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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Best Auto Insurance

The Best Auto Insurance

We researched 36 of the best auto insurance providers based on their ability to serve customers and actually pay out claims; not just on premium cost. Of course, premiums matter, but since rates depend on many 
different factors — like your age, driving history, and even your ZIP code — the best way to find the most affordable price on the policy you want is to compare quotes. Use our quote tool above to get started.

The 5 Best Auto Insurance Companies

  • Geico — Highest Claims Satisfaction
  • Travelers — Most Comprehensive Coverage
  • Progressive —Best for "High-Risk" Drivers
  • Allstate — Best for New Drivers
  • State Farm — Best for Uber/Lyft Drivers

Geico — Highest Claims Satisfaction

ProsImpressive customer satisfaction scores
Exclusive discounts
ConsMissing options for GAP insurance

Why we chose it

Impressive claims satisfaction scores

Geico received the highest claims satisfaction of our final contenders with a score of 870 from J.D. Power. Based on responses from 11,857 auto insurance customers, this score speaks to both Geico’s customer service and, more importantly, its ability to help when you need your insurance most.
We’re particularly impressed by the ways in which the company has crafted a simpler user experience: personal information can be auto-filled by linking your Facebook profile when getting a quote, and a Geico skill built into Amazon Alexa means you can access details about your policy using voice technology.
Geico’s mobile app, which can be used to view your policy, file claims, and even call for roadside assistance, also ranked #1 in Forrester’s 2017 US Mobile Auto Insurance Benchmark.

Exclusive discounts

Geico boasts an impressive 15 discounts, second only to Travelers’ 16. In addition to standard discounts for safe driving and being a good student, Geico emphasizes safety features: deductions for anti-lock brakes, anti-theft devices, airbags, and daytime lights make it a solid choice for owners of newer cars. Other discounts, like those for retired drivers, drivers over the age of 50, military members and federal employees, are exclusive to Geico among our finalists.

Points to consider

Missing options for GAP insurance

Though a Geico policy comes with all the essential coverage (and then some), the top auto insurer is noticeably missing options for GAP insurance, which pays the difference between how much your wrecked car was worth and the amount left on your loan. It’s also missing new car replacement coverage, which pays for the cost of a new vehicle beyond the depreciated value of your damaged ride. Given their prevalence, we were surprised to learn that this is the one area where Geico falls short.

Travelers — Most Comprehensive Coverage

ProsComprehensive coverage
Generous discounts
ConsBelow-average customer satisfaction scores

Why we chose it

Comprehensive coverage

When it comes to supplemental coverage, Travelers is hard to beat. It consistently met our marks for what we considered “the essentials” and it offers unique coverage, too. That includes accident forgiveness, GAP insurance, and special coverage for drivers employed by ridesharing operations like Uber and Lyft (though this add-on is currently only available in Colorado and Illinois).
Any choices that were missing from Travelers’ policies were more niche — like Progressive’s pet injury protection that covers veterinary bills after an accident. Compared to the competition, Travelers’ coverage options are the most practical.

Generous discounts

The company’s discounts are numerous, varied, and designed to reward you, not just your car. It offers deductions for paying your premium on time, signing up for a policy early, and it even offers discounts for continuous coverage (renewing your policy before it expires). These types of discounts are less common than you might think, and they demonstrate that Travelers doesn’t just want to save money for its new customers — it’s concerned with keeping its old ones happy, too.
Travelers also offers discounts for students who maintain a B average in school, and even deducts for students away at school who might only be driving when they’re home on vacation, making it an attractive option for families with children in college.

Points to consider

Claims satisfaction scores

Quite simply, Travelers didn’t inspire enough confidence with its claims satisfaction. We know one survey doesn’t paint an entire picture, but Travelers was the lowest-scoring insurer of our top picks. Its J.D. Power score of 851 out of 1,000 is below the industry average, and since our research consistently pointed to claims satisfaction as the best indicator of customer experience, we couldn’t give Travelers the top spot in confidence. If customer service is your primary concern, turn to Geico instead.

Progressive — Best for "High-Risk" Drivers

ProsGenerous discounts
Usage-based insurance plan
ConsLimited supplemental coverage

Why we chose it

Generous discounts

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).

Usage-based insurance plan

Progressive offers a unique discount through a program called Snapshot, a usage-based insurance plan that transmits real driving data to the company. Using a telematic device installed in your vehicle, Snapshot monitors your driving behaviors — such as how rapidly you accelerate or how often you stop abruptly — as well as the miles and times you drive, which can increase your risk of an accident.
The program uses this data to determine your rates, and if you’re a safe diver that could mean an average of $130 savings. This plan can save money for low-use drivers and may well mark the advent of a new form of insurance.

Points to consider

Limited supplemental coverage

Progressive allows policyholders to supplement their coverage with many of the standard additions we look for in providers, but it didn’t have quite enough options to merit a top place finish. You won’t find accident forgiveness, coverage for teen drivers, ridesharing coverage.
Progressive also lacks popular coverage like personal injury, property protection, and new car replacement. Evaluate your accident history and who you’ll be insuring to get an idea of what supplemental coverage you might need. If some of these unique coverage options are relevant to you, you’ll want to consider Travelers.

