Progressive impressed us with a solid array of discounts, including deductions for simple things like signing a new policy early and opting for paperless billing. The company has historically been known for insuring "riskier" drivers than many of its competitors, and it shows: Progressive is our only contender that offers a near unheard-of discount for drivers under 18 (who have a crash rate that’s almost nine times higher than that of middle-aged drivers).
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.
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.
Superior mobile app: Geico’s mobile app offers the full suite of their services; you can quote, buy, and manage your insurance, pay your bill, get roadside assistance, and submit a claim from your phone. Basically anything you can do on their website, you can do in the app. In the App Store, Geico has over 1.14 million reviews and a 4.8 out of 5 star rating. This is significantly more users–and far more rave reviews–than apps from their competitors.
Of our top auto insurers, State Farm has the fewest discounts. You won’t find any price breaks for young or elderly drivers, for being a loyal customer, nor for having a new car. Most of its discounts are safety related, like if you have airbags, anti-lock brakes, or enroll in a safe driving program. However, State Farm’s lack of discounts doesn’t mean your quote will be more expensive — just that you’ll have fewer opportunities to lower it.
Results: Once I submitted my information, the site produced one quote, along with six links to other insurance companies. “View my quote” buttons next to each quote took me to the beginning of the insurance website’s own quoting tool, making it clear that these were strictly hypothetical rates. Everquote provided a blurb of marketing text about two of the companies and no helpful information whatsoever to guide my decision.
Everquote also provided checkboxes to opt out of receiving calls and emails from agents. However, under the “Show My Quotes” button, the usual legal boilerplate informed me that by clicking the above button I was providing express written consent to be contacted by Everquote and a whole laundry list of insurance companies and partners, whether or not my phone number was on the Do Not Call list.
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