The Best Auto Insurance
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 18 of the best auto insurance providers based on their ability to serve customers and actually pay out claims; not just on premium cost.
A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating A++
J.D. Power Claims Satisfaction Score 870/1000
24/7 Support ✔
Online Claim Filing ✔
A Close Second
A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating A++
J.D. Power Claims Satisfaction Score 851/1000
24/7 Support ✔
Online Claim Filing ✔
A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating A+
J.D. Power Claims Satisfaction Score 853/1000
24/7 Support ✔
Online Claim Filing ✔
A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating A+
J.D. Power Claims Satisfaction Score 864/1000
24/7 Support ✔
Online Claim Filing ✔
A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating A++
J.D. Power Claims Satisfaction Score 865/1000
24/7 Support ✔
Online Claim Filing ✔
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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 above to get started.
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 dug deep into coverage and discounts.
The Best Auto Insurance
- GEICO — Best Overall
- Travelers — A Close Second
- Progressive — Honorable Mention
- Allstate — Honorable Mention
- State Farm — Honorable Mention
It’s easy to think of auto insurance as just another monthly expense — until you need it. Quality coverage is the difference between a hassle-free claims experience and potentially devastating financial consequences. The best auto insurance provides peace of mind with strong financial solvency, extensive coverage options, and discounts that will keep your policy within your budget, without sacrificing protection. We found five providers that we like — and two we love. Any of them are great options; for most people, the choice will come down to whichever is the cheapest.
Our top pick is GEICO, thanks to its above-and-beyond coverage options and commitment to customer service, including a top-rated mobile app and high claims satisfaction among its customers. With agents and offices around the country, GEICO has all the tools necessary to meet your insurance needs — without leaving you feeling like just another customer.
Travelers, our runner-up, comes with just about all the benefits of GEICO. The most extensive coverage options of all our top picks make Travelers one of the best insurers around — it might have been the best were it not for claims satisfaction scores that came in below the industry average. Even still, we’re confident that Travelers can keep you covered at a price you like — just don’t count on a claims experience as painless as GEICO’s.
It’s a good idea to get quotes from multiple insurers so you know you’re getting the best rate available. We recommend looking at additional quotes from Progressive, Allstate, and State Farm. Coverage and discounts vary between them, but all three are backed by strong financial ratings and nationwide availability. If you’re not sure which providers come equipped with the coverage options you’re looking for, fear not — we take a closer look at each of them below.
How We Found the Best Auto Insurance
We started with 18 of the best nationwide auto insurance companies from around the country: Providers that offer coverage in at least 40 states with no special eligibility requirements.
Choosing a large company guarantees more resources for you, the customer — that means broad coverage, 24/7 service, and tools to make filing claims and shopping for policies painless. Together, these resources provide comfort that a smaller company just can’t offer. And when you’ve been in a car accident, you’re going to want all the comfort you can get.
This meant skipping smaller, more niche providers like New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company and, most notably, USAA. USAA is only available to current or retired members of the armed forces and their families. But if you’re eligible, get a quote — it’s widely considered the gold standard in insurance.
We wanted providers that sell their own policies.
Not all insurance agents work exclusively with one insurer. Some companies, like The General, operate through a network of independent agents who act as intermediaries between you and your insurer. These brokers can compare plans from a variety of companies on your behalf, and some people prefer them for this reason: Their obligation is to you, the client, rather than the company that employs them. But they won’t be the one ultimately responsible for paying your claim — and that’s reason to pause.
Working with an insurer that administers its own policies helps protect against uncertainty, like how your policy would be affected if your independent broker’s office went out of business. So, we excluded any companies that don’t issue their policies directly.
Financial solvency was critical.
There are a million things to worry about when you’re involved in an accident. Whether or not your insurance company will be able to pay your claim shouldn’t be one of them.
A strong financial rating is the best way to guarantee your provider can pay what you need, when you need it, so we made sure all of our picks had strong ratings based on the Insurance Information Institute’s guidelines: We first looked for companies that received an A- or better (“strong”) from A.M. Best, a rating agency specifically focused on the insurance industry. And because the Insurance Information Institute recommends getting ratings from more than one agency, we decided the best needed to earn at least an A+ (“low risk”) from Standard & Poor or an Aa (“very low risk”) from Moody’s.
Amica fell short here. While it’s frequently hailed for its customer service, it didn’t request (and thus didn’t receive) ratings from Standard & Poor or Moody’s. Such a decision struck us as odd given that evaluations from both agencies are common and a simple way for providers to build credibility in the insurance industry.
