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.
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.
Product highlights: We’re sure you’ve seen a barrage of GEICO ads dominating your television screen. But besides savvy marketing practices, GEICO also has several programs to help policyholders save money on auto expenses. These include the Fuel Finder feature on GEICO’s mobile app (to find the cheapest gas station in your area) and its Car Buying service (to compare features and prices on new and used cars). Through the Auto Repair Xpress service, a claims adjuster will meet you in the repair shop after you file a claim and help you through the process. In some regions, you can also count on GEICO to provide a rental car for rides to and from the shop.
Wendy Connick is the founder and owner of Connick Financial Solutions, a provider of tax and bookkeeping services and a QuickBooks Online Certified ProAdvisor. A long-time freelance writer, she specializes in business and finance articles on subjects including taxes, investing, and retirement. Wendy is an Enrolled Agent (EA), the only federally-licensed tax practitioners who specialize in taxation and have unlimited rights to represent taxpayers before the IRS. She is a member of the National Association of Enrolled Agents and a certified volunteer for VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance), an IRS-sponsored program to provide free tax help for low-income individuals and families.
If you’re an active or former military member — or related to one — then we highly recommend considering USAA for car insurance. USAA provides exceptional customer service and timely, fair claims payments, as evidenced by top ratings in J.D. Power's customer satisfaction survey and Consumer Reports’ claims satisfaction study. USAA also earns some of the best possible financial scores: “A++” from A.M. Best, “AA+” from S&P Global, and “Aaa” from Moody’s. These ratings mean that USAA promises rock-solid backing for your policy, as well as a stable credit outlook in just about any economy.
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.
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Uninsured / underinsured motorist (UM / UIM) covers costs associated with an accident involving uninsured or underinsured motorists, or hit and run drivers. You can’t control the coverage of other drivers on the road, but if you get in an accident with someone who doesn’t have insurance — or who has insufficient protection — you’ll be forced to deal with the costs yourself. We know it’s frustrating to have to pay for someone else’s negligence, but opting for UM / UIM coverage will be well worth it when you need it.
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.
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.
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.