Local car insurance companies

How To Find A Reliable Auto Insurance Company
When you think about shopping for car insurance, you probably think about looking for companies that offer the exact coverage you need at affordable rates.
Getting cheap car insurance, however, is not everything. One important factor you should consider when choosing a car insurance company is that company’s reliability. As much as you need a reliable car, you also need reliable car insurance.
It is important to be confident that the company from whom you purchase your car insurance policy will be able to provide the services you pay for.
Look for Licensed Car Insurance Companies
In order to sell auto insurance in your state, a company must be licensed in your state.
It’s quick and easy to find out which car insurance providers are licensed in your state. Just visit your state’s department of insurance website to find a list. You can also find your state’s minimum insurance requirements.
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Research Each Car Insurance Provider’s Ratings
Several consumer reporting groups and business rating organizations provide detailed ratings of various auto insurance companies.
As you research insurance providers, note their ratings for the following factors:
Coverage options.
Claims processes.
Overall customer experiences and satisfaction.
Financial strength.
The higher a company is rated for the above factors, the more likely they will be highly reliable.
Good sources for information regarding insurance companies include:
Your state’s department of insurance.
J.D. Power.
A.M. Best.
Better Business Bureau.
Find Out What Others Say About the Companies
While researching how independent companies rate a particular car insurance provider is helpful, you may also find it helpful to learn what individuals say about the company.
To get a sense of the company’s reputation, start by:
Talking to trusted people around you:
Talking to people who’ve done other types of business with the company, such as auto body shop managers.
Reading individual reviews online.
Talking to people you trust and reading reviews will go a long way towards ensuring you find a reliable car insurance company.
Review Valid Consumer Complaint Ratios
At its most basic definition a valid consumer complaint ratio is the number of valid complaints about an insurance company submitted to the state in relation to how many policies that company has written in that state.
Most state departments of insurance make available reports that feature car insurance companies’ complaint ratios for the previous year to help consumers find reliable auto insurance. Companies with higher complaint ratios tend to be less reliable than companies with very low complaint ratios.
Evaluate Your Own Experience
Of course, you are one of your best resources. If you already have a policy with an insurance company, you probably already have a lot of information about that company’s reliability.
Consider your experience with the following:
How upfront the company was regarding discounts for which you were eligible.
How the company handled any auto insurance claims you filed or claims that were filed against you.
How your agent or a company representative treated you during any visits or phone calls.
It’s best to do this evaluation about a month or so before it’s time to renew your auto insurance policy―giving yourself that window of time helps make sure you’ll be able to switch car insurance providers without any lapses in coverage if you find you’re not happy with the one you chose.
Remember, if you have been with the same car insurance company for a few years, now is a good time to do some shopping. Get multiple car insurance quotes and you may find that another reliable car insurance company will offer you better car insurance rates.
Whether you’re looking for a full coverage car insurance policy or liability coverage only, nobody wants to overpay. And the best way to get the cheapest car insurance possible is by comparing car insurance quotes — and the companies offering them.
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To get you started, NerdWallet looked at car insurance prices across the country for different driver profiles and coverage levels. We’ve sliced the data in several ways to give you an idea of average costs and what factors might nudge your car insurance rate up — or even better, down.
Cheapest overall: Liability-only car insurance
Cheapest of the big car insurance companies
Check out smaller insurers, too
Cheapest car insurance in your state
How to get the cheapest possible insurance
Cheapest overall: Liability-only car insurance
The cheapest car insurance will often be the minimum coverage required in your state, which in most states is liability insurance. Liability insurance covers property damage and medical bills for others due to accidents you cause. Some states require additional or alternative coverage, such as personal injury protection.
Full coverage car insurance is more expensive and often comes with a deductible, a set amount you are responsible for if you file a claim. But it also provides more expansive coverage for your car, like if it’s stolen or damaged, whether by you, a hit-and-run driver or a fallen tree.
To get an idea of the cheapest car insurance rates, period, we looked at quotes from available carriers for the minimum required insurance in each state. Then, we compared it to the average cost of full coverage car insurance to show the difference in cost.
Average rates can give you an idea of pricing in your state for minimum or full coverage car insurance policies, but that says little about the companies available to you.
Cheapest of the big car insurance companies
Just five car insurance companies make up more than 55% of the U.S. market. They include Allstate, Geico, Progressive and State Farm, which are available to anyone, as well as USAA, the insurer for active military members, veterans and their families.
» MORE: NerdWallet’s ranking of the best car insurance companies
Since most people choose one of these large insurers, NerdWallet compared quotes from the five largest auto companies in ZIP codes across the country. Rates are for policies that include minimum coverage required in each state, plus collision and comprehensive coverage. Our “good driver” profile is a 30-year-old with no moving violations and credit in the “good” tier. Use the tabs to see rates for drivers with credit in the “poor” tier and those with one at-fault accident as reported to the insurer.
Keep in mind these are averages from across the country, so rates in your area will differ.
USAA is only available to veterans, active military members and their families, so we didn’t rank it against the others. Even so, we found it to be the cheapest, by far, among large companies for all categories.
» READ MORE: NerdWallet’s USAA review
Check out smaller insurers, too
Finding cheap car insurance doesn’t mean you have to stick with large insurance companies. Regional and small insurers may beat the lowest offers from the big guys. For example:
Grange Insurance, which is available in 13 states through independent agents, came in cheaper than USAA in all three of the above categories. The average rate for good drivers was only $566 per year.
Erie Insurance, available in 12 states and the District of Columbia, had an average rate of $759 per year for good drivers. Bonus points: Erie locks in your initial rate for four years and ranks fourth among our best companies. Read our Erie Insurance review for more information.
Country Financial is available in 19 states and returned an average rate of $940 per year for good drivers. It was also cheaper than the big four (but not USAA) for drivers with at-fault accidents and poor credit.
How to get the cheapest possible insurance
No matter who your auto insurance company is, here are tips for saving on your policy:
Look for discounts — even ask for them. There could be discounts you’re not taking advantage of. For instance, maybe you retired and are driving less than when you bought your policy. Mention it and you might get a low-mileage discount.
Rethink insurance limits and deductibles. A higher collision and comprehensive deductible might make sense if you rarely drive or are financially comfortable with the risk. Raising deductibles means you’d owe more out of pocket if you had to file a comprehensive or collision claim, but it’s a surefire way to get cheaper car insurance.
Know when to cut coverage. Don’t strip away coverage just for the sake of a lower price. You’ll need full coverage car insurance to satisfy the terms of an auto loan, and you’ll want it as long as your car would be a financial burden to replace. But for older cars, you can drop comprehensive and collision coverage, which only pay out up to your car’s current value, minus the deductible.
Cash in on major life changes. Certain life events could translate to cheaper car insurance. For instance, many companies offer a lower rate for married couples or domestic partners. Or perhaps you moved to a suburb with lower accident and crime rates. If your risk for accidents goes down, your rates just might, too.