The next step is to look for a list of reputable and dependable insurers licensed in your state. States often produce annual reports that rank companies by their complaints. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners publishes complaint data at the Customer Information Source. Another source we recommend are industry surveys and consumer organizations. J.D. Power, for example, measures satisfaction on pricing, policy offerings, and claims handling. AM Best's Financial Strength Rating measures a company's financial ability to pay out insurance claims. Pick a handful of companies from these sources, about three to five, that are generally well rated.


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.
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.
Ameriprise was the winner of the J.D. Power study, scoring a 5/5 stars overall. They got top marks in their billing practices and in the flexibility of policies they offer to customers. They had slightly lower marks in their claims handling process (4/5) as well as their agents' interaction with customers. We could not get pricing for Ameriprise but the company is generally known for offering affordable and competitive rates.
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.
Progressive Home Advantage® policies are placed through Progressive Advantage Agency, Inc. with affiliated and third-party insurers who are solely responsible for claims, and pay PAA commission for policies sold. Prices, coverages, privacy policies, and PAA's commission vary among these insurers. How you buy (phone, online, mobile, or independent agent/broker) determines which insurers are available to you. Click here for a list of the insurers or contact us for more information about PAA's commission. Discounts not available in all states and situations.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
As we mention above, Nationwide was the best company in California for cheap car insurance. The large auto insurer even bested typically cheap insurers like GEICO and Progressive. In most cities that we surveyed in the Golden State, Nationwide was the go-to local company for low cost rates. In terms of the company's customer satisfaction however, Nationwide is only mediocre according to the J.D. Power auto insurance study of California. Nationwide scored mostly 3/5 stars in most categories including interaction with agents, and their method of billing. They did score 4/5 stars however when it came to the claims handling process
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.
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.
Progressive impressed us with a solid array of discounts, including deductions for simple things like signing a new policy early and opting for paperless billing. The company has historically been known for insuring "riskier" drivers than many of its competitors, and it shows: Progressive is our only contender that offers a near unheard-of discount for drivers under 18 (who have a crash rate that’s almost nine times higher than that of middle-aged drivers).
Uninsured / underinsured motorist (UM / UIM) covers costs associated with an accident involving uninsured or underinsured motorists, or hit and run drivers. You can’t control the coverage of other drivers on the road, but if you get in an accident with someone who doesn’t have insurance — or who has insufficient protection — you’ll be forced to deal with the costs yourself. We know it’s frustrating to have to pay for someone else’s negligence, but opting for UM / UIM coverage will be well worth it when you need it.
The best auto insurance companies provide a wide range of coverage options so your plan fits you the way it should — tailored to your specific needs. We required our top insurers to host all the basic essentials for coverage. This includes bodily injury liability, collision, comprehensive, personal injury protection (PIP), property damage, and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. For a quick refresher on what those terms cover, check out our auto insurance guide below.
Auto insurance rates in California are among the most expensive in the nation, with annual premiums of $1,665 per year on average. Additionally, auto coverage rates in the state have increased 13% from 2017 to 2019 across the 10 largest insurers. While some price hikes are unavoidable, the best way to get low rates is to shop around and compare quotes.
Liberty Mutual offers a few hard-to-find discounts, including savings for newly married couples, new graduates, retirees or drivers over 50, and certain drivers under 18. Some of its coverage options are on the rare side, too — like options for mechanical breakdown coverage, vanishing deductibles, or new car replacement that reimburses you for the car’s original worth (rather than its depreciated value). In short: Liberty Mutual has some niche offerings, so it may be worth speaking with an agent about specialized or customizable coverage needs.
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.
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