Auto insurance is pretty much a given for anyone who owns a car. Not only does almost every state have minimum protection requirements but if you financed your car, your lender also typically requires enough coverage to protect its collateral.
Car insurance can be expensive if you’re not careful, though. To help you save money, we’ve compiled a list of the best car insurance companies that offer great coverage at a fair price.
The Simple Dollar’s Top Auto Insurance Companies for 2019
- Amica: Best Overall
- State Farm: Best for Customer Service and Interaction
- The Hartford: Best for Policy Options
- GEICO: Best for Tech-Savvy Consumers
- USAA: Best for Members of the Military
Find the Best Car Insurance
Enter your ZIP code below and be sure to click at least 2-3 companies to find the very best rate.
Amica: Best Overall Car Insurance Company
Amica was the strongest company overall in our research, and received the second-highest rating across all regions in J.D. Power’s 2018 customer satisfaction report — that means out of 44,622 surveyed drivers, it had the second highest satisfaction rating among more than 20 different companies.
The insurer also received the highest Consumer Reports rating among auto insurance providers — as it has every year since at least 1999. Consumer Reports noted that an overwhelming number of customers reported “relatively few” problems during the claims process.
- A high J.D. Power satisfaction rating: With a score of 879, Amica Mutual ranked as the No. 1 car insurance company in the New England region in J.D. Power’s 2018 auto insurance study and among the very best in the nation.
- High financial stability ratings: Amica boasts a “Superior” financial stability rating from A.M. Best, which is the highest rating available.
- No repair facility restrictions: Unlike most every other insurer, Amica has zero restrictions on which body shop you use for repairs.
- “Platinum Choice” coverage: Amica offers an additional tier of coverage called Platinum Choice, which costs more, but includes identity fraud monitoring, full glass coverage, prestige rental coverage, and rewards for good driving.
- Best array of coverage options: Amica offers the most driver and vehicle coverages of all our top recommendations. Its list includes GAP insurance and interior vehicle coverage, which aren’t offered by State Farm, The Hartford, GEICO, or USAA.
- Can’t get a quote online: Whether you start online or over the phone, you will eventually wind up on the phone to get an official quote — that can tack an extra 20 to 30 minutes to the process.
- Fewer driver discount opportunities: Amica is missing a few key driver discounts, including pre-pay, low-mileage, and military discounts. Consequently, it scored only 46 out of 100 in our driver discount evaluation.
- Few online resources: There are a few FAQs on the site, but Amica lacks in-depth online materials to help customers get a complete grasp on their purchases without having to talk to someone. Additionally, some policy changes require direct assistance from an Amica agent, which can be time-consuming.
State Farm: Best Car Insurance Company for Customer Service and Interaction
State Farm is the largest car insurance company in the nation, per the Insurance Information Institute in 2018. Fortunately, it’s also one of the best — especially when it comes to the customer service experience. In 2018, State Farm received high praise from J.D. Power for its service interaction and claims handling. And of all the insured drivers we surveyed, it received the most positive remarks by far.
It is incredibly easy to get in touch with State Farm. You can call one of the company’s 18,000 agents, go online, or even send a picture of your damaged car with your smartphone using the Pocket Agent mobile app. Compare that to Amica, which doesn’t allow you to connect with an agent via an app, or file a claim through an agent.
State Farm also gets high marks for a pain-free shopping experience that lets prospective customers call their local agent or chat with a representative online if they have any questions.
- Superior claims handling: No other insurer makes it easier to file a claim — a fact corroborated by its high service rating, 18,000 agents nationwide, and excellent mobile app. Most other auto insurers offer the basic trifecta of phone, app, and email contact to agents, but State Farm’s is the easiest to use.
- Great financial standing: State Farm has an A.M. Best outlook of stable, and a “Superior” overall rating — the highest given.
- Best online quote tool: Out of all the competition, State Farm has the simplest online quote tool. In less than five minutes, their tool will guide you completely through the process, replete with thorough examples of coverage options.
