DC residents deal with the longest one-way commutes — an average of 34.4 minutes — based on data from the Census Bureau. All that extra time on the road puts DC drivers at a greater risk of accidents — that’s why having the proper auto insurance coverage is so critical. Here, we’ll take a look at some of the best Washington DC auto insurance companies to help you find coverage that fits your needs.

Washington DC Minimum Liability

Before shopping for car insurance, you should know your minimum liability requirements. Minimum liability insurance is the portion of an auto policy that covers drivers and property outside of your car, such as damages to the other car, occupants of another car, or property.

In DC, the minimum liability insurance requirements are as follows:

  • $25,000 bodily injury coverage per person
  • $50,000 bodily injury coverage per accident
  • $10,000 property damage coverage per accident

Keep in mind, however, that minimum liability coverage is just that. If you cause an accident and the damages exceed your policy, you’re on the hook for the rest — and costs add up quickly. That’s why we (and the dozens of insurance agents and attorneys we’ve interviewed over the years) recommend purchasing as much car insurance as you can afford.

Of course, you want insurance that fits your needs without breaking the bank, so you’ll want to compare quotes from several car insurance companies. While this work takes some time, the savings are worth the effort.

How We Found the Best Auto Insurance in Washington DC

We used a method much like that of our nationwide auto insurance review. First, we found the top five homeowners insurance providers in DC by total market share. Then, we examined the providers and their offerings, paying special attention to discounts, online resources, and standard and optional coverages.

After that, we determined each provider’s financial solvency using Moody’s, A.M. Best, and Standard & Poor’s ratings and got a better picture of consumers’ service and claims experiences via Consumer Reports’ nationwide survey and JD Power and Associates’ Mid-Atlantic regional review. The former uses input from 23,600 of its subscribers to evaluate the auto claims process, including ease of reaching an agent, promptness of response, agent courtesy, damage amount, freedom to select a repair shop, and timely payment. Meanwhile, JD Power examines customer satisfaction in five areas: interaction, policy offerings, price, billing process and policy information, and claims.

When possible, we also solicited a quote to get a sense of each company’s premiums, policies, and customer service. Upon aggregating the data, we ranked providers. Here’s how each DC auto insurance provider stacks up.

Washington DC Auto Insurance Reviews

Allstate

Allstate tops JD Power’s regional evaluation of customer satisfaction among auto insurance providers — and as we took a closer look at its policy details, it’s clear why. The insurer’s standard coverage includes a Claim Satisfaction Guarantee. So if you’re unhappy with your auto claim, you’ll receive a six-month credit on your premium costs — no questions asked.

In addition to customer satisfaction, Allstate boasts our favorite website of the five insurers. It features plenty of resources, including information on rideshare coverage and a guide to understanding auto insurance, along with links to outside sources.

The site also walks you through the quote process, automatically presenting you with discounts for which you pre-qualify, like anti-lock brakes, safe driving, and early signing. Then, you’re offered several prices for insurance, depending on how much you’d like to pay upfront and monthly, as well as the amount of coverage you’d like.

If you’d like additional insight on your quote, you can also check out how much coverage other drivers in your area have, along with tools to personalize your coverage and help you better understand what coverage you need when.

Using this quote tool, you can add supplemental coverage and endorsements, such as rental reimbursement, roadside assistance, and new car replacement, plus sound system insurance, classic car coverage, and other less common options.

Geico

Geico was our favorite national auto insurer, but it fell in the middle of the pack for DC residents. While the auto insurer’s financial solvency was exemplary, its customer satisfaction and claims experience were lacking in the DC area: JD Power gave Geico an “average” overall rating, and a “below average” one for its claims experience.

Despite its easy-to-edit online quote tool, we didn’t find Geico’s website very intuitive. Geico’s other tools, however, were both useful and unique. Auto Repair Xpress service was among the most notable because it streamlines the claims and repair process, thereby reducing some of the time and stress involved for drivers.

After filing a claim, you can use the service to arrange for a Geico adjuster to meet you at a nearby repair shop to evaluate your car’s damage, explain the process, and answer any questions — all while your car is fixed. As a result, there’s less waiting time and more certainty surrounding your claim. Geico’s app is similarly helpful, letting you access your insurance card, roadside assistance and a virtual assistant, and even helps you find the cheapest gas nearby.

Speaking of savings, the insurer offers numerous ways to do so. Its discounts include safety-focused savings for anti-lock brakes, anti-theft devices, airbags, and daytime lights, plus discounts we didn’t find elsewhere, including ones for members of the military, federal employees, and drivers 50 and older.

State Farm

State Farm received excellent financial stability ratings, which is an important factor to consider in an insurance company. After all, you want to rest assured that your claim will be paid on time and in full. Unfortunately, State Farm’s customer service grades were underwhelming.

Consumer Reports gave the auto insurer an above average score, while JD Power gave State Farm low ratings across the board, with the exception of an average score for interaction. As a result, the insurer fell near the bottom of our list.

When looking at State Farm’s coverage, website and discounts, all were decidedly average, with a few standouts. The auto insurance provider’s standard and supplemental coverage was also on par with other insurers.

