Car Insurance

10 Best Car Insurance Companies of 2018

Getting the right car insurance policy starts with picking the right insurance company.

Good insurance companies provide a variety of coverage and service options, great customer service, and a smooth claim resolution process, all at an affordable rate. Since virtually every state requires drivers to have a minimum amount of auto insurance coverage, you might as well get a policy – and an insurer – you can be happy with in both good times and bad.

While it’s easy to get lured in by an insurance carrier offering extremely low rates, try to remember that price is not the only factor to consider when you’re choosing an auto insurance company – in fact, it’s probably not even the most important factor. In normal circumstances, the most noticeable aspect of your auto insurance policy is your premium payment, so it’s easy to focus solely on price. However, when something goes wrong – you get in an accident, your car is stolen, etc. – the other aspects of your insurance policy and the quality of your carrier will suddenly become a lot more important. If you’ve chosen wisely, your car insurance carrier can make the claims process an easy and relatively pleasant experience; if not, your carrier can make an already miserable situation even worse.

Insurify, a free insurance comparison website that provides real-time, accurate quotes, set out to analyze all major car insurance companies and rank them with a single, multi-point score. The result is the Insurify Composite Score— a number that gives you an easy way to see which carriers are the best fit for you before you need to use your policy. And by choosing a policy with the right coverage level from a highly rated carrier, you can give yourself peace of mind on the road.

Methodology

The Insurify Composite Score is calculated by analyzing multiple factors that reflect the quality, reliability, and health of an insurance company. Inputs to the score include financial strength ratings from A.M. Best, Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, and Fitch; J.D. Power ratings, Consumer Reports customer satisfaction surveys, mobile app reviews, and user-generated company reviews. Insurify’s data scientists took these variables, weighted them, and combined them into a single, easy-to-understand numeric score for each carrier.

Top Rated Car Insurance Companies

After crunching the data, these 10 car insurance companies stood out above the rest of the pack. While it’s always important to shop around when comparing auto insurance, getting your next policy from one of these carriers will help ensure you’ve got a carrier you can trust to protect you and your vehicle.


1. Amica  – Best Overall
Insurify Composite Score: 94

Company name: Amica Mutual Insurance Company
Year founded: 1907
Number of customers/policies: 1.6 million policies
Awards and rankings:

  • ‘A+’ financial rating from A.M. Best
  • Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Auto Insurers in the New England Region in the J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Auto Insurance Study

Product highlights: Amica is a mutual insurance company. That means the company is owned by its policyholders and its purpose is to provide insurance for them, not to make a profit. As a result, mutual insurance companies can often afford to offer much lower rates than standard insurance carriers. Amica’s Car Connection program allows customers to get special pricing on new and used cars through the program’s dealer network.
Available discounts: Amica offers safe driver, loyalty, multi-product and e-discounts, among others.


2. Auto-Owners
Insurify Composite Score: 93

Company name: Auto-Owners Insurance Group
Year founded: 1916
Number of customers/policies: 2.7 million policyholders
Awards and rankings:

Product highlights: Like Amica, Auto-Owners is a mutual insurance company. It works solely through independent agents, arguing that this ensures a local, friendly face will be there to help out in case a customer needs to file a claim.
Available discounts: Auto-Owners offers multi-product, safety features, good payment history and student discounts, among others.


3. American Family
Insurify Composite Score: 92

Company name: American Family Insurance
Year founded: 1927
Number of customers/policies: 10.2 million policies
Awards and rankings:

  • ‘A’ financial rating from A.M. Best
  • Fortune 500 company

Product highlights: Another mutual insurance company, American Family developed the Dreams Restored Program (DRP) for its auto insurance customers. If a policyholder uses a DRP-certified repair shop after filing a claim, the repairs have a lifetime warranty and the bill goes to American Family rather than to the customer.
Available discounts: American Family offers multi-product, loyalty, defensive driver and student discounts, among others.


4. Esurance
Insurify Composite Score: 92

Company name: Esurance Insurance Company
Year founded: 1999
Number of customers/policies: 1.5 million policies
Awards and rankings:

  • ‘A+’ financial rating from A.M. Best
  • J.D. Power award for Highest Customer Satisfaction Among Auto Insurers in California

Product highlights: Esurance is owned by Allstate. The company’s Photo Claims program allows customers to snap a smartphone photo of any accident damage rather than setting an appointment with an appraiser. This can allow claims to be settled in as little as one day.
Available discounts: Esurance offers multi-product, switch-and-save, good driver, and homeowners discounts, among others.