Allstate — Best for New Drivers

ProsExtensive online resources
Student discounts
ConsBelow-average customer satisfaction scores

Why we chose it

Extensive online resources

Whether you need to learn more about auto insurance, want to manage your policy online, or want to file a claim digitally, Allstate can offer that online experience. For first-time auto insurers, you can find detailed breakdowns of policy documents, tips for comparing rates, and blog articles on saving money and building a policy for young drivers.
Once you’re a customer, you can leverage its online portal to adjust your coverage, add or remove vehicles, add new drivers, or alter your deductibles.

Student discounts

Allstate thrives when it comes to discounts for young drivers and students. The company’s Smart Student Discount will apply to anyone under the age of 25 who is either a full-time student with good grades, has completed the teenSMART driver education program, or attends a school within 100 miles of their home. Young drivers are typically the most expensive to insure; this unique discount can alleviate some of those costs.

Points to consider

Customer satisfaction scores

Allstate ranked below the industry average in J.D. Power’s 2017 overall customer satisfaction report. When looking specifically at the shopping process, customers noted that Allstate’s policies tend to be more expensive than quotes from other insurers.
The report also noted that its sales representatives were less helpful compared to its competitors. If you find this to be true, you can also work with your local agent rather than an Allstate sales representative. In our experience, it’s possible to get more individualized, attentive service at the local level.

State Farm — Best for Uber/Lyft Drivers

ProsImpressive customer satisfaction scores
Rideshare coverage
Financial strength
ConsBuggy mobile app 
Fewer discounts

Why we chose it

Rideshare coverage

If you drive for rideshare companies like Lyft or Uber, we strongly recommend State Farm. It’s one of the only insurance companies that will extend coverage to risheshare employees. Travelers offers some rideshare coverage too, but only in Colorado and Illinois.
By comparison, State Farm offers the coverage in 37 states. Typically, rideshare employees would have to purchase a separate, commercial auto insurance policy, but with State Farm you can easily add the coverage on to your normal auto plan.

Financial strength

Just after Geico, State Farm has the second-best financial strength ratings. From A.M. Best, it received an "A++", from Standard & Poor an "AA", and from Moody’s an "Aa1". In other words, you can trust State Farm to back your claims now and for many months to come.

Claims and customer satisfaction

With nearly 18,000 agents across the country, State Farm lives up to its “good neighbor” marketing claim. J.D. Power gave the company 865/1000 — a full 15 points above the industry average. That's a clear sign that customers are satisfied with how State Farm handles auto claims.

Points to consider

Buggy mobile app

We experienced frequent connectivity issues with State Farm’s mobile app. This isn’t a total deal-breaker, but we didn’t feel confident the app would pull through during a roadside emergency. If you need to file a claim, we’d recommend taking photos and submitting them later or calling the State Farm help line instead.

Minimal discounts

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.

Guide to Auto Insurance

How to Get the Most out of Your Policy

Make sure you’ve got the basics covered

If you don’t know what type of coverage you need, you’re not alone. We’ve compiled a list of the ‘must-have’ coverage options you should look for in any policy, plus some common supplemental coverage choices, based on advice from our insurance experts.
These options aren’t always included in standard auto policies — even the ones we consider necessities — but purchasing them will guarantee a base layer of protection for any accident:
Bodily injury liability
Collision
Comprehensive
Personal injury protection (PIP) / medical payment
Property damage liability
Uninsured / underinsured motorist (UM / UIM)

Figure out what supplemental coverage you need

All our finalists offer the most critical coverage, but they each offer unique supplemental coverage, too. We've broken down the options with each provider so you can customize your policy to fit your needs. Keep in mind that the more coverage you add, the higher your monthly premium.
 GEICO 
 Travelers 
 Progressive 
 State Farm 
 Allstate
  • Rental Reimbursement covers the expenses of renting a car if you’re left without a vehicle after an accident. 
  • Roadside Assistance provides services like towing, fuel delivery, lockout assistance, and tire replacement. 
  • Ridesharing Coverage provides basic protections for employees of ridesharing companies while they’re working. 
  • Umbrella covers liability costs after the limits of your auto policy have been exceeded. 
  • Accident Forgiveness means your premium won’t go up after your first at-fault accident. 
  • GAP Insurance covers the difference between the value of your wrecked vehicle and the amount still owed on its loan. 
  • Mechanical Breakdown pays for repairs to mechanical elements of your vehicle, though this generally excludes regular maintenance or standard wear and tear. 
  • New Car Replacement reimburses policyholders for the cost of a new car rather than just the depreciated value of your damaged vehicle. 
  • Custom Parts & Equipment Value pays for repairs or replacements to alterations or custom additions you’ve made to your vehicle. 
  • Pet Injury pays for veterinary expenses resulting from an accident. 

Check your state’s minimum coverage requirements

Other than New Hampshire and Virginia, every state requires car owners to purchase auto insurance. To find out your minimum coverage requirements, check out our state-specific auto insurance reviews or check your state insurance commissioner's website.
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 quick. 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.
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