The Best Car Insurance Companies for You (2020)

We analyzed the customer service experience, rates and financial strength of the top insurance companies in the country so you don't have to.

The best car insurance company for you will have the best service experience: It will offer you caring, timely and efficient financial protection in a time of need. It will also do so at a reasonable price. Drivers shouldn't have to break the bank for exceptional service.

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Below, we've reviewed many of the biggest insurers in the country and provided an editor's rating (out of five stars) to show how they stack up against each other. Browse the table or click an insurer to read our full review.

Our recommendations for the best car insurance companies for 2020

CompanyValuePenguin ratingJ.D. Power rating (of 5)Financial strength ratingStandout quality
Amica

5A+Customer service
Auto-Owners

3A++Affordability
Erie Insurance

3A+Affordability
USAA

5A++Customer service
MetLife

3AAffordability
GEICO

3A++Affordability
State Auto

N/AA-Affordability
Encompass

N/AA+Customer service
Chubb

N/AA++Customer service
American Family (AmFam)

3AAffordability
Farmers

3ACustomer service
Ameriprise

N/AAAffordability
Root

N/AN/AAffordability
AAA

3A+ to A- (depending on club)Affordability
State Farm

3A++Affordability
Esurance

2A+Affordability
Liberty Mutual

3ACustomer service
Travelers

3A++Affordability
Safeco

3AAffordability
Mercury

2AAffordability
Allstate

3A+Customer service
Elephant

N/AN/AAffordability
Progressive

3A+Customer service
Dairyland

N/AA+Affordability
Country Financial

5A+Customer service
  • The five-star scale is a reflection of both the quality of an insurer's service and its affordability, so the insurers with the best rating get you the best value for your money.
  • For additional detail, we've also noted each company's standout quality (either service or affordability, as determined by our analysts), its J.D. Power auto claims satisfaction rating and its A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating.

Read our methodology to see how we decided whether to include an insurer on the list.

icon of insurance policy

No single insurer is best for everyone. Below, we've highlighted the best insurers for customers seeking a certain type of experience.

And if you're not satisfied with your recommendation, we've also provided alternate options.

Finally, if you want to shop for a car insurance company from scratch, we've also provided a guide to finding the best car insurance company for you.

The best car insurance company for:

A guide to finding the best car insurance for you


The best car insurance company for your needs

We rated Amica and Auto-Owners as our best overall insurers based on a combination of great customer service and affordable rates.

However, shoppers value different qualities in an insurance company.

Many drivers will obtain great rates with these insurers; indeed, your rates may be even cheaper than our averages. But other drivers might actually find these insurers expensive. Given how the insurance industry works, you won't know which company provides the best value until you get quotes yourself.

To help you get started in the process, we've provided our recommendations of insurers for customers looking for a specific type of experience, ranging from those who highly value customer service to those who have high-risk driving histories.


Best car insurance company for customer service: Allstate

Allstate comes out on top for our consumer survey on insurance company service.
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The good:

  • Strong customer service reputation

The bad:

  • One of the more expensive major insurance companies

One of the most important factors you should consider when shopping for insurance is the service experience. Your car insurance claim could come with substantial financial damages, and you'll want to be sure the process is handled smoothly.

Allstate ranks as the best car insurance company for general customer service and for when drivers have to make a claim.

Among qualifying insurers, 47% of Allstate customers said it had excellent customer service overall. This was bested only by USAA, which is available only to its members. Allstate and State Farm ranked top for claims satisfaction, another key metric given that an effective claims process is the most important type of service offered by an insurer.

RankCompany% who say customer service is excellent% extremely satisfied with most recent claimAverage customer satisfaction
1Allstate47%72%60%
2State Farm46%73%60%
3Progressive34%74%54%
4GEICO42%65%54%
5AAA32%44%38%
N/AUSAA62%78%70%
USAA was not included in rankings because only military members, veterans and their families are eligible.

Thirty-eight percent of current customers chose Allstate as their car insurance company specifically because of its customer service, the highest of any company in the survey.

However, strong customer service comes at a price. The insurer rated as one of the more expensive in our sample; a policy costs almost 50% more than the national average for full coverage.

As with all insurers, rates can vary widely depending on the driver. Shoppers looking for strong customer service should get a quote with Allstate and balance the pros and cons against other providers.

