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.
 Availability varies. Enrollment discount applies during data collection; final discount is calculated on driving behavior and could be zero. Discounts do not apply to all coverage elements; actual savings vary by state, coverage selections, rating factors and policy changes. Final discount applies at the next policy renewal and remains until drivers or vehicles on the policy change.
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.
How it works: Like other comparison site flows, Gabi asks for some fundamental information, like your name, address, and prior insurance company. Early on, however, I had to create an account linked to my email address and mobile phone number, adding some extra steps to the process. Since Gabi specializes in comparing insurance rates against your current plan, it isn’t ideal for the first-time insurance shopper. However, if you aren’t currently insured, you have the option to indicate “I Don’t Have Insurance” early on in the flow, and you should still be able to find quotes – this is what I selected, to see if the experience would differ from someone not currently insured.
How it works: The quoting process was similar to that of other comparison websites, although it offered me the option of connecting my Google or Facebook account to speed up the process. After I entered the requested information, the Zebra announced that it had matched me up with nine possible discounts, although it warned that not every insurance company offered all of these discounts.
Claims and price satisfaction: We looked at J.D. Power’s 2018 Auto Claims Satisfaction Reports, Insure.com’s Best Car Insurance Companies for 2018, and Consumer Reports’ 2017 Car Insurance Ratings to get a bird’s-eye view of the industry across the nation. We also conducted a survey of 100 insured drivers who had filed a claim within the past 12 months.
Auto-Owners Insurance Group is another powerful contender for customer ratings. In terms of claims satisfaction, Consumer Reports gives Auto-Owners a 93 (eighth place out of 27 companies rated), and J.D. Power dubs the company “better than most.” It also took first place for customer satisfaction in J.D. Power’s survey of the North Central region. To top it off, Auto-Owners matches the coverage selection at other top companies. Add-ons like roadside assistance, rental reimbursement, GAP insurance, new car replacement, and accident forgiveness can help to round out your policy.
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.
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.
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Like most auto insurance companies, they advertise low rates (“15 minutes could save you 15% or more on your car insurance”). But what else? According to JD Power’s 2018 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study, low and competitive prices are becoming the norm, so most companies are in “aggressive customer courtship mode.” Geico’s response to this seems to be their very popular mobile app.
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.
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.
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!
Product highlights: As a mutual insurance company, Amica can afford to offer much lower rates than standard insurance carriers. Amica is consistently ranked as a favorite among consumers for their excellent customer service and a high record of auto claims satisfaction. Amica’s Car Connection program allows customers to get special pricing on new and used cars through the program’s dealer network. Furthermore, Amica’s Platinum Choice Auto option allows you to add other perks to your policy, including an Advantage Rewards system that adds points to your profile for good driving and referring friends. These points can go towards accident forgiveness or even lowering the price of your deductible.
Owners of brand-new vehicles might consider getting gap coverage to protect themselves in case of an accident early on in their car ownership. New vehicles lose a huge amount of their value the moment you drive them off the dealership lot, but you still owe your lender however much you purchased the vehicle for in the first place. However, if you get into a major accident a week after buying your new car and the vehicle is totaled, standard auto insurance policies will only pay you up to the car’s current value—which will likely be much less than you owe on it. In such a situation, gap coverage will “fill in the gap” between the car’s current value and how much you still owe on it.
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The Zebra didn’t allow me to customize coverage preferences, forcing me to choose one of four pre-assembled packages. It also didn’t list which companies allowed which discounts, making their earlier list of pre-qualified discounts less useful. On the right side of the page, the site provided an “Insurability Score” listing the factors that insurance companies use to set rates and grading the information I’d provided during the quoting process, which could help drivers looking to improve their rates in the future.
Comprehensive coverage: This covers things that could happen to your car not related to an accident that might not be covered by standard insurance, such as weather damage, running into an animal or other factors. It’s a good idea to opt for comprehensive coverage if you can afford it, but it can get costly and might not be worth it if you drive an old or inexpensive car.
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.
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.
The General’s coverage options are, quite frankly, barebones protections. While there are some supplemental options like roadside assistance and rental reimbursement, don’t expect the luxury of accident forgiveness. And when you need to file a claim, you’ll have to do so over the phone — though it offers live chat and online policy management, The General doesn’t allow its customers to file claims without talking to a representative.