to purchase this type of coverage. One of the biggest benefits of personal injury protection coverage is that it will pay the bills regardless of who is at fault in the accident; for that reason, it is also known as no-fault insurance.
Medical payments coverage is similar to personal injury protection coverage in that it will pay for medical bills related to an auto accident. Unlike personal injury protection coverage, it won’t cover things like rehabilitative care or lost wages, but it will pay for funeral expenses. This coverage is linked to the policyholder, not the vehicle – meaning you can still use your medical payments coverage if you’re injured in an accident while riding in someone else’s car, on a bus, or even if you’re out for a walk and a car runs into you. Medical payments coverage is strictly optional, so if you live in a state where personal injury protection coverage is required, you might be better off getting a larger amount of the latter and skipping medical payments coverage. On the other hand, if you feel you need more medical coverage than personal injury protection coverage will supply, then getting this type of coverage on top of your no-fault insurance coverage can be just the ticket.
Both personal injury protection coverage and medical payments coverage can overlap with your regular health insurance coverage. Their interaction will vary based on what type of health insurance policy you have and which state you live in. Some types of health insurance policy don’t cover accident-related injuries at all; if your health insurance policy does cover such injuries, either personal injury protection coverage or medical payments coverage can give you funds to cover co-pay expenses and other charges that aren’t covered by your health insurance. They will also cover your accident-related medical expenses if you haven’t met your health insurance deductible for the year.
If you get sued as a result of an accident or otherwise exceed the liability limits on your auto insurance policy, umbrella coverage can take care of those extra charges for you. Umbrella coverage is an add-on that picks up where your standard car insurance policy leaves off. If you have a high net worth, umbrella coverage can help you protect those assets even in a worst-case scenario. For example, if you get into an accident and are found to be at fault, and the other party sues you for an enormous sum, umbrella coverage could help you pay those lawsuit charges.
These policies typically start at $1 million of coverage and may go as high as $10 million or even more. Most umbrella coverage carriers require you to have a certain amount of auto insurance coverage before you can sign up, so you can’t use an umbrella coverage policy to skimp on your auto insurance coverage limits.
How to Choose Car Insurance Limits
Getting just enough car insurance coverage to meet your state’s minimum requirements may seem like an easy way to save money, but it can be the most expensive course in the long-term. If you’re in a serious accident and don’t have sufficient auto insurance coverage, you could end up with bills you can’t pay and could possibly end up bankrupt as a result.
When picking your car insurance limits, the rule of thumb is to get at least enough coverage to equal the total value of your assets. Personal assets would include a house, your car or cars, bank accounts, brokerage accounts, and even retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401(k). If you’ve got more assets than your standard auto insurance policy will cover, umbrella coverage would be a great way to make up the difference. Still, your assets aren’t the only factor to consider when shopping for a policy.
Factor Your Car Payment into the Decision
Owners of brand-new vehicles might consider getting gap coverage to protect themselves in case of an accident early on in their car ownership. New vehicles lose a huge amount of their value the moment you drive them off the dealership lot, but you still owe your lender however much you purchased the vehicle for in the first place. Yet if you get into a major accident a week after buying your new car and the vehicle is totaled, standard auto insurance policies will only pay you up to the car’s current value – which will likely be much less than you owe on it. In such a situation, gap coverage will “fill in the gap” between the car’s current value and how much you still owe on it.
Factor in What Kind of Driver You Are
It’s not easy to be a good judge of our own driving skills, but how good a driver you are will certainly affect how likely you are to have an accident – and that’s something to consider when choosing your car insurance policy limits. If you’ve been driving for 20 years and have never had an accident, you’re probably a pretty good driver (or at least a cautious one) and may be able to get along with somewhat lower limits on your car insurance. On the other hand, if you get in an accident every year, you’ll definitely want to get plenty of coverage – although you’ll likely pay top-dollar for it with such a high-risk driving history.
Another factor to consider is how often you drive. If you work from home and only drive a few miles once a week to run your errands, you’re far less likely to end up in an accident than someone who has a 50-mile-a-day commute. Rush-hour driving is also riskier than driving at less peak times, because you’re dealing with large numbers of often impatient drivers who may be willing to take risks in order to get themselves to work on time. In short, the more you drive, the more insurance coverage you’re likely to need.
Determine How Much You Can Pay in the Event of an Accident
The deductible you choose will have a big impact on your car insurance premiums. Higher deductibles can result in much lower premiums, but they also mean that you’ll have to pay more money out of pocket before your insurance coverage kicks in. If you have a healthy balance in your savings account, you may be able to get away with a higher deductible and save significant money on your premiums – but don’t try this if you have little or no money saved. In that case, if you have a high deductible and get in a serious accident, you’ll either end up buried in debt or unable to pay your car repair bills. Stick to a deductible that’s equal to, or preferably less, than the amount you have tucked away in savings.
