How to Get The Best Car Insurance - NerdWallet (2024)

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For a lot of people, buying car insurance is like buying sliced bread. It’s not the most exciting purchase, and the options all seem similar. So thrifty shoppers might simply reach for the cheapest thing on the shelf. But like cheap bread, cheap car insurance may leave you wishing you spent a little more on quality.

“The cheapest is not always the best,” warns Jessica McNally, an agency owner with Goosehead Insurance in Dallas. That’s because there are lots of factors that make up a car insurance company. And while price is one of them, it’s best to look at the bigger picture.

Here’s what to look for when picking the best car insurance company.

1. Choose a financially stable company

The best car insurance companies have plenty of money on hand to pay for customers’ claims. It’s important to check an insurer’s financial stability before buying a policy, especially if it’s a smaller insurer you’ve never heard of.

There are several independent agencies that evaluate the financial strength of insurance companies. One example is A.M. Best. You can use its online search tool to find an insurer’s financial strength rating. Companies with a rating of A or higher are considered to have an excellent ability to pay out customer claims.

2. Check customer satisfaction ratings and reviews

Not every insurer is customer-first. That’s why it’s important to research the customer satisfaction of insurers you’re considering.

You can turn to surveys from companies like J.D. Power to find insurers with the best customer satisfaction scores. Or, if you don’t mind doing a little detective work, you can compare customer complaints against insurers by using the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ website. But take other people’s emotionally charged comments about companies or agents you might read online with a grain of salt, McNally advises.

3. Look for convenience

A great auto insurer should offer multiple ways to manage a policy. For example, some insurers allow customers to use a mobile app to file and track claims. But it’s hard to tell how simple it’ll be to file a claim or perform other essential tasks, like paying your premium, before becoming a customer.

Some telltale signs that an insurer will be easy to work with are high mobile app ratings, flexible customer service hours and an easy-to-use website with helpful content. Consider asking a company representative to walk you through the claims process to learn what you’ll need to do if you have to file a claim. And pay attention to how the company communicates with you. "If they don't properly communicate, well, that's a warning sign," says Michael DeLong, a research and advocacy associate for the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America.

4. Pick an affordable company

Car insurance premiums are stretching to record-breaking heights, and almost half of U.S. consumers shopped for a new car insurance policy in the past year, according to an April 2024 report by J.D. Power. The best car insurance companies offer competitive rates and a variety of potential discounts.

It’s not hard to get car insurance quotes online from many companies. Make sure you compare the same coverage options throughout the quote-gathering process. And don’t forget to look for car insurance discounts, like breaks for being a good driver, paying your premium in full or driving a new car.

More tips to find the best car insurance

When shopping for the best car insurance, keep the following tips in mind.

  • Assess your needs. Before buying car insurance, take a moment to reflect on what’s important to you and your family. For example, maybe you prioritize affordability and a well-polished mobile app, but don’t need accident forgiveness.

  • Consider small insurers. There are lots of small insurance companies you’ve probably never heard of. These regional insurers may provide lower rates and better customer service than the big companies you see advertised on TV.

  • Work with an independent agent. While it may be easy to get quotes yourself, independent car insurance agents and brokers can streamline the process. These experts vet companies and compile quotes from small and large insurers on your behalf. Independent agents and brokers can especially come in handy if you have a less-than-perfect driving record and can’t find insurance on your own.

  • Do your research. Search online for recent mentions of a company in the news before buying a policy, recommends DeLong. If you find a company has lots of recent lawsuits against it, you may want to think twice about signing on the dotted line. “And if they've had to pay out settlements, that's an even bigger red flag,” DeLong says.

  • Shop around once a year. Make a practice of shopping for car insurance every year — especially if price is important to you. Insurers adjust car insurance rates regularly, so what might have been the most affordable option last year may no longer be a bargain.

How to Get The Best Car Insurance - NerdWallet (2024)

FAQs

What is the #1 auto insurance in the US? ›

State Farm is the largest auto insurance company in the U.S., with 18% of the market. Other big car insurance companies include Progressive, Geico and Allstate. Currently insured? It's free, simple and secure.

Who is cheaper, Geico or Progressive? ›

Geico's rates are typically lower overall, but Progressive tends to offer better prices to high-risk drivers. High-risk drivers are those with a recent DUI, at-fault accident or speeding ticket on their driving record. Of course, costs vary by driver, and your rates are determined by a number of factors, including: Age.

Who typically has the cheapest insurance? ›

USAA, Nationwide, Travelers, Erie, Geico and Progressive are the cheapest car insurance companies nationwide, according to our analysis.

Who is State Farm's biggest competitor? ›

Considering State Farm and Geico are the two biggest auto insurance companies in the U.S., most drivers can find what they need from either company, whether that's minimum or full coverage. However, there are a few key differences between State Farm vs. Geico when it comes to auto insurance options.

Why is national general insurance so cheap? ›

National General is cheap for responsible payers because it offers discounts like paid-in-full, paperless, and autopay discounts. But there are other insurance companies that might be cheaper than National General overall.

Is Allstate cheaper than Geico? ›

Comparing Allstate vs. Geico, we found that Geico offers cheaper auto insurance on average. We gave Geico 9.1 out of 10.0 points in the cost category in our industry-wide insurance review, while Allstate earned 7.4 points. But Geico doesn't just offer lower rates than Allstate.

Why are Geico rates so high? ›

Geico is so expensive because car insurance is expensive in general, due to rising costs for insurers. But at $462 per year, the average Geico car insurance policy is actually cheaper than coverage from most competitors. In fact, Geico is one of the cheapest car insurance companies nationally.

What is the number one insurance company in the US? ›

The 10 largest car insurance companies, from highest to lowest market share, are State Farm, Geico, Progressive, Allstate, USAA, Liberty Mutual, Farmers Insurance, Nationwide, American Family Insurance and Travelers.

What is the most common insurance in the US? ›

Private health insurance is the predominant source of health insurance coverage in the United States.

Who is the largest auto insurance company in the United States? ›

For auto policies, State Farm is the largest insurance company in the U.S., with the biggest market share (16.9 percent) and over $46.6 million in direct premiums written in 2022.

What is the primary insurance in the US? ›

Primary insurance is health insurance that pays first on a claim for medical and hospital care. In most cases, Medicare is your primary insurer. See also: Secondary Insurance.

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