The Best Auto Insurance

Get on the road fast, and affordably

The 30-Second Review

It’s hard to think about car insurance as anything more than a monthly expense. But filing a claim isn’t so much an “if” as it is a “when." So we reviewed 41 of the best auto insurance providers based on their ability to serve customers and actually pay out claims; not just on premium cost.

41
Contenders
2
Top Picks
Best Overall

The Hartford
The nation’s second-highest claims satisfaction rating, plus robust coverage options. Just be prepared to call to get a quote.

Runner-Up

Nationwide
Excellent customer service ratings, but fewer coverage options and discounts than Hartford.

Of course, premiums matter. We get it. 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 below to get started.

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A 2015 survey conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International found that 66% of auto insurance policyholders never or rarely check to see if they could get less expensive coverage compared to their current policy. For most, it’s just another monthly expense. Statistically, though, the average driver will be involved in an accident every 18 years, which means you’re going to need to use it at least three times in your lifetime. We reviewed auto insurance companies on more than just price — we looked at the claims process; we surveyed experts; and we even talked to the people who deal with car insurance companies the most (auto body shop owners).

The Best Auto Insurance

Best Overall — The Hartford

The Hartford ranked second-highest for claims satisfaction in J.D. Power’s 2016 study with a score of 891 out of 950. (USAA ranked number one with a score of 895, but we couldn’t make it a top pick due to its military-only eligibility requirements.) The study involved over 12,000 recent claimants, but excluded those whose vehicles were stolen, incurred only glass damage, and those who “only filed a roadside assistance claim.” When you break that down, it means that out of all the people who sustained substantial damage to their vehicle, The Hartford’s customers were the happiest.

The Hartford falls behind Nationwide with regard to GAP insurance, but bests its main competitor with new car replacement, stacked uninsured motorist, and rental car coverages. Stacking uninsured motorist coverage isn’t legal in every state, but those who can take advantage of it can increase their levels of underinsured or uninsured motorist coverages with minimal cost. If you live in a state that forbids having UM/UIM coverages that are higher than your liability coverage, stacking allows you to increase your UM/UIM without having to buy more liability.

The Hartford offered all but two of the 16 different discount types we looked for, including a rare discount for those who drive electric vehicles. No other nationally available insurer offers more discounts, except for Progressive (which didn’t make it into our list of finalists due to subpar financial strength ratings). The two discounts it doesn’t offer are loyalty and military.

If The Hartford has an Achilles’ heel, it would be the online quote process. We tried over a dozen different approaches, but were always met with, “We are unable to process your insurance transaction online. In order to finish your quote, please contact us by phone.” Truth be told, it kinda feels like The Hartford never intended to give a full quote online at all, which we’d consider a misleading way to generate leads.

Runner-Up — Nationwide

Nationwide has the third-highest J.D. Power satisfaction ratings in the nation (behind USAA and The Hartford), and that’s mainly why it’s our Runner-Up pick. Amica is the only other company we reviewed that landed in J.D. Power’s top echelon, but it didn’t have the financial strength to knock Nationwide off the second-place pedestal. Nationwide’s financial stability ratings (an A+ from A.M. Best and S&P) are right on par with The Hartford. Any of our five finalists will be able to pay your claim without breaking a sweat, but having top marks in both claims and financial strength is commendable in our book.

A Note on Rental Car Coverage Most personal auto policies automatically include collision coverage for rentals, so make sure to check with your current provider before handing out more cash for a useless coverage. You might also have inherent liability coverage through your homeowner’s policy, or even your credit card, so check there as well.

Nationwide is also the only auto insurance provider aside from Progressive that offers “Pet Injury Coverage.” So if Whiskers sustains a broken leg after someone rear-ends your car at a stoplight, you won’t have to pay the vet bill out of pocket. You can also buy full-on pet health plans from Nationwide a la carte.

If you’re a frequent traveler, it’s important to note that Nationwide is one of only two countrywide insurers that does not offer rental car coverage. (The General is the other.) Yes, you can buy statutory minimum liability insurance from the rental company, but Neil Abrams, an auto rental consultant for Abrams Consulting Group, told US News and World Report that “in a significant event, that’s not going to do much for you.” He went on to say that in the technical sense, “it’s not insurance.” On top of that, rental car companies’ agreements are riddled with fine print, so the path with the least amount of stress is leaving that coverage up to your primary auto insurance provider. Unfortunately, Nationwide can’t provide it.

Nationwide customers also can’t take advantage of prepay discounts, low-mileage discounts, new car replacement coverage, or stacked uninsured motorist coverage. None of those are deal breakers by any means, but all are available from The Hartford.

Other Auto Insurance Companies to Consider

USAA

USAA only services members of the US military and certain family members, including:

  • Active, retired, and honorably discharged officers and enlisted personnel.
  • Cadets and midshipmen at US service academies, in advanced ROTC or on ROTC scholarship, plus officer candidates within 24 months of commissioning.
  • Former USAA members who had auto or property insurance.
  • Widows, widowers, and un-remarried former spouses of USAA members.

If you qualify for USAA, you should seriously consider it. Here’s why: It has the highest possible ratings from A.M. Best (A++) and Moody’s (Aaa), and the second-highest rating from Standard and Poor’s (AA+). On top of all that, it boasts the top claims satisfaction score from J.D. Power. To be clear, USAA is in a league of its own, and only disappointed us regarding two of our favored policy options: GAP insurance and a prepay discount. If not for the eligibility requirement, it would have been our top recommendation.

