Let’s be honest, auto insurance isn’t the most “fun” topic to discuss, it’s right up there with riveting discussions about water softeners and replacing old furnaces (this is also why the major companies like GEICO spend millions to make their ads entertaining) but if you want to be out cruising the roads, you simply must be covered. In the following article, we’re going to break down the best auto insurance providers, and a wide range of topics you need to know about when choosing one. So, if you’re ready, buckle-up and let’s go.
Quick Car Take: States With The Worst Drivers
We used geotagged Twitter data to see where people are complaining about horrible drivers. Over a month of data was collected, specifically looking for mentions and complaints of bad driving (over 10,000 tweets tracked). Our results showed that the Sunshine State (Florida) is the official home of the “horrible driver.”
When first starting to look for an insurance provider, you might be overwhelmed with the options (plus the fact that many of them offer similar packages). Overall, the most important aspect is that you buy from a trustworthy and reputable provider who will have your back when you need help. Your goal is simple, you want protection from major financial losses and peace of mind.
Although you can choose from a variety of auto insurance companies, the top companies all have “something” that sets them apart from their competitors. We’re going to tell you all about those “somethings” so you can make the best choice.
Apart from policies that you can tailor to your specific car insurance needs, these top companies usually provide superior customer service, a top-notch claims process and an up-to-date website or app. An effective claims process will allow you to recover from a car accident as seamlessly as possible. Similarly, a well-designed website or app lets you check your policy details and pay your bills effortlessly.
Different providers of auto insurance often cater to different customer demographics. This makes shopping for an auto insurance policy a very personalized experience. As a customer, you should purchase more than the minimum coverage recommended by the state to make sure you are completely covered in the case of a major accident or collision.
A few things you must consider when buying a car insurance policy are relevant discounts, coverage limits, exclusions, optional coverage as well as the claims process. Also keep in mind that since the auto insurance business has become so competitive in nature, it is crucial that you shop around for the optimal auto insurance rates.
Where one insurance provider may charge slightly higher rates because of your driving history or age, another provider may offer you special discounts depending on a completely different set of criteria (and we’re all about those sweet, sweet discounts).
Based on several criteria such as seamless claims processing, policy coverage, vehicle and driver discounts and support, here are our picks for the best auto insurance providers.
Everyone knows GEICO primarily because of their crazy advertisements and their witty, Australian gecko mascot (maybe he’s British? It’s still a hotly debated subject). Not only do they know what they’re doing in the ad department, but they are easily one of the best auto insurance providers in the country and our pick for the top spot. The company is popular for its affordable premiums and ease of managing one’s insurance policy through their mobile app and website.
GEICO has impressive auto insurance policies across the board, in addition to remarkable financial ratings, support options and far-reaching discounts, all demonstrating the company’s full commitment to its customers.
In general customer satisfaction and satisfaction with claims processing, GEICO rates much higher than average. The company received the highest score when it comes to claims satisfaction with an impressive 870 from J.D. Power.
Apart from standard discounts for being a good student and safe driving, the company emphasizes a variety of other safety features such as deductions for anti-theft devices and anti-lock brakes, airbags, as well as daytime lights. This makes GEICO a perfect choice, especially for owners of new cars. In addition, other discounts, such as those for drivers above the age of fifty, retired drivers and federal employees, are exclusive to the company among our finalists.
Also keep in mind that GEICO has a few optional coverage options that are quite appealing too. These include emergency roadside assistance and mechanical breakdown coverage. Also, there is a hybrid policy for many ride-sharing drivers who do not need multiple insurance policies for one vehicle.
The company prides itself on its convenient online tools and robust mobile app offering. However, if you prefer a full-service and customized agent experience, other companies may be better suited to your needs.
GEICO’s website is easy to navigate and makes it simple to get a quote in just fifteen minutes. You will be especially impressed by the way GEICO has managed to craft a seamless user experience. This is especially useful as most people now compare insurance rates on their laptops and mobile devices.