5. The Hartford
Insurify Composite Score: 92

Company name: The Hartford
Year founded: 1810
Number of customers/policies: $3.6 billion in personal insurance premiums
Awards and rankings:

  • ‘A’ financial rating from A.M. Best
  • Fortune 500 company
  • 2018 World’s Most Ethical Companies Honoree, Ethisphere Institute

Product highlights: The Hartford offers a number of special benefits to auto insurance policyholders, including RecoverCare (which provides reimbursement for home services if you’re injured in an accident) and lifetime renewability. Policyholders can also buy into the Advantage PLUS package, which provides first accident forgiveness, an annual reduction in collision deductibles, and more.
Available discounts: The Hartford offers multi-product, safety features, good student, and AARP member discounts, among others.


6. ERIE
Insurify Composite Score: 89

Company name: Erie Insurance
Year founded: 1925
Number of customers/policies: 5.2 million policies
Awards and rankings:

  • ‘A+’ financial rating from A.M. Best
  • Fortune 500 company
  • J.D. Power award for Highest Satisfaction with the Auto Insurers Shopping Experience

Product highlights: ERIE offers a Rate Lock feature on its auto insurance policies that keeps the rate constant from year to year, even if the policyholder files a claim. Rate Lock lasts until the policyholder makes certain changes to the policy, such as adding or removing a driver or vehicle.
Available discounts: ERIE offers multi-product, multi-car, safe driver, and reduced usage discounts, among others.


7. GEICO
Insurify Composite Score: 89

Company name: Government Employees Insurance Company
Year founded: 1936
Number of customers/policies: 16 million policies
Awards and rankings:

  • ‘A++’ financial rating from A.M. Best
  • Top score in Forrester Research’s US Mobile Auto Insurance Functionality Benchmark

Product highlights: GEICO has several programs to help policyholders save money on auto expenses, such as the Fuel Finder feature on GEICO’s mobile app to find the cheapest gas station in your area and the Car Buying service to compare features and prices on new and used cars.
Available discounts: GEICO offers mature driver, military, federal employee, and student discounts, among others.


8. Allstate
Insurify Composite Score: 88

Company name: Allstate Insurance Company
Year founded: 1931
Number of customers/policies: 16 million households
Awards and rankings:

  • ‘A+’ financial rating from A.M. Best
  • 2018 World’s Most Ethical Companies Honoree, Ethisphere Institute

Product highlights: Allstate customers can sign up for Drivewise, a mobile app that awards points for completing safe driving challenges. Those points can be redeemed for gift cards, merchandise, and other prizes.
Available discounts: Allstate offers multi-product, new car, student, and safety feature discounts, among others.


9. State Auto
Insurify Composite Score: 87

Company name: State Automobile Mutual Insurance Company
Year founded: 1921
Number of customers/policies: Almost $2 billion in premiums
Awards and rankings:

  • ‘A-’ financial rating from A.M. Best
  • One of Forbes’ 50 Most Trustworthy Financial Companies in America

Product highlights: State Auto’s customers can reduce their premiums by joining the Safety 360 program, which entails installing a telematics device in the car that tracks the driver’s actions. Customers who join this program receive a score rating how safely they drive and can get higher discounts if they increase their score.
Available discounts: State Auto offers multi-product, safety feature, multi-car, and student discounts, among others.


10. Nationwide
Insurify Composite Score: 85

Company name: Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company
Year founded: 1925
Number of customers/policies: $11.7 billion in personal insurance premiums
Awards and rankings:

  • ‘A+’ financial rating from A.M. Best
  • Listed on Fortune’s 2018 “100 Best Companies to Work For” list

Product highlights: Nationwide has a number of optional programs that customers can join to save money on their policies. SmartRide requires drivers to plug a mileage-tracking device into their vehicles, but rewards them with discounts for driving less. And Vanishing Deductible reduces the policy deductible by $100 per year for each year that the driver goes without filing a claim.
Available discounts: Nationwide offers multi-product, safe driver, e-document, and safety feature discounts, among others.


