15 best car insurance companies of 2018 | finder.com

The 15 best car insurance companies of 2018

Compare car insurance policies and find the best value for you.

Finding the best car insurance isn’t always about finding the lowest price. It’s about finding the right coverage for your circumstances with benefits you need, a reliable insurer and the best value you’re eligible for.

Your monthly premium doesn’t tell the whole story about your car insurance. Does your provider nickel and dime you for making monthly payments or paperless bills? How easy is it to contact customer service? What’s the process like for making an insurance claim? These are important questions to ask to make sure you’ve chosen the right provider.

We combined the results of over 88,085 surveyed auto insurance consumers from Consumer Reports and the J.D. Power Claims Satisfaction survey to rank the top 15 best car insurance providers in 2018.

Our rankings: top 15 car insurance providers

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(for US military members and family)

2. Amica
3. Erie Insurance
4. The Hartford
5. Geico
6. American Family
7. Nationwide
8. State Farm
9. Esurance
10. Travelers
11. Progressive
12. Safeco
13. Farmers
14. Allstate
15. Liberty Mutual

What are all the car insurance companies?

Didn’t see your insurance company listed in our top 15? Compare the list of all car insurance provider reviews.

Ask the right questions about your car insurance

If something isn’t clearly spelled out in a policy, or you’re unsure about any of the details, you should call the insurance company and ask them about it. Ask the following questions to see if you can get lower premiums:

  • Will installing a car alarm or anti-theft device reduce my premiums?
  • Can we agree on a reasonable rate if my driving record is less than perfect?
  • Can I eliminate some of my policy’s add-on features if they aren’t relevant or useful?
  • How is my coverage affected if I’m at fault in an accident?
  • What modifications can I make to my vehicle, and will they affect my premiums?
  • Will you offer a discount for having no claims over a period of time?
  • How long does it take for you to pay out in the event of a claim?
  • What discounts can I qualify for based on location, occupation, age, etc.?
  • Will you cover taxi fares or rental car costs if my vehicle is not drivable?

What are the cheapest or most expensive cars to insure?

Some cars are cheaper to insure than others — factors like gas mileage, engine size, special modifications and cost of repair can all factor into that cost.

  • Sports cars and high performance vehicles.

    This is a red flag for insurers, as they (accurately) assume it will typically be driven faster than a standard car.

  • Size and type of engine.

    The more powerful the engine (ie, the higher the horsepower) the more you’ll pay for your car insurance. Diesels engines also cost more to repair, so insuring a diesel vehicle will be more expensive.

  • Safety.

    Have a look at the safety rating of your vehicle. Safer vehicles are almost always cheaper to insure.

  • Difficulty to repair or replace.

    The more it costs to repair your car after an accident, the more risk it presents to an insurer. This is often a drawback when making claims on imported or luxury vehicles.

  • Make and model.

    Some makes and models are statistically involved in more accidents than others. So even if you haven’t been involved in an accident, the fact that you’re driving that type of car means you’re more of a risk and you’ll get higher premiums.

  • High-theft vehicle.

    Some types of cars are targeted more often by thieves, because they’re relatively easy to steal or strip for parts. Based on statistics alone, this could slightly elevate your rates.

  • Convertibles.
    Soft tops are easier to break into than normal cars, and they tend to need repairs at some point, so they represent a substantial risk to the insurer.

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How much coverage do I need?

Most states require you to cary a minimum of third party liability or personal property insurance insurance to cover you if you damage anyone’s property in an accident. To work out whether third party insurance alone is enough, or if you need a full coverage policy, try asking yourself the following questions:

  • How old is your car?

    If it’s an old car and only worth a couple of thousand dollars, it’s most likely not worth paying for comprehensive or collision insurance.

  • How often do you drive?

    The more you drive, the greater your risk of having an accident, so the more important collision insurance becomes.

  • Where do you park it?

    If you live in a high-crime area and you park your car on the street, you may want comprehensive insurance. Consider installing car security for lower premiums.

  • Are you a younger driver?

    If you’re under 25, you’ll pay more for your insurance, so you may want to consider insuring through your parents or someone else.

  • Has your car been modified?

    If you own a classic car or you like to drive a modified car, you may want to look for a specialty insurer to avoid paying much higher premiums.

