Re-quoting your auto insurance every year is a great way to find free money in your budget. Insurance companies compete aggressively for new business, then raise rates over time, betting that you won’t take the time to switch. Having auto insurance is important – it is a small financial investment to avoid a large financial loss.
Nearly every state mandates a minimum amount of car insurance, but you shouldn’t apply that minimum and pick the lowest quote. Instead, most drivers should carry more than the state requirement, and from a company you can trust. Consider it the same as looking up the reliability and safety ratings before purchasing your vehicle. If you are in a bind and looking for the lowest price, check out Cheap Car Insurance on Good Financial Cents.
In order to choose the best car insurance company for you, you’ll want to consider your unique needs and preferences and weigh factors like claims satisfaction, financial strength, and availability in your state.
- Where to start
- The 10 best auto insurance companies for 2020
- Compare companies by state
- How to pick a policy
- Cost-saving tips and tricks
- Understand coverage options
Where To Start With Auto Insurance
The first (and quickest) step is to get multiple quotes online and compare offers. You can select your state on the map below to get matched with the top auto insurance providers in your area. This process is totally free. It helps to have your vehicle information handy such as make, model, year and mileage.
Top 10 Best Auto Insurance Companies for 2020
|Company||Best For||J.D. Power Score||A.M. Best Rating||Consumer Reports Reader Score||Premiums Written ($bn)|
|Allstate Insurance||Overall User Experience why?||808||A+||88||$21.4|
|GEICO||Mobile App why?||825||A++||N/A||$29.6|
|Esurance||Personalized Policies why?||844||A+||N/A||$1.68|
|State Farm||Teen Drivers why?||824||A++||89||$41.8|
|Liberty Mutual||Premium Add-Ons why?||808||A||88||$11.6|
|Amica||Well Qualified Drivers why?||880||A+||94||$2.3|
|Auto-Owners Insurance||Customer Service why?||853||A+||93||$7.58|
|The Hartford||AARP Members why?||821||A+||90||$15.8|
Progressive is the fourth-largest auto insurer in the U.S. and has consistently strong reviews. In fact, roughly 1 in 10 drivers in America has chosen Progressive above any other.
Where we consider them to really stand out, however, is in the widely available discounts. Between good student and homeowner discounts, the safe driver (up to 31%), pay-in-full, multi-car, their Name Your Price and Snapshot tools (which helps Progressive base your rate on your actual driving habits), almost everyone will qualify for at least one discount.
Need motorcycle coverage? Progressive tops our list for that too!
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Allstate is a happy-medium company. They write a large number of premiums, have strong financials, receive praise from their customers, and have a good digital experience as well as brick and mortar offices and agents across the country.
Compared to a company like Geico, who prioritizes (and shines) at a technology-driven experience, Allstate gives you the option to interact via web or face-to-face locally with an agent.
We suggest Allstate particularly if you’re bundling policies, as they can be on the expensive side otherwise.
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Who hasn’t heard of Geico? Their clever marketing is hard to miss: the charming gecko, “so easy a cavemen could do it”, and that Wednesday-loving camel.
But advertising aside, Geico really shines in their digital experience. If you’re a self-service, technology-over-agent type of shopper, then Geico’s mobile app is for you.
You can quote, buy and manage your insurance right from your phone. That means paying your bill, requesting roadside assistance, or submitting a claim. And with more than 1.7M reviews (more than their competitors, combined) in Apple’s App Store alone, averaging a 4.8-star rating, the experience is well-tested and well-endorsed.
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Esurance was one of the first companies to start selling directly to the customer instead of going through an agent. To this day, they still do not have any local agents. But they offer a smooth digital experience that makes it easy to customize a plan, receive quotes, manage your policy and file claims.
Esurance received “better than most” marks across the board in 2019’s J.D. Power’s Auto Insurance Shopping Study.
One of the primary advantages of buying auto insurance through Esurance is that you have the control and flexibility to build a personalized policy, specific to your unique needs.
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Founded in 1922, State Farm Insurance has a history of financial stability and customer service satisfaction. According to the Insurance Information Institute, State Farm is the largest provider of private passenger auto insurance, with more than $40b in premiums written.
Although State Farm offers online quotes and a mobile app, they’re differentiated by their ability to offer individual, personal service through their robust network of physical offices and caring agents.
So, unlike Geico and Esurance which target the technology-savvy, hands-off type of consumers, State Farm is perfect for those who would rather drive to a local office and have their questions answered and hands held through the process, without having to navigate an app or website.
