Based on our research into policy benefits and perks, filed complaints, financial strength ratings, customer reviews and feedback, and discounts for our auto insurance companies directory, ValuePenguin presents the best auto insurance companies by category below.
- Best Auto Insurers
- Finding the Best Auto Insurance
- 4 Steps to Finding the Best Company, Rates, and Discounts
- Best Car Insurance Rates
We recommend GEICO because it offers a well-rounded package of coverage protection at some of the cheapest auto insurance rates with around-the-clock daily customer service. Based on our research, we found that GEICO had one of the largest selections of discounts on car insurance for everything from the typical multi-car policies to emergency deployment for active military members. True its roots as a company formed for government employees, GEICO also offers special savings for prospective policyholders who are federal employees or military members (up to 8 - 15% off their premiums). These reasons help to explain why the company is one of the largest underwriting auto insurance in the United States, and is praised by customers for its great liability coverage at affordable premiums.
Click for a free quote: GEICO Website
Best Auto Insurance Company with Agents - Allstate
One of the best features we like about Allstate's auto insurance is their network of agents. They're well-versed in the various auto insurance coverage types as well as Allstate's features and benefits. With over 20,000 sales representatives, and 9,300 agencies across the United States, there is sure to be an agent within driving distance. We also like that Allstate has added a number of thoughtful components to their policies with their customers in mind. For example, Allstate offers a Claim Satisfaction Guarantee for any policyholder unhappy with their claims payout or experience. They also offer accident forgiveness and safe driving bonuses as optional features. All in all, we recommend that drivers who prefer in-person interactions consider Allstate as their car insurance company.
Click for a free quote: Allstate Website
Best Car Insurance Company for Military Members - USAA
Our pick for the best car insurer for members of the military is undoubtedly the United States Automobile Association (USAA). Time and time again, USAA and its affiliates have the cheapest rates we've seen in our rate studies. Policyholders must be either active or retired members of the military (coverage is extended to family members too). In addition to affordable rates and great coverage, the USAA offers additional military-specific discounts. For example, armed force members who garage their cars on a military base can save up to 15% on their comprehensive coverage. The best benefit, however, is the network of community support and forums that USAA hosts on their website to support spouses and veterans. Members also have access to experts with experience in navigating and advising financial considerations of military members. Customers consistently rave about the excellent customer service and claims fulfillment they receive from representatives, and the company continues to win awards from industry associations such as JD Powers.
Click for a free quote: USAA Website
Best Auto Insurance Company for Older Drivers (>50) - AARP / the Hartford
What makes the AARP's program with the Hartford our selection for best car insurer for older drivers? The many special and thoughtful benefits that accommodate for the lifestyles of adults 50 years old and above, such as RecoverCare and longer locked in rates. RecoverCare is a program that eases the transition back to a normal life after a car accident. Insureds can see up to $2,500 of costs covered for getting help with daily tasks such as buying groceries, cooking, housekeeping, and gardening. We like that AARP is also cognizant that its members receive fixed pensions and retirement income, and has worked with the Hartford to lock in annual rates so seniors can better plan their budgets. With such considerate care and attuned attention to its members' needs, it is no surprise that the AARP is our choice for best company for older drivers.
Click for a free quote: AARP / Hartford
Getting the best insurance for your car is about having the right kind of coverage with appropriate limits. We'll walk you through deciding which ones or what level of protection make the most sense for you.
The Right Kind of Coverage: The Standard Policy May Not Be Enough to Protect You
The car insurance landscape can be quite confusing with multiple types of coverage. There are a couple of add-on protections that can be useful depending on where you live in, and the peace of mind you need. These are: comprehensive, collision, medical payments, personal injury protection, and umbrella insurance.
Should I get Comprehensive and Collision Coverage?
Basically, collision coverage covers damages after your car crashes into something - a car, a stationary object, or a wild animal. Comprehensive (also known as OTC) coverage is everything else: Mother Nature, and acts of God, to thefts and vandalism (more info). OTC and collision get bundled together, and pay for repairs or replacements up to the current cash value (car's market value - salvage value).
Whether this coverage is right for you depends on the value of your car and where you live. If you have a new car and live in an area with lots of storm and a large deer population, get comprehensive and collision coverage. If you have an old car, however, the current cash value your policy pays might not be worth the cost of the premiums and deductible for the coverage. It's generally not cost-effective when the current cash value of your car is less than $3,000. Weigh the annual out-of-pocket cost to you (premiums + deductible) against the current cash value to see if it makes sense.
Personal Injury Protection vs. Medical Payments vs. Health Insurance
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) covers medical, psychiatric, and rehabilitative expenses for you, your passengers, and permitted drivers of your vehicle, and at times your lost wages. It's mandatory in some states like New Jersey and New York. Medical Payments (MedPay) pays for reasonable and medically necessary expenses, and is optional.
If you have a good health plan (make sure they cover auto insurance) with a low deductible, then you probably won't need PIP or MedPay. If your deductible is high, however, then weigh the cost of the extra premium against the benefits for PIP and MedPay. One benefit of PIP and MedPay is that it covers other passengers in your car who might not have health insurance.