While Amica would have otherwise ranked highly among our contenders, we think it’s important that all of our top picks can guarantee strong financial solvency beyond a doubt, so that you’re never left worrying about your insurer’s ability to follow through on promised coverage.
Then we took a closer look at what it's like to be a policyholder.
Our must-have conditions left us with seven auto insurance companies that will be able to support you financially when you need them most. But our quest for the best took us a few steps further: We wanted to figure out which companies would be the easiest to work with, so we took a closer look at their claim tools, coverage details, and available discounts. The best had to shine in all three areas.
1. Painless Claims Processing
You probably won’t think much about your auto insurance until you need it. John Espenschied, agency principal and owner of Insurance Brokers Group, told us that claims processing is one of the most important factors to consider when shopping for auto insurance:
“You can buy cheap insurance anywhere, but if you find out that the provider isn’t able to adequately handle your claim, you might be disappointed in the settlement if and when you need to use your insurance.”
In a recent survey, we found that our readers’ biggest complaints about their current insurance company related to customer service and their final settlement amount. So, we used J.D. Power’s 2017 claims satisfaction study to find out which insurers had done the best job settling claims for their customers.
Scores are assessed on a 1,000-point scale, and all of our final contenders ranked above 850. Even though the industry average (858) is slightly better than this, even the lower scoring companies like Progressive and Travelers perform exceptionally well in categories like coverage and discounts, so we gave them a pass on those 8 points.
As technology becomes increasingly integrated into daily life, mobile capabilities become all the more integral to providing strong customer service, too. For insurance companies, this means apps that allow customers to view their policies and manage the claims process start to finish. But the quality of these capabilities varies between insurers — we favored those companies that use technology to make the insurance process easier, rather than adding stress to an already-stressful situation.
2. Above-And-Beyond Coverage
Everything about insurance is personalized, and your demands are as varied as the factors that go into your premium. The best auto insurance companies provide a wide range of coverage options so your plan fits you the way it should — tailored to your specific needs.
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, as well as some common supplemental coverage choices. 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.
Each of our finalists covered the basics:
Beyond the standard protections you’ll need, supplemental coverage will keep you protected against the additional costs that often come with accidents. Features like car rental coverage may not seem essential when you view them as just another added cost, but the increase in your rate may still be lower than the cost of renting a replacement vehicle if your damaged car is in the shop for a while. The options offered by providers vary widely in both availability and cost. We’ve broken down the supplemental choices of each of our top picks below so you can be sure they’ll have coverage to fit your unique concerns.
3. Deep Discounts
Discounts keep your premium down when other factors (like that pesky credit score) won’t. These fall into two main categories: driver and vehicle. We favored insurers with a wide array of discounts, since those providers will be able to offer costs savings for more customers. While not everyone will be eligible for every discount, the companies that offer more discounts give you more chances to save.
Price shouldn’t be your main concern — having the proper coverage is far more important — but there’s certainly no harm in saving money when you can.
We compared all of our top picks to see how each provider stacks up and found that there were some noticeable differences: Travelers, for example, won the numbers game with just over 33% more discounts than Nationwide. But keep in mind that you won’t qualify for all of them. Some, like deductions for paperless billing, are widely available and don’t have special eligibility requirements. Others will be determined based on conditions beyond your control, like age, driving record, or the technology built into your vehicle. And your provider may have a maximum total you can take off your premium. Plus, insurers prioritize discounts differently: Insuring multiple cars under GEICO can save you up to 25% on your premium, while State Farm only offers up to 20% for its multi-car discount. That’s why it’s so important to compare quotes, not just the number of deductions you qualify for.
Pricing wasn’t our priority — on purpose.
It’s nearly impossible to predict the cost of insurance for anyone other than yourself. Premiums are based on factors specific to the driver, including age, vehicle, driving history, credit score, and even where you’ll be doing most of your driving. Young drivers, for example, face higher rates than their older counterparts. And if they drive a sports car — vehicles that often come equipped with fewer safety features and higher horsepower — they’ll be paying more for their coverage.
Every insurer weighs these factors differently, which means the only way to find the best price for your policy is to get multiple quotes from different insurers. The good news: All of our top picks offer strong coverage that will be able to provide you with the protection you need. After you’ve established the level of coverage you’re looking for, it’s okay to choose your insurer based on premium.