State Farm also shines for households with teen drivers. While most companies charge notoriously high rates for this riskier demographic, State Farm offers both a good student discount and its Steer Clear feature. Steer Clear is an app-based program for drivers under 25, which tracks driving behavior and offers mini safety courses. After “graduating” from the program, drivers earn a substantial discount that lasts until they’re 25.
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Founded in 1912, Liberty Mutual Insurance insures more than 1.5 million vehicles and has some of the top customer service ratings.
Liberty Mutual has more than 900 local offices, so they’re able to offer personalized service similar to State Farm.
They offer comparable standard coverage, as well as the option to add premium add-ons like:
- Accident forgiveness: Your insurance rates won’t go up when you’re involved in your first accident.
- New car replacement: If you total your car when it’s less than a year old and has fewer than 15,000 miles, they’ll reimburse you the cost of a new car, not just the depreciated value.
- Better car replacement: You’ll be reimbursed for a car that is one model year newer and 15,000 fewer miles than your totaled car.
- Deductible fund: Reduce your deductible by $100 when you add this feature, and then another $100 every year after that.
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If you’re fortunate enough to be a USAA member (members or former members of the United State military and their close family members), then USAA should be your first stop for auto insurance.
USAA received an “Among the Best” rating from J.D. Power’s Claims Satisfaction Survey, and “Better than Most” in every category of their Insurance Shopping Study.
They also offer extremely competitive rates, often cheaper than any of their competitors. According to a study done by U.S. News, USAA’s average rate nationally was $895 – more than 15% cheaper than the next company on their list.
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Amica Mutual is consistently rated as one of the best auto insurance companies, in industry awards and by their customers. In fact, they were at the top of this year’s J.D. Power Claims Satisfaction Survey.
Their policies include features that most of their competitors do not, such as no restrictions on your body shop choice as well as interior vehicle coverage.
While Amica Mutual is a great choice all-around, there are a couple of downsides.
First, some policy changes require a phone call, and their online resources can be lacking – both of which can be frustrating if you’re a self-service consumer.
Second, while they don’t have membership restrictions like USAA, they admit to being stringent about who they extend policies to. Generally, Amica says that drivers with high credit scores and at least three-years of clean driving history – that is, a record without violations, accidents or claims – are most likely to qualify.
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While Auto-Owners Insurance keeps a fairly low profile, they receive extremely high marks across the board. In fact, J.D. Power awarded it “Better than Most” in every category in its 2019 Insurance Shopping Study.
The fact that Auto-Owners Insurance has been around since 1916 should also put your mind at ease. During that time, they have consistently exhibited financial stability, with an “A+” rating from A.M. this year.
Auto-Owners Insurance operates on an agent-only model, favoring relationships and local business to faceless technology. In fact, they have 6,300 agents despite only being available in 26 states. So if you’re in one of those states, there are likely multiple offices for you to choose from in your city alone.
Auto-Owners Insurance operates in the following states: 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, and Wisconsin.
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With more than 200 years of history in business, The Hartford has built an excellent reputation for customer service and claims processing.
Their car insurance caters specifically to AARP members, offering several features that uniquely accommodate this group:
- Lifetime Renewability Auto Insurance: Once you have an automobile insurance policy with The Hartford, your coverage will be renewed for as long as you’re able to drive.
- 12-Month Auto Insurance Rate Protection: Your premium is locked in for a full year, unlike most insurance policies which may change rates every six months.
- RecoverCare – Assistance After an Accident: Provides reimbursement after an accident for home services such as house cleaning, lawn maintenance, snow removal, meal prep, and even dog walking.
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Compare Best Auto Insurance Companies by State
Your experience with each car insurance company can vary widely depending on where you live. J.D. Power recognized this inconsistency and has started issuing region-specific recommendations in addition to their nationwide ratings.
According to J.D. Power, the highest-ranked auto insurance brands by region are:
- California: Esurance
- Central: Shelter
- Florida: Allstate
- Mid-Atlantic: Erie Insurance
- New England: Amica Mutual
- New York: New York Central Mutual
- North Central: Westfield
- Northwest: PEMCO Insurance
- Southeast: Farm Bureau Insurance—Tennessee
- Southwest: The Hartford
- Texas: Texas Farm Bureau
To compare companies based on their reputation in your state, use the map below.
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.
When comparing companies, consider these tips:
1. Pick a top-rated insurer
Consumer Reports suggests reading through the most recent auto insurance claims and satisfaction studies to see which companies consistently come out on top.
By checking auto insurance ratings, you gain insight from each company’s existing customer base.
2. 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 your 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.
