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 charge extra for monthly payments or paperless bills? How easy is it to contact customer service? What’s the process like for making a car 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.

Best car insurance companies

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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

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Editors’ picks: best car insurance by category

Compare standout features from the top rated car insurance providers. Choose whether you want the best support, benefits, discounts and more.

  • Best car insurance for loyalty rewards – Erie

Regional car insurance provider Erie Insurance has a few standout features for loyal customers. Rate lock freezes your policy rate until you add or remove drivers, vehicles or residences. Safe drivers will appreciate rewards for good driving, including a vanishing deductible that lowers your deductible for avoiding accidents plus accident forgiveness after three years that keeps your premiums from increasing after your first accident. Erie Insurance operates in 12 states on the East Coast, Southeast and Midwest region.

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  • Best car insurance for customer support – Amica

Amica’s primary focus is making its customers happy. That’s because the company is owned by its policyholders, not stockholders. Any profits the company makes go into company growth or policyholders’ pockets. Amica frequently receives accolades from industry experts for their customer service and financial stability. Amica car insurance is available in every state except Hawaii.

Explore Amica car insurance

  • Best car insurance for military members – USAA

USAA is an excellent option to consider for active or retired members of the military and their family. Enjoy unique military features and discounts, including low-use discounts when stationed away from your car, payment schedules that match your paydays and overseas car buying support. USAA even pays customers dividends by check or rebate based on a portion of the company profits each year. USAA is available in all 50 states.

Explore USAA car insurance

  • Best car insurance for drivers over 50 – The Hartford

The Hartford is geared towards older, senior and retired drivers, and it offers many benefits for customers who qualify. While some insurers make the claim process as difficult as possible, The Hartford aims to protect you after an accident with lifetime car repair guarantee, a 24/7 claims hotline and RecoverCare post-accident support for daily chores if you’re injured in an accident. The Hartford’s no-drop policy also protects you from losing your insurance after filing a claim. The Hartford is available in 41 states.

Explore The Hartford car insurance

Who are the top 10 biggest car insurance companies?

While a bigger company can often provide more features and a wider service area, bigger isn’t always better for car insurance. You can start by getting quotes from the big car insurance providers, but don’t forget the smaller and regional companies who might be able to offer you a better deal.

In no particular order, compare the largest insurance companies in the US by market share.

Allstate Car Insurance
Allstate Car Insurance
  • Enjoy discounts up to 30%
  • Bumper-to-bumper basics® tool for easy, customized plans
  • Cover your car, motorcycle, classic car and more
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Liberty Mutual Car Insurance
Liberty Mutual Car Insurance
  • Multi-car discount
  • Bundle discount for combining auto and home policies
  • New vehicle discount
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Esurance Car Insurance
Esurance Car Insurance
  • CoverageMyWay® helps you make smarter choices
  • Gain peace of mind with 24/7 claims service
  • Manage your policy on the go with Esurance Mobile
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USAA Car Insurance
USAA Car Insurance
  • Convenient service that helps you before, during and after a claim
  • Coverage around the world as your military assignments change
  • Assistance in any vehicle you drive
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Geico Car Insurance
Geico Car Insurance
  • You could save by switching
  • Innovative mobile app
  • Easy repair process
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Progressive Car Insurance
Progressive Car Insurance
  • Top-rated insurer
  • Easy online sign-up and reporting
  • Multiple discounts available
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Nationwide Car Insurance
Nationwide Car Insurance
  • A+ Superior rating
  • On Your Side auto repair network
  • Plenti rewards program
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State Farm Car Insurance
State Farm Car Insurance
  • Best A++ rating for customer ratings
  • No. 1 for car insurance in the US
  • Full range of financial options
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Farmers Car Insurance
Farmers Car Insurance
  • Get rewarded for good driving habits
  • Catastrophe response for natural disasters
  • Personal support from 50,000 agents
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Travelers Car Insurance
Travelers Car Insurance
  • Save with multiple discounts
  • Instant quotes and access to agent support anytime
  • Available in 42 states
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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.

Comparing insurance companies is important because things can change — You may have moved to a new age bracket, tied the knot or retired. Car insurance companies regularly change their rates and plans — you don’t want to miss a great deal.

When you’re comparing car insurance there are are few key factors you should keep in mind. After you’ve determined what coverage you need, compare the kind of coverage that’s offered and how much they cost. You also want to know what stands out about a company — do they offer great customer service or offer a bonus for no claims? Most insurance companies try, in one way or another, to stand out from the crowd.

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 car insurance provider?