Best Car Insurance for Veterans

USAA
Insurify Composite Score: 95

Company name: United Services Automobile Association
Year founded: 1922
Number of customers/policies: 11.9 million members
Awards and rankings:

  • ‘A++’ financial rating from A.M. Best
  • Fortune 500 company
  • #20 on Fortune’s World’s Most Admired Companies® 2018 list

Product highlights: USAA is a financial services provider that accepts members only from military and ex-military households (widows, spouses, and other family members of USAA members can also join). Many of the company’s benefits are geared towards military personnel, such as the 15% discount on auto insurance for members who garage their vehicles on base.
Available discounts: USAA offers safe driver, low mileage, multi-product and student discounts, among others.

Getting the Right Coverage for You

Once you’ve narrowed your search down to a handful of top-quality insurance carriers, it’s time to consider just what features you’re looking for in your auto insurance policy. Most states set minimum car insurance coverage limits for their residents, but minimum coverage may not provide enough protection for you. Instead of relying on those minimums, consider your own situation and needs and set your insurance policy limits accordingly.

Auto insurance policies don’t come with a single limit and deductible: instead, there are typically a number of coverage limits based on the type of claim a customer might make. Most claims are categorized either as collision or comprehensive claims; car insurance policies can also offer coverage to help you with the financial repercussions of an accident, such as medical bills and lost wages.

Comprehensive and Collision Coverage

Auto insurance coverage falls into two broad categories: comprehensive coverage and collision coverage. Collision coverage protects you financially when your car runs into something else, be it another car, a lamp post, or an animal. Comprehensive coverage protects you for every other type of automobile claim: if your car is stolen, if a tree falls on it, or if it’s carried off by a tornado or drowned in a flood. Comprehension and collision coverage are typically bundled together and have the same coverage limits.

In some cases, you may not need comprehensive and/or collision coverage at all. If your state allows you to waive this coverage and your vehicle is worth less than $3,000, comprehensive and collision coverage may not be a cost-effective choice – you’d likely end up spending more on premiums than you’d ever get back from filing a claim.

On the other hand, if you’re still paying off your vehicle both comprehensive and collision coverage are likely required by your lender, and the lender may also set a maximum deductible on your coverage or have other requirements in place. Check with whichever company is providing your auto loan before giving up this coverage or changing your deductibles or coverage limits.

Personal Injury Protection, Medical Payments, Health Insurance

Car accidents often lead to injuries, and in such a situation personal injury protection, medical payments, and health insurance coverage from your car insurance policy can save you from devastating medical bills. These three types of coverage help cover the cost of accident-related injuries in different ways.

Personal injury protection coverage pays for any medical bills that you and your passengers incur from a car accident, and usually will cover any lost wages as well. 12 states require drivers to carry a minimum level of personal injury protection insurance; in other states, this coverage is strictly optional, but it may still be a good idea to purchase this type of coverage. One of the biggest benefits of personal injury protection coverage is that it will pay the bills regardless of who is at fault in the accident; for that reason, it is also known as no-fault insurance.

Medical payments coverage is similar to personal injury protection coverage in that it will pay for medical bills related to an auto accident. Unlike personal injury protection coverage, it won’t cover things like rehabilitative care or lost wages, but it will pay for funeral expenses. This coverage is linked to the policyholder, not the vehicle – meaning you can still use your medical payments coverage if you’re injured in an accident while riding in someone else’s car, on a bus, or even if you’re out for a walk and a car runs into you. Medical payments coverage is strictly optional, so if you live in a state where personal injury protection coverage is required, you might be better off getting a larger amount of the latter and skipping medical payments coverage. On the other hand, if you feel you need more medical coverage than personal injury protection coverage will supply, then getting this type of coverage on top of your no-fault insurance coverage can be just the ticket.

Both personal injury protection coverage and medical payments coverage can overlap with your regular health insurance coverage. Their interaction will vary based on what type of health insurance policy you have and which state you live in. Some types of health insurance policy don’t cover accident-related injuries at all; if your health insurance policy does cover such injuries, either personal injury protection coverage or medical payments coverage can give you funds to cover co-pay expenses and other charges that aren’t covered by your health insurance. They will also cover your accident-related medical expenses if you haven’t met your health insurance deductible for the year.

Umbrella Coverage

If you get sued as a result of an accident or otherwise exceed the liability limits on your auto insurance policy, umbrella coverage can take care of those extra charges for you. Umbrella coverage is an add-on that picks up where your standard car insurance policy leaves off. If you have a high net worth, umbrella coverage can help you protect those assets even in a worst-case scenario. For example, if you get into an accident and are found to be at fault, and the other party sues you for an enormous sum, umbrella coverage could help you pay those lawsuit charges.

