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.

NerdWallet averaged rates for 40-year-old men and women for 20 ZIP codes in each state and Washington, D.C., from the largest insurers, up to 12 in each state. “Good drivers” had no moving violations on record and credit in the “good” tier as reported to each insurer. For the other two driver profiles, we changed the credit tier to “poor” or added one at-fault accident, keeping everything else the same. Sample drivers had the following coverage limits:

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One of the best ways to get cheap car insurance is by comparing car insurance quotes — and the companies offering them. To get you started, NerdWallet looked at car insurance prices across the country for different driver profiles and coverage levels to find the cheapest rates. We’ve sliced the data in several ways to give you an idea of average costs and what factors might nudge your car insurance rate up — or even better, down.
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Customers aren’t very impressed by Liberty Mutual’s claims process or payouts. It’s ranked among “the rest” in J.D. Power’s survey, which falls at the bottom of the scale. It also earned a relatively low Consumer Reports score of 88 (or 23rd place out of 27 companies scored). Finally, Liberty Mutual didn’t quite meet the bar we set for financial stability. Its “A” from S&P Global and “A2” from Moody’s come up a little short of our requirements. These scores are still respectable — indicating an ability to pay out on claims — but mean that Liberty Mutual has a slightly poorer credit outlook in the event of a financial downturn.
If you have a healthy balance in your savings account, you may be able to get away with a higher deductible and save significant money on your premiums—but don’t try this if you have little or no money saved. In that case, if you have a high deductible and get in a serious accident, you’ll either end up buried in debt or unable to pay your car repair bills. Stick to a deductible that’s equal to, or preferably less, than the amount you have tucked away in savings.
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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.


Liberty Mutual offers a few hard-to-find discounts, including savings for newly married couples, new graduates, retirees or drivers over 50, and certain drivers under 18. Some of its coverage options are on the rare side, too — like options for mechanical breakdown coverage, vanishing deductibles, or new car replacement that reimburses you for the car’s original worth (rather than its depreciated value). In short: Liberty Mutual has some niche offerings, so it may be worth speaking with an agent about specialized or customizable coverage needs.
Many insurers state that their policies offer ‘full coverage’ without detailing what that means, because, well, it doesn’t really mean anything. According to Jonathan O’Steen, personal injury attorney and partner at O’Steen & Harrison LLC, “Some insurance agents use ‘full coverage’ as a shorthand way to describe auto policies that only meet state minimum limits for coverage. True full coverage would provide unlimited protection for all losses arising from an automobile accident.”
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.
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Once you’ve chosen a top-rated insurance provider and selected the right policy limits, your work isn’t quite done. No matter how much you love your current policy, it’s still important to shop around every year to find more affordable or even cheap car insurance quotes from other providers. If you get a much lower quote for the same type of policy from another carrier, you might take the quote to your current insurer and ask them to match it. There’s an excellent chance that your current insurer will unearth another discount or two and reduce your premiums just to keep your business. That way, you’ll get the best of both worlds: superior car insurance coverage and a competitive price.

It’s not easy to be a good judge of our own driving skills, but how good a driver you are will certainly affect how likely you are to have an accident—and that’s something to consider when choosing your car insurance policy limits. If you’ve been driving for 20 years and never had an accident, you’re probably a pretty good driver (or at least a cautious one) and may be able to get along with somewhat lower limits on your car insurance. On the other hand, if you get in an accident every year, you’ll definitely want to get plenty of coverage—although you’ll likely pay top-dollar for it with such a high-risk driving history.

The Zebra didn’t allow me to customize coverage preferences, forcing me to choose one of four pre-assembled packages. It also didn’t list which companies allowed which discounts, making their earlier list of pre-qualified discounts less useful. On the right side of the page, the site provided an “Insurability Score” listing the factors that insurance companies use to set rates and grading the information I’d provided during the quoting process, which could help drivers looking to improve their rates in the future.
We researched 36 of the best auto insurance providers based on their ability to serve customers and actually pay out claims; not just on premium cost. Of course, premiums matter, but since rates depend on many different factors — like your age, driving history, and even your ZIP code — the best way to find the most affordable price on the policy you want is to compare quotes. Use our quote tool above to get started.
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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