- Missing a few common driver discounts:Like Amica, State Farm lacks two extremely common discounts: pay-in-full, and automatic-pay discounts. These two discounts don’t save a ton of money, but they are definitely nice options to have.
- Lacks a couple of important coverages: Unlike its competitors, State Farm doesn’t offer stacked uninsured motorist or new car replacement coverages. That could be a deal breaker for someone who lives in a state with a very high rate of uninsured drivers.
The Hartford: Best Car Insurance Company for Policy Options
The Hartford is only the nation’s 11th largest insurer, but it still packs a punch. In fact, it had the highest score in our 12-category feature evaluation (92 out of 100).
It also offers a wide range of policy options and benefits, including rates based on how much you actually drive your car and a new car replacement program for cars totaled shortly after purchase. The Hartford was also the only insurer to score a perfect 100 in our vehicle-discount evaluation.
- Mechanical breakdown coverage: Mechanical breakdown insurance helps cover the cost of repairs that aren’t covered by your car’s warranty. The Hartford is the only one of our top picks that includes this coverage.
- Useful policy benefits: The company provides not only a solid set of coverage but also a great selection of policy benefits. For instance, frequent travelers will appreciate The Hartford’s towing and roadside assistance programs.
- Excellent purchase experience: The Hartford is one of two national providers to receive a perfect “Overall Purchase Experience” score from J.D. Power.
- Merely average claims satisfaction: The Hartford received a perfect score in our claims management evaluation, but according to J.D. Power, customers are less impressed — it received a middle-of-the-pack 3-star rating for service interaction.
- Fewest online educational resources: The Hartford offers the fewest online learning materials among this field of competitors.
GEICO: Best Car Insurance Company for Tech-Savvy Customers
We’ve all seen the ads: The gecko with the charming accent, the cavemen, the “wee” piggy, and that camel who loves Wednesdays. But catchy advertising aside, what makes GEICO stand out from its competitors?
Like most auto insurance companies, they advertise low rates (“15 minutes could save you 15% or more on your car insurance”). But what else? According to JD Power’s 2018 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study, low and competitive prices are becoming the norm, so most companies are in “aggressive customer courtship mode.” GEICO’s response to this seems to be their very popular mobile app.
GEICO is the second-largest auto insurance provider in the United States. While they’re considered second-tier by Consumer Reports (listed under parent company Berkshire Hathaway Insurance Group), their customers rate them high in the categories of ease of reaching an agent, promptness of response, agent courtesy, and timely payment. Not bad in terms of customer service.
- Superior mobile app: GEICO’s mobile app offers the full suite of their services; you can quote, buy, and manage your insurance, pay your bill, get roadside assistance, and submit a claim from your phone. Basically anything you can do on their website, you can do in the app. In the App Store, GEICO has over 1.14 million reviews and a 4.8 out of 5 star rating. This is significantly more users–and far more rave reviews–than apps from their competitors.
- Good number of discounts: GEICO offers vehicle equipment, driving history, and multi-vehicle discounts. They also offer additional savings opportunities for active and retired military (including emergency deployment) and for federal employees (fun fact: GEICO is an acronym for Government Employees Insurance Company)
- Doesn’t offer GAP insurance: GAP (guaranteed asset protection) insurance, which pays off the rest of your auto loan if you wreck the car while you still owe more than it’s worth, may matter to you if you made a small down payment on your vehicle or if you lease it.
- Predominantly digital experience: If you’re hoping to deal with a local insurance agent in person or over the phone, you may be out of luck. Most customers deal directly with GEICO customer service agents through the website, and claims are typically handled online.
USAA: Best Car Insurance Company for Members of the Military
Throughout our research, we found that USAA’s stellar reputation holds true. If you’re a member of the U.S. armed forces or are related to one, there is no better option.