  • ValuePenguin editor's rating: 3/5
  • A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating: A+ (Superior)

Alternate best car insurance company for customer service: Farm Bureau Insurance

Drivers shouldn't just settle for shopping among the major national insurance company brands. Local insurers — more attuned to the needs of customers in a specific region — can often provide some of the best customer service experiences.

The state insurance affiliates of the American Farm Bureau Federation are usually a great choice for shoppers seeking great customer service. Measured by a Complaint Index — the rate at which consumers complain about an insurer, adjusted for its size — Farm Bureau insurance affiliates often rank among the best companies for any given state.


Best car insurance company for affordable coverage: Erie

We can't guarantee it's true for everyone but, on average, Erie is the cheapest auto insurer out there.
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The good:

  • The cheapest rates and good service

The bad:

  • Service is limited to 12 states and Washington, D.C

Price is important. With many insurers offering similar levels of customer service and types of coverages, the rates should definitely factor into your decision. If you're shopping for the cheapest possible car insurance, we found that Erie has the most affordable rates on average.

Across different coverage levels, it frequently came out as the insurer of choice for those looking to save money.

For example, if you have a valuable car and want to protect it on and off the road, you'll probably want a full coverage policy. From our research on major insurers, we found that Erie full coverage policies are 37% cheaper than the national average.

Type of policyErie average annual premiumNational average annual premium
Full coverage$1,521$2,399
Minimum coverage$451$937

Similarly, drivers looking for a minimum-coverage policy — one that only meets the liability insurance minimums required by their state — got the most savings with Erie on average. Its policies, adjusted for the minimum requirements in each state, were 52% cheaper than the national average.

Unfortunately, Erie Insurance is only available in 12 states and Washington, D.C. Customers looking for cheap insurance outside these states should look to some of our alternate recommendations below.

  • ValuePenguin editor's rating: 4.5/5
  • A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating: A+ (Superior)

Alternate best car insurance companies for affordable minimum coverage: Farm Bureau Insurance, Auto-Owners and State Farm

Given the limited availability of Erie Insurance, bargain hunters who are only buying the minimum amount of auto insurance could also look to Farm Bureau Insurance, Auto-Owners Insurance and State Farm. All three ranked among the most affordable for a minimum-coverage policy.

Farm Bureau insurance will be available wherever an affiliate of the Farm Bureau Federation does business, while Auto-Owners is available in 26 states. State Farm is offered almost anywhere in the country.

CompanyMinimum-coverage annual premium
Farm Bureau$560
Auto-Owners$649
State Farm$712
National average$937

Best car insurance company for good or young drivers: Root

An unconventional option for those confident in their driving ability.
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The good:

  • Big potential savings for those who do well on a test drive

The bad:

  • Limited coverage options compared to other insurers
  • Average customer service reputation

Drivers are rewarded for having a good driving history, but they may still be punished for being part of a high-risk demographic. For example, drivers in their teens and early 20s pay more for car insurance than most other drivers, even if they're exceptionally safe on the road.

Root Insurance Co. is relatively unique within the car insurance industry because its rate calculations are derived almost entirely from measuring driving behavior.

Drivers who grade well based on select driving behaviors, such as braking habits and speed, can get big savings with Root compared to a traditional insurer.

Young drivers are the type of shoppers who should investigate Root Insurance. Since young drivers are statistically more likely to get in an accident, the demographic as a whole is penalized by insurers. Root offers the opportunity to prove you're a safer driver than your peers.

However, there are some risks and downsides associated with Root.

  1. According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, it receives customer complaints at a higher rate than the national median, so drivers aren't likely to get excellent customer service.
  2. Its policies also come with fewer bells and whistles than policies through other insurers, as Root lacks gap insurance and other traditional coverage options.
  • ValuePenguin editor's rating: 3.5/5
  • A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating: N/A

Alternate best car insurance company for young drivers: GEICO

If you're a young driver, maybe you don't want to go through the trouble of having an insurer track your driving habits. In that case, if you're looking to save, you should shop with the insurers that tend to have the lowest rates for young drivers.

The cheapest widely available insurer for young drivers is GEICO.

We'd note that, on average, Erie is actually the cheapest insurer on average for drivers aged 18 to 25. However, as we mentioned, Erie has limited availability across the country.