For example, your personal information will be automatically filled by quickly linking to your Facebook profile when obtaining a quote. In addition, GEICO is fully integrated into Amazon Alexa which means customers could easily access details regarding their insurance policy with the help of Alexa-enabled voice technology.
Still, there are certain areas that can be improved. Although GEICO offers all essential coverage, the insurer is certainly missing options when it comes to GAP insurance and new car replacement. GAP insurance pays the differential amount between the value of your wrecked vehicle and the balance outstanding on your loan. On the other hand, new vehicle replacement can cover the expense of a new car beyond the value (depreciated) of the damaged car.
However, keep in mind that these options are not necessary by any means, but due to their prevalence, we expected a little more from one of the major car insurers in the country that exceeds customer expectations in so many areas. That being said, we can confidently say that GEICO offers some of the best coverage to match the requirements and preferences of most drivers, with sufficient discounts that can make your insurance policy fit your demands as well as your budget.
Just For Fun
Watch the GEICO Gecko morph from his first appearance in 1999 to today.
2. USAA Auto Insurance
USAA is one of the most reputable companies you can find, and they consistently outperform competitors in customer satisfaction surveys. In fact, the insurer managed to earn a perfect score from the J.D. Power Insurance Claim Satisfaction Study held in 2016 , so we had to include them on our list.
The great thing about this insurer is that it also offers investing and banking services in addition to car insurance. This may make USAA a great choice for you if you prefer to bundle various services with a single provider.
Unfortunately, there is one big time requirement to be able to use USAA.
You have to be an active member or veteran of the US Armed Forces in order to be eligible for an insurance policy. Spouses, children, and former spouses of USAA policyholders can also qualify.
The company has been in the insurance business since 1922. It strives to offer military personnel, veterans and their family’s insurance coverage designed to meet their customized needs.
USAA is a great choice as it provides a variety of perks that a lot of other insurance companies simply cannot offer. Customers can also benefit from a generous insurance policy for accident forgiveness. This means that the company will forgive a single at-fault car accident after a period of five years of company membership without raising your car insurance premiums, which is great.
Apart from its standard car insurance policy, customers can also buy extended vehicle protection, RV insurance, motorcycle insurance as well as boat insurance. In addition, drivers who keep their vehicles at a military base could get a fifteen percent discount on comprehensive coverage. This is applicable in most US states and can give you the peace of mind you deserve.
USAA has earned a reputation for impressive scores for offering exceptional customer service, quick adjustment approval and speedy claims in many customer surveys. It is very easy to file a claim with USAA. You can easily place a call using the company’s claims hotline. Moreover, you can download their convenient mobile app that lets you submit photos, report claims and view your claim’s status.
USAA is one of the best auto insurance providers and should certainly be at the top of the list in case your (or your spouse’s or parent’s) military status qualifies you to get a policy. This is because the company offers a comprehensive insurance package when it comes to great service and reasonable rates.
The company’s financial strength is “superior,” as per a renowned ratings agency called A.M. Best. Keep in mind that an insurer’s financial strength is extremely vital as it indicates the ease with which the insurer can honor claims.
USAA consistently earns high rankings and awards from various enterprises such as Consumer Reports and J.D. Power’ it also has an immaculate reputation in the industry. The insurance provider is particularly convenient for folks who are looking to bundle their car insurance together with other financial services, like savings and checking accounts, loans and property coverage.
Of course, the main drawback to USAA is it’s available to active or former members of the US military and their spouse and children. Therefore, if you are in the general public, you will not be able to purchase an insurance policy from USAA.
Progressive Insurance is another well-known and established company in the country. It has a wide base of loyal customers who are quite content with their products. The company is quite popular largely because of its catchy and enticing branding efforts. While they did not get the highest scores from J.D. Power, Progressive Insurance is quite competitive, especially when it comes to their pricing policy.
