Many insurers state that their policies offer ‘full coverage’ without detailing what that means, because, well, it doesn’t really mean anything. According to Jonathan O’Steen, personal injury attorney and partner at O’Steen & Harrison LLC, “Some insurance agents use ‘full coverage’ as a shorthand way to describe auto policies that only meet state minimum limits for coverage. True full coverage would provide unlimited protection for all losses arising from an automobile accident.”
Once you have a few data points, it is time to pick up the phone and negotiate with representatives. Call them and share the cheaper rates you've gotten from competitors, and 1) see what they do, or 2) follow up with: can you do better than this? Afterwards, ask them for any discounts that aren't available on the website, or what they can offer you from the discounts we've listed below.

Compare.com is another online car insurance comparison tool that generates real-time quotes from multiple insurance providers. In addition to car insurance, Compare provides quotes for home, health, and small business insurance, as well as tools to help you choose car loans and mobile phone plans. The site is rated 4.5 out of 5 on eKomi, based 640 user reviews.
How it works: Once I launched the quoting tool for auto insurance, I was greeted by a large-print brag that “Drivers Pay As Low As $29.32/Month for Car Insurance.” When I began filling in my vehicle information, the site offered to save me time by looking up the information for me—a frightening reminder of how much of our personal information is available online. The contact information fields were accompanied by text stating that “we respect your privacy” and “NO SPAM, privacy guaranteed.”
Any car insurance comparison tool you look at should have your state’s minimum car insurance requirements pre-loaded into its options. States requiring PIP or medpay are generally referred to as “no-fault” states, meaning that when injuries occur, each driver in a crash makes a claim with their own insurance company to pay for them. Beyond the PIP or medpay limit, the at-fault driver’s liability insurance kicks in to cover the rest.

While the above is the lowest amount of insurance coverage you can have, you should consider adding more if you have more to lose. For example, we typically advise drivers to match their liability coverage to what they have in total assets. If you own a house in one of the most expensive zip codes in California, Atherton, and have sizable savings and investment accounts, we'd recommend you increase your liability limits and consider adding umbrella coverage on top. On the other hand, if you're a first-year student at UCLA, you may be fine with liability limits that are closer to the minimum.
Matthew thanks for posting this. You’re absolutely right. USAA has gone down the tubes, I dont get it, a simple claim recently for auto, turned into a nightmare. bouncing my calls all over the country with a bunch of idiots for claim reps answering the phones, and forcing my car into total loss when it should not have been, and paying only a portion of the damage even though I have collision.
In conclusion, the best auto insurance depends on a number of factors: the value of your assets, how much risk you're comfortable with, and what protection you want. You should buy as much coverage as need to make sure your assets are protected in the case of an accident, or other incident. If it's more important to you to get the cheapest protection, then just bear in mind that your assets can be put at risk.
We surveyed 9 national auto insurance companies to see how their rates stack up for a few sample driver profiles to help you shop for auto insurance. The rates are sampled from select cities across the country, so your actual quote will differ based on your driving history and where you live. Alternatively you can enter your information in the form below to get quotes from insurers that serve your area.
Hi Stephen – I think you’re doing the right thing – as long as the premium continues to be reasonable compared to the competition. Even though we obsess on low rates, quality of service matters. It does little good if you get the cheapest policy, then they stick you when you have a claim. With must auto claims there’s going to be a human error factor (especially with new drivers), and you can’t be with companies that will hold that against you to such a degree that it seems like they no longer want your business.
If you are or were in the military, or if your spouse or parents were, you are eligible for USAA car insurance. USAA scores five out five stars across the board for customer satisfaction in California. Customers of the military company are apparently very satisfied with how they handle claims, interact with customers and the number of policies they offer.
Nationwide pulls lower customer ratings than our top picks. The company scored an 88 from Consumer Reports (putting it in 22nd place out of 27 companies), and an “average” rating from J.D. Power. In other words, Nationwide doesn’t knock it out of the park for either customer service or claims process — which are both crucial for a great insurer. It also missed our financial stability benchmark by a hair, with S&P Global and Moody’s ratings just below the “very strong” or “excellent” benchmarks that we look for.
Unlike quote comparison sites, lead generation sites simply sell your information to their advertising partners—typically insurance companies. These sites are not built to provide you with personalized quotes and are not much help when trying to compare car insurance rates. Avoid these sites unless you’re eager to receive tons of cold calls from insurance phone banks and desperate agents.
Comprehensive covers theft or damage caused by something other than a collision with another car or object. This includes vandalism, natural disasters, and damage caused by animals. If you live in an earthquake-prone region or one with high deer populations, comprehensive coverage will protect against those environmental factors beyond your control.
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.
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.
Within L.A. county rates can change dramatically. Even jumping one or two zip codes over within Los Angeles can make a difference for Angelenos. Moving the primary garage or parking spot from Long Beach to Walnut, for example, can reduce annual car insurance premiums by $259 for a 30 year old male. Overall the average rate of L.A. county is $1,780, with 25% of cities having rates under $1,700 for our sample driver. Overall, Walnut is the cheapest at $1,483 and Los Angeles proper the most expensive at $2,257.
If you have an anti-theft device, Progressive offers a discount for that too. The company also offers pet injury coverage — which is included with collision and comes standard in most states. However, Progressive’s scores across the board were only average, and we couldn’t justify recommending it over our top picks. Also, its mobile app ratings average out to just under 3 out of 5 stars.

Farmers Insurance fell just shy of the benchmark we set for financial stability. It took earned an “A” from A.M. Best (passing), and an “A” from S&P Global (two steps below the required “AA-”). These scores mean that Farmers has strong financials, and offers solid backing for your policy — it’s just a little less likely to weather a major financial crisis than other companies. This is why, like Liberty Mutual, we don’t rank it among the best of the best.


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.
Allstate thrives when it comes to discounts for young drivers and students. The company’s Smart Student Discount will apply to anyone under the age of 25 who is either a full-time student with good grades, has completed the teenSMART driver education program, or attends a school within 100 miles of their home. Young drivers are typically the most expensive to insure; this unique discount can alleviate some of those costs.
If you have an anti-theft device, Progressive offers a discount for that too. The company also offers pet injury coverage — which is included with collision and comes standard in most states. However, Progressive’s scores across the board were only average, and we couldn’t justify recommending it over our top picks. Also, its mobile app ratings average out to just under 3 out of 5 stars.
J.D. Power ranks Farmers Auto Insurance better than most for claims satisfaction — an important endorsement, considering that on-time and fairly-sized claim payouts are the ultimate goal of insurance. Besides that, Farmers has a great coverage selection. A few options, like new car replacement and custom parts coverage, we didn’t see among all our top picks. We also like the company’s accident forgiveness program, which “will forgive one at-fault accident for every three years you drive without one.”
I have been a GEICO customer for about least 15 years. Claims and customer service are not the issue with them. After said years of faithfully paying my insurance on time and renewing each year I accidently back into a car in my driveway. The cars were repaired without incident. However, GEICO penalized me by taking away my good driver discount and increase my monthly insurance rate by nearly $100.00 ; leving a hefty penalty for making a claim. I can’t imagine the money they made off of me during the 15 years I’ve faithfully paid auto insurance. I am hunting for a new auto insurance carrier since GEICO obviously thinks driving is perfect and accidents never happen.
×