State Farm vs GEICO vs Allstate vs Progressive vs Farmers: Which is the Best Insurer For You?

State Farm, GEICO, Allstate, Progressive and Farmers are the five largest auto insurers in the U.S. Each is financially stable, has many years in the business, and conducts strong marketing campaigns. So, why choose one over the other?

Which Company is For You?

Different customers may be searching for something specifically in their car insurance company, and none of the Big Five excels in every category. GEICO is by far the best in terms of price, so if pricing is all the matters to you as a customer, then GEICO is the company you should go with. On the other hand, if customer service is a top factor for you, GEICO does not have a particularly great track record and State Farm would be a better pick.

If You Want…You Should Get…
The Cheapest PriceGEICO
The Best Customer ServiceState Farm
A Bit of BothFarmers
DiscountsAllstate
Convenience & SimplicityProgressive

GEICO: Cheapest Among the Five Largest Insurers

Consider this if you want low auto insurance rates and the ability to manage your policy online.

GEICO primarily provides auto insurance services online, and ranks as the cheapest carrier out of the five largest companies. Customers can buy insurance and submit claims all online, without needing to ever speak to an agent, unlike Allstate. As a result, GEICO is able to save costs on paying for an agent network, which translates to cheaper pricing but less personal guidance. GEICO stands out as the cheapest by 12% compared to Progressive and 44% compared to Allstate.

CompanyAverage Yearly RateCheapest States
GEICO$1,091Alaska, Maine, Vermont
Progressive$1,243Alabama, Iowa, Idaho
Farmers$1,248Illinois, Washington, Arizona
State Farm$1,326Nebraska, Kansas, Virginia
Allstate$1,575Virginia, Nebraska, Alabama
National Average$1,553

The first thing many consider when buying auto insurance is which insurer will offer the best price. To see who was truly the cheapest, we used our database of 33,000 quotes from over 2,900 cities in the U.S. and found GEICO was the overall cheapest provider. The prices above reflect quotes for a sample 30 year old male driver. To further underscore GEICO's relative inexpensive cost nationwide, we also looked at how often it ranked as the first, second, and third cheapest provider compared to the likes of State Farm or Progressive.

CompanyFirstSecondThirdFourth or Worst
GEICO32%19%14%35%
Progressive17%20%13%50%
State Farm4%7%14%76%
Farmers3%4%8%85%
Allstate0.2%3%7%90%

GEICO is cheapest in nearly a third of all cities, and a top three provider in over half of them. If you are willing to forgo a strong agent relationship for a cheaper rate, than GEICO is most likely the company for you.

State Farm Has the Best Shopping Experience

Consider this if you want an established insurer and personalized customer service experience.

State Farm is the largest of the five, servicing millions of customers across the nation. State Farm may not have the best pricing, but a strong agent network, coupled with a wide range of flexible policies and a streamlined website made State Farm a clear winner in terms of the overall customer experience. Its agent network numbers 18,000, which gives it a strong presence in many local neighborhoods for those who require more hands-on advice.

Across various features, such as policy offerings and agent presence, State Farm performed better than its competitors. Here are the results of the J.D. Power study in 2017, which reviewed how well the top 22 auto insurance providers in the country stacked up in terms of the shopping experience.

CompanyPolicy OfferingsPricingLocal AgentWebsiteOverall
State Farm43353
Farmers43423
GEICO34243
Progressive32332
Allstate32333

Most noticeably was State Farm's perfect score in the website category, a gauge of the overall satisfaction a customer has interfacing with a company's digital offerings. This indicates that, though State Farm has a strong agent force, the largest of any provider, they’re also focused on serving consumers well in online channels. According to J.D. Power, about 50% of customers still prefer to purchase a policy from an agent as opposed to online but, if you don’t find yourself in that group, then State Farm would still be best to ensure a great purchase experience.

Allstate is Better for the Claims Process

Consider this if you want great service, particularly in the case you need to file a claim.