USAA is one of the three highest-rated automotive insurers in the country. The only downside is its limited availability: Only active service members, veterans, and their families are eligible. Given those restrictions, the quote process is a bit more intense compared to its competitors, but that’s a small price to pay for its exemplary service.
- Flawless purchase experience: USAA received a perfect score in J.D. Power’s 2018 report, giving it the top rank nationally.
- Solid financial stability: A.M. Best gives USAA the highest possible stability rating of “Superior.”
- Membership restrictions: USAA is only available to members of the military and their immediate family.
- Missing three key vehicle coverages: USAA doesn’t offer GAP insurance, interior vehicle coverage, or new car replacement coverage.
Other Car Insurance Companies to Consider
Not all of our top picks for the best car insurance companies are available in all areas of the country, so here are some other good insurers worth checking out.
Progressive is worth noting due to its variety of discounts and special coverages that could shave your monthly bill down quite a bit. For example, the Snapshot tool allows Progressive to reward you based upon your driving habits.
If you have an anti-theft device, Progressive offers a discount for that too. The company also offers pet injury coverage — which is included with collision and comes standard in most states. However, Progressive’s scores across the board were only average, and we couldn’t justify recommending it over our top picks. Also, its mobile app ratings average out to just under 3 out of 5 stars.
If you live in the South, Midwest, or Mid-Atlantic regions, Erie Insurance is worth your consideration. Erie has consistently received high marks from J.D. Power and Consumer Reports.
The reason it didn’t make it into our top five recommendations is due to limited availability — it only serves residents of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and certain parts of the District of Columbia.
Outside of that, Erie is one of the best commercial auto insurers, offering policies that come standard with coverage for road service, lawyer fees, and loss of earnings. It also has particularly comprehensive coverage options that include extras such as money toward rental cars after a crash — this is usually an add-on policy with most insurers.
Auto-Owners Insurance is available in 26 states located primarily in the South and Midwest. It uses an agent-only model that promotes customer relationships, so it’s a great choice if you prefer talking to a human being. The company also scored a nearly perfect score in J.D. Power’s 2018 satisfaction report, falling short only in the realm of its rental car experience.
Here are the states where Auto-Owners Insurance operates: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
What Car Insurance Is Required by Law?
In virtually all states, drivers are required by law to have mandatory liability insurance coverage. Some states also require uninsured motorist and personal injury protection coverage.
This is done as a way to ensure that the driver can cover the cost of damages to other people or property in the unfortunate event of an accident. New Hampshire doesn’t require insurance coverage, but has a “proof of financial responsibility” requirement. Check the minimum requirements for your state to ensure you have sufficient protection.
Choosing the Right Amount of Coverage
While having your state’s minimum coverage requirement ensures you don’t break the law, it may not be enough to keep you from financial ruin if you cause an accident.
For example, let’s say you live in Florida and cause an accident that injures another person to the tune of $40,000. If you only have the state’s minimum bodily injury protection — $10,000 per person, $20,000 per accident — you’d be responsible for the remaining $30,000.
If, however, you had purchased more than Florida’s minimum — say $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident — you would have no out-of-pocket costs beyond your premium.
While upgraded coverage means a higher monthly premium, it’s much cheaper than what you might be on the hook for if a claim exceeds your coverage. That’s why it’s incredibly important to understand which and how much coverage you need before you start shopping for a policy.
It’s also crucial to compare rates that include more than your state’s minimum required coverages. You don’t want to get in a serious accident only to find out after the fact that you’re underinsured.
