The best car insurance companies of 2019


Car insurance really comes down to one thing.

Getting the best quote from a good company.

I’m going to show you the same process that saved me $2,088 per year with only a few hours worth of work.

Before we jump into the process and exact scripts that I used, I’m going to break down the best car insurance companies out there.

By the end of this article:

  • You’ll know which companies to trust and which to avoid.
  • You’ll know which kind of car insurance we skip to lower our bills. And the kind that we max out on.
  • You’ll know the script to negotiate with any car insurance company to get them to lower their quote.

The best auto insurance providers

There’s an awful lot of car insurance companies out there. We’ve gone through over 50 and narrowed them down to our top 16 companies:

How did we pick these 16 companies? We looked at several factors.

User experience

When it comes to user experience, I mostly looked at the websites and mobile apps. Every company in our list except for Erie Insurance has a decent mobile app. Geico, Allstate, and American Family had very impressive reviews, and are clear standouts. I’ve included all the App Store reviews below. What I care most about is the ability to show proof of insurance via an app on my iPhone. All of the companies listed except for Erie offer this feature. None of the apps have terrible reviews.

Claims process

JD Power does a good job rating customer satisfaction when it comes to the claims process. If an accident does happen, the claims process needs to be smooth. I’d personally rather pay a little more and ensure that I won’t deal with a bunch of headache in the event of an accident.

Financial solvency

AM Best is one of the five independent agencies that rate the financial strength of insurance companies. If a company isn’t A-rated and financially strong, I chopped them from the list. There are enough options to not mess around with anything less than an insurance company that has a great financial foundation.

Customer satisfaction

Consumer Reports has customer satisfaction scores, but I take them with a grain of salt. While Consumer Reports says that their scores come from 23,000 subscribers, we don’t really know how many responses each company had and how reliable the score is. But it is better than nothing.

Location / availability

All of the biggest insurance companies are national. That doesn’t make them the best. Just the biggest. There are a few that are limited to certain states, like American Family, Auto-Owners, Erie Insurance, and Auto Club, so keep that in mind when considering them.

Some companies are only available in a couple of states. I cut most of them from our list of recommended companies.

Lastly, USAA is the most highly recommended, but only available to active, retired, and honorably separated officers and enlisted personnel of the U.S. military along with their families. For the rest of us, we’ll have to look elsewhere.

The ratings for our top 16 car insurance companies

Here are all the ratings and satisfaction scores for our top 16 insurance companies:

Company

J.D. Power claims satisfaction score

AM Best financial rating

Consumer Reports reader score

Avg app rating

USAA

5

A++

95

5

Farmers

4

A

89

5

Travelers

3

A++

90

3

Progressive

3

A+

87

3.5

Geico

3

A++

N/A

5

Allstate

3

A+

88

5

State Farm

3

A++

89

4

American Family

3

A

89

5

Auto-Owner’s Insurance

4

A++

93

3

Nationwide

3

A+

88

4

Amica Mutual

5

A+

96

2.5

Erie Insurance

5

A+

94

4

The Hartford

3

A+

99

4

Liberty Mutual

3

A

88

5

Esurance

3

A+

N/A

5

Auto Club Group

4

A-

94

4.5

All of these companies have good or great ratings across these categories, which is why we’ve included them on our list.

How car insurance works

When you get a car insurance quote, the insurance company is going to ask you how much coverage you want on all sorts of stuff.

It even seems like car insurance companies have deliberately tried to make this as confusing as possible:

  • Different parts of your policy cover different stuff
  • Some stuff is optional
  • Some stuff isn’t optional in other states
  • Some items overlap, so it’s really easy to be “over-insured”

Bear with me. Once we’ve gone through the different components of a car insurance policy, the quote process is going to be a lot easier.

And you’ll avoid getting tricked by car insurance companies that want you to pay for more insurance than you really need.

Liability coverage

Liability coverage covers damage you cause to people and property.

There are two types.

