Before you get behind the wheel of a car, it's necessary to be covered by some sort of auto insurance. This isn't just an optional part of driving -- in fact, drivers are required by law to have car insurance in 48 states. While there are many options for drivers looking for coverage, sifting through them all can take a lot of time. That's where we come in, this guide to the best car insurance companies should help you figure out which insurance company and policy best fits yourand situation.
Let's start with the basics. The most general car insurance policies offer protection against property damage, personal injury protection and bodily injury liability coverage if an accident occurs. From there, you can add other coverage types. These may include damage to your own vehicle for a variety of reasons (collision coverage), roadside assistance, car accident incidents with uninsured or underinsured drivers, plus personal injury protection and medical expenses incurred due to accidents. Some car insurance companies even have comprehensive options that can include roadside assistance or that can be bundled with homeowner's insurance (if you own a home).
It's also worth mentioning that Buzzfeed News report from August 2019 revealed that State Farm, Farmers and Erie Insurance are three of a number of insurance companies that have paid off law enforcement to investigate their customers for fraud. All of those companies have been excluded from this ranking., both when offering auto insurance quotes or after you've been in an accident. A
If you're just starting your car insurance search, it could take a lot of time to delve into every auto insurance company's website to better understand its coverage level and how it arrives at a coverage cost. We're making it easier to find the best car insurance coverage by narrowing down the list. We've picked the 10 best insurance companies in the country, based primarily on audience satisfaction, as measured by the J.D. Power 2019 US Auto Insurance Study. The car insurance review study measures five criteria: interaction, policy offerings, price, billing process and claims. 42,759 customers were polled from February through April 2019. Let's dive in.
|Company||Average Regional J.D. Power Rating (out of 1,000)|
Liberty Mutual Insurance
* Not available in every region of the US, or to every person in the US. This affects overall placement.
Comparing the best car insurance companies
The top-scoring auto insurance policy overall was Geico, reporting high customer satisfaction levels in all regions of the country and making it the No. 1 auto insurer in the US. This insurance carrier is also routinely ranked among the cheapest car insurance coverage providers (and a big premium is a big expense), which undoubtedly contributes to the satisfaction.
Geico's clever commercials ensure that it remains one of the best-known car insurance options in the country, but its customers know the company for the great service and support it offers, along with some of the cheapest insurance prices. Geico's 97% customer satisfaction rate speaks for itself, as does its long list of honors, including the most desired insurer according to Kanbay Research Institute. You know, just in case the gecko isn't enough to convince you that you want its insurance coverage.
Allstate was one of the rare car insurance companies ranked on every single one of J.D. Power's regional customer satisfaction lists -- and was No. 1 in Florida. Allstate prides itself on claims satisfaction and on its scope of coverage options. It offers a host of car insurance discounts that, depending on your circumstances, could easily make it the most cost-effective auto insurance policy coverage option available for many motorists.
Further, Allstate offers many types of insurance -- auto, home, motorcycle, off-road vehicles, renters, term-life and more -- and will offer deals to customers who bundle.
A giant in the insurance world with over 18 million customers, Progressive manages to attract and retain so many satisfied customers with continued commitment to saving its customers money on their car insurance rates. Progressive was the first auto insurer to offer safe driver discounts, which makes the company a great option for people with a good driving record who are looking for the cheapest car insurance options.
Even today, customers who switch to Progressive save an average of $699 on their car insurance premium per year. The Progressive website even has a nifty tool that allows you to compare rates with competitors to find the best option. You also save an average of 4% if you bundle your auto with your homeowners or renters insurance.
Auto-Owners Insurance may not have the flashy marketing presence of the competition, but how many of them can say they've been around almost as long as cars have? Established in 1916, the company has nearly 3 million car insurance policy holders across 26 states. Its high rankings from J.D. Power might prompt you to check if it has coverage where you live.
Auto-Owners Insurance also offers life, home and business insurance.
Ranked the No. 1 auto insurer in California, Esurance is making inroads around the country (the company operates in 43 states). A division of Allstate, Esurance promises customers that switching or signing up for car insurance can be as easy as possible, or "painless," as the company puts it. It offers auto, motorcycle, renters and homeowners insurance. Esurance also offers a policy meant to help fill gaps in coverage for Uber and Lyft drivers.
Users agree with the assessment, as reviews on the website call attention to how fast and easy it is to sign up with this car insurance provider, either online or with the Esurance app. And calling all introverts, you likely won't have to talk with an insurance agent directly to get set up. The app is also super useful if you live in a state that allows digital insurance ID cards -- so long as you have your phone, you have your most current ID card.
Operating globally, Liberty Mutual is the fifth-largest property and casualty insurer in the world. Still, the company makes it very clear that its business starts with you and the first step in that journey is getting an insurance coverage quote.
Most insurers offer free car insurance quotes on their websites, but Liberty Mutual offers you discounts for using its own -- you can save up to 12% off your rate by getting a car insurance policy quote online. Further, getting that quote only takes a few minutes -- you just have to answer a few questions about where you live and how often you drive.
With over 90 years covering drivers, Nationwide has learned a thing or two about what keeps customers happy (and in turn, what keeps them customers). The company's list of visions and values shows exactly where its priorities lie. The company really stepped up during the COVID-19 pandemic, suspending policy cancellations, waiving late fees and deferring payment deadlines to help its members remain insured. It also provided a one-time $50 refund per personal auto policy to reflect trends in decreased driving.
Top ratings from a variety of outlets (such as A.M. Best, S&P and Moody's) would suggest that it's working. Those values extend to employees, as well -- Nationwide was ranked No. 53 in Fortune's most recent list of the "100 Best Companies to Work For."
