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.
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The cheapest car insurance, period, will likely carry the minimum coverage required in your state. In most states, this is liability insurance only, which covers property damage and medical bills for others due to accidents you cause. Some states also require uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, which pay for your injuries or damage if an at-fault driver doesn’t have enough insurance.
Product highlights: ERIE offers a Rate Lock feature on its auto insurance policies that keeps the rate constant from year to year, even if the policyholder files a claim. Rate Lock lasts until the policyholder makes certain changes to the policy, such as adding or removing a driver or vehicle. Those with furry friends will appreciate that ERIE offers up to $1,000 in veterinary care coverage in the event your pets are injured in an accident.
How it works: Once I launched the quoting tool for auto insurance, I was greeted by a large-print brag that “Drivers Pay As Low As $29.32/Month for Car Insurance.” When I began filling in my vehicle information, the site offered to save me time by looking up the information for me—a frightening reminder of how much of our personal information is available online. The contact information fields were accompanied by text stating that “we respect your privacy” and “NO SPAM, privacy guaranteed.”
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:
Insurance experts suggest that you compare car insurance policies every time your current policy is up for renewal (typically every six months to a year). Before you launch your quote hunt, review your existing policy and see if your needs have changed. For example, many auto lenders will require you to have no more than a $500 deductible in comprehensive/collision coverage—but once you pay off your car loan, you can increase this deductible and save a considerable amount on your insurance premiums.
Any car insurance comparison tool you look at should have your state’s minimum car insurance requirements pre-loaded into its options. States requiring PIP or medpay are generally referred to as “no-fault” states, meaning that when injuries occur, each driver in a crash makes a claim with their own insurance company to pay for them. Beyond the PIP or medpay limit, the at-fault driver’s liability insurance kicks in to cover the rest.
The single most effective way to fix credit problems, however, is to make all your payments on time, starting immediately. If you can’t afford to make at least the minimum payments on all your debts, get in touch with some of your creditors to see if you can negotiate a deal. Many creditors will accept a somewhat smaller repayment if the alternative is forcing you into bankruptcy.
On the other hand, if you’re still paying off your vehicle both comprehensive and collision coverage are likely required by your lender, and the lender may also set a maximum deductible on your coverage or have other requirements in place. Check with whichever company is providing your auto loan before giving up this coverage or changing your deductibles or coverage limits.
Unfortunately, some older drivers might be disqualified from standard insurance policies simply because of their age. If you are unable to get a standard insurance policy, Dairyland insurance might be a good option. The company also has pay-as-you-go plans, perfect for elders on a tight budget who could not otherwise afford to drive under a high-risk plan. Of all the nonstandard car insurance companies, Dairyland consistently has the fewest number of customer complaints, making it a good option if you need this type of coverage.
The amount of coverage required by law varies from state to state. If you are a cautious person, you might opt for a more expensive policy with better coverage. If you have a lot of assets, experts recommend that you get enough liability coverage to protect them; otherwise, the other party involved in an accident could sue and attempt to collect on those assets.
If you can’t imagine the idea of driving a less-than-luxury vehicle while your car is in the shop, Chubb also offers rental coverage of up to $15,000, anywhere in the world. Like many things in life, you get what you pay for: Chubb has above average customer satisfaction ratings and fewer than average complaints, as well as “superior” financial backing for their white glove service.
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.
But according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, newly licensed drivers are about eight times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes in their first six months than more experienced drivers. The takeaway? Experience counts. The Center for Disease Control suggests that increased education programs and parental involvement in instruction are associated with reductions of as many as 40% of fatal and injury crashes among 16-year-olds.
The General is intended for drivers who may face steep rates from other insurers, but that doesn’t mean it will be able to provide those drivers with the protection they need. Few coverage options and a history of complicated claims resolution keeps us from recommending The General. Even if it offers lower rates than the competition, you might eventually get hit with unexpected fees that drive up the price of your coverage. If you can avoid it, you should — there are better insurance options out there.