Auto insurance — until you need it, it seems like just another monthly expense. But if you’ve ever been in a serious car accident, or even had someone bump your car in a parking lot, the importance of auto insurance quickly becomes obvious. We set out to discover the best auto insurance providers for Pennsylvania drivers.

Pennsylvania Minimum Liability

In the auto insurance industry, liability roughly translates to “responsibility.” There are two main kinds of liability when it comes to auto insurance: 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 Pennsylvania requires you to purchase. (Sometimes, liability coverage is shown in the following shorthand: 15/30/5.) Pennsylvania’s minimum liability coverage breaks down as such:

  • $15,000 bodily injury coverage per person
  • $30,000 bodily injury coverage per accident
  • $5,000 property damage coverage per accident

Pennsylvania, like all other no-fault states, requires drivers to have Personal Injury Project, or PIP for short. (In a no-fault state, policy holders can recover financial losses from their own insurance company, regardless of who’s at fault.) This includes coverage for medical, rehabilitation, lost wages due to missed time at work, and even funeral expenses. In some states PIP also includes essential services such as child care.

So what happens if you purchase simply the minimum liability coverage for Pennsylvania? Well, if you cause an accident, the property damage to the other car may very well exceed the minimum liability of $5,000 per accident. You’d be on the hook to pay the rest of the money out of pocket. According to DMV.org, a good rule of thumb is to purchase the highest amount of auto insurance you can afford.

There are many things that factor into auto insurance premiums (your safety record, what neighborhood you live in, what kind of car you drive, and so forth). 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 Pennsylvania is an ideal place to start.

Pennsylvania Auto Insurance Reviews

Erie Insurance Group

Our top pick for Pennsylvania auto insurance blew us away with its positive ratings across multiple customer satisfaction websites. Erie Insurance Group earned two impressive ratings on J.D. Power; it was our only Pennsylvania auto insurance provider to nab 5 stars (“among the best”) for overall customer satisfaction as well as its handling of claims. The company also received a distinguished “94” rating from Consumer Reports Car Insurance Ratings and Reliability metrics, and an “Excellent” rating across seven possible categories (including “simplicity of the process” and “timely payment”).

The website is designed with user experience in mind — it was our standout favorite. We were able to quickly punch in our information and receive a quote in a matter of minutes. As soon as you enter your address during the quote process, a photo pops up on the right-hand side, introducing you to your would-be insurance agent. Erie also offers a host of discounts and supplemental coverages, including rarer endorsements such as pet injury; it also has a rate lock program that locks in your rate, providing your situation remains the same.

State Farm

We were slightly underwhelmed by Pennsylvania’s largest auto insurance provider (which captures 20 percent of the state’s auto insurance business). The State Farm quote process is much more cumbersome than Erie’s. We had to enter our Driver’s License Number or Social Security Number, and provide a detailed account of any at-fault accidents, tickets, major violations, or license suspensions in the past six years. That is a lot of info if you’re just shopping around.

The website is comprehensive but feels a bit outdated (think large blocks of small-print text). It makes for a good resource, but not the best user experience. Still, we appreciate that it lays out all of the discounts we may be eligible for and supplemental coverages offered.

The two main financial institutions, Standard & Poor’s, and A.M. Best, rated the company’s financial stability as “very strong” and “superior,” respectively. But, J.D. Power ranked it only 2 stars in its overall and claims process categories.

Allstate Corp

Allstate Corp insures 11.9 percent of Pennsylvania’s drivers. We found it to be a solid option, with a quick and painless quote process and a wealth of information on its website. When it came to clearly spelling out supplemental coverage options, Allstate Corp took top honors. The site had each discount (such as smart student and responsible payer discounts) and each endorsement (from personal umbrella policy to roadside coverage) clearly delineated, with a small definition beneath each term for at-a-glance comprehension. That being said, we found the website to be a little overwhelming, with a lot going on — it was easy to get lost while navigating.

