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Results: After a short wait, the quoting tool produced two quotes, for $299 per month and $971 per month, plus links to two other insurance sites. SmartFinancial allows you to narrow down the results further by selecting desired features such as local agents and low down payment, but given how limited the results were in the first place, that particular option isn’t much help.
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.
Results: Nerdwallet returned three quotes ranging from $154 per month to $315 per month and six “estimated rates” ranging from $153 per month to $330 per month, from mostly name-brand insurance carriers. Each quote/rate included a little information about the company, a company rating, and a summary of Nerdwallet’s review (accessed by clicking on the “view details” link). The quotes had a button to click in order to buy the policy over the phone, but only one quote offering the option to purchase online. The estimated rates included a button to click to access the company’s website and get an actual quote from them.
There are two types of insurance comparison websites: quote comparison sites and lead generation sites. Auto quote comparison websites present users with rates based on information submitted during the shopping experience. You can then decide which quote to pursue, and the data you entered is transferred to the agent or company website, greatly shortening the purchasing process. These sites do not sell your information to insurance carriers or agencies.
Nationwide’s coverage selection is more or less on par with companies like Progressive, Allstate, and GEICO. It includes all the core coverage options — from liability to uninsured motorist — as well as some add-ons that may be hard to find elsewhere, like GAP insurance, rideshare coverage, and accident forgiveness. Like other top companies, Nationwide also offers plenty of discounts. Customers can save by bundling home and auto insurance, installing safety devices on their car, taking a defensive driving course, staying accident free, and more.
"Many companies offer discounts for good grades and for completion of an approved driver’s education or defensive driving course," continued Doreen Haughton-James of 123 Drive! Driving Academy. "Some also have their own discount programs. State Farm, for example, has a program called 'Steer Clear' where students receive discounts for logging driving hours and completing a program."
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.”
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.
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.
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.