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.
Nationwide pulls lower customer ratings than our top picks. The company scored an 88 from Consumer Reports (putting it in 22nd place out of 27 companies), and an “average” rating from J.D. Power. In other words, Nationwide doesn’t knock it out of the park for either customer service or claims process — which are both crucial for a great insurer. It also missed our financial stability benchmark by a hair, with S&P Global and Moody’s ratings just below the “very strong” or “excellent” benchmarks that we look for.
So how much liability coverage should you get? We recommend purchasing as much protection as you can afford and reasonably covers your exposure if you're at-fault in a collision. For reference, the average auto bodily injury liability claim is over $15,000, and the average auto property damage liability claim is over $3,000. But the severity, or size, of a claim will vary significantly. If the driver or passenger in another vehicle was killed, for instance, the costs could easily exceed $100,000, as fatal claims are some of the most expensive. Or if the other vehicle was very expensive, such as a Mercedes, you will face much higher property damage costs as opposed to an accident with a cheaper vehicle.
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.
Yes, we offer a discount to customers who pay in full in most states. Where applicable, discounts are offered to customers who pay their auto insurance policies in full for both 12-month and 6-month policies. In addition, some states offer discounts when choosing to pay quarterly. No matter what you decide, you can have faith you’re getting cheap car insurance that’s worry-free.
We want to hear from you and encourage a lively discussion among our users. Please help us keep our site clean and safe by following our posting guidelines, and avoid disclosing personal or sensitive information such as bank account or phone numbers. Any comments posted under NerdWallet's official account are not reviewed or endorsed by representatives of financial institutions affiliated with the reviewed products, unless explicitly stated otherwise.