Allstate

Allstate’s a really close competitor to The Hartford, but doesn’t offer nearly as many discounts. For example, Allstate doesn’t offer discounts on driving habits, family, multiple vehicle, organization, or electric vehicles. It does come out on top in the finance department, however, with a slightly better FSR rating from S&P, and it’s the only provider aside from Amica to offer interior vehicle coverage. This option protects against interior wear and tear, like ripped upholstery, which is different from damage covered by comprehensive insurance.

It’s also worth mentioning that Allstate’s quote process is the best in the business. Each step is broken down intuitively, making it easier for those who don’t have a great understanding of what auto insurance is or how it works. It’s also the only one of our finalists that lets you edit your policy from your smartphone.

Travelers

Travelers has excellent financial standing (an “A++” from A.M. Best and a “Aa2” from Moody’s), and scored just above the industry average in J.D. Power’s claims satisfaction study. It offers all the basic coverages and discounts we were looking for, but a lack of customer support tools, including live chat, mobile quotes, tutorials, a knowledge base, and GPS functionality in the app, kept it from standing out. All of these things are helpful when filing a claim from your smartphone. Outside of USAA, it’s also the only insurer that offers a military discount.

Amica

Amica didn’t pass our financial strength filter: It has excellent marks from A.M. Best, but it returns no ratings at all from S&P, Moody’s, or Fitch. That left us scratching our heads, but it doesn’t mean Amica isn’t worthy of consideration. It has the same J.D. Power claims satisfaction score as Nationwide. What’s lacking, however, are a few common discounts (including prepay and low mileage) and a policy management dashboard like The Hartford and Nationwide, which means you have to speak with an agent to edit your policy. Another minor miss for Amica is in the payments department: Customers are required to make payments online; you can’t mail them in or pay them by phone.

Did You Know?

It’s best to shop for a new policy every two years.

Even if you are satisfied with your current provider, you should shop for a new policy every two years or so. Why? Two words: price optimization. In 2013, Earnix (a software platform for pricing analytics and optimization) discovered that 45 percent of larger insurers maximize profit by building premiums based upon how much they think customers are comfortable paying. They do this by mining personal data, like online shopping habits and credit scores, to determine how likely you are to switch companies if your rates go up.

You’re getting charged based upon how much money an auto insurance company thinks it can squeeze out of you.

Applying for new policies on a regular basis is the best way to avoid falling victim to price optimization because, just like the data they mine to analyze you, insurers see how often you get quotes. The more you shop, the more volatile you become as a customer — and that means your insurer won’t risk nickel-and-diming you to death.

Shopping around is the only way to know if you’re getting the best deal possible. For example, if you recently turned 25, you qualify for a lower rate because you are viewed as lower-risk driver, but your current provider might not notify you of your new eligibility. If you’ve had a clean driving record for a number of years, you may also qualify for a discount. Comparing prices annually will highlight your options, and it also gives you leverage to negotiate a better rate with your current provider.

Claim frequency greatly impacts your premium.

In the eyes of an insurer, a higher claim frequency is directly correlated to your level of risk. So to keep your premium as low as possible, consider fixing smaller damages on your own. If you find someone has knocked off your side-view mirror, for example, that might be a $100 fix (depending on your car’s make and model). But if you claim that against your collision coverage, you could risk upping your premium by $20 per month, totaling $240 per year for damages that are easy to fix.

Here’s another, slightly obvious way to decrease claim frequency: Be a better driver. The more care you take behind the wheel, the less likely you are to back over your mailbox or rip your fender on a curb. Speeding tickets are another easy thing to avoid that can also increase your monthly premiums.

It’s OK to ask for discounts.

It’s OK to call your provider and see if you can apply for any new discounts — especially if you’re a long-time customer. Insurers want to keep you around, and they’ll do what they can to make it happen. Some life events might qualify you for a price break, including losing a job and paying off your vehicle. It’s like they say: “You never know until you ask.”

How Auto Insurance Looks In Your State

Washington

Annual Average Premium*
State
$1,756
National Average
$1,670
*Estimates based on 35-year old white male with a clean record
State Minimum Liability
Bodily Injury
Per person
$25,000
Per accident
$50,000
Property Damage
$10,000
Enter Your Zip For Local Rates
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Best Auto Insurance: Summed Up

Below are our recommendations based on our latest round of evaluations. You’ll also find our picks for more specific needs, such as coverage for young drivers, cheap car insurance, and the best coverage options:

Auto Insurance

Best For…

1

The Hartford

Best Overall

2

Nationwide

Pet Owners

3

USAA

Military

4

Allstate

Quote Process

5

Travelers

Basic Coverage

6

Amica

Online Customers

7

Grundy

Classic Cars

8

Progressive

Cheap Car Insurance

9

Ameriprise

Coverage Options

In-Depth Auto Insurance Reviews

We’ve reviewed a lot of insurance companies. Check out our in-depth reviews of each.*

*Two companies we’ve written reviews about ultimately didn’t pass our standards, but you can read about them anyways. Check out the reviews for 21st Century and The General now.