These policies typically start at $1 million of coverage and may go as high as $10 million or even more. Most umbrella coverage carriers require you to have a certain amount of auto insurance coverage before you can sign up, so you can’t use an umbrella coverage policy to skimp on your auto insurance coverage limits.

How to Choose Car Insurance Limits

Getting just enough car insurance coverage to meet your state’s minimum requirements may seem like an easy way to save money, but it can be the most expensive course in the long-term. If you’re in a serious accident and don’t have sufficient auto insurance coverage, you could end up with bills you can’t pay and could possibly end up bankrupt as a result.

When picking your car insurance limits, the rule of thumb is to get at least enough coverage to equal the total value of your assets. Personal assets would include a house, your car or cars, bank accounts, brokerage accounts, and even retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401(k). If you’ve got more assets than your standard auto insurance policy will cover, umbrella coverage would be a great way to make up the difference. Still, your assets aren’t the only factor to consider when shopping for a policy.

Factor Your Car Payment into the Decision

Owners of brand-new vehicles might consider getting gap coverage to protect themselves in case of an accident early on in their car ownership. New vehicles lose a huge amount of their value the moment you drive them off the dealership lot, but you still owe your lender however much you purchased the vehicle for in the first place. Yet if you get into a major accident a week after buying your new car and the vehicle is totaled, standard auto insurance policies will only pay you up to the car’s current value – which will likely be much less than you owe on it. In such a situation, gap coverage will “fill in the gap” between the car’s current value and how much you still owe on it.

Factor in What Kind of Driver You Are

It’s not easy to be a good judge of our own driving skills, but how good a driver you are will certainly affect how likely you are to have an accident – and that’s something to consider when choosing your car insurance policy limits. If you’ve been driving for 20 years and have never had an accident, you’re probably a pretty good driver (or at least a cautious one) and may be able to get along with somewhat lower limits on your car insurance. On the other hand, if you get in an accident every year, you’ll definitely want to get plenty of coverage – although you’ll likely pay top-dollar for it with such a high-risk driving history.

Another factor to consider is how often you drive. If you work from home and only drive a few miles once a week to run your errands, you’re far less likely to end up in an accident than someone who has a 50-mile-a-day commute. Rush-hour driving is also riskier than driving at less peak times, because you’re dealing with large numbers of often impatient drivers who may be willing to take risks in order to get themselves to work on time. In short, the more you drive, the more insurance coverage you’re likely to need.

Determine How Much You Can Pay in the Event of an Accident

The deductible you choose will have a big impact on your car insurance premiums. Higher deductibles can result in much lower premiums, but they also mean that you’ll have to pay more money out of pocket before your insurance coverage kicks in. If you have a healthy balance in your savings account, you may be able to get away with a higher deductible and save significant money on your premiums – but don’t try this if you have little or no money saved. In that case, if you have a high deductible and get in a serious accident, you’ll either end up buried in debt or unable to pay your car repair bills. Stick to a deductible that’s equal to, or preferably less, than the amount you have tucked away in savings.

It’s also wise to consider your job security, the size of your household, and how comfortable you are with risk. Someone with a very secure job and a predictable income can probably afford to get by with lower coverage than someone who works seasonally, is a solopreneur, or has a good chance of being laid off. And if you have several dependents, bumping up your coverage limits would be wise. Finally, some people are very risk-averse and simply won’t sleep well at night with minimal insurance coverage, while others are perfectly comfortable living with the possibility of expensive bills in case of an accident. Decide where you fall on this spectrum and set your policy limits accordingly.

How to get the Lowest Car Insurance Rates

If you don’t have the cash to cover a high deductible, yet can’t afford to pay a great deal in auto insurance premiums, don’t panic – there are plenty of other ways to reduce your rates. Because different carriers use slightly different factors to determine how they’ll set the rates for your policy, simply shopping around and comparing rates from different carriers can result in substantial savings. And choosing a carrier that offers numerous discounts that you’re eligible to claim can reduce your costs even further.

Car Insurance Discounts

Discounts vary quite a bit from one carrier to another, but here are some of the most common discounts and how to qualify for them.

