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Finding the best car insurance company depends on everything from the state you live in to your discount eligibility and driving habits. We’ve made the process easy by comparing four of the best auto insurance companies: USAA, GEICO, State Farm and Progressive.
We pick our top providers based on coverage, affordability, customer service and reputation. Our research includes customer feedback, reviews and our own experience with the quote process. See our recommendations below, or to start comparing rates, fill out the short form with your information.
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USAA was established in 1922 and provides insurance products, banking and retirement services for military members and their families. The company’s services are only available to qualifying active service and veteran members and their immediate relatives. However, the company is known for its generous discounts and membership perks.
In a survey of more than 3,000 insurance customers conducted by Insure.com, USAA was ranked third overall, and 94% of customers said they would renew their USAA policy.
USAA policies include the standard coverage plans (liability, comprehensive, collision, uninsured motorist, etc.), as well as roadside assistance, rental reimbursement and accident forgiveness after five years with no accidents.
For Lyft and Uber drives, rideshare gap coverage can insure drivers while they wait for their request. However, this coverage is not available in every state.
A recent J.D. Power survey gave USAA four out of five stars for price, with customers reporting a good value for the level of coverage they received. USAA ranked higher than GEICO, State Farm and Progressive for price value. To make policies more affordable for members, USAA offers a number of discounts. Members can save money if they do the following:
- Keep a clean driving record for five years
- Improve driving skills with a defensive driving course
- Complete a driver training course (for drivers under 21)
- Make good grades
- Purchase insurance for a vehicle under three years old
- Purchase insurance for two or more vehicles
- Drive a certain number of miles per year
- Store their vehicle or garage vehicle on military base
- Continue your parents’ coverage
- Maintain loyalty to USAA
Unfortunately, the quote process is limited to USAA members. If you are not a USAA member, then USAA is not the best car insurance company for you.
Claims and Customer Service
USAA is not currently rated by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), which monitors company transparency and business practices. However, the 2019 J.D. Power U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study suggests customers have expressed overall satisfaction with the claims process, giving a five out of five star rating for an efficient repair process, fair claims settlements and easy claims reporting.
Customers will find it easy to make and manage claims, request roadside assistance and perform other tasks using the USAA app. USAA won multiple innovation awards in 2018 due to its pilot programs and member challenges, which help to improve the customer experience.
USAA has strong name recognition in the industry, but it ranks eighth amongst the top 10 competitors for direct premiums written and market share. Still, this is not something that should greatly deter potential customers.
GEICO is a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, and it has served customers in the insurance industry for over 80 years. GEICO is one of the most popular insurance companies to date, but is it the best auto insurance company for you?
GEICO policies cover accidents, liability, medical expenses, property damage, rental reimbursement and emergency roadside assistance. You can also purchase policies that cover both personal and rideshare use, as well as insurance mechanical breakdown insurance, which saves you money on major repairs that result from a defective part.
One of the things we like about GEICO is its Mexico insurance policy. The company is partnered with Mexican insurance companies like Grupo Nacional Provincial and El Aguila Compania de Seguros, so you can be insured while you drive in Mexico. You can get liability coverage up to $500,000 that covers cars, ATVs and other recreational vehicles. These policies come with their own international staff to help in an emergency.
GEICO prices are considered average according to J.D. Power’s customer shopping survey. Getting a free, customized quote is quick but thorough. You will be asked about your annual mileage and even your school, business or government affiliations so that the quote engine can find the best discounts with your estimate. GEICO offers discounts for the following:
- Safe or defensive driving
- Good grades
- Seat belt use
- New vehicles
- Multiple vehicles
- Federal employees
- Military members
- Fraternity or sorority affiliations
- Alumni associations, universities and student organizations
- Air bags
- Anti-theft systems
- Accident forgiveness (for five years without an accident)
Students tend to pay much more for car insurance each month, averaging $318 per month compared to $75 per month for the general population. It’s important that students can find the best auto insurance company for their budget. GEICO discounts are especially valuable to students, who can get discounts for grades and even the university they attend.
Claims and Customer Service
GEICO has many tools customers can use to make the claims and repair process smoother and more efficient. GEICO’s Auto Repair Xpress® program, for example, provides special treatment to customers that use an Auto Repair Xpress facility. A shop representative evaluates the damage to your vehicle, arranges for repairs and updates you on the status of your claim and repairs.
Customers can also get answers to their questions at any time using GEICO’s mobile app virtual assistant. The mobile app allows you to track your maintenance schedule, manage your claims and call roadside assistance. Unfortunately, in our experience finding a local agent, the number of local agents in each state was quite small. The best way to communicate with a representative is online.
According to the J.D. Power claims survey, GEICO customers rate the fairness of claims settlements positively. The BBB gives GEICO an A+ rating. Complaints to the BBB include slow communication and issues with autopay.
As a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, GEICO comes only second to State Farm in market share and the number of direct premiums written. GEICO is a well-known insurance company due to its popular marketing campaigns.
State Farm opened its doors to customers in 1922 and has since become the market leader of the auto insurance industry. If you’re looking for the best car insurance company, then you may want to look at the unique coverage options and discounts available from State Farm.