You may be surprised to know that Progressive Insurance has over 18,000,000 insured drivers. Progressive Insurance has impressed its clients with a wide variety of discounts, like deductions for many simple things such as early signing of a new insurance policy or choosing paperless billing.
In addition, the insurer has been famous for insuring riskier drivers compared to a lot of its competitors, and this is very evident. Progressive Insurance is the only company on the list that provides a discount for drivers who are under the age of 18 (which is unheard of in the industry), and also those drivers who have a crash rate nearly nine times higher compared to that of mid-aged drivers.
Progressive Insurance provides the typical car insurance choices, along with a variety of add-on options. So, depending on the state, you may choose from:
- Gap insurance, an option under which the company will pay as much as 25% above your car’s value if it is totaled; this can cover your lease balance or loan
- Roadside assistance, under which Progressive will pay for help in case you run out of or when your car breaks down or you have a dead battery, flat tire or keys locked in the car
- Equipment value and custom parts, which will pay to replace or fix customized accessories and parts you add to the car
- If you purchase collision coverage pet injury protection is included. It will pay for veterinarian bills in case your pet gets injured during a car accident
In addition, Snapshot is another great free opt-in program which gathers information relating to your driving habits, such as speed, driving duration and times. The company uses this information to revise your insurance premium rates down or up next time you decide to renew your policy.
You also get a reasonable automatic discount when you sign up. Progressive Insurance collects this data either from a mobile app or a device that you plug into the vehicle.
This plan could be a lifesaver, especially for low-use drivers and might give rise to a completely new form of car insurance; however, the long-term implications of these kinds of policies yet to be seen.
Another impressive feature is called Rideshare insurance. The company offers it to residents in over 20 states who drive for companies like Lyft and Uber.
Usually insurance from a rideshare company only tends to cover the period between booking the ride and dropping off the customer. However, with this add-on insurance feature, you can expand your personal car policy whenever you have your app on. This makes sure you are fully covered even between your rides.
The following features make Progressive Insurance a good choice:
- A variety of discounts and very competitive pricing
- Lease or loan payoff program
- Great online presence
- Healthy financial ratings
- Roadside assistance
If you are searching for an auto insurance provider that provides high-quality insurance policies as well as the opportunity to get discounts, you should consider Allstate Insurance. The company has managed to receive quite high ratings across various studies. The company has received impressive scores from customers who have reported an overall positive car experience.
Allstate Insurance also offers a slew of other financial services. Due to its massive reach, many local agents and wide range of insurance products, the company is an ideal choice for customers who are looking for an accessible one-stop provider.
Allstate Insurance did extremely well in meeting our criteria but perplexed us a little on closer inspection. The company has healthy financial ratings, an exceptional claims satisfaction score that can give companies like GEICO a run for their money, as well as various supplemental coverage options that manage to hit the mark. This includes a usage-based plan which is quite similar to the Snapshot option offered by Progressive. The company does an equally good job when it comes to discounts, coming in behind Progressive Insurance with respect to available deductions.
Allstate Insurance provides the typical auto coverage as well as discounts; in addition, there are a few optional features you could add for an extra fee (depending on your state); these include:
- Safe driving bonus: This feature awards you with a check from the company if you drive accident-free for six months.
- If you opt for accident forgiveness, your insurance rates will not increase due to one accident, even when you are at fault.
- Another great feature is deductible rewards. For each year without any driving violations, the company will award you up to $100 off the collision deductible. The company deducts the initial $100 off at the time you sign up.
With the claim satisfaction guarantee option you can get up to a 6-month credit on the vehicle insurance premium provided you are not happy with the way a claim was handled. This guarantee is available with all standard policies in those states where it is available.
In addition, Allstate Insurance rewards its customers with a discount of up to three percent only for using the company’s Drivewise app. This app will analyze your braking behavior and speed, and the time of day you often drive. Also, you can get an extra fifteen percent back after the first fifty trips or after each six months of safe driving.
