U.S. Department of Transportation data shows that the average Iowan drove roughly 32,325 miles in 2016. Lots of time on the road means an increased risk of car accidents, especially when you factor in issues like distracted driving. And if you decide to chance it and drive without insurance, the consequences are steep — your license can be suspended for up to a year. So it’s an understatement to say that purchasing car insurance is a wise investment. Below, we take a look at some of the best Iowa auto insurance companies to help you find coverage that fits your needs.

Iowa Minimum Liability

“Minimum liability” is the part of an insurance policy that covers other people, plus any property other than your own car. It encompasses things like injury to vehicle occupants, damage to another car, or damage to property like a mailbox or fence.

Iowa boasts some of the least expensive car insurance rates in the nation, according to The Zebra’s 2018 State of Auto Insurance report. In part, this is because the minimum amount of liability insurance that Iowa requires you to purchase is low.

  • $20,000 bodily injury coverage per person
  • $40,000 bodily injury coverage per accident
  • $15,000 property damage coverage per accident

But just because Iowa’s 20/40/15 requirements are low, it doesn’t mean they are the best option. If you are involved in an accident with a luxury vehicle, for example, there’s a good chance the cost to repair that car will exceed $15,000 in property damage. This means you could end up footing most of the bill out of your own pocket. Instead, we recommend paying a little more upfront — it could save you a lot of money in the long run. The insurance agents and lawyers we spoke with agree that it’s safest to purchase as much coverage as you can afford.

To keep your rates low without sacrificing coverage, you’ll want to compare quotes from several car insurance companies to see what types of coverages and discounts they’ll offer you. Getting multiple quotes takes some time upfront, but the savings are well worth it — and our review of Iowa’s top providers gives you a good place to start.

Iowa Auto Insurance Reviews

American Family

American Family has plenty to offer Iowa drivers, starting with the basics. Car insurance can be confusing, so we appreciated American Family’s website, which devotes a page to explaining insurance deductibles, including what to consider before choosing a deductible. American Family’s description of coverage options is equally comprehensive, ensuring that you understand exactly what each part of your policy covers, plus what add-ons you might need.

However, the site wasn’t as comprehensive as Progressive’s or Nationwide’s. We ran into limitations, in particular, with American Family’s quote tool. When we tried to test it with multiple types of vehicles, we were repeatedly directed to call an agent for a quote. The online quote process was still useful, as it highlighted the types of discounts we qualified for: When we input our vehicle data, discounts for anti-lock brakes, airbags, and other safety features were automatically applied. Just be aware that you may have to speak to a rep on the phone to complete the process.

American Family’s easy-to-qualify-for discounts include savings for going paperless and signing up for autopay. Other discounts are unique, such as the Young Volunteer discount, which is given to people under age 25 who volunteer for at least 40 hours per year at a nonprofit organization.

Where American Family insurance really shines, however, is its claims service. Of the insurers we looked at, it ranked best overall in customer satisfaction, with above average scores from both Consumer Reports and JD Power and Associates. Consumer Reports ratings are developed using input from 23,600 subscribers in the following areas: simplicity of the auto claims process, ease of reaching an agent, promptness of response, agent courtesy, damage amount, freedom to select a repair shop, being kept informed of the process, and timely payment. JD Power looks at customer satisfaction based on five factors: interaction, policy offerings, price, billing process and policy information, and claims. Together, these evaluations provide an exhaustive look at customer satisfaction with the auto insurer and its claims process. American Family’s high scores from both groups earned it our top spot. We’d suggest starting here in your quest for auto insurance.

Progressive

Progressive was not far behind American Family, although this insurer’s website wasn’t as robust. The site does provide basic information on coverage, along with an online quote tool and myriad discounts, but if you value educational resources, you may want to look at Nationwide instead.

Progressive’s coverage options are where this provider shines. Your options include everything from uninsured motorist property damage coverage to gap insurance — this option is particularly notable, as it pays up to 25 percent more than your car’s actual cash value to your lender if your car is ever declared a total loss. Progressive’s collision coverage also stood out. While all insurance companies offer this coverage, Progressive’s not only covers your injuries, but those of your pets if they are hurt in an accident.

Aside from offering the most coverage options out of our five Iowa providers, Progressive markets itself as budget-friendly, and we can see why. The site’s online quote tool provides multiple coverage choices based on your budget, and you can experiment with changing the cost of your monthly bill with the Name Your Price tool.

Nearly everyone — 95 percent of Progressive customers — qualifies for at least one discount. That’s because many of them are easy to obtain. Starting an online quote earns you a discount, as does does paying in full, signing documents online, and utilizing Snapshot, a usage-based program that tracks and rewards your safe driving habits.

However, while Progressive offers many discounts, our overall savings were only middle-of-the-road: The average multi-car discount with Progressive is 10 percent, whereas State Farm’s is up to 20 percent. Likewise, Progressive’s multi-policy discount starts at 5 percent, while Nationwide offers up to 20 percent. Still, these savings are beneficial, especially because they involve less rigid stipulations than other insurers. For example, drivers can combine auto policies with roomates, domestic partners, or anyone they live with, even if not related. Similarly, clients receive a discount for owning a home, condo or mobile home — even if Progressive doesn’t insure it.

Progressive received high ratings from Consumer Reports for customer satisfaction and claims experience. JD Power and Associates’ regional evaluation of Progressive, however, ranked this provider as firmly average.

State Farm

State Farm writes the most auto insurance policies in the Hawkeye State, so it’s no surprise it received strong financial ratings. In fact, its Moody’s, A.M. Best, and Standard & Poor’s ratings which were by far the highest of the group. There’s plenty to worry about when you’re dealing with an insurance claim, including potential injuries, repairs, and costs. But whether or not your insurance company is able to pay your claim shouldn’t be a concern. A strong financial rating is the best assurance.