Below is a comparison of the coverages offered by our top five auto insurance companies, and a breakdown of each type of coverage; note, though, that not every type of coverage is available in all states.
|Vehicle and Policy Coverages||Amica||State Farm||The Hartford||GEICO||USAA|
|Bodily Injury Liability||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Personal Injury Protection||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Property Damage Liability||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Rental Car Coverage||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Stacked Uninsured Motorist Coverage||✓||X||✓||X||✓|
|Uninsured Motorist Property Damage Coverage||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Pet Injury Coverage||X||X||X||X||X|
|Interior Vehicle Coverage||✓||X||X||X||X|
|New Car Replacement||✓||X||✓||X||X|
Types of Auto Insurance Coverages
Not all insurance policies provide these protections, and some require you to pay extra for the coverage. Here’s a summary of each to help you decide whether you need it.
Bodily injury liability: Covers bodily injuries to others in an accident where you’re at fault.
Personal injury protection: Covers injuries sustained by the driver or any passengers, often including medical bills and lost wages.
Property damage liability: Covers against property damage to another party in an accident that is your fault.
Rental car coverage: Covers your rental car if it is damaged or stolen.
Stacked uninsured motorist coverage: Allows you to combine or “stack” the individual limits of coverage on multiple insured vehicles in the same household.
Uninsured motorist property damage coverage: Protects against property damage caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist.
Pet injury coverage: Covers injuries to your pets sustained in an auto accident.
Collision: Coverage against any damage resulting from a collision.
Comprehensive: Coverage against any non-collision vehicle damage including fire, theft, or vandalism.
GAP insurance: Pays the difference between the actual value of a totaled car and the balance remaining on an auto loan.
Interior vehicle coverage: Covers personal belongings inside of the car, like your clothes, sound system, or purse.
New car replacement: Replaces a totaled car with a brand-new version if it’s less than one year old.
Are Car Insurance Extras Worth It?
Car insurance extras are coverage options that usually do not come with a standard policy. Examples include some of the coverages we listed in the previous section, or roadside assistance and accident forgiveness.
These coverages can be added to a policy for an extra cost. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if they are worth it. By carefully assessing your coverage needs and the costs associated with the add-ons, you can come to a conclusion whether the extras are worth it.
How to Pick the Right Car Insurance Company
There’s no single best car insurance company out there for everyone. Car insurance is regulated on a state level and coverage costs can vary based on where you live.
As a result, all else being equal, a friend or family member who has the same insurer and coverage in a different state may pay more or less than you. To ensure that you get the best coverage for your needs, here are some tips.
Shop around every year or two.
Contrary to popular belief, car insurance companies don’t just calculate rates on risk alone. It goes much deeper than that. Many insurers use what’s called “price optimization,” which is the practice of setting rates based upon how much insurers think customers are comfortable paying.
Large insurance companies analyze a huge amount of customers’ personal data, such as social media posts, credit scores, and even your web shopping habits. Then, they churn the data through a proprietary algorithm that estimates how likely you are to shop around or just renew your existing policy each year. By doing so, they can increase your premium just enough to raise their profit margins without attracting your attention and prompting you to shop for a new policy.
The Washington Post found that auto insurance rates have climbed 20% since 2011, due in part to price optimization.
The best way to prevent falling victim to this practice is to shop for a new policy every one to two years. Even if you like your current car insurance company, they’re likely aware of your online activity, so the more quotes you get, the less likely you are to be tagged as someone who won’t jump ship for a better deal.
Decide whether to use an insurance agent or go online.
Depending on which companies you consider, you’ll have to decide whether to do business with an insurance agent or to purchase a policy online. If you value face-to-face relationships and personal service, it’s hard to beat an agent.
But all agents aren’t created equal. Some are “captive,” meaning they sell car insurance for only one company. Others are “independent” and can sell car insurance for multiple companies. Here are a few things you should consider for each scenario.
Captive agents: The biggest benefit of captive agents is that many aren’t primarily motivated by commission. That means they have less of a reason to “sell you” and more of a reason to spend quality time educating you.
That said, going with a captive agent makes sense if you’re already committed to a particular company. These agents will know their company’s policies and coverages from top to bottom, but won’t help you compare rates with other insurers.
