Large insurance companies analyze a huge amount of customers’ personal data, such as social media posts, credit scores, and even your web shopping habits. Then, they churn the data through a proprietary algorithm that estimates how likely you are to shop around or just renew your existing policy each year. By doing so, they can increase your premium just enough to raise their profit margins without attracting your attention and prompting you to shop for a new policy.
Hi Eric – What you’ve seen is not an unusual situation. A company that’s good in one state isn’t in another. Liberty Mutual worked for you in California, but not in Florida. This is why it’s not possible to say one company is the best. That will vary by state and by your own personal profile. That’s why we produce these “10 Best” lists, to give you companies to investigate.
Unfortunately, some older drivers might be disqualified from standard insurance policies simply because of their age. If you are unable to get a standard insurance policy, Dairyland insurance might be a good option. The company also has pay-as-you-go plans, perfect for elders on a tight budget who could not otherwise afford to drive under a high-risk plan. Of all the nonstandard car insurance companies, Dairyland consistently has the fewest number of customer complaints, making it a good option if you need this type of coverage.
Auto-Owners Insurance is available in 26 states located primarily in the South and Midwest. It uses an agent-only model that promotes customer relationships, so it’s a great choice if you prefer talking to a human being. The company also scored a nearly perfect score in J.D. Power’s 2018 satisfaction report, falling short only in the realm of its rental car experience.
But liability coverage levels come in threes — you’ll probably see something like 50/100/50 up to 250/500/250 in typical policies. You can think of these limits like: individual injuries / total injuries / property damage. Insurers are a little more technical, calling them bodily injury liability, total bodily injury liability and physical damage liability.
Product highlights: American Family developed the Dreams Restored Program (DRP) for its auto insurance customers. If a policyholder uses a DRP-certified repair shop after filing a claim, the repairs have a lifetime warranty and the bill goes to American Family rather than to the customer. Some perks offered by American Family include gap coverage and rideshare insurance in select states.
On top of being a stellar insurance company, Allstate provides a “senior discount” to those policyholders who are retired (or working only part-time) and above the age of 55. If you’re a safe driver and are looking to save even more, you can get a discount just because you use their Drivewise app to track your driving habits – and another discount every six months that you keep driving safely. Basically, you get discount after discount just for being yourself! If you have anti-lock brakes, an anti-theft system, or a new car, you will rack up savings for those things, too.
You’ll notice that none of that liability coverage pays for your car or injuries, nor for any injuries your passengers sustain if you cause a wreck. This is why many people — particularly those whose car isn’t yet paid off — want “full coverage” car insurance. This isn’t actually a type of coverage, but instead typically refers to policies that include liability coverage, plus comprehensive and collision coverages.
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:
Customers aren’t very impressed by Liberty Mutual’s claims process or payouts. It’s ranked among “the rest” in J.D. Power’s survey, which falls at the bottom of the scale. It also earned a relatively low Consumer Reports score of 88 (or 23rd place out of 27 companies scored). Finally, Liberty Mutual didn’t quite meet the bar we set for financial stability. Its “A” from S&P Global and “A2” from Moody’s come up a little short of our requirements. These scores are still respectable — indicating an ability to pay out on claims — but mean that Liberty Mutual has a slightly poorer credit outlook in the event of a financial downturn.
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.
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.
We first looked for companies that received an "A-" or better (“strong”) from A.M. Best, a rating agency specifically focused on the insurance industry. Then, because the III recommends getting ratings from more than one agency, the best needed to earn at least an "AA-" (“very strong”) from S&P Global or an "Aa3" (“excellent”) or higher from Moody’s.
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.
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.
"Teens are very likely to pick up the habits of their parents,” says J.C. Fawcett of the Defensive Driving School. “A parent should think about. Do I cuss at other drivers while driving? Do I speed? Do I tailgate? The training that comes from students observing their parents is very powerful. If a parent attempts to change their habits only when their teen is learning to drive, it's probably 10 years too late."
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.
Product highlights: USAA is a financial services provider that accepts members only from military and ex-military households. Widows and widowers, spouses, and other family members of USAA members can also join. Many of the company’s benefits are specifically tailored for military personnel, such as the 15% discount on auto insurance for members who garage their vehicles on base.
Results: Nerdwallet returned three quotes ranging from $154 per month to $315 per month and six “estimated rates” ranging from $153 per month to $330 per month, from mostly name-brand insurance carriers. Each quote/rate included a little information about the company, a company rating, and a summary of Nerdwallet’s review (accessed by clicking on the “view details” link). The quotes had a button to click in order to buy the policy over the phone, but only one quote offering the option to purchase online. The estimated rates included a button to click to access the company’s website and get an actual quote from them.
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.