J.D. Power ranks Farmers Auto Insurance better than most for claims satisfaction — an important endorsement, considering that on-time and fairly-sized claim payouts are the ultimate goal of insurance. Besides that, Farmers has a great coverage selection. A few options, like new car replacement and custom parts coverage, we didn’t see among all our top picks. We also like the company’s accident forgiveness program, which “will forgive one at-fault accident for every three years you drive without one.”
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.
We collected quotes from a variety of insurance companies across 142 towns and cities in California. Our sample driver was a 30-year-old male who drove a Toyota Camry. To obtain quotes, we kept parameters for getting coverage the same, such as that he was single, had a good credit score and a clean driving record. The only parameter that changed was the zip code where he lived in California. The amount of coverage we opted for gave our driver bit more than what is required of state minimums.
If you have an anti-theft device, Progressive offers a discount for that too. The company also offers pet injury coverage — which is included with collision and comes standard in most states. However, Progressive’s scores across the board were only average, and we couldn’t justify recommending it over our top picks. Also, its mobile app ratings average out to just under 3 out of 5 stars.
Insurance comparison websites can be further broken down into sites that provide real-time insurance quotes versus those that provide estimated ones. Estimated quotes are derived from historic data and are often out of date; to get the most accurate information you should use a site that provides real-time quotes generated by the insurance companies.
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.
The best car insurance companies have a few things in common: They have straightforward shopping experiences, take good care of policyholders after a crash and treat their customers with respect and courtesy. That means only insurers with high customer satisfaction scores and relatively few complaints to insurance commissioners make it to the top of our list of the best auto insurance companies.