Our Top Picks for the Best Auto Insurance
Best Overall — GEICO
GEICO’s happy-go-lucky gecko is iconic in the insurance world, and for good reason: GEICO’s auto policies impressed us across the board and rightfully earned the insurer our top spot, with strong financial ratings, far-reaching discounts, and support options that demonstrate the company’s commitment to its customers.
GEICO received the highest claims satisfaction of all 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. Add to that some equally impressive financial ratings — A++ from A.M. Best, the agency’s highest rating — and you’ve got an insurer that has all the means to keep you covered. And we haven’t even gotten to its plans yet.
In our experience, it pays to be skeptical of advertising, but the claim that “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance” seems pretty realistic after looking at GEICO’s offerings. It ranks second in total number of discounts, a good sign made great when you realize that GEICO only trails our outright leader, Travelers, by one deduction. 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, and federal employees, were exclusive to GEICO among our finalists.
GEICO’s easy-to-navigate website makes getting a quote simple — 15 minutes, remember? 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 Alexa-enabled 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, an area that many insurers continue to struggle with. While we wish we could edit our policy directly through the app, other insurers’ attempts tell us this should be the least of our concerns: users of State Farm’s app cite glitchy or inconsistent performances, making stressful situations — like filing a claim — worse. While these benefits are by no means determining factors for the best auto insurer, GEICO’s demonstrated commitment to user experience reinforces the high satisfaction reported by J.D. Power.
Still, GEICO isn’t perfect. Though it comes with all essential coverage (and then some), our favorite 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, and new car replacement, which covers the cost of a new vehicle beyond the depreciated value of your damaged ride. These are by no means necessary additional coverage features, but given their prevalence, we hoped for more from a major insurer that exceeds expectations in so many other areas. But that doesn’t keep us from confidently saying that GEICO provides coverage to match the needs of most drivers, with enough discounts to make your policy fit your budget as well as your demands.
Runner-Up — Travelers
We’ll cut to the chase: We love almost everything about Travelers. The New York-based company topped our list in both discounts and supplemental coverage, outperforming other major insurers including GEICO, our top pick. So why didn’t Travelers take the title?
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 by far the lowest scoring insurer of our top picks and we think that’s significant. Its score of 851 from J.D. Power 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 good conscience.
Now for the good news: Travelers’ 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 even offers discounts for continuous coverage. These types of discounts are less common than you might think and 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 may only be driving when they’re home on vacation, making it an attractive option for families with children in college.
When it comes to supplemental coverage, Travelers is hard to beat. It consistently met our marks for what we considered ‘the essentials,’ as well as for coverage options that few of our other favorite insurers included, like 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). And the choices that were missing from Travelers’ policies were almost universally additions that only one of our other finalists offered, like Progressive’s unique pet injury protection that covers veterinary bills after an accident. This makes for the most comprehensive coverage of any of our top picks — if not for its low claims satisfaction score, Travelers would be our top pick, period.
Other Auto Insurance Companies to Consider
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.
Progressive allows policyholders to supplement their coverage with many of the standard additions we look for in providers but unfortunately didn’t have quite enough options to merit a top place finish. It does, however, offer the aforementioned pet protection that isn’t offered by any of our other top contenders, as well as 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. This plan can save money for low-use drivers and may well mark the advent of a new form of insurance, but the long-term results of such policies remain to be seen.
While even its worst financial strength rating was still considered ‘Good’ by Moody’s, a low score in the J.D. Power study (853) leads us to recommend Progressive for riskier drivers who may face higher rates elsewhere, but not for those who have little to gain from the company’s relative leniency.
Allstate performed well in all of our major categories but perplexed us a bit upon closer inspection. It has strong financial ratings, a claims satisfaction score that gave GEICO a run for its money, and supplemental coverage choices that hit the mark among top contenders — including a usage-based plan similar to Progressive’s Snapshot. In short, we expected Allstate to do equally well with discounts. And it does, numbers-wise, coming in just behind Progressive in terms of available deductions. But the discounts themselves left us wanting.
Allstate offers some discounts that were rarely found among our other top insurers, including a new car discount and incentives to sign up for policies early. But it doesn’t provide discounts in areas that other companies treat as given. This includes deductions for driver training programs, paperless billing, and most notably, insuring multiple cars — a discount that was available from all of our other finalists except Nationwide. Discounts won’t impact your coverage and won’t make a difference in savings if you aren’t eligible, but we were still struck by the decision to include certain niche deductions while eschewing other, more common discounts.
Ultimately, Allstate is still a strong contender and may be able to satisfy all of your coverage needs. We recommend getting a quote to find out which discounts you may be eligible for, while noting that other insurers may provide stronger incentives to sign up.