Bodily injury liability coverage: Covers medical expenses for the people who get injured in the accident you cause.

Property damage liability coverage: Covers the other person’s vehicle or other property that gets damaged in the accident you cause.

It actually gets a bit more complicated than this. There are other types of liability coverage that you can add. For now, let’s focus on the main two types.

When you get your core liability coverage, your insurance company will ask you how much coverage you want. The higher your coverage, the more money your insurance company will be willing to pay out during a serious accident.

Think of it like this.

Let’s say you wreck a Toyota Corolla, which is worth about $20,000. If you have a $100,000 property liability coverage, no big deal. Your insurance company will completely replace the car.

Now let’s say you wreck a Ferrari that costs $250,000, and have that same property liability coverage of $100,000. In this case, your insurance policy will only pay up to $100,000. You’re on the hook for the other $150,000.

Remember one simple rule for liability coverage: Larger numbers are better.

The higher your liability coverage, the more your insurance company is willing to pay before they leave you hanging.

Car insurance companies use some fancy notation for this liability coverage. It looks like this: $100,000/$300,000/$100,000.

In plain language, that means:

  • $100,000 bodily injury payout per person.
  • $300,000 bodily injury payout per accident. This caps the bodily injury coverage, regardless of how many people are in the accident.
  • $100,000 property damage payout per accident.

Remember our liability coverage rule — higher numbers are better. That will cover you across a larger range of accidents.

So how much liability coverage is enough?

Think of insurance like this: It’s there to keep you out of financial catastrophe during a serious accident. You want as much as you can possibly get. If an accident is bad enough, you could easily hit the limits of your coverage. That’s not a position anyone wants to be in.

Yes, higher liability coverage will raise the cost of your insurance policy. First, we’ll show you a few items to skip, which will compensate. Second, we’ve got scripts further down for you to negotiate your costs and get them down even further. Between those two things, you should have no problem getting more liability coverage without having to raise the price of your plan.

I personally went with $100,000/$300,000/$100,000. I did do some research on averages and found that most folks end up with $100,000/$300,000/$50,000. For me, that’s too low. 

Vehicle coverage

All of that liability coverage you need to pay for doesn’t protect your own vehicle. That’s where collision and comprehension coverage come into play.

  • Collision Coverage: Covers your vehicle in an accident with another vehicle or object. 
  • Comprehension Coverage: Covers your vehicle from weather, theft, etc.

Protecting your vehicle is required if you have a lease or are financing your vehicle. If you own it, then it comes down to comparing the value of your car to the risk of not covering it. Make this decision based on how old the car is and whether you’re planning on replacing it soon.

Covering your vehicle works a bit differently than the liability coverage. Instead of picking the amount of coverage you want, you’ll pick the size of your deductible.

Deductibles for car insurance work just like medical deductibles. It’s the amount that you have to pay before your coverage kicks in. Let’s say you have a $1,000 deductible. In an accident, you’d pay the first $1,000, and then the insurance company would cover everything else.

I use two guidelines when picking my car insurance deductible:

  • If you get in accidents regularly or don’t have much cash on hand, get a lower deductible.
  • If you rarely get in accidents and can easily cover the whole deductible, get a higher deductible.

The higher your deductible, the lower the cost of your policy. While a higher deductible saves you money today, don’t pick a deductible that you wouldn’t be able to pay at any given moment. A $2,500 deductible means that you’d need the ability to pay $2,500 without warning in order to replace your car during a bad accident.

Underinsured / uninsured motorist bodily and property damage

Underinsured / uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage covers you and your passengers in the event that someone causes an accident but doesn’t have proper coverage.

Underinsured / uninsured motorist property damage coverage is the same thing, but covers your property if the other driver is at fault and doesn’t have adequate coverage.

Wait a second, isn’t all this stuff already covered?

By getting coverage for my vehicle, it’s covered regardless of who causes the accident. I also have health insurance, so I’ve got my medical bills covered too.