Discounts:

  • Multi-product discountMany insurance companies sell other products besides auto insurance: homeowners insurance, life insurance, renters insurance, and so on. Buying more than one type of policy from a carrier can get you a package rate.
  • Multi-vehicle discount: Insuring more than one vehicle on a single policy may result in a discount.
  • Loyalty discount: Sticking with the same insurance company through multiple renewal cycles may get you a better rate. Even if the company doesn’t promote such a discount, it’s worth asking if you can get one.
  • Green discount: Drivers of hybrid cars or other green vehicles may be eligible for a discount on their insurance premiums.
  • Good driver discount: If you haven’t had any accidents or traffic violations during the past three years, most insurance carriers will give you a good driver discount – though some carriers require as much as five years of perfect record to earn this discount.
  • Professional and organizational discounts: If you belong to certain organizations, such as the AARP, or are a member of certain professions, you may be eligible for a discount. Check with your employer, professional organization, and any other group with which you enjoy membership; you can also ask the insurance company if any such discount is available.
  • Mature driver discount: Drivers age 50 and up who’ve taken and passed a licensed mature driver safety course may be eligible for this discount. Some carriers set higher age requirements to qualify as a mature driver.
  • Student discount: Students who meet certain requirements – such as landing on the honor roll or starting college – can sometimes get a discount on auto insurance.
  • Married couple discount: Believe it or not, you might qualify for a lower rate just by being married.
  • Defensive driving discount: Passing a licensed defensive driving course can get you a discount on insurance, although you’ll likely have to take the course again every year or two to maintain the discount.
  • Lump payment discount / prepayment discount: If you pay your entire insurance premium upfront instead of breaking it out in two installments, you can usually get a discount on the total.
  • Homeownership discount: Owning a home may be enough to get you a discount, even if you don’t have your homeowner’s insurance through the same company as your auto insurance. Of course, getting both insurance policies from a single carrier may allow you to combine this discount with the multi-product discount.
  • Safety features discount: Certain vehicle safety features can get you a better rate. For example, anti-theft devices, daytime running lights, and anti-lock brakes are all desirable features to insurance carriers.
  • Reduced mileage discount: If you drive less than 10,000 miles per year, you can often get a better deal on your car insurance. Some carriers will require you to prove your low mileage by having you plug a mileage tracker into your vehicle.
  • E-discount: Choosing to go paperless by opting to receive all your insurance communications via email will often result in a small discount.
  • Automatic payments: Many carriers will provide a small discount for opting to have your insurance payments taken out of your bank account automatically.

Excellent Credit Helps

It may surprise you to hear that many insurance companies, especially the larger ones, check your credit score before offering you a policy – and will often set your insurance rates based on whether or not you have good credit. Residents of California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts are exceptions to this rule, as those states prohibit insurance companies from using credit scores to determine premiums.

If you have poor credit and don’t live in one of the three exempt states, consider requesting an extraordinary life circumstances exemption. This exemption allows you to request insurance carriers not to use your credit score when calculating your rate, if you can show that your poor credit was caused by specific circumstances beyond your control, such as serious illness, divorce, unemployment, and similar life catastrophes. The insurance carrier will likely ask you to provide documentary proof, so don’t try to make such a claim unless you can back it up.

Getting better auto insurance rates is just one reason to do what you can to improve your credit history. The single most effective way to fix credit problems is to make all your payments on time, starting immediately. If you simply can’t afford to make at least the minimum payments on all your debts, try getting in touch with some of your creditors to see if you can negotiate a deal. Many creditors will accept a somewhat smaller repayment if the alternative is to force you into bankruptcy and get nothing at all.

Once you’ve chosen a top-rated carrier and selected the right policy limits, your work isn’t quite done. No matter how much you love your current policy, it’s still important to shop around every year to get quotes from other insurers. If you get a much lower quote for the same type of policy from another carrier, you might take the quote to your current insurer and ask them to match it. There’s an excellent chance that your current insurer will unearth another discount or two and reduce your premiums just to keep your business. That way, you’ll get the best of both worlds: superior car insurance coverage and a competitive price.

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Wendy Connick is the founder and owner of Connick Financial Solutions, a provider of tax and bookkeeping services and a QuickBooks Online Certified ProAdvisor. A long-time freelance writer, she specializes in business and finance articles on subjects including taxes, investing, and retirement. Wendy is an Enrolled Agent (EA), the only federally-licensed tax practitioners who specialize in taxation and have unlimited rights to represent taxpayers before the IRS. She is a member of the National Association of Enrolled Agents and a certified volunteer for VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance), an IRS-sponsored program to provide free tax help for low-income individuals and families.