5. State Farm
The insurance company was founded in 1922, and has a reputation for top-notch customer service and financial stability. With agents and physical offices dispersed across the country, State Farm Insurance is popular for providing personalized service that most online-only firms can only dream of.
Keep in mind that State Farm Insurance is one of the largest auto insurers in the US, with about 10.2% of the market. And companies do not grow that big unless they are doing something right. You will realize that, for starters, it is very easy to manage your insurance policy. You have several options, such as calling an insurance agent (there are about 18,000), using online chat or the company’s convenient and simple Pocket Agent app. Also, the shopping experience is very effortless.
State Farm also provides excellent discount programs, which includes the Drive Safe and Save program, which could cut down up to half off the premium depending on your individual driving behaviors. The driving behavior is measured by your SYNC system, OnStar or mobile device. The insurer also has exceptional travel expense and rental car reimbursement coverage.
The company’s Steer Clear Driver Program is another great program, offering driver training course, via an agent or a mobile app. State Farm provides great savings for drivers who are under 25 and complete this course with no moving violations or at-fault accidents within the last three years.
State Farm performs fairly well on various other standard discounts too, including multi-car and multi-policy discounts, along with reasonable deductions for various safety features such as airbags, anti-lock brakes and daytime lights. But State Farm does get dinged a little when it comes to overall claims satisfaction, where the company lags behind many other insurance giants.
Like Allstate and Progressive, State Farm Insurance will probably have an auto insurance policy that can fit your specific needs and it is certainly worth obtaining a quote.
In case you do opt for insurance coverage from State Farm, you could be rest assured in the knowledge that the company has healthy financial standing and great customer satisfaction rates that can help you seamlessly navigate the aftermath of a car accident.
The type of auto insurance you need will depend on various factors such as state requirements and your budget. We will discuss some common types of coverage in the following sections.
If you are involved in a car collision or accident, collision coverage would pay for all repairs made to your vehicle. If your vehicle is totaled in an accident (repair costs exceed the worth of the car), a collision coverage would reimburse the total value of the car. If you own an older car, it might not be worth having collision coverage on it, based on its value. In contrast, if you own a more expensive car, collision coverage could be a lifesaver.
This insurance will cover you in case you are involved in a car accident and the car accident is deemed your fault. Liability insurance covers the repair costs of any property damaged due to the accident along with the medical bills arising from your injuries.
A majority of states have a specific minimum requirement for liability insurance that drivers are mandated to have. However, if you could afford it, it is generally a smart idea to carry liability insurance above the minimum liability coverage requirement of your state. This will provide added protection if you are at fault for a car accident.
In case something happens to the car that is not related to a typical vehicular accident such as theft or weather damage, collision coverage and liability insurance do not cover you in such situations. These situations are, fortunately, covered by comprehensive coverage. Keep in mind that comprehensive coverage is an excellent option if it fits your budget. This coverage is mandatory for lienholders.
Personal Injury Protection
Although a comprehensive insurance coverage might be something you do not necessarily have to buy, Personal Injury Protection is definitely worth buying. The various costs associated with a car accident could quickly add up, and to effectively cover all these costs PIP is the best choice.
With PIP, you and your passengers’ medical bills will be paid, irrespective of who is at fault for the accident. However, keep in mind that this coverage isn’t available in all US states.
Underinsured or Uninsured Motorist Protection
Although state laws require all drivers to be insured, it is not the case in many situations. Uninsured or under-insured motorist protection can offer payment if you are involved in an accident with a driver who is at fault for the accident and doesn’t have adequate insurance. It is often very economical to add uninsured or under-insured motorist protection to your existing car insurance policy.
Auto insurance coverage limit is the maximum amount of money that your insurance provider would pay out in case you file a claim. For instance, if the coverage limit on your collision coverage is $30,000, it is the maximum amount that the policy will pay out after a collision for damages.
The amount of auto coverage you need will depend on two main factors; the first is your state’s minimum coverage requirement, while the second mainly depends on your car’s value.
