It’s important to note that every company considers credit very differently, and even among insurers this factor fluctuates by state. For example, NerdWallet’s 2019 car insurance rate analysis indicates that while State Farm charges higher rates for poor credit in many states, it doesn’t seem to do so in Maine. Similar variations are true for many other companies as well.
While it’s easy to get lured in by insurance providers offering extremely low auto insurance rates, try to remember that price is not the only factor to consider when you’re choosing a car insurance company—in fact, it’s probably not even the most important factor. In normal circumstances, the most noticeable aspect of your auto insurance policy is your premium payment, so it’s easy to focus solely on price. However, when something goes wrong—you get in an accident, your car is stolen, etc.—the other aspects of your insurance policy and the quality of your insurance company will suddenly become a lot more important. If you’ve chosen wisely, your car insurance carrier can make the claims process an easy and relatively pleasant experience; if not, your carrier can make an already miserable situation even worse.
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.
If you get sued as a result of an accident or otherwise exceed the liability coverage limits on your auto insurance policy, umbrella coverage can take care of those extra charges for you. Umbrella coverage is an add-on that picks up where your standard car insurance policy leaves off. If you have a high net worth, umbrella coverage can help you protect those assets even in a worst-case scenario. For example, if you get into an accident and are found to be at fault, and the other party sues you for an enormous sum, umbrella coverage could help you pay those lawsuit charges.
The company also offers plenty of other discounts that seniors can take advantage of to lower their car insurance rate. Get a discounted rate when you pay your full premium in one lump sum or when you enrolled in automatic electronic funds transfer payments. If you’re planning to switch from another insurer, you can qualify for a discount if you switch with no lapse in coverage.
Product highlights: Esurance is well known for bringing the car insurance claims process into the 21st century and has been lauded for providing a simple, user-friendly mobile and web experience for online users. Its Photo Claims program allows customers to snap a smartphone photo of any property damage rather than setting an appointment with an appraiser. This can allow claims to be settled in as little as one day. Digital natives: this could be the insurance provider for you.
J.D. Power and Consumer Reports give American Family strong ratings for customer service and claims: two factors that are incredibly important when it comes to insurance. But where AmFam really sets itself apart is in the discount department. The company offers generous savings opportunities for almost any driver — from price cuts for safe drivers, good students, and families, to discounts for vehicle safety features, policy bundling, paperless billing, and more. If AmFam is available in your area, try getting a quote to see whether these discounts can help you save on car 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.
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.
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.
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Auto Insurance is required by law for drivers in most states. Drivers who own a car and drive it often should definitely have auto insurance to cover the risk of damages to their car and personal injury and the liability of harm to other people and property. Otherwise, repairs and medical costs, particularly when you’re liable for an accident, can be very expensive.
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.
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.
A lot goes into an auto insurance rate quote, including your ZIP code, coverage levels, marital status, annual mileage, driving history and vehicle make, year and model. In most states, your gender and credit history are also used to determine rates. And again, the reason auto insurance comparison shopping is so important is because rates between companies are different for each person, too.
Another factor to consider is how often you drive. If you work from home and only drive a few miles once a week to run your errands, you’re far less likely to end up in an accident than someone who has a 50-mile-a-day commute. Rush-hour driving is also riskier than driving at less peak times because you’re dealing with large numbers of often impatient drivers who may be willing to take risks in order to get themselves to work on time. In short, the more you drive, the more insurance coverage you’re likely to need.

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.
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.
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