Best Car Insurance Companies - Buy Side from WSJ

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Best Car Insurance Companies - Buy Side from WSJ

Money > Insurance > Car Insurance

Choosing car insurance can be a pain. Not only are there plenty of car insurance companies, you also have to sift through different coverage types and amounts —from liability to comprehensive. 

But if you drive, car insurance is a must (in every state but New Hampshire.) And while companies that boast cost savings in their advertisements can be appealing, you need to know that the company has your back if you’re in an accident. Fortunately, with a little research shopping for the right policy can be smooth and manageable. 

How much you pay for car insurance can vary a lot by factors including where you live, what car you drive, and even your credit score. To help you find the right insurance company and coverage for you, we researched policies from 25 leading insurers.

We looked at everything from their premiums to how customers rated their claims processes to identify the seven best car insurance companies.

Why We Picked It: One of the nation’s largest auto insurers based on written premiums, Progressive stands out because of its optional coverages, added benefits, discounts and customer support options. Notable features beyond the usual liability , collision and comprehensive insurance policies include: 

At $127 a month, Progressive’s premiums were in line with the national average reported by The Zebra, which analyzed nearly 400 insurance companies. Plus, Progressive has several discounts that could make your premiums more affordable. Available discounts include safe driving, good student, homeowners, multi-policy and pay-in-full discounts. 

The discounts range in value. For example the multi-policy discount can give you 5% off your premiums, while a good student discount will help you save up to 10%. 

Caveats: Progressive is a well-known company and the number of complaints that customers submitted about the company to state regulators is in line with the industry standard. However, Progressive has a less-positive reputation when it comes to how it handles insurance claims. 

In the J.D. Power 2022 Auto Claims Satisfaction Study , Progressive has a lower-than-average rating. And in the Crash Network’s Insurer Report Card —a survey that asks body shops about their experiences with insurers’ claims-handling policies—Progressive received a “C” score, well below the average. That’s not uncommon for large companies; the Crash Network noted that the 10 largest auto insurers all had a grade of “C+” or worse. But customers should be aware that smaller insurers tended to score higher regarding repairs and claims processing timelines. 

Why We Picked It: Amica was the clear winner for its customer service. It was the top-rated company in the J.D. Power Auto Claims Satisfaction Study, beating out 20 other companies. In the Crash Network’s Insurer Report Card, it was the fifth-best company out of 75 national insurers in terms of claims processing. It also received a fewer-than-typical number of complaints with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. 

It has several different customer support options including 24/7 phone support for auto claims, live chat and extended sales and customer service hours to respond to questions. 

Finally, Amica Mutual has a dividend policy option. With a dividend policy, Amica Mutual will pay out dividends—up to 20% of the annual premium—to policyholders, an unusual benefit for a car insurance company. 

Caveats: Amica Mutual’s available coverage options vary by state, and it does not issue policies to residents of Hawaii. If you live in the Aloha State and are looking for an auto insurer with excellent customer service, other options include Farmers and State Farm . 

Its policies can also be more expensive than others. According to The Zebra, its average monthly premium was $144 a month, or $1,728 per year—nearly $200 per year higher than the national average for all insurers. 

Why We Picked It: State Farm is the nation’s top auto insurer based on direct premiums written. It also has over 19,000 agents nationwide, making it a good choice for those that want personalized assistance. 

State Farm has substantial discount programs that could make your premiums more affordable. 

With its Drive Safe and Save Program, you can save up to 30% on your premiums, a higher discount than other companies offer for similar programs. And while good student discounts usually reduce your premiums by 10%, State Farm’s program can reduce your premiums by as much as 25%, making it a valuable option if there are teen drivers in your household. 

If you are an existing State Farm customer, the savings can be more significant. Like many insurers, State Farm offers multi-policy discounts. However, other insurers typically provide multi-policy discounts to those with homeowners or renters insurance policies. With State Farm, the criteria is broader. Individuals with condo insurance or life insurance are also eligible for discounts when they bundle their policies with auto coverage. State Farm recently reported that customers save an average of $1,127 per year on auto and home insurance with its discounts. 