Car insurance companies may not differ much in the coverage they provide, but can be worlds away on the quality of their service. While both you and the company hope to never make a claim, if you are in an accident, you want to be sure they pay your claim. Things to look for when researching car insurance companies include:

  • The company’s reputation. Check out the company’s ratings and reviews to see what users have said about them.
  • Transparency. The company’s willingness to provide hard copies of contracts and terms can indicate their level of trustworthiness.
  • How they handle claims. Make sure you find an insurer that will walk you through its claims process. Check online for customer reviews, you will find a wealth of information about how happy people have been with their claims and also how they were treated.

How are car insurers regulated?

Each state has their own set of laws and regulations to govern car insurance companies. They determine what the minimum coverage is for every driver, competition, consumer rights and the solvency of the insurance companies. Regulations are there to make sure there is plenty of competition to drive prices down, and also to ensure that these companies have enough money to pay out claims.

What questions should I ask about a car insurance policy?

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?
  • Will you offer a discount for having no claims over a period of time?
  • What other discounts can you offer me?
  • 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?
  • 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 driveable?
  • If my car is damaged, do you offer repair, replacement or both?
  • Can I choose my own repair shop or do you provide a list of preferred garages?

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What else should I know about a car insurance provider?

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 support handles claims
  • Whether their call center is in the US or overseas
  • Whether you can manage your account and claims online
  • Whether you’re appointed a case manager or make you do the legwork
  • The general level of customer satisfaction
  • Whether repairs are guaranteed
  • Overall friendliness and willingness to help

How do I compare 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.

Why is customer service quality so important?

In car insurance, customer service means a lot more than just a smile as you fill out the paperwork. It means being able to depend on your insurer in the event of a claim, and knowing that the next time you speak to them, you might be having a very bad day. It can help to stay focused on the more important factors, including:

  • Response times: How can you contact the insurer, no matter where or when? This includes how long it takes the customer service team to pick up the phone when you call, how quickly you can expect a response to online or email enquiries and how long it usually takes the insurer to assess and pay claims. It can be a good idea to avoid insurers that aren’t available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week all year around.
  • Claims options: If you needed to make a claim right now, what would you do? If you have a preference for online claims or want to be able to use an app, it can be a good idea to look for insurers that offer these options. If you think you’ll do it over the phone or in person, consider what exactly is involved.
  • Communication: Does the insurer stay in touch throughout the claims process? This can be an important difference when you’re making a claim, as you don’t want to be chasing them down for updates. Let them keep you in the loop instead.
  • Policy flexibility: How can you adjust your policy? Flexibility encompasses not only the options available to you, but also the ease with which you can take advantage of them and the responsiveness of your insurer.
  • Partnered service quality: What’s the quality of the insurer’s service partners? Free roadside assistance might not be much use if it’s not available in your area, while towing, vehicle storage, glass and windscreen replacement and other repairs will all typically involve the use of partnered service providers. It can be a good idea to compare the quality of these, and look for relevant reviews.
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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.

What factors affect my car insurance rates?

Remember that car insurance companies are looking to insure drivers who present the least risk. The less you file claims, the less you’ll pay for insurance. But there are other ways to save on car insurance:

  • The car you drive. Choosing a car that is more expensive to cover, like a modified or high-performance car, makes you more of a risk to cover. Besides the cost of parts and labor to fix it, statistically these cars are in more accidents or stolen more frequently. Driving a car with safety features and less horse power will reduce your premiums.
  • Restricting drivers. Restricting who you allow to drive your car will help reduce your premium. The more people who drive you car, the more chance there is of filing a claim.
  • Low milage. Some insurers offer discounts for driving less. Look for insurers that offers pay-as-you-go or laid-up plans if you don’t drive often.
  • Security. Having a security system in your car will help you salvage your car if it’s ever stolen, and will help lower your insurance.
  • Bundling. Many insurers provide a loyalty discount if you have more than one type of insurance or insure more than one car with them.
  • No claims bonus. Most insurers offer a discount for having at solid driving record, with no insurance claims. Be sure to check to see what each company offers.
  • Agreed value. This is how much you and your insurer agree the car is worth. This number is locked in at the time of purchase, and can only be changed at certain times. This is especially useful for heavily modified or classic cars. It generally costs more but offers a higher payout.
  • Market value. A market value policy pays the car’s current market value, subject to depreciation, at the time of a claim. The replacement value of the car fluctuates with market conditions. If you are purely trying to reduce your premium, insure for market value.
  • Gender. In general men pay more for car insurance then women. So, if you’re a couple, take your insurance out in the female’s name, with the male as a nominated driver.
  • Buy online. Most insurers offer discounts if you buy your car insurance online.

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