If you are an older driver, you should also make sure to keep your license up to date: many states will require you to renew it every four to five years. No matter what policy you choose, you should also make sure to get regular physicals to make sure you are healthy enough to drive, and to understand the side effects of any medications you are taking.
If you’re an active or former military member — or related to one — then we highly recommend considering USAA for car insurance. USAA provides exceptional customer service and timely, fair claims payments, as evidenced by top ratings in J.D. Power's customer satisfaction survey and Consumer Reports’ claims satisfaction study. USAA also earns some of the best possible financial scores: “A++” from A.M. Best, “AA+” from S&P Global, and “Aaa” from Moody’s. These ratings mean that USAA promises rock-solid backing for your policy, as well as a stable credit outlook in just about any economy.
In a recent survey, we found that our readers’ biggest complaints about their current insurance company related to customer service and their final settlement amount. So, we used J.D. Power’s 2017 claims satisfaction study to find out which insurers had done the best job settling claims for their customers. Scores are assessed on a 1,000-point scale, and all of our final contenders ranked above 850.
 Availability varies. Enrollment discount applies during data collection; final discount is calculated on driving behavior and could be zero. Discounts do not apply to all coverage elements; actual savings vary by state, coverage selections, rating factors and policy changes. Final discount applies at the next policy renewal and remains until drivers or vehicles on the policy change.
Product highlights: Allstate customers can sign up for Drivewise, a mobile app that awards points for completing safe driving challenges. Those points can be redeemed for gift cards, merchandise, and other prizes. Plus, Allstate famously offers first-time accident forgiveness…even if you’re at fault for a fender-bender. Allstate’s also well documented for its roadside assistance services.
NerdWallet compared quotes from these insurers in ZIP codes across the country. Rates are for policies that include liability, collision, comprehensive, and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverages, as well as any other coverage required in each state. Our “good driver” profile is a 40-year-old with no moving violations and credit in the “good” tier.
If you don’t have the cash to cover a high deductible, yet can’t afford to pay a great deal in auto insurance premiums, don’t panic—there are plenty of other ways to reduce your rates. Because different carriers use slightly different factors to determine how they’ll set the rates for your policy, simply shopping around and comparing rates from different companies can result in substantial savings. And choosing a carrier that offers numerous discounts that you’re eligible to claim can reduce your insurance costs even further.
Comprehensive coverage: This covers things that could happen to your car not related to an accident that might not be covered by standard insurance, such as weather damage, running into an animal or other factors. It’s a good idea to opt for comprehensive coverage if you can afford it, but it can get costly and might not be worth it if you drive an old or inexpensive car.
You can sometimes get auto insurance quotes on lead generation sites, but expect them to be far less reliable than quotes from comparison sites. Using lead generation sites most likely means that you’ll end up wandering from one auto insurance website to another in pursuit of the best rate, which rather defeats the purpose of using a quote-generating site at all.
Auto insurance is financial protection, and not just for the investment you made when you bought your car. After a really serious accident, bills for damage and injuries can easily reach into hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you happen to cause such a wreck, the victims could sue you. In the worst case scenario, assets such as your savings and home could be seized.
Know when to cut coverage. Don’t strip away coverage just for the sake of cheaper insurance. You’ll need full coverage car insurance to satisfy the terms of an auto loan, and you’ll want it as long as your car would be a financial burden to replace. But for older cars, you can drop comprehensive and collision coverage, which only pay out up to your car’s current value, minus the deductible.
Auto-Owners Insurance Group is another powerful contender for customer ratings. In terms of claims satisfaction, Consumer Reports gives Auto-Owners a 93 (eighth place out of 27 companies rated), and J.D. Power dubs the company “better than most.” It also took first place for customer satisfaction in J.D. Power’s survey of the North Central region. To top it off, Auto-Owners matches the coverage selection at other top companies. Add-ons like roadside assistance, rental reimbursement, GAP insurance, new car replacement, and accident forgiveness can help to round out your policy.
The General also has some red flags when it comes to its financial solvency. While A.M. Best awards an “Excellent” financial strength rating to The General's parent company, American Family Insurance, The General itself isn't rated by agencies like like S&P Global and Moody’s. In fact, it has no ratings of its own — from any agency. The Insurance Information Institute recommends choosing providers with multiple financial strength evaluations, so this complete lack of evaluation gave us pause. While The General may still have the ability to pay out on claims, it isn’t backed with the same confidence as companies with many financial strength ratings.