We did make note of a few things, though. First was State Farm’s ridesharing coverage. While this coverage varies across insurers, only three of the five DC insurers offer it in the District: Allstate, Geico, and State Farm. Second was State Farm’s offerings for teen drivers, which include the Steer Clear program, an online course designed to hone young adults’ driving skills and earn them a discount.

On the subject of discounts, State Farm also offers several ways for young drivers to save, including savings for good grades — up to 20 percent off — and for students away at school. These discounts accompany other savings options for safety features and multi-policy and multi-car discounts, plus savings for students away at school.

Progressive

While Progressive received solid ratings from Consumer Reports, the insurer didn’t fare so well regionally. JD Power gave Progressive low scores across the board, the lowest of all the DC auto insurance providers.

Furthermore, Progressive’s website wasn’t nearly as robust as its counterparts’. In particular, we had trouble differentiating between standard and supplemental coverage options.

Fortunately, that was cleared up using the site’s online quote tool, which also shows you multiple coverage choices based on your budget, along with Progressive’s frequently advertised Name Your Price tool.

On the subject of price, Progressive offers myriad discounts, including easy-to-obtain ones. For example, just by starting an online quote, you receive a discount. You’ll also earn a discount by signing documents online and utilizing Snapshot, a usage-based program that tracks and rewards you for safe driving habits.

Many insurers offer these discounts, and often with greater savings. For example, Geico and State Farm offer a 25 percent and 20 percent multi-car discount, respectively, compared to Progressive’s 10 percent.

What makes Progressive notable is its lenient qualifications. For example, clients receive a discount for owning a home, condo or mobile home, even if Progressive doesn’t insure it. Similarly, Progressive’s multi-car discounts apply to anyone you live with, including roommates and domestic partners — not just family members.

USAA

USAA far outweighed the competition in terms of customer satisfaction. It was the only DC insurer to be ranked among the best for claims and overall experience by J.D. Power and Associates. Similarly, Consumer Reports gave USAA a score of 95, with excellent ratings across the board. USAA’s grades from A.M. Best, Moody’s, and S&P were also the strongest of the bunch.

So why isn’t it the top pick? USAA only provides coverage to current and former members of the US military and families, which disqualifies most DC residents. But if you’re eligible, we wholeheartedly recommend it.

The most important part of car insurance is the claims experience, including claims payment. With such high praise in both categories, USAA is the clear winner.

Beyond its customer experience and financial solvency, USAA has plenty to offer. We especially appreciated its add-on coverage, such as extended vehicle protection for upwards of 1,000 parts across your vehicle, including everything from anti-lock brakes to interior electronics. We were also big fans of USAA’s payment options, which allow you to pay 100 percent upfront, set up a plan for six or 12 months, or pay on a military pay schedule.

A Closer Look at Ridesharing Coverage in DC

Ridesharing has skyrocketed in recent years

Ridesharing is a popular way to make extra cash on a flexible schedule. Very popular in fact, as Uber and Lyft have more than 400,000 and 315,000 U.S. drivers, respectively, according to the Los Angeles Times. Most of these drivers are concentrated in urban areas, like DC.

Signing up to drive for these ridesharing services, otherwise known as transportation network companies, or TNCs, is relatively easy. You only need to provide information on your vehicle, driver’s license, and insurance, then pass a background check. But just because you qualify to drive for Uber or Lyft doesn’t mean you are covered by your auto insurance.

Generally, standard personal auto policies don’t cover rideshare work. So, if you are driving for Uber or Lyft, you need additional auto insurance coverage, which is only available from select providers: Geico, State Farm, and Allstate are the only three that offer ridesharing coverage in Washington, DC.

When are you covered?

Determining when a driver is operating the vehicle for hire is also a pain point for auto insurers. As the National Association of Insurance Commissioners also notes, there are three periods of ridesharing:

  • Period 1: App on, waiting for ride request
  • Period 2: Ride request accepted, no rideshare passengers in the vehicle
  • Period 3: Passenger in vehicle

In Period 1, you may be covered by your personal auto insurance policy, and in Periods 3, you usually covered by your rideshare company. Period 2 is where it gets a little dicey. You are covered by your rideshare company, but only for certain things.

As Uber and Lyft explain, you are covered for the following during Period 2:

  • Your liability to a third party
  • Any injuries due to an uninsured or underinsured motorist
  • Collision and comprehensive coverage if you already have such coverage on your personal insurance

Car insurance coverage is beginning to catch up

Because ridesharing is a relatively new concept, insurers are just starting to catch up. A few years ago, ridesharing endorsements were available from a handful of insurers. Today, these endorsements are now widespread, although coverage varies from company to company. For example, Allstate and USAA offer coverage for Period 2, while you’re waiting for rideshare passengers. Meanwhile, Geico offers hybrid insurance, so drivers are covered during all three periods with a single policy.

The Bottom Line

When you consider the length of your commute and costs of getting into a car accident, purchasing auto insurance is a no-brainer for DC residents. And if you are one of the many DC residents who use a ridesharing service such as Uber or Lyft, there are special endorsements and coverages to consider. Ultimately, all drivers and their needs are unique. So, in order to get the best price possible on your auto insurance, you should shop around for coverage.