Customers gave Allstate Corp 3 stars (“about average”) for overall satisfaction and 3 stars for timely payouts on J.D. Power. Allstate also received top marks from financial institutions like Moody’s, which bestowed the company with its highest rating for having “exceptional financial security.”

Nationwide Mutual Group

Nationwide takes care of nearly 10 percent of Pennsylvania’s auto insurance needs. While the company doesn’t offer as many discounts as some of other providers (we counted six listed on the website compared to Allstate’s 10), it did offer a decent amount of endorsements. Its ratings from financial institutions ranged from “good” (from Moody’s) to “superior” from A.M. Best. J.D. Power rated its claim process as 4 out of 5 stars, while overall customer satisfaction received only a 2 out of 5 stars.

Nationwide’s home page made a great first impression. It appears the most current, thanks to a design with looping videos, large images, and easy-to-read headlines. However, because the company handles more than just insurance (they also do investing and retirement), it’s a bit tricky to navigate to auto insurance. And, when we got there the auto insurance pages, the experience feels at odds with the home page — more clunky and outdated.

During the quote process, we were asked to estimate the value of the car when it was new, regardless of whether or not we owned it then. Strange. When we finally reached the end of the quote process and clicked “submit,” we got a message saying that our quote couldn’t be fulfilled and we were automatically redirected to a website called “National General Auto, Home & Health Insurance.” Overall, an underwhelming and unsatisfying customer experience. We’d recommend calling to get a quote — you may have a better experience reaching out by phone.

Progressive Insurance Group

Progressive Insurance Group is responsible for 9.5 percent of Pennsylvania’s auto insurance. Both the auto quote and overall website experience are clean, simple, and intuitive. A robust FAQ section called “Ask Progressive” — our favorite educational tool out of all five companies — handled the high-level insurance questions a customer may have, as well as the nitty-gritty logistics (“I just hit a deer. What do I do next?”). This brand is also the only one of our top auto insurance providers in PA that offered a live chat option. Progressive has a wide array of discounts (including an average discount of 7 percent for starting your quote online, something none of our other providers offered).

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

Pennsylvania Auto Insurance Quote Comparison

Pennsylvania offers a good mix of bustling metropolises (Philadelphia and Pittsburgh) and wide-open spaces (Amish country and the Allegheny Mountains). We wanted to see how your ZIP code would affect your auto insurance premium as a PA resident, so we plugged in three real addresses spread out across three Pennsylvania counties to see what our auto insurance providers would quote us. We used the same car for each quote: a 2012 Subaru Outback with 65,000 miles, belonging to a single, 30-year-old female driver.

The results were what we expected — the more urban an area you live in, the higher premiums you have to pay on your auto insurance, due to increased population density, more congestion, and a higher likelihood of crime. The inverse is true for more rural counties.

Cameron Lancaster Philadelphia
Progressive $55.31/month $65.84/month $113.11/month
Allstate $108/month $122/month $244/month

State Insurance Department Investigating Premiums

In October 2016, the Pennsylvania Insurance Department launched a ZIP code-based study on personal auto insurance premiums and losses. The authors of the study wanted to find out whether auto insurance premiums were higher or lower in select ZIP codes (without evidence of corresponding higher or lower insurance losses). The ZIP codes they looked at had certain demographic components: 1) large minority populations; 2) low household incomes and; 3) low percentages of college graduates.

The department collected three years’ worth of personal auto insurance premium and loss data, drilled down to the ZIP code level, from each of the state’s 20 largest auto insurance companies. The study found that the premiums to loss ratios (essentially, the relationship between the premiums paid and the actual insured losses) in these select ZIP codes were not higher than the state of Pennsylvania as a whole.

When the Pennsylvania Insurance Department published the results of the study, they also wrote that they are “committed to ensuring that a robust and competitive auto insurance market is available to Pennsylvania consumers and that no one is provided an insurance rate that is excessive, inadequate or unfairly discriminatory.” The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) is currently conducting a national ZIP code-based study of auto insurance affordability and availability, and Pennsylvania is participating in that as well.