Finding the best auto insurance companies often means finding comprehensive and affordable coverage for drivers and vehicles that are more difficult to insure.
With State Farm, drivers can find unique coverage that goes beyond basic collision or liability insurance. State Farm offers affordable policies for teenagers, rental cars and even sports cars – which are especially expensive to insure.
J.D. Power’s Insurance Shopping Study ranked State Farm prices as average among competitors. State Farm markets multiple safe driver programs that can improve rates, including Drive Safe & SaveTM and Steer Clear®.
The Drive Safe & Save app uses information from your smartphone or vehicle communication system to monitor your driving habits and deliver discounts for safer driving. Some experts believe, however, that tracking devices used by insurance companies may have greater benefits for your insurance company than for your premiums.
The Steer Clear program is a good offer for drivers under 25 that have had no violations for three years. By completing safe driver courses online, they can save even more money on their policies. State Farm also offers the following discounts:
- Good student discount
- Away-at-school discount (for students under 25 who only drive during school breaks)
- Passive restraint discount for passive restraint systems in older vehicles
- Multiple car discounts
- Multiple insurance policy discounts (bundles with home or life insurance)
State Farm’s list of customer discounts is not as long as some of the other companies on this list. However, we think that shoppers can find good rates for specialty vehicles and younger drivers.
Claims and Customer Service
Currently, there are 19,000 State Farm agents across the country ready to help. Customers give their experience dealing with their local agents three out of five stars in the J.D. Power Insurance Shopping Study.
Despite above average claims servicing, customers also rate the estimation process and repair process as simply average. We found that filing a claim and checking its status is very easy to do on the State Farm website. It is also easy to find a repair shop online, and Select Service can assist customers with arranging for repairs and getting a guaranteed date for completion.
The BBB currently gives State Farm an A+ rating with relatively few complaints in the past year compared to the number of customers.
State Farm currently has the highest percentage of market share in the auto insurance industry at 9.7%. The company has significant financial strength with more than $65 million written in direct premiums in a year.
Progressive began offering insurance in 1937 with the mission to serve basic insurance at a lower price than its competitors. Progressive markets itself as affordable, but price isn’t the only thing that’s important when looking for the best car insurance companies. What do we think about Progressive?
In addition to basic insurance policies (e.g., collision, comprehensive, liability, uninsured/underinsured motorist, personal injury, roadside assistance, etc.), Progressive offers rideshare policies that cover you while you wait for a trip request, rather than covering you only after you’ve accepted a request.
Progressive also offers coverage for custom parts and equipment, such as navigation systems or tire rims, up to a certain limit. Customers can also get gap insurance to cover the remainder of their loan if their vehicle is totaled.
Despite Progressive’s reputation for cheap insurance, customers ranked Progressive auto insurance as just average with regard to the value they get for the cost. However, customers can find an affordable rate using the competitor rate comparison tool or the Name Your Price Tool®, which allows customers to shop for policies based on what they are willing to pay.
Progressive offers basic discounts for multiple vehicles and good students, but we like the following unique discounts:
- Discounts for customers who make automatic payments
- Paperless and online sign up/quote discounts
- Discounts for being continually insured
- Accident forgiveness for customers with no accidents in three years
- Small accident forgiveness for your first accident with a claim under $500
You can also use the deductible savings bank discount to subtract $50 from your deductible for every policy period without an accident or traffic violation.
Like State Farm, Progressive also offers safe driving discounts with their own tracking app, Snapshot. You can log your trips and get tips for safer driving. As with any app that monitors your driving habits, it is possible that you can actually increase your prices. Progressive states that only two in 10 customers see their rates increase.
Claims and Customer Service
The BBB gives Progressive an A- rating, but participants of the J.D. Power Insurance Shopping Study reported that Progressive’s call center representatives deliver below-average service and poorer communication than other top insurance companies.
Progressive’s claims process is rated as average. One of Progressive’s strengths is its simple online and mobile interfaces. Customers can upload photos of damage from an accident to the mobile app and receive an electronic estimate.
Progressive Corp. stands at number four in industry standing with 5% of the market share, following closely behind Liberty Mutual. Progressive writes more than $33 million in direct premiums in a year.
How to Find Affordable Car Insurance
Finding the best rate for auto insurance depends on a number of factors both in and beyond your control. Unfortunately, your rates can be higher based on your marital status, occupation, level of education and even your gender. That’s why it’s important to understand how to give yourself the best chance for an affordable rate. How can you decrease your rate?
- Don’t assume that high-tech safety gear will decrease your rate. It can actually raise your premiums, because these parts are more expensive to replace. Look for an insurance company that offers discounts for safety equipment.
- Lower your premium by increasing your deductible or opting out of optional policies.
- Look for mileage-based policies if you have a short work commute or don’t drive many miles on average.
- Combine your auto and homeowners insurance to get bundle discounts.
- Compare rates for similar policies across a number of companies.
- Pay attention to your credit history and pay your bills on time.
- Drive defensively to qualify for decreased rates or accident forgiveness.
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