Young drivers looking for affordable rates should always compare prices across at least three insurers.


Best car insurance company for drivers with an accident history: State Farm

If you've been in an accident and are looking for savings, we recommend starting your shopping with State Farm.
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The good:

  • Minimal penalties for an accident history

The bad:

  • Doesn't offer accident forgiveness

If you already have a recent accident in your driving history, insurers are going to charge you higher rates than they would otherwise. But they won't all penalize you to the same degree.

Our analysis found that State Farm raises rates less than any other company when drivers have an at-fault accident in their recent history.

Using rates pulled from all over the country, we found that State Farm only increased prices by 19% per year after our sample driver got into an accident. Below we list the insurers with the smallest and largest rate changes.

Insurance companyStarting rateAfter-accident ratePercentage change
State Farm$1,737$2,07519%
Erie$1,521$1,92426%
Travelers$3,017$3,85828%
Allstate$3,545$5,36051%
Progressive$2,393$3,81359%
MetLife$2,447$3,95962%
Rate change is after an at-fault accident causing $2,000 in property damage.

One downside to State Farm is that, unlike some other major insurers, it does not offer accident forgiveness. This is a feature — either standard or earned — in which the insurer wipes the first at-fault accident from the driver's record for insurance pricing purposes.

  • ValuePenguin editor's rating: 3.5/5
  • A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating: A++ (Superior)


Best car insurance company for drivers with bad credit: MetLife

A poor credit history can result in expensive auto insurance. MetLife won't raise your rates as much as other insurers.
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The good:

  • Very minor rate penalties for a poor credit score

The bad:

  • Base rates are higher than average
  • Unremarkable customer service reputation

Unless it's prohibited by state law, your credit score can have a major effect on the price of your auto insurance policy. Every insurer calculates its own credit-based insurance score and uses it to adjust rates. In some cases, drivers with poor credit could be charged more than double for car insurance than those who have excellent credit.

Among major insurers, MetLife penalized drivers the least for having a below-average credit score when compared to rates for drivers with an excellent credit score.

Our analysis shows that MetLife rates only increased by 13% when the same driver went from having an excellent credit score to a poor credit score.

The three insurers that penalize drivers the least and the most for poor credit

CategoryCompanyAnnual rate with excellent creditAnnual rate with poor creditDifference
Insurers that penalize poor credit the leastMetLife$980$1,10813.1%
Nationwide$755$1,00432.9%
USAA$324$43233.4%
Insurers that penalize poor credit the mostAuto-Owners Insurance Co.$347$64986.8%
State Farm$375$71690.8%
Farmers$692$1,509118.1%
  • ValuePenguin editor's rating: 4/5
  • A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating: A (Superior)


Best car insurance company for military members and veterans : USAA

The gold standard of auto insurance for those who are eligible.
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The good:

  • Cheap rates
  • Strong customer service reputation

The bad:

  • Only military members, veterans and their families are eligible

Year after year, USAA combines the best of both worlds: It's one of the most affordable auto insurance companies and has one of the best customer service reputations in the industry.

If you're an active-duty military member or veteran who is eligible for a USAA policy, it should be one of the first insurers you shop with, given its low rates and quality service.

Among insurance policyholders surveyed by ValuePenguin, 62% of USAA customers said customer service is excellent, while 78% were extremely satisfied with their most recent claim. These were the highest approval numbers — by far — of any company surveyed.

Beyond its service and rates, USAA also offers discounts that cater to the lifestyles of service members. The company has a vehicle storage discount that can save policyholders up to 60% off their premium if their vehicle is stored in a secure location while not used, meaning deployed policyholders can get coverage at a discount.

And if your vehicle is garaged on a military base, you can obtain a discount of 15% on the cost of comprehensive insurance.

  • ValuePenguin editor's rating: 4.5/5
  • A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating: A++ (Superior)


Best car insurance company for online service experience: Esurance

Esurance makes shopping for its policies easy and educational.
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The good:

  • An educational and intuitive online shopping experience

The bad:

  • Average to poor customer service in its offline service experience
  • Higher-than-average rates

As more consumers shop for insurance online, the ease and functionality of online quote tools is more important than ever.

Esurance ranks as having the best website experience among major insurers, according to J.D. Power's 2019 Insurance Shopping Study.