It’s also wise to consider your job security, the size of your household, and how comfortable you are with risk. Someone with a very secure job and a predictable income can probably afford to get by with lower coverage than someone who works seasonally, is a solopreneur, or has a good chance of being laid off. And if you have several dependents, bumping up your coverage limits would be wise. Finally, some people are very risk-averse and simply won’t sleep well at night with minimal insurance coverage, while others are perfectly comfortable living with the possibility of expensive bills in case of an accident. Decide where you fall on this spectrum and set your policy limits accordingly.
How to get the Lowest Car Insurance Rates
If you don’t have the cash to cover a high deductible, yet can’t afford to pay a great deal in auto insurance premiums, don’t panic – there are plenty of other ways to reduce your rates. Because different carriers use slightly different factors to determine how they’ll set the rates for your policy, simply shopping around and comparing rates from different carriers can result in substantial savings. And choosing a carrier that offers numerous discounts that you’re eligible to claim can reduce your costs even further.
Car Insurance Discounts
Discounts vary quite a bit from one carrier to another, but here are some of the most common discounts and how to qualify for them.
Multi-product discount: Many insurance companies sell other products besides auto insurance: homeowners insurance, life insurance, renters insurance, and so on. Buying more than one type of policy from a carrier can get you a package rate.
Multi-vehicle discount: Insuring more than one vehicle on a single policy may result in a discount.
Loyalty discount: Sticking with the same insurance company through multiple renewal cycles may get you a better rate. Even if the company doesn’t promote such a discount, it’s worth asking if you can get one.
Green discount: Drivers of hybrid cars or other green vehicles may be eligible for a discount on their insurance premiums.
Good driver discount: If you haven’t had any accidents or traffic violations during the past three years, most insurance carriers will give you a good driver discount – though some carriers require as much as five years of perfect record to earn this discount.
Professional and organizational discounts: If you belong to certain organizations, such as the AARP, or are a member of certain professions, you may be eligible for a discount. Check with your employer, professional organization, and any other group with which you enjoy membership; you can also ask the insurance company if any such discount is available.
Mature driver discount: Drivers age 50 and up who’ve taken and passed a licensed mature driver safety course may be eligible for this discount. Some carriers set higher age requirements to qualify as a mature driver.
Student discount: Students who meet certain requirements – such as landing on the honor roll or starting college – can sometimes get a discount on auto insurance.
Married couple discount: Believe it or not, you might qualify for a lower rate just by being married.
Defensive driving discount: Passing a licensed defensive driving course can get you a discount on insurance, although you’ll likely have to take the course again every year or two to maintain the discount.
Lump payment discount / prepayment discount: If you pay your entire insurance premium upfront instead of breaking it out in two installments, you can usually get a discount on the total.
Homeownership discount: Owning a home may be enough to get you a discount, even if you don’t have your homeowner’s insurance through the same company as your auto insurance. Of course, getting both insurance policies from a single carrier may allow you to combine this discount with the multi-product discount.
Safety features discount: Certain vehicle safety features can get you a better rate. For example, anti-theft devices, daytime running lights, and anti-lock brakes are all desirable features to insurance carriers.
Reduced mileage discount: If you drive less than 10,000 miles per year, you can often get a better deal on your car insurance. Some carriers will require you to prove your low mileage by having you plug a mileage tracker into your vehicle.
E-discount: Choosing to go paperless by opting to receive all your insurance communications via email will often result in a small discount.
Automatic payments: Many carriers will provide a small discount for opting to have your insurance payments taken out of your bank account automatically.
Excellent Credit Helps
It may surprise you to hear that many insurance companies, especially the larger ones, check your credit score before offering you a policy – and will often set your insurance rates based on whether or not you have good credit. Residents of California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts are exceptions to this rule, as those states prohibit insurance companies from using credit scores to determine premiums.
If you have poor credit and don’t live in one of the three exempt states, consider requesting an extraordinary life circumstances exemption. This exemption allows you to request insurance carriers not to use your credit score when calculating your rate, if you can show that your poor credit was caused by specific circumstances beyond your control, such as serious illness, divorce, unemployment, and similar life catastrophes. The insurance carrier will likely ask you to provide documentary proof, so don’t try to make such a claim unless you can back it up.
Getting better auto insurance rates is just one reason to do what you can to improve your credit history. The single most effective way to fix credit problems is to make all your payments on time, starting immediately. If you simply can’t afford to make at least the minimum payments on all your debts, try getting in touch with some of your creditors to see if you can negotiate a deal. Many creditors will accept a somewhat smaller repayment if the alternative is to force you into bankruptcy and get nothing at all.
Once you’ve chosen a top-rated carrier and selected the right policy limits, your work isn’t quite done. No matter how much you love your current policy, it’s still important to shop around every year to get quotes from other insurers. If you get a much lower quote for the same type of policy from another carrier, you might take the quote to your current insurer and ask them to match it. There’s an excellent chance that your current insurer will unearth another discount or two and reduce your premiums just to keep your business. That way, you’ll get the best of both worlds: superior car insurance coverage and a competitive price.
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.