Auto insurance policies don’t come with a single limit and deductible. There are typically a number of coverage limits based on the type of claim a customer might make. Most claims are categorized either as collision or comprehensive claims. Car insurance policies can also offer coverage to help you with the financial repercussions of an accident, such as medical bills and lost wages.
Product highlights: American Family developed the Dreams Restored Program (DRP) for its auto insurance customers. If a policyholder uses a DRP-certified repair shop after filing a claim, the repairs have a lifetime warranty and the bill goes to American Family rather than to the customer. Some perks offered by American Family include gap coverage and rideshare insurance in select states.
Unlike quote comparison sites, lead generation sites simply sell your information to their advertising partners—typically insurance companies. These sites are not built to provide you with personalized quotes and are not much help when trying to compare car insurance rates. Avoid these sites unless you’re eager to receive tons of cold calls from insurance phone banks and desperate agents.
Another factor to consider is how often you drive. If you work from home and only drive a few miles once a week to run your errands, you’re far less likely to end up in an accident than someone who has a 50-mile-a-day commute. Rush-hour driving is also riskier than driving at less peak times because you’re dealing with large numbers of often impatient drivers who may be willing to take risks in order to get themselves to work on time. In short, the more you drive, the more insurance coverage you’re likely to need.
Progressive impressed us with a solid array of discounts, including deductions for simple things like signing a new policy early and opting for paperless billing. The company has historically been known for insuring "riskier" drivers than many of its competitors, and it shows: Progressive is our only contender that offers a near unheard-of discount for drivers under 18 (who have a crash rate that’s almost nine times higher than that of middle-aged drivers).
Claims and price satisfaction: We looked at J.D. Power’s 2018 Auto Claims Satisfaction Reports, Insure.com’s Best Car Insurance Companies for 2018, and Consumer Reports’ 2017 Car Insurance Ratings to get a bird’s-eye view of the industry across the nation. We also conducted a survey of 100 insured drivers who had filed a claim within the past 12 months.
"Many companies offer discounts for good grades and for completion of an approved driver’s education or defensive driving course," continued Doreen Haughton-James of 123 Drive! Driving Academy. "Some also have their own discount programs. State Farm, for example, has a program called 'Steer Clear' where students receive discounts for logging driving hours and completing a program."
Travelers Insurance offers the most comprehensive coverage of any auto insurance provider we saw. It has options for accident forgiveness, GAP insurance, and special coverage for drivers employed by rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft. And while The General might give you a lower base quote, Travelers’ long list of discounts could erase that gap quickly.
Results: Once I typed in the requested zip code I was immediately taken to a page with links to four actual insurance quote comparison websites. Rather than create a quoting tool of its own, ValuePenguin has apparently chosen to guide visitors to other comparison websites. All in all, you’d be better off just skipping ValuePenguin and going straight to a site that will produce quotes for you.
While it’s easy to get lured in by insurance providers offering extremely low auto insurance rates, try to remember that price is not the only factor to consider when you’re choosing a car insurance company—in fact, it’s probably not even the most important factor. In normal circumstances, the most noticeable aspect of your auto insurance policy is your premium payment, so it’s easy to focus solely on price. However, when something goes wrong—you get in an accident, your car is stolen, etc.—the other aspects of your insurance policy and the quality of your insurance company will suddenly become a lot more important. If you’ve chosen wisely, your car insurance carrier can make the claims process an easy and relatively pleasant experience; if not, your carrier can make an already miserable situation even worse.
J.D. Power ranks Farmers Auto Insurance better than most for claims satisfaction — an important endorsement, considering that on-time and fairly-sized claim payouts are the ultimate goal of insurance. Besides that, Farmers has a great coverage selection. A few options, like new car replacement and custom parts coverage, we didn’t see among all our top picks. We also like the company’s accident forgiveness program, which “will forgive one at-fault accident for every three years you drive without one.”
The best auto insurance companies provide a variety of coverage and service options, great customer service, and a smooth claim resolution process, all at an affordable rate. Since virtually every state requires its drivers to have a minimum amount of auto insurance coverage, you might as well get a policy—and an insurer—you can be happy with in both good times and bad.
Of our top auto insurers, State Farm has the fewest discounts. You won’t find any price breaks for young or elderly drivers, for being a loyal customer, nor for having a new car. Most of its discounts are safety related, like if you have airbags, anti-lock brakes, or enroll in a safe driving program. However, State Farm’s lack of discounts doesn’t mean your quote will be more expensive — just that you’ll have fewer opportunities to lower it.
Results: The final page offered five quotes ranging from $141 per month to $215 per month, and three links to other websites that I could use to get additional quotes. Unlike the other comparison websites, the quotes weren’t in any order (the others sorted their results from smallest to largest). Each quote included a company rating, policy features and a button that would either take you to the company’s website or allow you to compare it with another company. A list of options on the left side of the page allowed me to check off the features that I wanted to include, and eliminated companies not offering those features.
We first looked for companies that received an "A-" or better (“strong”) from A.M. Best, a rating agency specifically focused on the insurance industry. Then, because the III recommends getting ratings from more than one agency, the best needed to earn at least an "AA-" (“very strong”) from S&P Global or an "Aa3" (“excellent”) or higher from Moody’s.
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The General is known for insuring high-risk drivers who may face high premiums or have trouble finding insurance elsewhere. This makes it attractive for customers with poor credit or an extensive accident history. Choosing such an insurer comes with some significant drawbacks: While most drivers will be able to get coverage, they’ll likely face steep rates with minimal protection.
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