Auto insurance can feel like just another monthly bill — especially when your car is humming along smoothly. But when you need auto insurance, you really need it. We set out to discover the difference between Georgia’s top auto insurance providers, and find out what drivers in the Peach State need to know before they get behind the wheel.

Georgia Minimum Liability

Liability is an important term in the insurance industry, basically translating to “responsibility.” With auto insurance, there are two main kinds of liability: bodily injury and property damage. If you are at-fault in an accident, your auto liability insurance will pay the other driver’s medical and vehicle repair costs.

Minimum liability refers to the minimum amount of insurance coverage the state of Georgia requires you to purchase before you can legally drive your car. (Sometimes, liability coverage is shown in the following shorthand: 25/50/25.) Georgia’s minimum liability coverage breaks down in the following manner:

  • $25,000 bodily injury coverage per person
  • $50,000 bodily injury coverage per accident
  • $25,000 property damage coverage per accident

What’s interesting to note is that at $25,000, Georgia’s minimum liability property damage per accident is much higher than other states — 31 states require only $5,000–$20,000 in minimum liability coverage per accident. Georgia is one of just 19 states with a minimum liability property damage of $25,000 per accident (the max of any state we looked at). It may not seem like it, but this is actually a good thing.

You don’t want to purchase just the minimum liability coverage. Say you’re in a car accident involving another person’s luxury car — the crash may very well exceed the the minimum liability of $25,000 in property damage coverage per accident. You’d be stuck footing the bill for the rest of the cost out of pocket. That’s why your safest bet is to purchase the highest amount of auto insurance you can afford.

There are many factors that determine auto insurance premiums (if you own your home, how long you’ve been a licensed driver, your safety record, where you live, and so on). That’s why it’s so crucial to shop around for premiums and discover which auto insurance provider will give you the best coverage at the best price. This review on the top auto providers in Georgia is an ideal place to start.

Georgia Auto Insurance Reviews

Progressive

Representing 10.4 percent of Georgia’s auto insurance customers, Progressive offers a quote process and overall website experience that is clean, simple, and intuitive. Our favorite feature of any insurance provider is its robust FAQ section called “Progressive Answers,” which handles many of the high-level insurance questions a customer may have like “what actually impacts your auto insurance price” to more nuanced questions like “red cars and other insurance myths”. This brand is also only one of two of the top auto insurance providers we looked at to offer a live chat option. Progressive offers a wide array of discounts, ranging from having multiple cars on one policy to having teen drivers in the household. The website also mentions giving an average discount of 7 percent for just starting your quote online — an intriguing promotion none of our other providers offer.

Progressive received only 2 out of 5 stars from J.D. Power for its overall customer satisfaction and claims process categories. Still, Consumer Reports ranked it as “Very Good” in regards to its simplicity of process and “Excellent” for its timely payouts.

State Farm

State Farm is the largest auto insurance provider in Georgia, covering roughly 23 percent of the market of insured drivers. The website is comprehensive, but is a bit overwhelming — huge, bulky blocks of text to sift through in order to find what you’re looking for. Still, we appreciated that it lays out all of the discounts we may be eligible for, such as defensive driving course and good student discounts, and supplemental coverages offered like rideshare driver coverage and emergency road service.

State Farm’s quote process is not as straightforward as Progressive’s. It requires either a Driver’s Licence Number or Social Security Number, and a detailed account of any at-fault accidents, tickets, major violations, or license suspensions in the past six years. That’s a lot of information to provide if you’re just shopping around for the best deal.

State Farm was evaluated by two main financial institutions, Standard & Poor’s and A.M. Best, and earned a “very strong” and “superior” respectively for financial stability. It didn’t earn quite as high marks from J.D. Power — 2 out of 5 stars in both the overall and claims process categories.

Allstate

Allstate has garnered 10.8 percent of Georgia’s auto insurance market share — on par with Progressive. We quite liked that its website housed an array of useful information. Allstate took the guesswork out of the equation for the shopper, providing a small definition beneath each term for easy comprehension. Some auto insurance websites (such as State Farm) were too advanced — most of us don’t encounter these terms on a daily basis. It also clearly lists its supplemental coverage options (ranging from medical payments to sound system insurance) and discounts (including ones for having anti-theft devices or students away at school). If anything, the website could get a slight ding for having too much information — it’s easy to get lost navigation-wise.