Caveats: Like other large insurance companies, State Farm has a relatively low rating in the Crash Network’s Insurer Report Card. The level of customer support you receive is largely dependent on the quality of your agent, so your experience can vary based on the agents in your area. 

Unlike other insurers, State Farm doesn’t offer gap coverage. If you want coverage for the difference between what you owe on your car and the current value, you may want to purchase a stand-alone gap policy from the dealer or lender when you purchase your car. 

Why We Picked It: If you’ve had driving violations in the past, including driving-under-the-influence, or DUI, convictions, driving-without-insurance citations or too many at-fault accidents, it can be difficult to qualify for car insurance from many major insurers. Some companies won’t work with those drivers at all. 

And if you have incidents on your driving record, you may need an SR-22 form. It’s a form that’s ordered by the state that is issued by an insurance company to prove that you meet the state’s insurance requirements. 

The General is a company that specializes in nonstandard coverage, meaning it writes policies for high-risk drivers. It will provide instant proof of coverage, and will walk you through every step of the SR-22 filing process.  

Caveats: Compared with standard auto insurance policies, policies issued by The General tend to be much more expensive. WalletHub, another company that tracks insurance costs, reported that a full coverage policy will cost over $3,000—more than double the average cost for other companies. 

The General isn’t available nationwide. It only operates in 47 states, so residents of Massachusetts, Michigan and New Jersey will have to get coverage elsewhere. Other leading providers of nonstandard coverage include Infinity and SafeAuto .

Why We Picked It: While Allstate is a popular insurance company for all drivers—it’s the fourth-largest insurer based on direct premiums written—it’s especially useful for drivers that work for ride-share services like Uber or Lyft. 

When you drive for ride-share services, there are often gaps in your coverage. The ride-share platform, also known as a transportation network company, or TNC, may provide insurance, but it only covers you while a passenger is in your vehicle. TNC insurance doesn’t cover you while waiting for a customer or when you’re en route to their location. And personal auto policies typically exclude coverage for ride-share drivers while waiting for or driving customers, so if you’re in an accident, you may have to cover all of the resulting expenses on your own.

With Allstate’s Ride for Hire coverage, you can supplement your personal insurance policy and TNC coverage with ride-share insurance.

Some other insurers offer ride-share coverage, including Progressive. But Allstate stands out because it also provides deductible gap coverage for damage to your vehicle up to $2,500—a much higher limit than other companies offer. 

The deductible gap coverage for ride-share drivers comes into play if you’re in an accident and there is a gap between your personal auto insurance deductible and the TNC policy’s deductible. For example, if your collision deductible is $500, and the TNC policy’s deductible is $2,000, Allstate Ride for Hire insurance may cover the $1,500 difference. 

Caveats:  Allstate received a low score from the Crash Network, ranking 66 out of 75 insurers. And its standard insurance coverage is more expensive than competitors’ rates. On average, its premiums were $201 a month, far higher than the $127 a month average for all insurers.

Why We Picked It: USAA’s premiums are lower than the national average. In fact, the insurer reported that members saved an average of $725 when they switched to USAA coverage from another company. USAA is also highly rated in claims satisfaction by J.D. Power. 

Qualifying USAA members can take advantage of several substantial discount programs, including: 

USAA members can also get discounts on other vehicle-related services, such as tires or maintenance, through USAA’s partners. 

Caveats: Although USAA may be a cost-effective option, it isn’t available to everyone. You can only purchase car insurance through USAA if you are an eligible member. Membership is limited to current military service members, veterans, pre-commissioned officers and the spouses and children of those groups. 

Why We Picked It: In general, coverage for electric vehicles is much more expensive than insurance for traditional vehicles, so shopping around for the best rates is key if you have an electric or hybrid car. 

