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.
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.
Cash in on major life changes. Certain life events could translate to cheaper car insurance, so shop for quotes whenever something major changes in your life. For instance, many companies offer a lower rate for married couples or domestic partners. Or perhaps you moved to a suburb with lower accident and crime rates. If your risk for accidents goes down, your rates just might, too.
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If you only drive for part of the year, you may want to consider a plan that is designed for those who drive fewer than 10,000 miles per year. Plans from Metromile are often much cheaper than a standard policy because they are broken into a base fee per month and a per-mile rate that only kicks in if you drive your vehicle. Do not worry, you won’t have to calculate your mileage – the policy comes with a plug-in device. That same device can also help you find your parked car and calculate your gas mileage, and the app that it comes with can give you alerts on no parking times so that you can avoid getting unnecessary tickets!
Results: After a short wait, the quoting tool produced two quotes, for $299 per month and $971 per month, plus links to two other insurance sites. SmartFinancial allows you to narrow down the results further by selecting desired features such as local agents and low down payment, but given how limited the results were in the first place, that particular option isn’t much help.
NerdWallet compared quotes from these insurers in ZIP codes across the country. Rates are for policies that include liability, collision, comprehensive, and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverages, as well as any other coverage required in each state. Our “good driver” profile is a 40-year-old with no moving violations and credit in the “good” tier.
Progressive offers a unique discount through a program called Snapshot, a usage-based insurance plan that transmits real driving data to the company. Using a telematic device installed in your vehicle, Snapshot monitors your driving behaviors — such as how rapidly you accelerate or how often you stop abruptly — as well as the miles and times you drive, which can increase your risk of an accident.
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.
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.
Both personal injury protection coverage and medical payments coverage can overlap with your regular health insurance coverage. Their interaction will vary based on what type of health insurance policy you have and which state you live in. Some types of health insurance policy don’t cover accident-related injuries at all; if your health insurance policy does cover such injuries, either personal injury protection coverage or medical payments coverage can give you funds to cover copay expenses and other charges that aren’t covered by your health insurance. They will also cover your accident-related medical expenses if you haven’t met your health insurance deductible for the year.
This supplemental option provides protection for any custom parts you may have installed in your vehicle, like grilles, stereo systems, paint jobs, or spoilers. If you elect to purchase this coverage, The General will pay for the cost of replacing these parts after an accident (which aren’t usually included under a standard insurance policy). That said, The General does have a limit on custom equipment coverage: In California, the limit is $1,500, and in every other state, it’s $5,000.