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.
Insurers raise rates for a variety of reasons, many of which are beyond the control of consumers. Companies will often hike insurance rates to account for increased losses, which is the amount of money that these companies pay out for claims. If losses go up—because of an increase in claims frequency or costlier auto repairs for example—your insurer may raise your car insurance premiums.
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.
Results: Once I typed in the requested zip code I was immediately taken to a page with links to four actual insurance quote comparison websites. Rather than create a quoting tool of its own, ValuePenguin has apparently chosen to guide visitors to other comparison websites. All in all, you’d be better off just skipping ValuePenguin and going straight to a site that will produce quotes for you.
Safe Auto Group Agency, Inc and/or its affiliates (“Safe Auto”) is located and operated exclusively in the United States of America. Safe Auto does not offer goods and/or services in any language of an European county, does not deal in any European currencies, and does not underwrite risks for or issue policies to individuals or companies located in the European Union.
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.”
Once the center of the California Gold Rush and the westernmost end of the Pony Express, Sacramento today is the capital of California, and its average cost of insurance reflects that. Within the city, Nationwide, Century National and GEICO had the lowest auto insurance costs. In aggregate, the three companies had an average quote of $1,001 ,or 30% cheaper than the Sactown average. The graph below has rates from Sactown's five cheapest companies:
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.
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.
Customers aren’t very impressed by Liberty Mutual’s claims process or payouts. It’s ranked among “the rest” in J.D. Power’s survey, which falls at the bottom of the scale. It also earned a relatively low Consumer Reports score of 88 (or 23rd place out of 27 companies scored). Finally, Liberty Mutual didn’t quite meet the bar we set for financial stability. Its “A” from S&P Global and “A2” from Moody’s come up a little short of our requirements. These scores are still respectable — indicating an ability to pay out on claims — but mean that Liberty Mutual has a slightly poorer credit outlook in the event of a financial downturn.
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Insurance terms, definitions and explanations are intended for informational purposes only and do not in any way replace or modify the definitions and information contained in individual insurance contracts, policies or declaration pages, which are controlling. Such terms and availability may vary by state and exclusions may apply. Discounts may not be applied to all policy coverages.
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.
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Nick Dehn is a writer currently serving as a content specialist for Insurify. A seasoned writer, Nick has produced feature pieces, opinion editorials, and press releases for start-ups, small businesses, and local news publications. He now develops content full-time for Insurify, researching and writing data-driven studies and producing insights on the insurance industry. Nick is an alumnus of Williams College, where he graduated cum laude with a degree in English and Sociology. He hails from Wilton, CT but has recently set roots in Cambridge, MA. Nick enjoys exploring the greater Boston area, making stir-fry, and award-show prognosticating.
I LOVE USAA! I am surprised it’s not higher on that list. I had Allstate and they never fought for me or my family even though we were paying more than we are paying now. Over where we are at, the speed limit for the highway is 70. There was hardly anyone on the road so my husband drive on the far left since there is a lot of exits in the far right lane. This woman pulled out in the far left lane doing 20. My husband didn’t have time to break because she pulled out right in from God us with no turn signal. But Always was already assuming it was his fault even though they can review the car to see how fast he was going and who was in the wrong. I am glad we dropped them and moved to USAA. They are the best!