The Best Car Insurance Companies, Reviewed
Car insurance is too often an afterthought. You might have your premium set on autopay, and hopefully won’t have to use your insurance anytime soon. But if you get into an accident, you’ll be glad to have a company that has good customer service and a solid reputation with collision repair experts.
We evaluated car insurance companies based on their average prices, level of complaints and grades for collision claims from auto body repair professionals provided by CRASH Network.
Why we picked it: Erie has very good prices and scores exceptionally well with collision repair experts compared to its top competitors.
Potential drawbacks: Erie has a level of complaints above the industry average. And it’s only available in 12 states and D.C.
Why we picked it: Military members, veterans and their families will find excellent prices at USAA.
Potential drawbacks: USAA is only available to active, retired and separated veterans with a discharge type of “Honorable” from the U.S. military and their eligible family members. Aside from eligibility, USAA earned only a C+ grade from collision repair experts.
Why we picked it: It’s hard to go wrong with State Farm’s very competitive rates and excellent customer service. Drivers with a clean record (meaning no moving violations or at-fault accidents) will find especially good prices.
Potential drawbacks: State Farm had a C average among collision repair experts, and drivers with poor credit can expect higher rates than average.
Why we picked it: Good rates and excellent customer service makes Travelers worthy of your consideration.
Potential drawbacks: Travelers only earned a C+ average among collision repair professionals and you may be able to find better rates among top competitors.
Why we picked it: Not only does Auto-Owners have an excellent reputation for customer service, the company earned a B+ from collision repair professionals.
Potential drawbacks: You can find better rates among top competitors. Drivers with a poor credit score can expect to pay especially high rates with Auto-Owners.
How Much Does Car Insurance Cost?
The cost of car insurance varies from state to state. It also depends on factors such as your driving record and your age.
According to the most recent data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), the U.S. average for “full coverage” car insurance is $1,190 a year. “Full coverage” refers to liability, collision and comprehensive coverage.
The NAIC shows the average cost of a “full coverage” policy ranges from a low of $782 a year in Maine to a high of $1,590.35 a year in Michigan.
Factors That Impact Car Insurance Costs
A number of factors affect the cost of car insurance. These include:
- Where you live
- Your driving record
- How often you drive your car
- Your age
- Your gender
- Your marital status
- The kind coverage you pick
- The amount of your deductible for collision and comprehensive coverage
- The model of your car
- The safety rating for your car
- Your car insurance history
- Your credit-based insurance score; California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and Michigan prohibit the use of credit-based insurance scores in determining the cost of car insurance
How Can I Get the Best Price on Car Insurance?
Getting the best price on car insurance isn’t as tough as you might think. Here are four tips for lowering the cost of your car insurance.
- Shop around. Compare quotes from several insurers to get the best deal.
- Check out discounts. You can reduce your premium if you qualify for any number of discounts. For instance, you typically can earn a multi-policy discount from an insurer when you buy more than one kind of coverage. An insurer usually will provide a discount if you insure both your car and your home with them, for example.
- Raise the deductible. The higher your deductible is, the lower your premium will be. For example, your premium will go down if you increase the deductible for your comprehensive and collision coverage from $500 to $1,000.
- Drop certain coverage for an older car. If you drive an older car, consider getting rid of optional comprehensive and collision coverage. According to the Insurance Information Institute, if your car is valued at less than 10 times the premium, this coverage might not be worth the extra cost.
Can I Get Car Insurance Discounts?
You might be able to score several discounts that will lower your car insurance premiums. Here are six discounts to explore.
- “Bundling” discount. When you “bundle” policies with the same insurer, you normally can obtain a discount. For instance, a discount might apply if you insure your car and your home with the same company.
- Good driver discount. Insurers usually will discount your premium if you haven’t had a moving violation (such as a traffic ticket) or an accident in the past three years.
- Good student discount. If a student is on your policy and earns good grades, you might qualify for a discount.
- Defensive driving discount. Completion of a defensive driving course might result in receiving a premium discount if you’re 55 or older.
- Upfront payment discount. Some insurers will give you a discount of up to 10 percent if you pay your premium in full rather than spreading out premium payments over time.
- Loyalty discount. In some cases, an insurer will reward you with a discount if you’ve been a longtime customer.
What Kind of Car Insurance Do I Need?
Your car insurance needs will depend largely on where you live. If nothing else, you must purchase enough coverage to meet your state’s basic requirements.
In most states, liability coverage is mandatory. Liability insurance helps pay for injuries you, as a driver, cause to other people or damage you cause to other people’s property. It also can cover legal bills if someone sues over injuries or damage that you caused.
Many states also require you to carry medical payments or personal injury protection coverage. This coverage reimburses you for medical expenses for treatment of injuries that you or your passengers suffer in an accident.
You might also find that your state mandates uninsured motorist coverage. This coverage reimburses you for things like medical bills, lost wages and funeral expenses if you or your passengers are involved in a car accident caused by a driver who lacks liability coverage or by a hit-and-run driver.
Furthermore, you might be required to underinsured motorist coverage. This coverage kicks in when another driver doesn’t have enough coverage to pay costs you incur in an accident caused by that driver.
While comprehensive and collision coverage are considered optional, a lender might insist that you buy when you’ve got an auto loan or lease. Collision coverage helps pay costs associated with fixing or replacing your car after an accident, regardless of whose fault the accident was. Comprehensive coverage takes effect when you’re paying for damage to your car caused by hail, vandalism, a collision with an animal or another incident that doesn’t involve hitting another car or an object.
Car insurance rates: 50% of score. We analyzed data from Quadrant Information Services to find average prices for each company for good drivers, drivers with a speeding ticket, drivers who caused an accident, drivers with a DUI and drivers with poor credit.
Collision repair score: 25% of score. We analyzed data from CRASH Network, a weekly newsletter covering the collision repair and car insurance market segments. CRASH Network’s 2021 Insurer Report Card used grades from 1,101 collision repair experts to grade car insurers on the quality of their collision claims service. Better insurers don’t apply pressure to cut costs or install lower-quality repair parts.
Complaints: 25% of score. We analyzed data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Each state’s department of insurance is responsible for monitoring complaints against car insurance companies that operate in their state.