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.”
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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.
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.
DMV.org is a privately-owned site that helps drivers interact with their local Department of Motor Vehicles. This site is not an official government agency, but acts as a middleman between you and your local DMV; for example, a visitor may renew their vehicle registration or driver’s license on the site for an additional fee. The website is rated 4 out of 5, and has 5,830 user reviews on Trustpilot.
In addition to providing cheap quotes for our driver with a recent accident, Esurance also offered the cheapest auto insurance rates to older drivers. Esurance's rates were 38% cheaper than the average across the insurance companies that we sampled. Other low cost auto insurers for senior drivers include GEICO and Farmers, which ranked as the second and third cheapest options.
Our pick for the best car insurer for members of the military is undoubtedly the United States Automobile Association (USAA). Time and time again, USAA and its affiliates have the cheapest rates we've seen in our rate studies. Policyholders must be either active or retired members of the military (coverage is extended to family members too). In addition to affordable rates and great coverage, the USAA offers additional military-specific discounts. For example, armed force members who garage their cars on a military base can save up to 15% on their comprehensive coverage. The best benefit, however, is the network of community support and forums that USAA hosts on their website to support spouses and veterans. Members also have access to experts with experience in navigating and advising financial considerations of military members. Customers consistently rave about the excellent customer service and claims fulfillment they receive from representatives, and the company continues to win awards from industry associations such as JD Powers.
How it works: Like other comparison site flows, Gabi asks for some fundamental information, like your name, address, and prior insurance company. Early on, however, I had to create an account linked to my email address and mobile phone number, adding some extra steps to the process. Since Gabi specializes in comparing insurance rates against your current plan, it isn’t ideal for the first-time insurance shopper. However, if you aren’t currently insured, you have the option to indicate “I Don’t Have Insurance” early on in the flow, and you should still be able to find quotes – this is what I selected, to see if the experience would differ from someone not currently insured.
Liability insurance covers you if you’re in an accident deemed to be your fault. It will cover repairs to damaged property, as well as medical bills resulting from injury to the other driver and his or her passengers. Most states require at least a minimum amount of liability insurance, but it’s a good idea to purchase extra protection if you can afford it.
What is most important to you? Cost or personal interaction and local expertise? If you have a budget, then a national and direct insurance company that does most of their business online will likely get you better rates. An agent-based insurer focuses on providing a more high-touch and local experience - helpful when submitting a claim, but costs can be higher.
J.D. Power and Consumer Reports give American Family strong ratings for customer service and claims: two factors that are incredibly important when it comes to insurance. But where AmFam really sets itself apart is in the discount department. The company offers generous savings opportunities for almost any driver — from price cuts for safe drivers, good students, and families, to discounts for vehicle safety features, policy bundling, paperless billing, and more. If AmFam is available in your area, try getting a quote to see whether these discounts can help you save on car insurance.

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A lot goes into an auto insurance rate quote, including your ZIP code, coverage levels, marital status, annual mileage, driving history and vehicle make, year and model. In most states, your gender and credit history are also used to determine rates. And again, the reason auto insurance comparison shopping is so important is because rates between companies are different for each person, too.
Quite simply, Travelers didn’t inspire enough confidence with its claims satisfaction. We know one survey doesn’t paint an entire picture, but Travelers was the lowest-scoring insurer of our top picks. Its J.D. Power score of 851 out of 1,000 is below the industry average, and since our research consistently pointed to claims satisfaction as the best indicator of customer experience, we couldn’t give Travelers the top spot in confidence.
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.
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.
How it works: Compare’s shopping process asked me to enter the same general information that other auto comparison websites did. Entering the information was fairly straightforward. Most of the fields were drop-down menus or pre-filled based on information I had submitted on previous pages. The questions were detailed, including some about my current policy limits that required retrieving my insurance documents to answer. I did like that Compare asked if I was willing to accept paperless documents and/or e-signing
How it works: Compare’s shopping process asked me to enter the same general information that other auto comparison websites did. Entering the information was fairly straightforward. Most of the fields were drop-down menus or pre-filled based on information I had submitted on previous pages. The questions were detailed, including some about my current policy limits that required retrieving my insurance documents to answer. I did like that Compare asked if I was willing to accept paperless documents and/or e-signing
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.
Each insurance company evaluates personal factors in its own way, and they keep their methods as hidden as possible. So we can’t tell you which company puts high value in your occupation or emphasizes a clean driving history more than others. But to help you get going, we can show you a car insurance rate comparison for the same hypothetical driver and car, using average rates from across the country.

We researched 36 of the best auto insurance providers based on their ability to serve customers and actually pay out claims; not just on premium cost. Of course, premiums matter, but since rates depend on many different factors — like your age, driving history, and even your ZIP code — the best way to find the most affordable price on the policy you want is to compare quotes. Use our quote tool above to get started.
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