Although the other companies on our list offer coverage for electric vehicles, Nationwide stands out because of its competitive rates and discounts. Across eight types of electric and hybrid vehicles—including the Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf—Nationwide had the lowest average rates, consistently beating out major competitors like Allstate and Progressive. Nationwide even has coverage options for scooters.

Nationwide has several discount programs, including defensive driving and safe driver discounts. But owners of electric or hybrid vehicles may find Nationwide’s SmartMiles program especially useful. It provides the same coverage as a typical Nationwide policy, but your rate is dependent on how much you drive; Nationwide is one of the few major insurers that has a pay-per-mile option, and other pay-per-mile companies are licensed in fewer states. 

A study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that electric vehicle owners drive half as many miles as other drivers, so usage-based insurance could produce significant savings. 

Caveats: Although Nationwide is a well-known company, it has a lower-than-average claims satisfaction rating from J.D. Power, and it has a lower score from the Crash Network too. 

And while electric vehicle owners may find the SmartMiles program appealing, it isn’t available everywhere yet. It isn’t available in Alaska, Hawaii, Louisiana, North Carolina or New York. That may change in the future, but for drivers in those states, that limitation may be frustrating.  

While Geico is known for the ever-present gecko in its advertising, Geico was a contender as a top insurer because of its low rates, particularly for state-minimum coverage. However, Geico wasn’t included as one of our picks because the Crash Network gave Geico the lowest grade out of the 10 largest insurance companies. 

Metromile is a relatively young and small company. However, it’s leading the charge in pay-per-mile insurance. According to the company, drivers save 47% on average compared with what they were paying for their previous insurance policy. 

Metromile didn’t make the cut as a top pick because it’s only available in a few states. You can only get Metromile coverage if you live in Arizona, California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia or Washington. 

Liberty Mutual is a popular insurance company. In terms of direct premiums written, it’s the sixth-largest company in the country. But Liberty Mutual has a less-than-stellar reputation for how it handles claims. The Crash Network ranked Liberty Mutual 65 out of 75 insurers based on surveys of collision repair professionals, and the company also had a below-average rating on J.D. Power’s claims satisfaction study. 

Before you start shopping for car insurance, make sure you understand the fundamentals of what coverages are available, typical costs and the factors that can affect your insurance premiums. 

There are several types of coverage, but the most commonly used coverages are: 

In every state with the exception of New Hampshire, insurance is required for all drivers. However, states typically only require liability coverage, which doesn’t cover your car or possessions in an accident. And state-minimum coverage may be insufficient to cover you properly. 

In general, experts recommend 100/300/100 in liability coverage: at least $100,000 per person, $300,000 per accident in bodily injury liability and $100,000 per accident in property damage liability coverage. And drivers will often need full coverage—which includes comprehensive and collision insurance—to adequately insure their vehicles and personal property too. 

According to The Zebra , the average cost of an insurance policy that included liability, collision and comprehensive coverage was $1,529 per year, or about $127 a month. 

Drivers that opted for state-minimum liability coverage only paid an average of $539 per year, or about $45 a month. 

The Zebra’s cost analysis used data from nearly 400 insurance companies nationwide. 

Your car insurance premiums can vary based on the following factors:

We chose Buy Side from WSJ’s Best Car Insurance Companies based on available coverages, optional benefits, premiums as reported by The Zebra , discount programs and customer service ratings. We also considered scores issued by the Crash Network’s Insurer Report Card , a ranking of how insurers measure up during the repair process after a claim as reported by over 1,100 automotive collision repair professionals. 

Best Car Insurance Companies - Buy Side from WSJ

Nylon Nuts We analyzed 25 leading auto insurers, using the National Association of Insurance Commissioner’s listing of the top 25 car insurance companies by dollar amount of direct premiums written. Policies and coverage options were current as of Nov. 13, 2022.