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 General advertises low rates for coverage, and many customers have confirmed that they were offered lower premiums at the outset of their policy. But after the fact, The General has been known to tack on hidden fees for things as simple as monthly billing, resulting in a rate that can be significantly higher than the initial rate you were given.
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.
Results: Nerdwallet returned three quotes ranging from $154 per month to $315 per month and six “estimated rates” ranging from $153 per month to $330 per month, from mostly name-brand insurance carriers. Each quote/rate included a little information about the company, a company rating, and a summary of Nerdwallet’s review (accessed by clicking on the “view details” link). The quotes had a button to click in order to buy the policy over the phone, but only one quote offering the option to purchase online. The estimated rates included a button to click to access the company’s website and get an actual quote from them.
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.
Professional and organizational discounts: If you belong to certain organizations, such as the AARP, or are a member of certain professions, you may be eligible for a discount. Check with your employer, professional organization, and any other group with which you enjoy membership; you can also ask the insurance company if any such discount is available.
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 company’s discounts are numerous, varied, and designed to reward you, not just your car. It offers deductions for paying your premium on time, signing up for a policy early, and it even offers discounts for continuous coverage (renewing your policy before it expires). These types of discounts are less common than you might think, and they demonstrate that Travelers doesn’t just want to save money for its new customers — it’s concerned with keeping its old ones happy, too.
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.
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Quite simply, Travelers didn’t inspire enough confidence with its claims satisfaction. We know one survey doesn’t paint an entire picture, but Travelers was the lowest-scoring insurer of our top picks. Its J.D. Power score of 851 out of 1,000 is below the industry average, and since our research consistently pointed to claims satisfaction as the best indicator of customer experience, we couldn’t give Travelers the top spot in confidence.
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.
The General doesn’t ask for any identifying information when you request a quote online. You’ll just need to answer a few questions about your driving history, vehicle, and basic personal information like age, gender, and marital status. The General claims that it takes less than two minutes to complete the quote process, and we found this to be an accurate estimate.
Car insurance rates vary greatly depending on age. Your risk profile as a driver will change throughout your life, so you may be eligible for discounts at some points in your life while other times you may see your car insurance premium increase. This is why you want to keep shopping for car insurance throughout your life so you ensure the best value.
Results: Once I submitted my information, the site produced one quote, along with six links to other insurance companies. “View my quote” buttons next to each quote took me to the beginning of the insurance website’s own quoting tool, making it clear that these were strictly hypothetical rates. Everquote provided a blurb of marketing text about two of the companies and no helpful information whatsoever to guide my decision.
But liability coverage levels come in threes — you’ll probably see something like 50/100/50 up to 250/500/250 in typical policies. You can think of these limits like: individual injuries / total injuries / property damage. Insurers are a little more technical, calling them bodily injury liability, total bodily injury liability and physical damage liability.
If you have poor credit and don’t live in one of the three exempt states, consider requesting an extraordinary life circumstances exemption. This exemption allows you to request insurance carriers not to use your credit score when calculating your rate. This is particularly helpful if you can show that your poor credit was caused by specific circumstances beyond your control, such as serious illness, divorce, unemployment, and similar life catastrophes. The insurance company will likely ask you to provide documentary proof, so make sure you can back up your claim.
Insurify, a free insurance comparison website that provides real-time, accurate car insurance quotes, set out to analyze all major car insurance companies and rank them with a single, multi-point score. The result is the Insurify Composite Score—a number that gives you an easy way to see which insurance companies are the best fit for you before you need to use your policy. By choosing a policy with the right coverage level from a highly rated carrier, you can give yourself peace of mind on the road.
The best car insurance companies have a few things in common: They have straightforward shopping experiences, take good care of policyholders after a crash and treat their customers with respect and courtesy. That means only insurers with high customer satisfaction scores and relatively few complaints to insurance commissioners make it to the top of our list of the best auto insurance companies.
Customers have also been quick to note that when they needed The General to come through, it either failed to do so or provided an insufficient and unsatisfactory resolution. For repairs, this means you may not get the amount you need — several people report sending over bills from repair shops only to receive compensation that was less than half the actual cost. Refunds for contested fees were also hard to come by, even if there was no history of driving violations or accidents.