Customers rank Allstate 3 stars (“about average”) for overall satisfaction and 3 stars for timely payouts on J.D. Power. Allstate also receives high marks from financial institutions like Moody’s, which granted Allstate with its highest rating for having “exceptional financial security.”

Liberty Mutual

Liberty Mutual is the sixth-largest auto insurance provider in Georgia (behind niche provider USAA) with just 4.1 percent of the market share. It’s evident Liberty Mutual invested in its website — it’s well-designed and simple to use. After looking at multiple auto insurance providers, it is refreshing to find a website that is designed with the average customer in mind.

If you’re just shopping around, be warned that Liberty Mutual’s online quote estimator requires you enter your Social Security Number. No other auto insurer required this sensitive information to receive a free quote. There are two ways to obtain a quote — you can choose to receive a “quick estimate” by answering a few quick questions, or a “personalized quote,” which entails answering more detailed questions. The personalized quote option will give you a more accurate estimate based on your circumstances, but both will require a SSN — all before you’re an actual customer.

Liberty Mutual received positive ratings from all three financial institutions — Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s, and A.M. Best — varying from “good” to “very strong.” J.D. Power rated its overall satisfaction as 3 out of 5 stars, which means “about average.” Its claim satisfaction ratings were a bit lower at 2 out of 5 stars.

Nationwide

Nationwide covers a smaller market in Georgia, just 3.5 percent of Georgia’s drivers, but its ratings from financial institutes, Moody’s and A.M. Best, range from “good” to “superior,” so it’s definitely worthy of a look. From J.D. Power, it earned high marks for its claims process (4 out of 5 stars), but not as high in overall customer satisfaction (2 out of 5 stars).

Nationwide doesn’t offer nearly as many discounts as some of our other recommended providers (six compared to Liberty Mutual’s 13). That being said, Nationwide delivers in supplemental coverage; we counted an offering of 10 additional endorsements.

Nationwide’s website looks nice; however, because the company also handles investing and retirement, it's a little overwhelming to navigate once you’re actually using it as a tool. Things fell apart a little bit more during the quote process. When we reached the end of the quote process and clicked “submit,” we got an odd message saying that our quote couldn’t be fulfilled online. We were automatically redirected to a website called “National General Auto, Home & Health Insurance.” We weren’t overly impressed with that experience, but its list of discounts and endorsements kept it on our list.

The law behind Georgia’s exploding auto insurance premiums.

Georgia has a problem with skyrocketing auto insurance premiums. In 2016, Georgia had the highest increase in personal auto insurance of any state in the U.S., according to an analysis by S&P Global Market Intelligence. That makes it the fourth year in the row that Georgia came in first or second nationally for auto insurance spikes. In fact, in 2015, one of our top providers, Allstate, put a 25 percent average rate boost into effect for personal auto premiums.

What’s behind the rapid ascent? Some news outlets place the blame on a bill introduced more than a decade ago. Then-Senator (now Georgia Insurance Commissioner) Ralph Hudgens backed a bill that would essentially do away with a system of checks and balances placed on auto insurance companies. Before the bill passed, any time an auto insurance company wanted to raise premium rates, it would have to first go through a rigorous pre-approval process. Since the bill became a law, Georgia’s auto insurance premiums have steadily increased.

Meanwhile, Georgia lawmakers blame rising traffic, distracted driving, and increased opioid use as reasons why there are more accidents — and thus ever-increasing higher premiums — in the state of Georgia. (The rate of traffic fatalities has risen faster in Georgia than in the nation as a whole, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.) Regardless of the exact cause, one thing is certain: Georgia residents can expect to pay more on average than their neighboring states when it comes to auto insurance.

Car theft in Georgia is on the rise.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s Hot Spots Report, fourteen of Georgia’s metropolitan areas made the list of top 382 cities for automobile theft in 2016, despite Georgia having only eight of the country’s biggest cities by population.

One specific area where the car theft is rising is among keyless cars — the kind that start with just the push of a button and a remote fob. If the person exits the car and leaves it running (even just to get gas at the pump), an opportune thief can hop in a drive off.

So, what does this mean for your auto insurance? A higher crime rate translates to a higher premium, specifically for those who live in areas where car theft is more common. Luckily, many auto insurance providers will give a discount to policyholders with anti-theft devices in their cars.