  • Do you use it for business or private use only?

    If you travel for work or do a job that requires you to be in your car a lot, you’re going to pay more. Because you’re on the road so much, you’re at greater risk for accidents.

  • How much deductible can you afford to pay?

    Increasing your deductible will lower your premiums, but you need to be careful that you don’t increase it too much, as you’ll need to come up with the money if you make a claim.

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How can I save money without losing necessary coverage?

Price is important, but it’s not everything. The best move is to find the coverage you want first, and then try to reduce your premiums from there. There are many ways you can go about this.

Open road

  • Nominating drivers.

    If you need to add drivers to your car insurance policy, it’s best to limit the number of drivers and be sure they have good driving records.

  • Age of the drivers.

    Just like restricting the number of people driving your car can result in a lower premiums, restricting the age of the drivers can as well. If your kids are under 25 it will cost a lot more to include them in your policy.

  • Driving less.

    If you don’t drive much, you may want to see if you can apply for the low mileage discount option.

  • Safety features.

    If you have features like anti-Iock breaks, automatic seat belts, airbags and daytime headlights you can get lower premiums.

  • Deductible.

    Increasing your deductible reduces your premiums because you’re agreeing to pay more in the event that you make a claim.

  • Security.

    Adding security to your vehicle such as an alarm will reduce your premiums, as does keeping it in a locked garage overnight rather than on the street.

  • Bundling discount.

    Packaging your insurance with one provider could get you a multi-policy discount.

  • No claims.

    Looking for a provider with a “no claims” bonus discount can help you save more. Some insurers will even recognize no claims bonuses held with other insurers so you can take this discount with you.

  • Market value.

    You’ll save money if you insure your car for market instead of agreed value. You want this if your car is not a classic, modified or high-end car.

  • Agreed value.

    This coverage will cost more, but if you have a more expensive car, or you’ve improved it by adding features, this will save you money in the case of an accident.

  • Sharing a policy with your partner.

    There are a number of factors to consider, the biggest being driving history. If only one of you has a clean record, that person will probably pay less for coverage than the other. If both of you have a clean driving history, insure it under a female name if possible, as females are statistically safer drivers and typically get lower premiums.

  • Go green.

    Some insurers will offer discounts for driving hybrids, electric vehicles or standard cars with especially excellent gas mileage.

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When should I shop for new car insurance?

It’s important to note that your best provider option now might not be your best option in a few years, or even a few months, if circumstances change. And if you don’t feel like you’re getting a good value, that’s reason enough to see what else is out there.

Here are a few good reasons to shop other options.

  • Your policy is about to expire and you’re unsure about renewing it.
  • You’ve just bought a different vehicle.
  • You went from leasing a car to financing one or vice versa.
  • You recently got married or began living with someone who will also drive your vehicle.
  • You have a child who recently got his or her drivers license.
  • Your premiums have risen higher than you’re willing to pay.
  • Your insurer has handled claims or other issues poorly.
  • You’ve recently moved or are considering a move, especially if the distance or lifestyle change is significant — like going from rural to urban, or moving to another state.

What should I look for in a policy?

Liability insurance policies come with expensive little add-ons depending on the provider, making them difficult to compare on price alone. However, if you decide on full coverage, there are additional options to consider. The best policy for you is something that has all the extras you need, and nothing you don’t.

  • Damage to your vehicle.

    Some comprehensive insurance policies let you choose which hazards you want to be protected against. Select the hazards that are more likely to happen, and try to exclude the ones that definitely won’t.

  • Damage to other people’s property.

    Liability, personal property and bodily injury coverage will all pay for any damage you cause after an accident.

  • Roadside assistance.

    A lot of people are happy to pay more for this extra option, but some people prefer not to. You’ll have to decide if the convenience is worth the cost, especially when AAA and other affordable driver’s club options exist throughout the country.

  • Choice of mechanic.

    If you have a modified, classic, luxury or otherwise unique vehicle, then this could be vital for you. Typically, it’s more a matter of convenience.

  • Lifetime repair guarantee.

    Many people prefer to have repairs done by the insurance company and be guaranteed for life.

  • Rental after theft or damage.