We liked State Farm, the “good neighbor” insurer, a lot. We just didn’t love it. Don’t get us wrong, State Farm boasts impressive ratings for financial solvency, with assessments from all three credit agencies that were among the strongest on our list, and the second highest claims satisfaction score behind GEICO. But when it came to discounts and supplemental coverage, State Farm was middle of the road.
State Farm does well on standard discounts, including multi-policy and multi-car discounts, as well as deductions for safety features like anti-lock brakes, airbags, and daytime lights. But other than an uncommon discount for students away at school, there was little to distinguish State Farm from its competitors.
Supplemental coverage was much of the same. It offers all the standard protections — but so did just about every other contender. Ridesharing coverage was a plus, and more widespread than Travelers’, with availability in 37 states plus Washington, D.C. But without any other exceptional additions, State Farm ended up with fewer overall coverage options than our other top picks.
Like Allstate, State Farm will probably have a policy to fit your needs and it’s absolutely worth getting a quote. If you do choose coverage from State Farm, you can rest assured knowing that it has the financial solvency and customer satisfaction to help you navigate the aftermath of an accident. But if you’re looking for outstanding coverage that will go above and beyond the competition, you’re better off with GEICO or Travelers.
How to Get the Most from Your Auto Insurance
Figure out what supplemental coverage you need.
Covered By: ● GEICO
● State Farm
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. Just remember: The more coverage you add, the higher your monthly premium.
- 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 before legally driving. But not all states have the same requirements. Nevada, for example, only requires coverage up to $15,000 for bodily injuries per person, $30,000 for bodily injuries per accident, and $10,000 for property damage. Alaska, meanwhile, has far higher minimums, requiring policies to cover up to $25,000 per person, $100,000 per accident, and $25,000 in property damage.
Check your state insurance commissioner’s website to find out your minimum coverage requirements, while keeping 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.
Opt for a higher deductible to get a lower premium.
Choosing a higher deductible may seem counterintuitive since it means you’ll pay more out-of-pocket if you get in an accident. But doing so can lower your premium and save you money over time. The catch? A higher deductible is a calculated risk: You’re betting that you won’t get in an accident and therefore won’t have to pay anything other than your premium.
If you do opt for a higher deductible, make sure you have the means to actually pay it out, just in case an accident does occur. Joel Ohman, Certified Financial Planner and founder of CarInsuranceComparison.com, recommends starting a savings account that is designated specifically for emergency use: “Once you have enough money in your savings account to comfortably pay the higher deductible if need be, call your agent and increase your policy deductible to enjoy the lower premiums.”
Be warned: ‘Full coverage’ isn’t full coverage.
We asked injury lawyers and auto insurance experts to name some common misunderstandings that impact policyholders — nearly half of them brought up the issue of full coverage. Many insurers state that policies offer ‘full coverage’ without detailing what that means, because, well, it doesn’t actually 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. Such coverage is not available.”
Don’t be fooled by insurance jargon that might leave you underinsured: Talk through all your standard and supplemental coverage options with your agent rather than opting for some catch-all plan that sounds sufficient. The truth is, such a plan doesn’t really exist.
Get a C.L.U.E.
If you currently have auto insurance or have had it in the past, you also have a personalized report that providers access when they want to learn more about the risks you carry. This record, known as a Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (C.L.U.E.) report, lists data related to personal property losses you may have suffered in the last seven years. That includes dates, loss types, and the amount paid for claims, as well as policy and claim numbers and the names of the insurance companies that paid them.
Insurers use this record to calculate your premium, but most people don’t even know it exists. If there’s any inaccurate information in your C.L.U.E. report, you may be paying more than you should be for insurance. Thankfully, you can order your C.L.U.E. report for free once a year from research firm LexisNexis, just like your credit report. If you find any false information, you can contest it and possibly have your record amended. Even if you haven’t had any significant claims in the past seven years, it’s worth requesting your C.L.U.E. report to better understand the factors that insurers consider when evaluating your policy.
In-Depth Auto Insurance Reviews
We’ve been reviewing auto insurance companies for a while now. Check out our in-depth reviews below for more detailed information about individual insurers, but stay tuned — we’ll be updating these reviews over the next few months to ensure consistency with our latest round of research.
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The Best Auto Insurance by State
Every state offers a unique set of insurance providers, and there are plenty of circumstances that affect the policies and coverage available to you. We've reviewed the best auto insurance options in every state using a methodology similar to the one for this review on nationwide providers.