Why double up on everything by also getting underinsured motorist coverage?

That is an excellent question. If we have good health insurance and can afford the deductible for our vehicle, we don’t see a reason to get this extra coverage. 

Some states do require this on your policy. In that case, we get the minimum that we’re required to. The main downside to this approach is that we’ll have to pay our deductible even if we’re not at fault and the other person is underinsured or uninsured. 

When we’re in other states, we skip this altogether.

Personal injury protection

Personal injury protection (PIP) covers medical expenses for you and your passengers’ medical bills, regardless of who is responsible for causing the accident. It could also cover lost wages.

Is it worth it?

We don’t use this ourselves. Since it overlaps with our health insurance, we don’t see a reason to get it. In our case, we’d be paying for the same insurance twice. If our health insurance was weak or we regularly had passengers without health insurance, maybe it would make sense.

Depending on your state, it’ll either be required, an option, or not an option at all. If we found ourselves in a state where it’s required, we’d get the bare minimum amount.

These are the states that require personal injury protection: District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Utah.

Extras

Extras could include roadside assistance, rental car coverage, a glass deductible, and so forth.

As a general rule, extras are a waste of time with car insurance.

Take roadside assistance as an example. It can be a lifesaver, but the benefits are better and it tends to be cheaper by going with a dedicated service like AAA or checking your credit card perks.

Now, if you know that you’d take full advantage of one of these extras, it could make sense to add it to your policy. We’d only add one if we knew with certainty that we’d be taking advantage of it. If we’re not sure, we skip them.

Our rules for which coverage to get

We covered a lot of ground just now, so let’s recap the rules that we use for getting coverage:

  • Liability coverage = Get as much as possible.
  • Deductible = Keep this low if you have regular accidents or don’t have cash on hand to cover a higher deductible. Otherwise, get a higher deductible.
  • Underinsured motorist bodily and property damage = Skip this unless it’s required by the state you’re living in.
  • Personal injury protection = Skip this unless it’s required by the state you’re living in.
  • Extras = Skip these too.

The 4-step process to get the best car insurance policy

Now that you know how car insurance works, it’s time to get your policy. With 4 easy steps, you’ll have your policy by the end of today:

  1. Start with our list of insurance companies.
  2. Get quotes from at least 5 insurance companies.
  3. Negotiate with your top choices.
  4. Pick your winning policy.

I’ll walk you through each of these steps and show you the quotes that I got.

This is the exact process that I used to get my car insurance policy. In fact, I saved $2,088/year by going through this exact process. I wish that I had done this years ago based on how much money I just saved with a few hours of work.

Step1: Start with this list of insurance companies

Based on customer satisfaction with the claims process, overall consumer reviews, and the financial health of the company, any of these companies are worth considering:

That’s 16 options.

A few of these won’t be available to you. Not every insurance carrier is available in every state. And USAA is only available to active, retired, and honorably separated officers and enlisted personnel of the U.S. military, or their families.

If you want to be extra thorough, it is a good idea to figure out the coverage requirements in your state. Then you’ll know why an insurance company is forcing you to get PIP coverage, for example.

Step 2: Get quotes from at least 5 insurance companies

“5 quotes? Really? Not just one?”

We’re completely serious: Get at LEAST 5 quotes. If you really want to get the best insurance policy, you’ll want to get a quote from all 16 companies in our list.

Here’s the thing about car insurance policies.

Once you’ve filtered for legitimate companies that have good claims processes and consumer satisfaction scores, the policies are all the same. The only difference is price.

So it’s all about getting the best quote for the policy that you want.

And there’s a wide range of quotes that you’ll get.

Here’s the policy I got quotes on:

  • Liability coverage: $100,000 / $300,000 / $100,000
  • Personal injury protection coverage: Not needed
  • Collision deductible: $1,000
  • Comprehension deductible: $1,000
  • Underinsured motorist property damage coverage: None
  • Extras: Decline all

After spending several hours requesting quotes from every company on this list, I got quotes that ranged from $1,000/year to $4,600/year. That’s a huge range. If I had picked the wrong company, done one quote, and went with it, I could have been spending an extra $3,600/year for nothing.