Minimum State Limits
All states mandate a certain minimum amount of vehicle insurance for motorists to drive legally. A majority of states have minimum insurance requirements when it comes to liability insurance, which can pay for the injuries of the driver and their passengers, as well as any vehicular damage to the car.
You will often notice limits mentioned using two or three digits, like 25/50 or 25/50/20, particularly when you look at state-required minimum limits. It is important to consider the type of insurance your state requires.
Finance: Consider the amount you can pay for insurance premiums on a monthly basis.
Asset Value: If your car has a high worth, it is better to increase the insurance coverage limits.
Location: In case you live in an urban neighborhood or area, it is more likely that you will be involved in a car accident and, therefore, it is better to consider higher coverage. Similarly, if you park your car on the street rather than in a garage, you might be more vulnerable to theft and must consider comprehensive insurance coverage.
What is Covered?
The amount of insurance coverage mandated by law differs from one state to another. Cautious people usually choose more expensive policies that have better coverage; so if you are cautious you may lean that way. In case you own plenty of assets, industry experts recommend you buy sufficient liability coverage to protect your interest; if you do not, the aggrieved party in the accident may sue you and try to collect on those assets.
Does Car Insurance Cover Things Like Pot Hole Damage?
If you have collision coverage, that may be able to cover you in instances of pot hole damage, however most car insurance policies don’t cover wear and tear on your tires or suspension system. For example, if you hit a pot hole and that causes specific, immediate damage, collision coverage may cover the repair costs.
States Complaining The Most About Pot Holes (Based On Geotagged Twitter Data)
At times, insurance policies may have certain exclusions, and you may pay out of your pocket for a car accident or repair, which you thought was covered under the policy.
- If you are in an accident with an uninsured driver, it is likely that you will need to pay for any repairs and damages out of your pocket and then sue the driver for damages, unless your auto insurance policy covers it.
- Keep in mind that most basic car insurance policies do not cover car theft.
- Same is the case with damage arising from natural accidents. Many insurance providers do not cover collisions with falling objects, animals, earthquakes and tornados etc. unless your policy specifically covers these items.
One of the main factors that may influence your decision regarding which insurance policy to choose is the cost of the insurance. If you are looking for affordable car insurance that has lower premiums, you will need to pay a higher amount of deductible in order to get your vehicle fixed if you are involved in an accident and require repairs.
A “deductible” is the sum of money you have to pay for an insurance claim before the insurance provider starts to pay out. Keep in mind that the higher your premium, the lower your deductible amount.
Apart from basic car insurance, there are various optional coverages that are available to drivers with specific needs. These options include:
It pays for the costs incurred to repair the vehicle after an accident, regardless of whether you are at fault. In case you own an old car that is not worth a lot, collision insurance is not essential.
This covers various non-vehicular damages that can affect your car such as weather damage or animal attacks. The coverage can be valuable if you own a new or expensive vehicle. However, it is usually expensive.
Knowing which insurance companies secured the highest scores year after year is only part of the battle. In addition to researching the most suitable car insurance companies in the market, you will also have to decide what kind of insurance policy to purchase as well as the amount of coverage you actually need. Besides these factors, you will also have to figure out how high or low your deductible should be.
Even if you are pretty satisfied with your insurance policy, experts recommend that you should shop around in order to compare rates and premiums after every two to three years. This way you will get a very good idea about where auto insurance rates are headed; you will also be able to determine the amount you can save if you decide to switch.
Also, keep in mind that shopping around never hurts. Depending on your driving record, age and various other factors, it is likely that you may end up saving plenty of cash if you switched firms. These tips will help you choose the most suitable provider according to your specific needs.
Choose a Top-Rated Insurance Company
By checking car insurance ratings, it is easy to gain insight from the customer base of each company. Most experts recommend that you read through the latest auto insurance claims as well as satisfaction studies in order to determine which insurance companies come out on top consistently.
