Results: After working my way through the DMV.org quoting process, I discovered that they don’t actually provide car insurance quotes. Instead, they just provide you with links to other websites where you can get a quote. In my case, it gave me exactly two links: to Esurance and Allstate. Clicking a link to go to one of these websites required me to start all over with the quoting process, leaving me wondering why I’d bothered with DMV.org in the first place.
We collected quotes from a variety of insurance companies across 142 towns and cities in California. Our sample driver was a 30-year-old male who drove a Toyota Camry. To obtain quotes, we kept parameters for getting coverage the same, such as that he was single, had a good credit score and a clean driving record. The only parameter that changed was the zip code where he lived in California. The amount of coverage we opted for gave our driver bit more than what is required of state minimums.
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.
Drivers looking for low car insurance costs in San Jose should start with quotes from GEICO, Nationwide and Century National. The mean annual premium from these three insurers was $1,163 based on our data, which is about 49% cheaper than the overall average in San Jose. Citywide, the cost of car insurance is about $1,731 a year, which places the Capital of Silicon Valley at the 93rd cheapest spot in our survey of Californian cities.
Results: Compare produced seven quotes ranging from $148 per month to $329 per month. The quotes were all from fairly obscure companies; I didn’t see any of the big-name providers. The site allowed me to customize coverage, but only by going back to the coverage selection part of the process—meaning that I had to wait for the quotes to re-load each time. It also didn’t allow as many customization options as Insurify. Only one of the quotes permitted online checkout; all the others required speaking on the phone with an agent. I did like that the quotes all let you choose between a pay-as-you-go policy (with a down payment) or a pay upfront policy (at a slight discount).
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.
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.
Also, we accept most cars and drivers. (Yes, that means you too!) We offer free auto insurance quotes for drivers that have had a history of driving violations or accidents (in most cases considered high-risk drivers), have let their insurance expire, or have less than perfect credit. We always offer the same flexible rate plans and outstanding customer service, regardless of your driving record.
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Auto insurance is financial protection, and not just for the investment you made when you bought your car. After a really serious accident, bills for damage and injuries can easily reach into hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you happen to cause such a wreck, the victims could sue you. In the worst case scenario, assets such as your savings and home could be seized.
Liability auto insurance protects you from that worst case scenario by providing a cushion between your assets and the amount you’re on the hook for. For this reason, choosing the right auto liability limits is the most important part of your car insurance quote comparison. NerdWallet typically recommends having at least as much liability coverage as your net worth.
Products underwritten by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company and Affiliated Companies. Not all Nationwide affiliated companies are mutual companies, and not all Nationwide members are insured by a mutual company. Subject to underwriting guidelines, review, and approval. Products and discounts not available to all persons in all states. Nationwide Investment Services Corporation, member FINRA. Home Office: One Nationwide Plaza, Columbus, OH. Nationwide, the Nationwide N and Eagle, and other marks displayed on this page are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, unless otherwise disclosed. © 2019 Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.
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.
I was with Liberty Mutual for about 15 years and was very satisfied with their prices and service, although I never filed a claim. When I retired and moved from California to Florida, my auto rate went up a ridiculous amount, to almost $10,000 a year even though I had no accidents and one minor moving violation in the last ten years. On top of that, Liberty Mutual screwed up my umbrella policy and told me it was “unenforceable,” whatever that means, but I had to pay for the policy anyway up to the time I canceled and switched to Progressive, which cost about one third the cost of Liberty Mutual for an identical policy. Even good companies change over time.
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