The day all parents dread is finally upon you; your teenage child is old enough to drive. But before they pop in a mix-tape (those are still a thing, right?) and step on the gas, they need to learn the rules of the road. ConsumerAffairs asked dozens of driving schools across the country for advice to make the process more enjoyable and educational for you and your student driver.

Metromile is a newcomer to auto insurance in California. The small car insurer bases its rates largely on how often its customers driver by charging them a rate per mile. The rate is usually in between $0.10 and $0.20. In addition to the rate they also charge a base premium. We found people who drive less than 7,500 miles a year would benefit the most from Metromile. Anything above 7,500 miles begins to cost just as much as regular insurance. The downside to Metromile is that they do not have a great record of customer satisfaction and claims handling. This likely stems from the company being mostly online and not having an agent network.


Geico is the second-largest auto insurance provider in the United States. While they’re considered second-tier by Consumer Reports (listed under parent company Berkshire Hathaway Insurance Group), their customers rate them high in the categories of ease of reaching an agent, promptness of response, agent courtesy, and timely payment. Not bad in terms of customer service.

Auto Insurance is required by law for drivers in most states. Drivers who own a car and drive it often should definitely have auto insurance to cover the risk of damages to their car and personal injury and the liability of harm to other people and property. Otherwise, repairs and medical costs, particularly when you’re liable for an accident, can be very expensive.


Beyond the standard protections, supplemental (or “add-on”) coverage will keep you protected against the additional costs that often come with accidents. Features like car rental coverage may not seem essential when you view them as just another added cost, but the increase in your rate could still be lower than the cost of renting a replacement vehicle if your damaged car is in the shop for a while. The options offered by providers vary widely in both availability and cost. Our favorites offer supplemental coverage options that can build a policy for every profile.
When you receive your instant car insurance quote from Nationwide, you will get three options to choose from, making it easy to select a policy that’s right for you and your budget. You can also change coverages to create a more personalized policy. Find out more about Nationwide’s auto insurance coverage options which include collision, liability and comprehensive coverage.
Whether this coverage is right for you depends on the value of your car and where you live. If you have a new car and live in an area with lots of storms and a large deer population, you should likely get comprehensive and collision coverage. If you have an old car, however, the current cash value your policy pays might not be worth the cost of the premiums and deductible for the coverage. It's generally not cost-effective when the current cash value of your car is less than $3,000. Weigh the annual out-of-pocket cost to you (both premiums and deductible) against the current cash value to see if it makes sense.
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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.

Using complaint and exposure data from the California Department of Insurance, we calculated the justified complaint ratio for auto insurance companies in California. We've listed them from the best (lowest complaint index) to the worst (highest complaint index). If a company has an index of 1.05, then that means it has a 5% higher share of complaints compared to its share of underwriting exposure.

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.

A car insurance quote from The General® requires no personal information (your name, phone number, street address, etc.) to provide an accurate car insurance quote. Once you receive your anonymous auto insurance quote, there is absolutely no commitment on your part. You can save your auto insurance quote online at any point during the process and return to it at your leisure.

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.

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.
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.
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.
[1] 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.
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.
We recommend GEICO because it offers a well-rounded package of coverage protection at some of the cheapest auto insurance rates with around-the-clock daily customer service. Based on our research, we found that GEICO had one of the largest selections of discounts on car insurance for everything from the typical multi-car policies to emergency deployment for active military members. True its roots as a company formed for government employees, GEICO also offers special savings for prospective policyholders who are federal employees or military members (up to 8 - 15% off their premiums). These reasons help to explain why the company is one of the largest underwriting auto insurance in the United States, and is praised by customers for its great liability coverage at affordable premiums.

There are a million things to worry about when you’re involved in an accident. Whether or not your insurance company will be able to pay your claim shouldn’t be one of them. A strong financial rating is the best way to guarantee your provider can pay what you need, when you need it, so we made sure all of our picks had strong ratings based on the Insurance Information Institute’s (III) guidelines.
Keep in mind that these requirements are precisely that: the minimum allowable coverage. If you cause an accident with damages exceeding your policy, you’ll ultimately be responsible for paying whatever’s left, and those costs can add up quickly. If you live in a state with low minimum requirements, it’s a good idea to select additional coverage so that you’re not left footing the bill for auto repairs or costly hospital visits.
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.

Disclaimer: NerdWallet strives to keep its information accurate and up to date. This information may be different than what you see when you visit a financial institution, service provider or specific product’s site. All financial products, shopping products and services are presented without warranty. When evaluating offers, please review the financial institution’s Terms and Conditions. Pre-qualified offers are not binding. If you find discrepancies with your credit score or information from your credit report, please contact TransUnion® directly.
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