Ask Family and Friends for Recommendations
Although reading the reviews and ratings of various car insurance providers is a very smart move, you could also request your friends and family for recommendations.
General ratings could considerably help you when it comes to gauging the overall quality of any insurance company; however, keep in mind that, personal reviews and experiences tend to carry more weight. Ask your family and friends what kind of experience they have had with their car insurer provider prior to purchasing a policy. You might be able to narrow down the most suitable car insurer for your requirements based on their suggestions and feedback.
Set a Suitable Deductible
Irrespective of whether you purchase full coverage or liability coverage for your car, you will have to pick a suitable deductible to meet your needs. According to Consumer Reports, you should choose a higher amount of deductible if you are looking to save money on your monthly premiums.
On the other hand, you should set a lower amount of deductible if you are looking to avoid hefty out-of-pocket expenses in the event of an accident or collision. If you are a careful driver with a great driving record and have not had any at-fault accidents in years, it is better to opt for a high deductible on your collision coverage; it is a good bet in most cases.
Get Quotes from Different Companies
If you have gone through plenty of auto insurance company reviews and finding it hard to decide, it can be helpful to obtain several quotes for comparison. Depending on your age, where you live, your driving record and various other variables, one provider may offer you a much better deal than the rest on auto insurance.
That being said, in a scenario where one provider is more economical than others, you must figure out why their rates are so affordable. It is important to compare apples to apples; make sure you are doing that.
Compare Similar Policies
Talking about making an “apples to apples” comparison, it is a vital part of the search. To choose the most suitable car insurance company as well as policy for your needs, you must compare similar car insurance policies across multiple providers. This implies that you compare policies that have a similar deductible and the same levels of coverage.
Watch Crash Repairs
It is important that you check and see where your car insurer sends you to get your vehicle repaired. This is vital as the concerned repair shop might force you to opt for cheaper replacement parts, instead of original equipment from your car manufacturer (known as OEM parts).
A number of tests and reports have shown that some non-OEM parts tend to fit poorly; they are also more prone to rust, and may not meet all the federal safety standards.
Take Full Advantage of Discounts
Keep in mind that a variety of discounts can be availed by drivers who are considered lower risk by insurance companies depending on various criteria (such as married, older or long and safe driving records). Discounts are also given to drivers who take one or more driver-training courses.
Similarly the installation of anti-theft and specific safety equipment may also lower your cost. In addition, bundling auto insurance with home insurance is another great option that you can consider. That being said, make sure you check out your total insurance costs both with and without merging the two policies in order to see which option is cheaper.
The days of impossible-to-understand ‘legalese’ and fine print are long gone now. Nowadays, it is very easy for most lay people to download, read and understand all the details in insurance policy documentation. Given that information nowadays is so accessible, you should make sure that you completely understand the insurance policy you are considering.
In addition, you can easily contact the insurance provider by email or telephone to query anything else that you do not understand prior to signing up.
Benefits and Features
Keep in mind that all car insurance policies are not created equal. Some of them are more ‘bare bones’ kind, while others tend to have a complete suite of benefits and features, such as offering a rental vehicle in case your car has been stolen, or even accommodation if the policyholder suffers a loss while on holiday.
This is why when you are comparing car insurance policies, it is vital to evaluate and assess the totality of benefits and features, as well as your specific needs and requirements. Never make the final decision based solely on price.
As always, it is always advisable to comparison-shop prior to buying an insurance policy. When you have identified the car you are considering, call multiple insurance providers, who would be happy to offer you their estimates. In a majority of states, having insurance is a mandatory requirement for drivers; it also implies that it is an ongoing cost. This is why doing your research can go a long way and can save you plenty of money.
When you shop around for the most suitable deal for car insurance, it is vital to consider more than only premiums. In most cases, the best car insurance companies provide a lot more than just affordability; they also have healthy ratings and positive customer reviews from their current customer base. The best thing you can do is research as much as you can and compare rates before choosing an insurance policy. The more you will shop around, the better off you will be.