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.
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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 2017
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 Reviews.com Auto Insurance Study and J.D. Power’s 2015 Auto Claims Satisfaction Study. From those studies, we handpicked several companies that received high ratings across the board.
- Allstate Insurance
- Auto-Owners Insurance
- Liberty Mutual
- State Farm
- The Hartford
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
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
Liberty Mutual Insurance
Why you might like 21st Century:
- Excellent ratings for claims and customer experiences
- New car replacement free on all policies
- Accident forgiveness standard
- 24-hour claims service
Why you should keep looking:
- Policies can be expensive if you are purchasing a single policy.
Progressive Insurance is known for its constant barrage of advertisements, but they also have a solid base of customers who seem quite happy with their products. Although they didn’t receive the best marks possible from J.D. Power’s 2015 Claims Study, they come in extremely competitive when it comes to pricing.
Other benefits Progressive offers include plenty of opportunity for discounts, a solid online presence, and their Snapshot program, which rewards good driving behavior.
Why you might like Progressive:
- Plenty of available discounts and competitive pricing
- Great online presence
Why you might keep looking:
- Other companies receive higher ratings across the board
- Scarce individualized attention from agents
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
Why you might keep looking:
- Average ratings from J.D. Power
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
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
Why you might keep looking:
- Only available to U.S. military members, veterans, or their close family members
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.
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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.