Regardless of the type of car you drive or where you drive it, by owning and operating a vehicle and driving it on public roads, your car is vulnerable to all types of losses and damages, both to yourself and to others on the road and their property. Though you’re probably most concerned with accidents, your vehicle can also be damaged by acts of weather such as falling tree limbs or monster-sized hail, vandalism or even invaded by creepy crawlers, especially if you park outside or on the street.
Heightened losses in recent years have led to a 7.2% rate hike across the 10 largest auto insurers in 2017. This rate increase followed a year in which eight of the 10 largest auto insurers reported a negative underwriting profit. In the table below, a combined loss ratio of more than 100% indicates the company incurred more in losses and expenses than it earned in premiums.
But liability coverage levels come in threes — you’ll probably see something like 50/100/50 up to 250/500/250 in typical policies. You can think of these limits like: individual injuries / total injuries / property damage. Insurers are a little more technical, calling them bodily injury liability, total bodily injury liability and physical damage liability.
Like a DUI, a reckless driving citation can raise your car insurance rates. If you’ve received a reckless driving citation, your best bets for cheap car insurance are USAA and State Farm, despite the latter being one of the more expensive insurance companies if you don’t have a violation. This shows the importance of comparing car insurance rates carefully — your driving profile will be handled differently by every carrier.
Gap insurance is insurance that may be required if you lease or finance a car. Gap insurance covers the difference between what your car is worth and what you owe on your auto loan should your car be a total loss in an incident. For example, let’s say you have a car loan with a balance of $20,000, but your car is only worth $15,000. If it’s totaled in an accident, your insurance will only pay out $15,000 and you will owe $5,000 to settle your loan. If you have gap insurance, that policy will pay the $5,000 to settle your loan balance.
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.