Among the many plans Travelers offers is a car insurance coverage policy that you can customize based on your needs. Rather than up-sell users, Travelers offers a host of resources (in the form of blog posts) designed to educate motorists prior to policy purchase. An informed customer is a happy customer.
Like most of the companies on this list, Travelers offers savings on insurance bundles, so if you're able to bundle your auto and homeowners or renters insurance, you can save a pretty penny.
A division of Liberty Mutual, Seattle-based Safeco has been in the car insurance business for over 85 years and has been a national presence for more than two decades. Safeco partners with local agents who can devote the time and attention that customers need in order to get all of their individual car insurance questions answered and coverage type requests met.
One of the more interesting features that Safeco offers is RightTrack, an app that tracks your driving habits and rewards safe choices. The app observes behaviors like braking, acceleration, night-time driving and total miles driven. The RightTrack mobile app program is available to customers in most states, but it is not available in Arkansas, California, Washington D.C., Delaware, Hawaii or North Carolina.
If we were judging solely on satisfaction, the United Services Automobile Association would take the top spot in our best car insurance companies rankings. What affects the USAA's ranking is that its scope is narrower than those of most other auto insurers, as the company only offers coverage to service members, veterans and their families.
That said, USAA is one of the most cost-effective insurers out there, offering prices that even beat Geico's. Customers who switch save an average of $707 a year. Also, if you bundle home and auto insurance (or renters and auto insurance) you can save up to 10%.
5 things to know before you sign up for car insurance
Before anything else, these are the five questions you need an answer for before buying car insurance.
1. What kind of coverage does your state legally require you to have? In most states, bodily injury liability coverage and property damage liability are necessary to drive, but you'll want to check the specifics of insurance premiums with auto insurance providers where you live. If you consider your car to be a classic car, you will want to check with the insurance company to make sure the company classifies your car type as a classic car as well.
2. What sort of coverage do you want? Most car insurance companies offer many different policies with various coverage options that cover a variety of damages and risks, so your first step should be to determine your risks and how to compensate for them. You might consider if the insurance company rewards you with a discount for being a good driver.
3. Which auto insurers are best? We've got this covered in detail.
4. It's important to shop around. Even the cheapest car insurance company may not offer the best auto insurance rates for someone in your situation. Likewise, instead of minimum coverage, you may want a more comprehensive plan that makes more sense at another car insurance company.
5. What payment plan is best for you? Some companies offer a variety of ways to pay (such as annually versus monthly, or with transfer of electronic funds), so you can figure out which one works best for you and then request it.
What kinds of insurance coverage are there?
Depending on the insurance you get, you could have a coverage limit or full comprehensive coverage, though most states require all drivers to at least have liability insurance. You might decide to forgo collision insurance depending on the age and condition of your car.
The costs covered in an auto insurance quote can accumulate for an uninsured or underinsured motorist. Having comprehensive coverage can help keep out-of-pocket costs associated with car insurance premiums in check. Note that the monthly premium on your car insurance policy typically won't cover wear and tear on a vehicle, damage incurred by driving under the influence or by drivers not listed on the car insurance policy, and damage to the engine as a result of oil leakage.
What goes into a policy?
A car insurance quote for "standard coverage" may include factors such as bodily injury liability, property damage, accident forgiveness and roadside assistance. Having a teen driver on your insurance policy can also impact your insurance premium. Then there's gap insurance or personal injury liability insurance coverage and more. "Check prospective policies too for secondary options that could prove beneficial, such as glass coverage, which often comes without a deductible, or reimbursement for a rental car," says Janet Ruiz, director of strategic communication at the Insurance Information Institute. Essentially, how can you compare all these things as you're trying to choose which auto insurance coverage is best for you?
"Try to compare apples to apples when choosing your insurance policy," Ruiz adds. "All of the policies that you review should have the same types and amounts of coverage. It is difficult to compare policies, for instance, if one provides $50,000 in property damage liability coverage, another only $30,000, and a third $100,000."
What factors influence car insurance rates?
Auto insurance rates will ultimately be determined by personal factors, such as where you live, your credit score (for the best rates, a credit score of 770 or above is recommended) and the type of vehicle you drive, as well as its age and whether you have an accident on your driving record. The good news is that you can actually lower your insurance coverage costs if you maintain a safe driving record or work on your credit score -- or your grade point average. An inexperienced young driver costs more to insure but maintaining good grades can help with getting car insurance discounts.
Are there other ways to get discounts?
Depending on your insurance provider, you can bundle your car insurance policy with life insurance, homeowners insurance or renters insurance, among others. As mentioned above, there are so many factors that go into so-called "standard coverage" and auto insurance rates, it's all dependent on the kind of insurance product you're looking for, from cheap car insurance options to a more comprehensive plan.
"For young drivers, there are discounts for taking drivers' certification courses and maintaining above a B average," says Dan Karr, CEO and founder of ValChoice. "Several discounts are based on the vehicle, including safety features like remote engine shutoff, anti-lock brakes, and airbags. There are also discounts for storing the vehicle in a garage. Many insurers provide discounts for insuring multiple cars through the same company and for owning a home and insuring the home through the same company."
What's the best way to research on my own?
Ruiz explains how you can do your due diligence: "First, double-check that an insurer is licensed in your state by visiting the website of your state's insurance division, where you can also review information about consumer complaints filed against insurance companies. In addition, you can check review websites and talk to friends about their experiences with insurers. Finally, take a few minutes to make sure prospective insurers are in good financial standing. Financial ratings agencies will provide this information. Online tools will often provide ratings information as well."
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Originally published earlier and updated periodically.
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