By requesting 5 quotes, you could save yourself thousands of dollars per year.

Step 3: Negotiate with your top choices

Here are all the quotes that I received, along with all the ratings:

Company

J.D. Power claims satisfaction score

AM Best financial rating

Consumer Reports reader score

Avg app rating

Quote

USAA

5

A++

95

5

Farmers

4

A

89

5

$2,373

Travelers

3

A++

90

3

$1,155

Progressive

3

A+

87

3.5

$556

Geico

3

A++

N/A

5

$1,600

Allstate

3

A+

88

5

$2,690

State Farm

3

A++

89

4

$1,535

American Family

3

A

89

5

Auto-Owner’s Insurance

4

A++

93

3

Nationwide

3

A+

88

4

$1,531

Amica Mutual

5

A+

96

2.5

$1,374

Erie Insurance

5

A+

94

4

The Hartford

3

A+

99

4

Liberty Mutual

3

A

88

5

$1,797

Esurance

3

A+

N/A

5

$534

Auto Club Group

4

A-

94

4.5

For the companies that are missing quotes, coverage either wasn’t available to me or I wasn’t able to finish the quote process.

At this point, we have some possible winners and several clear losers.

I immediately cut out the most expensive quotes. Even when their agents tried to call or email me, I just ignored them. Their quotes were too high for me to expect they could get anywhere close to the other companies.

There were also a few companies that pissed me off during the quote process. Things didn’t load right or I had trouble getting the quote I wanted. I cut those out too.

That got my list down to 7.

To see if any of them could get closer to the best quote, I started calling them.

I started with Amica and Travelers. I told them that I was getting quotes for around $530-$550 for 6 months, from both Progressive and Esurance. Neither of them could beat the $530, but they both came down to about $650, which gives me more options so I’m not making my decision purely off price.

Use this script for negotiating care insurance:

ACME INSURANCE: Hello, Acme Insurance. How may I help you today?

YOU: I’d like to negotiate a policy. [Other insurance company] is offering to insure me for $XXX less for [coverage]. I’d like to know if there’s a better deal from you, please.

Wait for their response. Negotiating with this technique is much harder to do with car insurance companies than banks — but it is possible. If they’re stubborn and try to shoot you down, keep pressing at it. Don’t make it easy for them to say no.

ACME INSURANCE: Sorry, but our rates are fixed at this time and we can’t change it due to [some BS excuse about why they can’t give you a lower rate].

YOU: Well, I’ve been a good driver for X years now and would love a lower rate. What else can you do to help me?

ACME INSURANCE: Hmm, one second. I see that you’re a really good customer. I’m going to check with my supervisor. Can you hold for a second?

[hold]

I was able to check with my supervisor and can lower that policy by X%. Does that work?

You’ll have the most leverage by already having a lower quote from another company. Depending on how good that quote is, other companies may or may not be able to match it. IF they do, you’ll have more options on the final company that you pick.

Step 4: Pick your winning policy

Here’s how I narrowed my policy. First, I was left with 4 great options:

  • Progressive
  • Travelers
  • Esurance
  • Amica

My previous insurance provider was Progressive, which probably has something to do with why their quote was so low. I have been happy with them, although I haven’t had to deal with any claims.

And Amica has awesome customer satisfaction ratings.

That’s enough for me to cut Travelers and Esurance from my list, leaving me with 2 options: Progressive versus Amica.

I decided to stick with Progressive since they gave me the best rate and I have been with them for years.

I should note that my previous policy with Progressive was $1,600 for 6 months. Even though I went through this entire process only to keep my current provider, I was able to still save $2,088/year.

Go through your top 3-5 choices after you’ve negotiated. Then pick a winner that has the best combination of a great price and good customer satisfaction scores.

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