The auto insurance rates displayed in our articles are based on the 2019 results of The Zebra’s comprehensive car insurance pricing analysis. In our analysis of all US zip codes — including Washington D.C. — the sample user profile consisted of a 30-year-old single male driving a 2013 Honda Accord. To generate pricing specific to particular rating factors, we adjusted the driving profile based on pricing factors commonly used by car insurance companies.
Let's use the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy as an example to illustrate the differences between collision and comprehensive. Within that storm, let's consider two events that might have happened: 1) a heavy tree branch fell on your car, or 2) you swerved to avoid a falling tree branch and wound up crashing into a tree. In the first event, you had no control over when or why a tree branch would fall on your car. This kind of accident would get reimbursed under your comprehensive policy. In the second situation, you were driving the car and ultimately swerved into the tree, which makes it a collision, and collision insurance therefore pays for the damages. Events like the hypothetical ones stated above are why it's important to differentiate between the two types of coverage.
How much car insurance costs depends on the amount of risk you pose to your auto insurance company. Remember, if you have an incident and make a claim on your insurance policy, your insurance company must pay – even if you’ve only paid them $1,000 in premiums and you make a claim that costs $100,000. If it’s more likely that you’ll need to make a number of claims on your car insurance, you’ll get charged more. It’s just the insurance company making sure they don’t lose money on your policy.
I was with Liberty Mutual for about 15 years and was very satisfied with their prices and service, although I never filed a claim. When I retired and moved from California to Florida, my auto rate went up a ridiculous amount, to almost $10,000 a year even though I had no accidents and one minor moving violation in the last ten years. On top of that, Liberty Mutual screwed up my umbrella policy and told me it was “unenforceable,” whatever that means, but I had to pay for the policy anyway up to the time I canceled and switched to Progressive, which cost about one third the cost of Liberty Mutual for an identical policy. Even good companies change over time.
There isn’t a definitive answer to the question, “which company is the cheapest?” Some companies are cheaper than others, plain and simple, but individual details of your driving profile can affect which companies offer you the cheapest rates. For example, while Nationwide wasn’t the cheapest for a driver with a clean record, it was the relatively cheap for a driver following an at-fault accident. The best way to find cheap car insurance is to compare as many companies as possible using your driving profile.
Liability insurance covers you if you’re in an accident deemed to be your fault. It will cover repairs to damaged property, as well as medical bills resulting from injury to the other driver and their passengers. Most states require at least a minimum amount of liability insurance, but it’s a good idea to purchase extra protection if you can afford it.
Bad auto insurance comes in many forms. With bad car insurance, premiums are higher than they should be, or the company offers low premiums but minimal coverage. Some car insurance companies have poor customer service and don’t effectively communicate the status of your auto insurance claim. Others require you to use only repair shops that they approve of, and those shops can be inconvenient to access, forcing you to travel across town for repairs or wait weeks for an appointment. Still other auto insurance companies don’t have a comprehensive network of adjusters, so you have to wait longer for your claim to be processed so you can get the repairs you need. In a worst-case scenario, a car insurance company may not have the financial resources to pay claims, leaving its customers high and dry.
Let's use the aftermath of a major storm to illustrate the differences between collision and comprehensive. Within that storm, let's consider two hypothetical events: First, a heavy telephone pole was blown down and fell on your truck, or second, you swerved to avoid a falling tree and wound up crashing into a guardrail. In the first event, you couldn't control when or why a tree fell on your car. This kind of accident would get reimbursed under your comprehensive policy. In the second situation, you were driving the car and ultimately swerved into the guardrail. This makes it a collision, and collision insurance pays for the damages.
Collision coverage is limited to the actual cash value of the vehicle, and requires a deductible, which is the amount you'll need to pay before receiving benefits. Higher deductibles lower your premium but increase the amount you must pay out of your own pocket if a loss occurs. Ask yourself how much you would be willing to pay on short notice in order to save on your premium, or talk to your agent.
Now flash forward present day. Last month I had a wreck. It was not my fault. I called USAA to get my rental covered because the cop wouldn’t give me the @ fault driver’s info said I had to wait for the police report. USAA informs me that I don’t have rental. Excuse me 3 months ago when I added collision I told you add rental & you said you would. USAA claims I did not tell them that, but I know I did because Roadside made it but not rental? Now mind you my Escalade is totalled. The frame is warped among many other things. I’m not @ fault & USAA (my own insurance company) tries to screw me? (The @ fault driver’s insurance company is someone I’ve never heard of but it’s not USAA) The adjustor says not totalled we’ll settle for 10Gs…. no I’m not settling for 10Gs on 50G+ truck especially with a warped frame NO WAY!! I’ve lost major retail value & nobody will buy it with the carfax that’s attached to it now.
Comprehensive car insurance covers damages from an "act of God," or events that are not caused by a car driving into something else. An "act of God" can include things like damage from a heavy tree branch falling on your car. Since you have no control over when or why a tree branch would fall on your car, this kind of accident would be covered under your comprehensive policy.
It is difficult to project whether rates will continue to rise, as there are so many factors that determine car insurance pricing. If loss-causing trends continue—such as more expensive vehicle repairs, distracted driving crashes and vehicle damage due to extreme weather—consumers should see premiums increase. However, if these trends reverse and there are fewer accidents and milder weather, then car insurance rates could plateau or even decrease.
As it currently stands with Texas, in the event of an accident, there’s a one in seven chance that the other driver won’t be insured. Unless you’ve purchased uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, that’s money out of your pocket. Texas’s minimum requirements also don’t account for comprehensive coverage, which you’ll definitely want to take into consideration, since the state ranks first for monetary losses from “catastrophes” like hail storms and hurricanes.
I am glad to see USAA at the bottom; but it should not be on the list at all. I am currently going through a claim with them (total loss, I got rear ended, pushed into the car in front of me and they hit the car in front of them; not at fault). I have all correspondence recorded and proof of them lying to me, and using made up regulations to justify it. When asked for the reference for said regulations, I am ignored. I have been throwing WAC at them, quote after quote as to how they are being unruly. This was in December, it is now April and they have YET to give me a valuation report in compliance with WAC. I will be more than happy to provide a copy of our correspondence (with PII edited, obviously), proving how bad USAA is at customer service and how willing they are to break the rules if it benefits them. Email me if you want to see it. I finally had enough and contacted the Washington State Insurance Commissioner; USAA has until the middle of this month to respond to them… We will see what happens next.
Shopping for auto insurance is a very personalized experience; car insurance companies will consider your driving history, credit score, age and more when generating your quote. Some things to consider when shopping for auto insurance are relevant discounts, the claims process, and the coverage you want in addition to your state’s minimum required coverage. Use this guide to compare the top car insurance companies and find the best rates available.