Insurers will likely continue with rate increases if they continue to see negative underwriting profit margins. Across the 10 largest insurance companies, this trend has been linked to increased car insurance rates in recent years. From 2014 to 2017, these companies posted a year-over-year average underwriting profit margin of -3.8% and average rate increases of 5.1%.
The best car insurance companies have a few things in common: They have straightforward shopping experiences, take good care of policyholders after a crash and treat their customers with respect and courtesy. That means only insurers with high customer satisfaction scores and relatively few complaints to insurance commissioners make it to the top of our list of the best auto insurance companies.
While competition certainly helps keep premiums in check, it’s not the only factor. “In addition, under Virginia’s laws for seeking recovery, the person at fault for causing a car accident is held responsible for any resulting harm,” says Schrad. “Virginia also requires uninsured motorist coverage as part of a driver’s own auto insurance plan in case they are involved in an accident with an uninsured driver,” he continues. Not all states require drivers to carry uninsured motorist coverage.
While all car insurance companies offer a similar product, they differ in how they deliver it. Some car insurance companies are basically self-service, allowing you to shop for and choose a policy completely online. Others use local agents who can meet with you and talk you through the process of buying a policy and personally handle any claims you have. Some companies use a mix of the two. Make sure you find a company that has the type of service you want.
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.
Liability auto insurance protects you from that worst case scenario by providing a cushion between your assets and the amount you’re on the hook for. For this reason, choosing the right auto liability limits is the most important part of your car insurance quote comparison. NerdWallet typically recommends having at least as much liability coverage as your net worth.
Geico: Geico is the fourth-best car insurance company, and even a cave man can see why. Geico customers say it’s easy to file a claim with the company, though some were unhappy with status updates from the insurer. That said, most Geico customers would recommend it and plan to renew their policy. Their rates may have something to do with that: Geico offers lower rates on average than most other auto insurance companies.
These are on the high side, but there are still instances in which they won’t be enough to fully cover you. For example, if you accidentally hit a luxury car, replacing it could easily cost more than the $25,000 legal minimum for property damage coverage. If the other driver is injured, their medical bills could also exceed the $30,000 bodily injury minimum fairly easily. In each case, you’d be responsible for making up the difference yourself.
Collision car insurance covers damage to your car if it collides with another car. If you lease your car or have a loan on it, your financing company will require this type of coverage. As your car ages or you pay it off, you can drop it. However, that means that if your car is damaged in a collision with another vehicle, you’ll have to pay for all repairs on your own.
Allstate: Allstate is the eighth-best insurance company, with many Allstate customers in our survey reporting that they didn’t feel like they were in good hands. Allstate customers were particularly unhappy with the value they felt they got from Allstate, with many of them saying they wouldn’t recommend Allstate and didn’t plan to renew their policies.
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.
Next, take a good hard look at your driving record and credit report, and clean both up if they’re not in good shape. Moving violations, citations for driving under the influence, accidents, and a low credit score all tell car insurance companies you’re at higher risk of being in an accident, making a claim, and costing them money. Some car insurance companies will give you a discount if you can prove you’re a safe driver by installing a tracking device in your car, which can lead to lower rates over time (however, if the tracker shows you routinely drive in an unsafe manner, your rates might go up). A few years without a citation or an accident, as well as a steadily improving credit score, can help you save on car insurance.
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