The Esurance website includes a feature called Coverage Counselor, which can guide you through the process of selecting appropriate coverages and their limits. From there, it's easy to enter these coverages into the Esurance quote tool and see prices for standard-, economy- and minimum-coverage car insurance.

Once you become a policyholder, Esurance also has a mobile app for policy management and other services, such as submitting photos for claim estimates.

Esurance doesn't have a perfect online experience. Although they claim you'll be able to compare rates with competitors side by side, you'll have to go to another insurer's website to see how its rates stack up. If shoppers want to compare auto insurance quotes, they're best served by visiting each insurer individually to get a true estimate.

Beyond the online experience, Esurance is a run-of-the-mill insurer. Like its parent Allstate, its rates were more expensive than the average car insurer for our sample driver.

And it received poor marks for customer satisfaction with claims: It was one of four insurers (of a total of 25) to receive only two out of five stars for claims satisfaction, according to J.D. Power.

  • ValuePenguin editor's rating: 3.5/5
  • A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating: A+ (Superior)
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How to find the best car insurance for you

Ultimately, the best car insurance for you will combine a variety of factors.

  • It will be a company that balances customer service and price, making it the best value for your situation.
  • It will be a company that has all the coverages you want: basic coverages you need and maybe even some unique coverages to fit your situation.
  • It won't necessarily be a major name. Many of the best insurers for you might not be advertised as much as the big insurers you've heard of and may only operate locally.
  • It will be financially stable, ensuring you won't have to worry about whether claims are paid due to financial issues at the company.

Read on to see how to use all these factors to guide your purchase, or click an individual factor above to skip to that section.

How to find the best insurer for customer service

A policyholder's relationship with their insurer is a unique one. Ideally, they'll barely want to interact with their insurer at all, as that usually means something unfortunate has happened.

But when you do file a claim with your insurer, you'll want to have the best service possible to ensure your financial exposure is covered in a fair and timely fashion.

To get a handle on the quality of a given company's customer service, we recommend:

  • Browsing our editor ratings and reviews
  • Looking at J.D. Power survey results
  • Doing your own research at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

The first place we recommend looking is our editor recommendations. Our ratings (out of five stars) are an estimate of insurers' overall quality — combining service, value and coverages — but customer service weighs greatly in the final score.

If you're looking to get even more data on the customer service process, you can also look at J.D. Power's U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study for this year. J.D. Power surveys customers to measure the quality of the claims process — the most important part of an insurer's customer service — by overall satisfaction, claim servicing, settlement of the claim and other factors.

If these sources aren't enough and you want to get some hard data on the service experience, you can check out the National Association of Insurance Commissioners' website.

There, you can search for companies by name and measure their service by a Customer Complaint Index, which indicates how often policyholders lodge official complaints about an insurer compared to the national median.


How to find the best insurer for affordability

If you can get the same car insurance coverage for a cheaper price with a different insurer, wouldn't you do it? You may be surprised by how often this scenario could apply to you.

And beyond base price of a policy, you may qualify for a variety of discounts that could change the calculus of which insurer is the cheapest.

Prices: You don't always have to pay more to get more

Insurers all use their own methods for calculating the price of a policy for a given driver. This means it's sometimes possible to get a cheaper insurance policy with very little downside.

For example, as we noted in our best companies section, all insurers penalize you for having an accident on your driving history. But not all insurers penalize you to the same extent. In other words, someone with an accident history is treated uniquely by each insurer, given that company's calculation of the risk associated with that particular driver.

The insurer will also have unique calculations for the type of car, where the driver lives, their credit history and a variety of other factors. For this reason, you should always shop across at least three insurers to get a sense for the range of prices available to you. Our recommendations for best insurers are a good place to start.

Discounts: Insurers may have more savings available than you think

Insurers charge drivers differently depending on factors they can't change — age, driving record, location and more — but the companies often provide customers a variety of ways to save on their base rate because of steps drivers have taken to lower their risk.

Discounts typically fit into four categories: driver safety, driver status, policy and vehicle. Below, we've listed some of the most common discounts you might find across major and regional insurers alike.

