In 48 out of 50 states, having car insurance is the law, so no matter what kind of car you have or how much you use it, chances are you’ll need to be covered.
If an accident occurs, a car insurance policy will provide protection against property damage or bodily injury liability coverage. Other types of specialized insurance can cover damage to your own vehicle for a variety of reasons (collision coverage), incidents with uninsured or underinsured drivers, plus medical expenses incurred due to accidents. Some car insurance companies even have comprehensive car insurance coverage options that include roadside assistance or that can be bundled with homeowners insurance, if you own a home. Depending on the insurance you get, you could have a coverage limit or full coverage, though most states require all drivers to at least have liability insurance.
The costs covered in an auto insurance quote can accumulate for an uninsured or underinsured motorist. Having comprehensive coverage can help keep out-of-pocket costs associated with car insurance premiums in check. Note that the monthly premium on your car insurance policy typically won’t cover wear and tear on a vehicle, damage incurred by driving under the influence or by drivers not listed on the car insurance policy, and damage to the engine as a result of oil leakage.
There are an estimated 300 car insurance providers in the US, ranging from those operating at a nationwide level to smaller companies. So sorting through them to determine the best car insurance companies and offers can be intimidating. Before committing to a car insurance rate with a nationwide insurance company, it’s worth checking to see if you have any well-reviewed statewide options in your area.
“Once you have a clear picture of how you use your car and your priorities, you’re ready to shop for insurance,” says Janet Ruiz, director of strategic communication at the Insurance Information Institute. “Generally, it’s a good idea to compare policies from at least three different insurers. You’ll want to consider fundamental factors such as coverage and price.”
It’s also worth delving into an insurance provider’s history. “Be sure to check out the claims handling of the company before buying insurance,” says Dan Karr, CEO and founder of ValChoice. “Insurance that won’t pay a claim was a waste of money, no matter what the price.”
There is also a lot that goes into a car insurance policy. A car insurance quote for “standard coverage” may include factors such as injury liability, property damage, accident forgiveness and roadside assistance. Having a teen driver on your insurance policy can also impact your insurance premium. Then there’s gap insurance or personal injury liability insurance coverage and more. “Check prospective policies too for secondary options that could prove beneficial,” says Ruiz, “such as glass coverage, which often comes without a deductible, or reimbursement for a rental car.” How can you compare all these things as you’re trying to choose which auto insurance coverage is best for you?
“Try to compare apples to apples when choosing your insurance policy,” says Ruiz. “All of the policies that you review should have the same types and amounts of coverage. It is difficult to compare policies, for instance, if one provides $50,000 in property damage liability coverage, another only $30,000, and a third $100,000.” Understanding what goes into insurance coverage will help you make the best decision for your particular situation, but where do you start?
You could do a deep dive into each auto insurance company’s website to better understand their coverage level, but we’re making it easier to find the best car insurance coverage for you by narrowing down the list. We’ve picked the 10 best insurance companies in the country, based primarily on audience satisfaction, as measured by the J.D. Power 2019 US Auto Insurance Study. The study measures five criteria: interaction, policy offerings, price, billing process and claims. 42,759 customers were polled from February through April 2019.
The top-scoring auto insurance policy overall was Geico, reporting high customer satisfaction levels in all regions of the country and making it the No. 1 auto insurer in the US. This insurance carrier is also routinely ranked among the cheapest car insurance coverage providers (and a big premium is a big expense), which undoubtedly contributes to the satisfaction.
That said, your auto insurance rates will ultimately be determined by personal factors, such as where you live, your credit score (for the best rates, a score of 770 or above is recommended) and the type of vehicle you drive, as well as its age and whether you’ve had an accident. The good news is that you can actually lower your insurance coverage costs if you maintain a safe driving record or work on your credit score — or your grade point average.
Further, depending on your insurance provider, you can bundle your car insurance policy with life insurance, homeowners insurance or renters insurance, among others. As mentioned above, there are so many factors that go into so-called “standard coverage,” it’s all dependent on the kind of insurance product you’re looking for.
“For young drivers, there are discounts for taking drivers’ certification courses and maintaining above a B average,” says Karr. “Several discounts are based on the vehicle, including safety features like remote engine shutoff, anti-lock brakes, and airbags. There are also discounts for storing the vehicle in a garage. Many insurers provide discounts for insuring multiple cars through the same company and for owning a home and insuring the home through the same company.”
When you do find a solution, Ruiz explains how you can do your due diligence: “First, double-check that an insurer is licensed in your state by visiting the website of your state’s insurance division, where you can also review information about consumer complaints filed against insurance companies. In addition, you can check review websites and talk to friends about their experiences with insurers. Finally, take a few minutes to make sure prospective insurers are in good financial standing. Financial ratings agencies will provide this information. Online tools will often provide ratings information as well.”