It’s nearly impossible to predict the cost of insurance for anyone other than yourself. Premiums are based on factors specific to the driver, including age, vehicle, driving history, credit score, and even where you’ll be doing most of your driving. Every insurer weighs these factors differently, which means the only way to find the best price for your policy is to get quotes from multiple auto insurance companies.
Keep in mind that these requirements are precisely that: the minimum allowable coverage. If you cause an accident with damages exceeding your policy, you’ll ultimately be responsible for paying whatever’s left, and those costs can add up quickly. If you live in a state with low minimum requirements, it’s a good idea to select additional coverage so that you’re not left footing the bill for auto repairs or costly hospital visits.
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.
Keep an eye on your credit score: Maintaining a solid credit score is recommended no matter what, but it’s especially important when your score is being referenced to develop your auto insurance policy. Just as you investigate a car’s accident history before purchasing, insurers in most states use a credit-based insurance score to help determine rates. The higher the risk, the higher the policy costs.
Auto insurance policies don’t come with a single limit and deductible. There are typically a number of coverage limits based on the type of claim a customer might make. Most claims are categorized either as collision or comprehensive claims. Car insurance policies can also offer coverage to help you with the financial repercussions of an accident, such as medical bills and lost wages.
Auto insurance comparison websites, which let you instantly compare quotes from multiple insurance providers, can be a huge help in your quest for affordable car insurance. They provide accurate, personalized rates, discounts, and coverage options all on one site—much like your favorite travel comparison site that gives you airline ticket or hotel room options all on a single page.
The General offers fewer supplemental coverage options than our other picks for the best auto insurance companies, but it does include roadside assistance, a service which keeps you from being stranded on the side of the road after an accident or vehicle failure. If you’re not a member of AAA or another auto service provider which offers roadside assistance coverage, opting for supplemental coverage on your policy will provide greater peace of mind while you’re on the road.
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 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.
Results: Even without having to link a current insurance company’s account, I was still able to receive three quotes – only after I had built out my driver profile with car information and specifics about my driving record. The few quotes I received for the coverage level I selected were reported as more or less accurate, but Gabi advised that I should “act fast,” as the “quotes could change anytime.” If I selected a quote, I had to enter remaining details about my driving record (such as my driver’s license number) before moving on to payment preferences. Furthermore, Gabi followed up with texts to my personal number, which was technically convenient, but something of an annoyance.
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).
Everquote also provided checkboxes to opt out of receiving calls and emails from agents. However, under the “Show My Quotes” button, the usual legal boilerplate informed me that by clicking the above button I was providing express written consent to be contacted by Everquote and a whole laundry list of insurance companies and partners, whether or not my phone number was on the Do Not Call list.
If you served our nation, you’ll have access to a wide array of veterans benefits, including the option of purchasing a policy from USAA. USAA often offerings are available for among the lowest premium prices, and the company is consistently rated extremely highly for customer service, claims fulfillment and affordability. Older drivers who have been insured by USAA for 40 years will receive a Senior Bonus payment toward their annual premium amount.
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:
DMV.org is a privately-owned site that helps drivers interact with their local Department of Motor Vehicles. This site is not an official government agency, but acts as a middleman between you and your local DMV; for example, a visitor may renew their vehicle registration or driver’s license on the site for an additional fee. The website is rated 4 out of 5, and has 5,830 user reviews on Trustpilot.
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.
The General is known for insuring high-risk drivers who may face high premiums or have trouble finding insurance elsewhere. This makes it attractive for customers with poor credit or an extensive accident history. Choosing such an insurer comes with some significant drawbacks: While most drivers will be able to get coverage, they’ll likely face steep rates with minimal protection.