Umbrella Coverage: For Extra Assets and Everything Else
If you have assets that exceed the maximum limits of the standard policies, then umbrella protection is the BEST benefit to add to your coverage. It steps in when claims and payouts under all your other coverages are used up, but you still have more damages to pay. While infrequent, car pile-ups or severe accidents resulting in death are the types of incidents that could get covered by your umbrella policy. It's just a few dollars more, but can get you up to millions more in necessary protection when there's a lot to lose.
Appropriate Limits: The Cheapest Rates May Not Get You the Best Protection
Buying a basic policy with your state's minimum level of financial responsibility can save you a few bucks now. However, it's at the risk of exposing your assets when your insurance limits can't cover an injured party's damages.
So how much liability coverage should you get? As much protection as you can afford that is greater than or close to how much your assets are worth. Add up your bank balances, stock and bond investments, retirement funds, trust funds, real estate, etc., and then find a liability limit that exceeds or is closest to what you can afford (more info).
Here's why: you have no control over how bad a car accident can be: who gets injured, or how much their medical expenses will be - and you can be on the hook if they sue you. A car crash damaging the fingers of a skilled neurosurgeon will cost you more than injuring an average person, and their car can crash into other vehicles.
Getting the Best Coverage for You
In conclusion, the best auto insurance depends on a number of factors: how much assets you have, how much risk you're comfortable with, and what protection you want. You should buy as much coverage as you can afford that covers your financial assets. If it's more important to you to get the cheapest protection, then just bear in mind that your assets can be put at risk.
The best auto insurance companies will be able to provide a balanced blend of the right amount of coverage at the right rates for consumers' vehicles and budgets, and follow through when claims are submitted. Here's how you can go about looking for the best companies and negotiating the best rates.
Step 1: Decide What Kind of Insurer You Want
Which is more important to you? Cost or personal interaction and local expertise? If you have a budget, then a national and direct insurance company that does most of their business online will likely get you better rates. An agent-based insurer focuses on providing a more high-touch and local experience - helpful when submitting a claim, but costs can be higher.
Step 2: Evaluate Their Complaint Ratios and Industry Awards in Your State
The next step is to look for a list of reputable and dependable insurers licensed in your state. States often produce annual reports that rank companies by their complaints. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners publishes complaint data at the Customer Information Source. A third source we recommend are industry surveys and consumer organizations. J.D. Powers & Associates' 2013 Auto Insurance Study measures satisfaction on pricing, policy offerings, and claims handling. AM Best's Financial Strength Rating measures a company's financial ability to pay out insurance claims. Pick a handful of companies from these sources, about three to five, that are generally well rated.
Step 3: Get Quotes
Here's the information you'll need to get price points: your SSN, driver's license, VIN, (or vehicle specifications including airbag, anti-lock, alarm etc.), a record of accidents or traffic violations, the number of miles you drive a year, as well as a list of the memberships / associations you belong to. Go to each insurer and get a quote for the liability limits you're comfortable with.
Step 4: Negotiate Rates and Ask for Discounts
Once you have a few data points, it is time to pick up the phone and negotiate with representatives. Call them and share the cheaper rates you've gotten from competitors, and 1) see what they do, or 2) follow up with: can you do better than this? Afterwards, ask them for any discounts that aren't available on the website, or what they can offer you from the discounts we've listed below.
Car Insurance Discounts
Here's a list of discounts you can run the insurance customer representative through to maximize your savings.
- Good Driver Discounts: No accidents or traffic violations in the past three years (some insurers stretch this out to five years)
- Discounts for Homeownership: Can be combined with a multi-policy discount if you insure your vehicle and house with the same company
- Lower Rates for Married Couples
- Student Discounts: Earning grades of B and above, making the honor roll, leaving for college or living far away
- Safety Features Discount: For cars with anti-lock brake systems (ABS), airbag capacity, daytime running lights, and anti-theft devices
- Lower Rates for Reduced Miles Driven: Typically for annual mileage less than 10,000
- Multi-Vehicle Discount
- Discounts for Professional and Organization Affiliations: Some companies discount premiums for nurses, teachers, policement, safety officers, federal employees, and military members in recognition of their services. Check for discounts for your employer, alumni association, trade group, sports conference, or industry organization
- Discounts for Mature Drivers: Proof you've passed a licensed mature driver improvement course can get you up to 5 - 7% off
- Defensive Driving / Driver Education Savings: If you take a licensed driver re-education course every couple of years, you can save up to 10%
- Lump Payment Methods: Paying in full and going paperless avoids installment and administrative fees
- Customer Loyalty: If you should be a long-standing customer of a company, you should squeeze some extra consideration for this by asking for loyalty discounts.
- Green / Hybrid Vehicle Discounts
Now that you have your list of companies, ratings and scores, and their best offer on quotes, you can decide on the best auto insurance company for you. Enter your zip code to see which companies are offering cheap insurance in your city, and click through for the quote process.
We surveyed 9 national auto insurance companies to see how their rates stack up for a few sample quotes to help you shop for auto insurance. The rates are sampled from select cities accross the country, so your actual quote will differ based on your driving history and where you live. Alternatively you can enter your information in the form below to get quotes from insurers that serve your area.
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