Allstate is the third largest car insurer of the five. Available online and through local agents, the long-running company usually falls toward the bottom of the five in terms of pricing for our sample 30 year old driver, but it can tout a better claims handling process. It also offers the greatest number of discounts versus Farmers, State Farm and the other carriers, so it is still a contender for drivers looking to save money on their auto insurance. Here is how Allstate stacks up against the other insurers when it comes to agent servicing and settlement satisfaction, among other factors:

CompanyInitial Claims ProcessService of AgentAppraisalRepair ProcessSatisfaction w/ SettlementOverall
Allstate334433
Farmers333233
State Farm334333
GEICO444344
Progressive333333

While almost every member of the Big Five scored a mediocre "3" overall, Allstate edged out the other four due to its well-rated appraisal and repair processes, which can be particularly challenging for customers to handle without strong support. Allstate requires its potential customers buy policies from an agent, even when the quote is started online. While this may seem inconvenient, building a relationship with an agent may actually be a worthwhile venture. An experienced agent will have a much better idea on what type of insurance you need, ensuring you won't be overpaying for superfluous coverage.

As we have spoken at length before, discounts are a great way to save yearly on your car insurance bill. The Big Five all have a multitude of discounts that can save customers well over 20% every year. Within the Big Five however, Allstate offers the most.

CompanyNumber of Discounts Offered
Allstate23
Farmers17
GEICO15
State Farm13
Progressive9

Allstate usually falls toward the bottom in the previous categories we explored, but it does offer the most discounts of any of the Big Five. While having the most well known discounts such as good student, safe driver, and bundling, Allstate also offers discounts for elder drivers, for drivers with green vehicles, for vehicles made before a certain year (which the other four companies do not always carry). The larger potential for savings at Allstate may make up for its generally heftier price.

Another feature worth mentioning is Allstate's Drivewise Program, which is great for customers who drive less than 7,500 miles per year. The program comes with a device, which you can strap to your car, that measures the distance you drive as well as your driving habits. A combination of clean and infrequent driving can lead to even more discounts off of your yearly premium at Allstate.

How About Progressive?

Consider this if you’re a great driver and will qualify for discounts of up to 30% through their Snapshot program.

Progressive is rather similar to GEICO in that it is mostly based online, with a few independent agents scattered across the country. It has two key highlights: how it lets customers compare their rates to other competitors, and its Snapshot Program. Comparing car insurance rates is pivotal toward getting the best deal around. Progressive makes it a bit easier by bringing the rates to you in one convenient spot.

The Snapshot Program is also a great add-on for those who do not drive frequently. The device measures how much you drive, and how often you break hard or drive fast. It is meant to prove to Progressive you are a safe, infrequent driver, thus leading to cheaper rates. The average discount is reportedly 10 to 15%, but can go up to 30%. It should be noted though that in a few states, customers actually saw their rates increase, so only get it if you know for sure you're a safe, infrequent driver.

Why Farmers?

Farmers
Farmers

Consider this if you want solid customer service during the claims process as well as a great shopping experience.

Farmers sells car insurance through its network of agents and its online portal. It offers a bit of both when it comes to price and service. It's not the most expensive, and not the cheapest, but it does come with a fairly strong service record. Farmers ranks both second for the claims process and the shopping experience when we compared them to the other four major carriers.

Unlike the other companies as well, Farmers has "Incident Forgiveness". While everyone of the Big Five has "Accident Forgiveness", Farmers also forgives minor incidents such as a speeding ticket, which we have found can lead to a big spike in yearly rates. Getting incident forgiveness is a bit easier than accident forgiveness as well, which takes three years of clean driving. Upon your first policy renewal with Farmers, you automatically get incident forgiveness; so if you get caught for speeding, you can breathe a little easier. Unfortunately though, not every state has the discount.

Craig Casazza

Craig is a former research analyst at ValuePenguin covering property and casualty insurance, including auto, homeowners, renters and motorcycle insurance.

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