Discount categoryDiscountYou get savings for...
Driver safetyDefensive drivingTaking a certified defensive driving course
Accident freeHaving no recent accidents
Low mileageDriving less than the average driver
Driver statusGood studentGetting good grades
Student awayYour child lives away from their covered vehicle
MilitaryServing or having served for the military
Professional organizationBeing a member of a qualifying trade or alumni organization
SeniorBeing 55 or older
PolicyMultipolicy bundleBuying multiple policies with the same insurer (e.g., homeowners insurance)
MultivehicleInsuring multiple cars with the same company
Early signingBuying before your current policy expires
Paid-in-fullPaying your entire premium (six months or a year) upfront
E-billPaying your insurance bill electronically
VehicleAnti-theftInstalling anti-theft technology on your car
Anti-lock brakesPurchasing a vehicle with factory-installed anti-lock brakes
New carCovering a newer car; cutoff dates may vary

Read more, including average savings by discount:

Always be sure to follow up with your insurer and check that all discounts are applied to your quote, as estimates from online quote tools may not apply to all available policies. Only compare rates between companies after you've applied all available discounts.


How to find an insurance company with coverages that fit your needs

All the best insurance companies offer the same standard coverages — some of which are required by law — that offer protection against the cost of personal injury and property damage on the road.

  • Liability insurance (for bodily injury and property damage)
  • Comprehensive insurance
  • Collision insurance
  • Personal injury protection
  • Uninsured or underinsured motorist insurance

Beyond these standard coverages, insurers may offer some of the following unique optional coverages or features to appeal to specific types of policyholders. None of these are required by law and may not fit your needs, but if they do, it may be worth going with an insurer that has the coverage over one that doesn't.

  • Accident forgiveness: Your first at-fault accident won't affect your driving record.
  • Vanishing deductible: The deductible on your comprehensive and collision insurance gradually declines for each year you're accident-free.
  • Mechanical breakdown coverage: Insurance covers the cost of repairing gradual wear and tear to the vehicle as a substitute for a car warranty from the dealer.
  • Ride-share insurance: For those who use their personal vehicle working for ride-share companies, this insurance fills the coverage gaps in the insurance policies provided by those companies.
  • Gap insurance: If you lease or finance your car, this covers the difference between the amount you owe your lender and the value of the car in the event of a total loss.
  • Emergency roadside assistance: Covers costs of expenses to assist you when your vehicle breaks down, such as towing, battery service, flat-tire service and fuel delivery.
  • Rental car reimbursement: Covers the cost of a rental car if your vehicle is being repaired in the shop after a covered accident.

In summary, almost all insurers will offer the standard coverages we listed. And many — but not all — offer the additional coverages, too. However, outside of standard coverages, the extent of features an insurer offers may differ from state to state.

Always browse an insurer's website and quote tool, or talk to a customer service representative, to make sure you understand all the coverages available to you.

The best car insurance company for you might be a local company

We've made our recommendations above based on insurers that are widely available throughout the country. But we've often found that some of the best and cheapest insurers for drivers are locally based.

Click on your state of residence below to see our recommendations for the companies with the best customer service reputations and affordability near you.


You want a financially strong insurer so you know your claims will be paid

An insurance company provides you with financial protection when you're facing exorbitant costs. The last thing you want is an insurer that can't cover you because it can't cover its own costs.

The best way to quickly assess an insurance company's financial soundness is through a financial strength rating from professional analysts. We recommend the A.M. Best financial strength rating. A.M. Best, a credit rating agency, independently assesses the ability of insurance companies to pay its claims and rates them in a traditional grading scale from A++ to D-.

We've provided A.M. Best Financial Strength Ratings for all our reviewed insurers on the editor's table above. Almost all receive an A- or higher, indicating an exceptional ability to pay claims.

However, some smaller, local insurers may not have the same financial firepower. If the insurer you're looking for isn't on our list, research it online to see if A.M. Best has rated its financial strength to give you peace of mind that the company backing your insurance coverage is on sound footing.

Methodology

ValuePenguin assigned its editor's rating for insurance companies based on customer service, affordability, coverages offered and the shopping experience.

An insurer was not included in the best companies list for this year unless it does business in at least five states. If companies received an N/A for J.D. Power claims satisfaction or A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating, it's because they was not rated.

Mark is a Senior Research Analyst for ValuePenguin focusing on the insurance industry, primarily auto insurance. He previously worked in financial risk management at State Street Corporation.

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.