Independent agents: Independent agents have special access with several companies and help you to find the best rate available. However, some companies pay higher commissions than others, and that means you may face pressure to choose a particular company or coverage plan.
During our research, we interacted with several independent agents who refused to give us a single detail about higher-priced plans. Despite our persistence, we were repeatedly asked, “Why would you want to consider something that costs more?” and we did not get the information we wanted.
On the flip side, if your rates go up after committing to a policy, independent agents are best-suited to help you negotiate a lower price.
Shopping online: Some companies allow customers to do business directly online. If you’re a self-starter, this could very well be the most convenient option. In some cases, it will be the cheapest option.
The biggest downside to buying a policy on your own is the risk of underinsuring yourself. Buying the wrong policy or a policy that doesn’t have state-mandated coverage levels could cost you quite a bit of money should the worst should happen.
Helpful Tips for Keeping Insurance Costs Down
Selecting the right car insurance company for you doesn’t mean your work is done. There are still some steps you can take to keep insurance costs down.
Some are obvious, such as shopping around and comparing insurance costs before purchasing a car. But here are a few others to consider:
- Take advantage of employer and affinity discounts: Working for a certain employer or belonging to certain organizations can lead to lower costs. Some insurance companies, such as Liberty Mutual, specialize in collective discounts for members of various groups, from college alumni to Subaru owners.
- Keep all your insurance under one roof: Some companies offer discounts to drivers who bundle multiple policy types, such as auto, renters, and homeowners insurance. You may even get a discount if you have more than one car insured with them. This isn’t a guarantee, but it doesn’t hurt to find out if the option is available.
- Request a higher deductible: Selecting a higher deductible can lower coverage costs anywhere from 15% to 20%, depending on your deductible amount. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll want to make sure you have enough finances saved to cover the deductible if you get in an accident.
- Keep an eye on your credit score: Maintaining a solid credit score is recommended no matter what, but it’s especially important when your score is being referenced to develop your auto insurance policy. Just as you investigate a car’s accident history before purchasing, insurers in most states use a credit-based insurance score to help determine rates. The higher the risk, the higher the policy costs.
The Bottom Line
When it comes to auto insurance companies, the best ones are the most versatile in their coverage options and services. While price is the single most important factor for a lot of car insurance shoppers, look at other factors as well, such as coverage types and levels, discounts, and customer satisfaction.
In the end, you’ll need to determine your exact needs when it comes to coverage and then shop for an affordable policy. Our quote tool can help you put together a list of good auto insurance candidates. All you need to do is input your zip code and start comparing rates from our top picks — Amica, State Farm, USAA, The Hartford) — and more.
Find the Best Car Insurance
Enter your ZIP code below and be sure to click at least 2-3 companies to find the very best rate.
Methodology: How We Picked the Best Car Insurance Companies
We conducted an in-depth analysis of 15 auto insurance providers. We gathered data on 86 different features, organized them into 12 categories, and scored each company on a 100-point scale. Below are the categories we used, along with the weight each one was given in the test.
Next, we incorporated learnings from auto experts, insured drivers, and third-party studies into our evaluation and calculated the final scores. We organized this research into three distinct categories, which are outlined below.
- Claims and price satisfaction: We looked at J.D. Power’s 2018 Auto Claims Satisfaction Reports, Insure.com’s Best Car Insurance Companies for 2018, and Consumer Reports’ 2017 Car Insurance Ratings to get a bird’s-eye view of the industry across the nation. We also conducted a survey of 100 insured drivers who had filed a claim within the past 12 months.
- Ease of shopping: I applied for quotes from over 15 auto insurance companies to evaluate the shopping experience. I also considered J.D. Power’s 2018 Auto Insurance Purchase Experience Ratings, which asked customers about their personal take on local agents, call-center representatives, and websites.
- Financial strength ratings: We used A.M. Best to gauge financial stability. Any company with a “B” grade or below is considered vulnerable, so we chose companies with an “A-” or above.