Their rule of thumb: “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.”
Just remember to keep that much cash on hand in case you need it!
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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 overall – you should figure out why the price is so affordable. Are you comparing apples to apples with the same levels of coverage and a similar deductible?
To help with this, we recommend QuoteWizard.com. They make it easy to compare quotes from the best car insurance companies head-to-head.
7 Tips to Get the Cheapest Auto Insurance Rate
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 get the lowest rates possible.
Consider these 7 tips if you’re looking for cheap car insurance:
1. 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, pay-in-full, and more.
The most significant discounts are often attached to electronically-measured assessments of your driving habits, which allows the company to base their rates on your actual tendencies behind the wheel. This is especially helpful for groups like teen drivers, who are seen as high-risk drivers (and have premiums to match!).
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. State Farm offers “Steer Clear”, a similar program geared specifically for drivers under 25.
* As a quick rule of thumb, we’ve found Progressive to offer the most comprehensive discounts.
2. Drive less
Naturally, the less your vehicle is on the road, the less likely you are to have an accident. Car insurance companies recognize this, and many offer discounts or overall cheaper rates for low-mileage drivers.
So, if you work from home or have a short commute to work, make sure to mention it to your agent.
Even if you don’t naturally fall into one of those two groups, you could make yourself qualify by carpooling to work or opting for public transportation.
Each auto insurance company has their own limits for how many miles still qualify as “low mileage”, and they may require you to prove how much you drive each year.
The best way to find out if you qualify for a low mileage discount is to ask your auto insurance agent.
3. Shop around
Like I warned at the beginning of the article, buying car insurance should be a balance between price and value. Purchasing a cut-rate policy might get you legal on the road, but it will leave you in a bad (or catastrophic!) spot financially if you get in a wreck.
That said, once you’ve narrowed your options to reputable companies, you need to shop around. Auto insurance rates can easily vary by hundreds of dollars even with the same car and driver.
We recommend comparing at least 5 or 6 auto insurance firms.
Fortunately, the Internet makes shopping around super easy, with access to rates in minutes.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
Understanding Car Insurance Coverage Options
With all of the different coverages, premium or specialized add-ons, and general industry jargon, putting together an overall insurance package that best protects you can be a hard task. You’ll want to consider your driving history, family, vehicle and any other special needs – without overpaying or under-insuring.
To help, here’s a quick rundown of the most common coverage options. Then you can work with an agent to personalize your policy further.
This is what’s required by law in most states. It covers the other person’s expenses if you cause a car accident. There are two types of liability coverage: bodily injury and property damage. Bills to cover either of these can quickly run into the tens of thousands, so make sure you’re adequately covered here!
Personal injury protection (PIP)
Personal injury protection pays the medical bills for you and your passengers after an accident. It also extends to times when you’re a passenger in someone else’s car or if you’re hit by a car while walking or biking. PIP is similar to bodily injury liability insurance, except that the liability insurance covers the other driver’s medical expenses when you’re at fault, while PIP covers yours, regardless of whether you caused the accident or not.
Collision insurance helps pay to repair or replace your vehicle after an accident. This can be damage caused by another car or an object, like a tree or fence. If you own your car outright (in other words, you aren’t leasing or making payments), this coverage is optional.
Reimburses for repair or replacement of your vehicle after an incident that’s not a collision. For example, comprehensive insurance kicks in for damage from vandalism, extreme weather (hail, falling trees, flood), fire or theft. Like collision insurance, comprehensive is optional unless required by your lienholder.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance
Covers you in instances where the driver at fault doesn’t have car insurance, or at least doesn’t have enough of it. This type of insurance also helps in instances of hit-and-runs, assuming you file a police report.
In the case of a total loss or theft, gap insurance will cover the difference between the amount your car is worth and the amount you still owe.
Covers things like flat tire changes, fuel and fluid deliveries, towing, or dead batteries. You should make sure you don’t have roadside assistance through any other program, like certain credit cards or the vehicle’s manufacturer, before paying for this add-on.
Making The Best Decision
When shopping around for the best deal on auto insurance, it’s important to look at more than just premiums.
The best auto insurance companies should offer you more than just the cheapest price – they should receive good ratings from their existing customers, be strong financially, and able to cater to your needs and preferences. The same goes for life insurance, burial insurance and health insurance.
The best way to shop for auto insurance is to do your own research, using industry-recognized surveys like J.D. Power ratings, helpful articles like this one, and the first-hand experiences of your family and friends.
Once you’ve narrowed your pool to a handful of qualified companies, then rate shop to find the best deal.