The day all parents dread is finally upon you; your teenage child is old enough to drive. But before they pop in a mix-tape (those are still a thing, right?) and step on the gas, they need to learn the rules of the road. ConsumerAffairs asked dozens of driving schools across the country for advice to make the process more enjoyable and educational for you and your student driver.
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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.
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.
Nationwide pulls lower customer ratings than our top picks. The company scored an 88 from Consumer Reports (putting it in 22nd place out of 27 companies), and an “average” rating from J.D. Power. In other words, Nationwide doesn’t knock it out of the park for either customer service or claims process — which are both crucial for a great insurer. It also missed our financial stability benchmark by a hair, with S&P Global and Moody’s ratings just below the “very strong” or “excellent” benchmarks that we look for.
The General provides insurance for high-risk drivers. If you have a hard time finding coverage elsewhere, just being able to obtain insurance may be a big draw. But the cost of such insurance can be steep — and we don’t just mean premiums. Insufficient coverage means that you might end up paying extra for accidents that you’re involved in, not only to cover costs for expenses like medical bills or property damage, but also because The General may not pay out as much as you need for repairs or claims.
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.
How it works: Like other comparison site flows, Gabi asks for some fundamental information, like your name, address, and prior insurance company. Early on, however, I had to create an account linked to my email address and mobile phone number, adding some extra steps to the process. Since Gabi specializes in comparing insurance rates against your current plan, it isn’t ideal for the first-time insurance shopper. However, if you aren’t currently insured, you have the option to indicate “I Don’t Have Insurance” early on in the flow, and you should still be able to find quotes – this is what I selected, to see if the experience would differ from someone not currently insured.
There are a million things to worry about when you’re involved in an accident. Whether or not your insurance company will be able to pay your claim shouldn’t be one of them. A strong financial rating is the best way to guarantee your provider can pay what you need, when you need it, so we made sure all of our picks had strong ratings based on the Insurance Information Institute’s (III) guidelines.
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.
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When it comes to supplemental coverage, Travelers is hard to beat. It consistently met our marks for what we considered “the essentials” and it offers unique coverage, too. That includes accident forgiveness, GAP insurance, and special coverage for drivers employed by ridesharing operations like Uber and Lyft (though this add-on is currently only available in Colorado and Illinois).
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.
Everquote actually has two websites. One is a typical lead generation insurance site with quoting tools for auto, home and life insurance. The other, Everquote Pro, is for insurance agents—it provides a way for agents to sign up to receive information about visitors to the site who use the quoting tools. Everquote is rated 1.5 out of 5, and has 80 user reviews on BBB.org.
If you are smart though, it does not have to be this way. Many insurance companies offer discounts to mature drivers, as well as those who use drive tracking apps, take defensive driving courses, and have up-to-date safety features on their vehicles. If you’ve recently retired and have stopped commuting to and from work every day, you also might be eligible for a discount for driving less.
Liability insurance covers you if you’re in an accident deemed to be your fault. It will cover repairs to damaged property, as well as medical bills resulting from injury to the other driver and his or her passengers. Most states require at least a minimum amount of liability insurance, but it’s a good idea to purchase extra protection if you can afford it.
Beyond the standard protections, supplemental (or “add-on”) coverage will keep you protected against the additional costs that often come with accidents. Features like car rental coverage may not seem essential when you view them as just another added cost, but the increase in your rate could still be lower than the cost of renting a replacement vehicle if your damaged car is in the shop for a while. The options offered by providers vary widely in both availability and cost. Our favorites offer supplemental coverage options that can build a policy for every profile.
"Teens are very likely to pick up the habits of their parents,” says J.C. Fawcett of the Defensive Driving School. “A parent should think about. Do I cuss at other drivers while driving? Do I speed? Do I tailgate? The training that comes from students observing their parents is very powerful. If a parent attempts to change their habits only when their teen is learning to drive, it's probably 10 years too late."
The General’s coverage options are, quite frankly, barebones protections. While there are some supplemental options like roadside assistance and rental reimbursement, don’t expect the luxury of accident forgiveness. And when you need to file a claim, you’ll have to do so over the phone — though it offers live chat and online policy management, The General doesn’t allow its customers to file claims without talking to a representative.