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

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State Farm, GEICO, Allstate, Progressive and Farmers are the five largest companies in the U.S. Together, they make up about 52% of all car insurance business in the United States and insure billions of dollars worth of vehicles. Each is financially stable, has many years in the business, and conduct strong marketing campaigns. Between the slogans and commercials though, it may be hard to see the difference between any of them. Why choose one over the other? In this article, we are going to tackle that question across a variety of different factors. 

Table of Contents 

Which Company is For You?

Different customers may be searching for something specifically in their car insurance company, and neither of the Big Five excels in every category. GEICO is by far the best of the five 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. If you customer service is a factor for you, GEICO does not have a particularly great track record. As always though, you should comparison shop between as many companies as you can in your area.  In fact, the cheapest provider and best car insurance provider in your town may not even be in the Big Five. Read on further for more specific details. 

If You Want...You Should Get...
The Cheapest Price GEICO
The Best Customer Service State Farm
A Bit of Both Farmers
Discounts Allstate
Convenience & Simplicity Progressive

GEICO: Cheapest Among the Five Largest Insurers

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. It has a minimal agent network compared to companies like State Farm, and Farmers. As a result, GEICO is able to save costs on paying for that 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 $1,091 Alaska, Maine, Vermont
Progressive $1,243 Alabama, Iowa, Idaho,
Farmers $1,248 Illinois, Washington, Arizona
State Farm $1,326 Nebraska, Kansas, Virginia
Allstate $1,575 Virginia, Nebraska, Alabama
National Average $1,553

The first thing many consider when buying auto insurance is "who is going to 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 where it ranked among the first, second, and third cheapest provider compared to the likes of State Farm or Progressive in the 2,945 cities we surveyed. 

CompanyFirstSecondThirdFourth or Worst
GEICO 32% 19% 14% 35%
Progressive 17% 20% 13% 50%
State Farm 4% 7% 14% 76%
Farmers 3% 4% 8% 85%
Allstate 0.2% 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 

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 aspects 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 2015, where it looked at how well the top twenty auto insurance providers in the country stacked up in terms of the shopping experience they provide for potential customers. 

CompanyPolicy Offerings Pricing Local Agent Website Overall
State Farm  4 3 5 3 4 (839)
Farmers 3 3 3 2 3 (823)
GEICO 3 3 2 3 2 (813)
Progressive  3 2 3 3 2 (813)
Allstate 3 2 3 2 2 (811)

Most noticeably was State Farm's perfect score in the "Local Agent" category, a gauge of the overall satisfaction a customer has interfacing with a company's residential agents. It should not come as a surprise however with State Farm's agent force of 18,000--the largest of any other provider. According to J.D. Power, about 50% of customers still prefer to purchase a policy from an agent as opposed to online. If you find yourself in that group, then State Farm would be best to ensure a great agent/customer relationship. 

Allstate Is Slightly Better for the Claims Process

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 slightly better claims handling process. It offers the most number of discounts versus Farmers, State Farm and the other carriers, so 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:

Company Initial Claims ProcessService of AgentAppraisal Repair ProcessSatisfaction w/ Settlement Overall 
Allstate 3 3 4 3 3 3 (861)
Farmers 3 4 3 3 3 3 (859)
State Farm 3 3 4 3 3 3 (858)
GEICO 4 2 3 2 3 3 (854)
Progressive 3 3 3 2 3 3 (853)

While every member of the Big Five scored a mediocre "3" overall, Allstate edged out the other four by total aggregate score. J.D. Power says Allstate is "Better than most" when it comes to appraising car damage after an accident. 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 coverage 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
Allstate 23
Farmers 17
GEICO 15
State Farm 13
Progressive 9

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?

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. As we have discussed many times before, especially here, 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 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 breath a little easier. Unfortunately though, not every state has the discount. 

Sources

J.D. Power 2015 Insurance Shopping Study
J.D. Power 2015 Auto Insurance Claims Satisfaction Study

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