State Farm’s standard and optional coverage is middle of the pack. In addition to helping Iowans meet the 20/40/15 coverage, the insurer offers add-ons, including roadside assistance, rideshare insurance, and rental car reimbursement. In and of itself, rental car insurance is a common option, but State Farm’s coverage not only includes reimbursement for renting a car, but travel expenses for meals, lodging, and transportation in the event that your vehicle is disabled more than 50 miles from your home.

State Farm also offers a few discounts. You can earn up to 20 percent off for insuring multiple vehicles, and up to 17 percent off for holding multiple policies — on top of discounts for remaining accident-free, completing driver safety courses, and opting into Drive Safe & Save, a program that uses basic information from your vehicle's OnStar service or mobile devices to track and improve your driving behaviors. While these discounts are pretty standard, the percentage of savings that State Farm offers is higher than most.

State Farm received an overall score of 89 from Consumer Reports (the same as American Family), along with similarly high scores for simplicity of the claims process and the timeliness of payment, two factors that are extremely important when filing a claim. The insurer was rated roughly average when J.D. Power and Associates examined its reputation in the region.

Nationwide

Nationwide’s website was by far our favorite. In addition to a helpful online quote tool, the site has ample information about how to choose the best coverage options. In addition to breaking down the differences between liability, collision, and comprehensive coverage, it’s easy to educate yourself about Nationwide’s optional coverages. These include common offerings, such as rental reimbursement and roadside assistance, as well as less common ones, including Accident Forgiveness and Vanishing Deductible. Accident Forgiveness allows drivers to avoid a rate increase after their first at-fault accident. Vanishing Deductible provides drivers with $100 off their deductible for each year of safe driving, with a discount cap of $500: Suppose that after four years of safe driving, you get into an accident. Instead of paying the $500 deductible, you will pay only $100 before your insurance kicks in.

To further save money, Nationwide offers standard discounts, including a Good Student discount and savings for going paperless and remaining accident-free. And to be sure that you are benefitting from as many discounts as possible, the insurer emphasizes the importance of completing a free annual On Your Side policy assessment.

While we liked Nationwide’s website as well as its its coverage and discount options, the insurer’s customer satisfaction and claims service left something to be desired. Consumer Reports gave Nationwide ratings that were satisfactory, albeit lower than the other four insurers. J.D. Power and Associates’ regional evaluation, however, gave Nationwide an average score for claims service and the lowest overall satisfaction rating of our five providers.

Iowa Farm Bureau

Iowa Farm Bureau’s mission is straightforward. As its website proudly declares, “Our number one goal is to protect you, financially, from damages or injuries that occur as a result of a motor vehicle accident. Not flashy, but smart.” We appreciate the bureau’s no-nonsense attitude, although its website is correspondingly spartan, without much information on standard coverage options and endorsements.

The company does offer a number of ways to save. We really liked Iowa Farm Bureau’s Driveology and Young Driver Safety programs, which help customers of all ages improve their driving skills and earn discounts — up to 30 percent off your premium.

Unlike our other finalists, Iowa Farm Bureau lacks an online quote tool. This may be due to the bureau’s emphasis on building a relationship with your local agent. And that approach seems to be working, as Consumer Reports gave Iowa Farm Bureau a score of 90 — the highest of Iowa’s auto insurance providers — with JD Power and Associates giving the bureau similarly high scores. Because of Iowa Farm Bureau’s size, however, there was no information on the insurer’s financial stability.

Without such limited information, it’s hard to compare Iowa Farm Bureau to the other providers on our list. We’d suggest calling for a quote and seeing how your rates and coverage options stack up. We should also mention that membership costs roughly $40 for a non-farmer, depending on your location.

More Tips for Iowa Drivers

Distracted driving will cost you.

A 2016 study for Iowa’s Zero Fatalities program found that nearly 30 percent of Iowans text while behind the wheel once a week. Another 32 percent text and drive (not just at stoplights) on a daily basis, with almost 14 percent texting and driving multiple times a day. And the Iowa Department of Transportation reports that in 2016, 1,230 crashes were caused by these cell-phone-distracted drivers.

Insurance companies have responded with increasingly harsh penalties for distracted driving. The Zebra State of Auto Insurance Report found that in 2015, people caught using their phone while behind the wheel saw their insurance premiums go up a modest 1.82 percent, on average. In 2017, the average rate increase leapt to 15.86 percent. For most drivers, this translates to an extra $226 on your annual premium

Year
Crashes resulting from distracted driving*
Injuries
Fatalities
2016
1,230
603
13
2015
1,100
601
14
2014
771
331
7
2013
659
306
3
2012
715
324
1
2011
681
289
3
2010
659
288
4

*Drivers who are distracted by a phone or other device.

Iowa is combatting distracted driving via legislation.

While an increase in premiums should be a deterrent for drivers, Iowa also passed two pieces of legislation to reduce the number of traffic fatalities resulting from distracted drivers.

One piece of legislation expands the state’s homicide-by-vehicle statute so that if drivers cause fatal accidents as a result of cellphone use, they can be charged with a Class C felony, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

The other piece of legislation makes texting and driving a primary offense. In other words, law enforcement officers can pull over drivers they suspect are texting, taking photos, playing games, or browsing the internet and slap them with a $100.50 fine. Previously, texting while driving was a secondary offense and included only a warning.

The Bottom Line

When you consider the costs of getting into an accident, as well as the high number of distracted drivers on the road, it’s clear: purchasing car insurance is crucial for Iowans. And not just the minimum 20/40/15. Iowa drivers should aim to purchase as much auto insurance as they can afford. To help you get the best price possible, you should request quotes from multiple providers and regularly review your policy to ensure you’re taking advantage of all available discounts.