    This is a common add-on recommended for people who are dependent on being able to drive, and who can’t rely on public transportation while they wait for their car to be repaired or replaced.

  • Coverage for personal property.

    Some policies offer limited coverage for possessions store in the car, usually up to several thousands of dollars. If you normally park on the street with trade tools, electronics, jewelry or other valuables then this may be useful. Always check personal property coverage for exclusions and limits.

  • Coverage for child seats.

    If you’re in an accident and you have a car seat in your car, it’s important to get it replaced in case it was damaged in the crash. Most car insurance policies will offer this.

  • Change of vehicle coverage.

    If you plan on changing cars in the near future, this is worth looking for as a way to reduce or eliminate extra fees.

  • Gap insurance.

    If your car is stolen or totaled, your insurer will pay off any remaining lease or loan balance so you aren’t stuck making payments on a car that can’t be driven anymore. Without this coverage, there would be a gap between what the insurance company pays you and what you owe your bank or dealership, and that can be a financially-crippling burden.

  • Trailer damage.

    This is recommended if you have a trailer. Check the limits and exclusions to make sure you’re adequately covered.

  • Towing and storage.

    If you use towing equipment and vehicle storage frequently, it’s worth finding coverage for this.

  • Recoding of remotes and locks after theft.

    Late model vehicles are tempting targets for thieves and they often have remote control electronic locks. Car manufacturers take advantage of this by charging substantial prices for the recoding of remotes and locks after theft, so you could save hundreds or even thousands by having a policy that covers it.

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What is the best car insurance for people who don’t drive much?

If you’re someone who doesn’t drive often — you live in a city and take public transportation or are retired and no longer commute — a low-mileage discount is an option offered by some car insurers that reward drivers with lower premiums if they travel less than the average 15,000 miles a year.

If you think you qualify for this cover, it could be a good way to reduce your premiums. Here are some ways to cut down on your miles and qualify for a low mileage discount.

  • Carpool several times a week.
  • Catch the train or bus to work.
  • Plan your errands for one trip per day instead of taking lots of little trips.
  • Take the most direct route to your destination.
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Other factors to consider when choosing an insurance company

One important factor to look at is how well your insurer processes claims.

To find out how insurance providers process claims and treat customers, you can check out customer reviews. While there’s no substitute for personal experience, you can research what it’s like to be a customer of each provider. Visiting online forums, review sites and social page can provide an insight into how they interact with their customers and what people are saying about them in general.

Try to find out:

  • How quickly they handle claims
  • Whether their call center is in the US or overseas
  • Whether you can manage your account and claims online
  • Whether they appoint a case manager or make you do the legwork
  • Their level of customer satisfaction
  • Whether they guarantee their repairs
  • Their overall friendliness and willingness to help

Customer reviews

  • Friends and family. Talking to friends and family who have dealt with an insurer can help you figure out what it’s like to deal with that provider.
  • Online chat forums. Whether on the provider’s site or third party reviewers, chat forums can show examples of customer interactions with the company.
  • Facebook page. Some providers respond quickly to complaints on Facebook, and others respond poorly or not at all.

Keep in mind most insurance providers will have many negative reviews. Most customers only leave reviews after a bad experience, so these review sites won’t always provide a balanced perspective of this provider.

How to make your insurance affordable after a claim

If you’ve had an accident and made a claim, your premiums are likely going to increase. To keep this from getting out of hand in the future, here are some things to consider.

  • Decide if you really need to make a claim.

    You might want to get quotes from mechanics before calling the insurance company. If it can be fixed for less than the deductible, making a claim might not be worth it. And even if making a claim saves you money in the short term, it can be worth holding off to avoid higher long-term premiums later on.

  • You might have to adjust your coverage.

    If you’ve had a car accident and your new premiums are breaking the bank, there are a few quick ways to potentially bump the price down. Raising your deductible, reducing your limits or dropping extras can lower the price while letting you keep essential coverage.

  • Maximize discounts.

    Your no-claims discount is gone for now, but there are still plenty of other car insurance discounts you could qualify for. Look for low-mileage discounts if you aren’t on the road much, multi-policy discounts from other insurers, membership discounts or defensive driving and road safety training courses that are recognized by insurance companies.

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