Shopping around for auto insurance is partially about getting a good deal. After all, you don’t want to pay more than you absolutely must for insurance coverage. But it’s not just about getting the lowest rate, either.
If you opt for a cut-rate company with terrible customer service, you may never get your claims filed. Sure, you’ll pay less year-over-year. But one single claim could take weeks or months to complete. This could mean you’re bumming a ride to work while you wait for your car to get fixed or footing the bill for expensive repairs while you wait for a reimbursement.
Besides that, you want to be sure the company you choose has a solid financial backing. They could have great customer service but then fall off the face of the map because they go under financially. Then you’ll be out of luck when it’s time to file a claim.
We’ve worked to bring you this list of the best auto insurance companies so that you know where to start. Before we jump into the list, though, here are some things to keep in mind.
Not All Companies Serve All States
Even some large auto insurance companies like Erie and Amica don’t serve all fifty U.S. states. Auto insurance is largely regulated at the state level. So insurers have to be licensed by the state, and they aren’t all licensed by all states.
We’ve tried to focus on companies that are available in more states than not. But its always important to double-check what’s available in your particular state.
How We Rated the Companies
Second, you’ll want to know how we rated the companies in question. We used a weighted decision matrix, where different criteria are given different weights.
We thought about what we most want out of an insurance company and used that as a starting place. Some of the factors listed may be more or less important to you, depending on your needs and preferences.
Here’s what we looked at, in order of importance, as we rated these insurance companies:
- Overall Claims Satisfaction
- Overall Pricing Satisfaction
- Customer Support Ratings
- Customizability of Policies
- Available Discounts
- Ease of Claims Management
- Ease of Policy Management
- Payment Options
- Support and Contact Options
- Mobile App Options
- Financial Rating
You might have ranked these differently or added separate criteria, but this is how we decided to do it.
A few notes on the items that we looked at:
Resources We Used
Finding all this information takes time and digging. And it’s difficult to get a national average overview since insurance is so state-specific and personal. So rather than relying on imperfect quotes that I would gather myself, we relied on widely-available online information.
I used J.D. Powers Insurance Shopping Study and U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study to score claims, pricing, customer service satisfaction, and the ability to customize policies. This gave a broader look at these ratings, as reported to J.D. Power.
To rate available discounts, ease of claims and policy management, payment, and support, contact, and mobile app options, we just used data directly from the websites of the insurers. The easier it was to sign up for an online account, and the more you could do with it, the more points they scored.
Insurers also scored points by offering a bigger variety of payment options, customer support options, and discounts. And they got a higher score in the mobile app category if their app was rated higher on the app exchanges.
Finally, a word about the financial rating: this was actually the starting point for eliminating companies.
We cannot stress enough how important choosing an insurer with a solid financial rating is. It’s critical. Otherwise, you run the risk of your claim not being paid out, even if the customer service and online support portal are excellent.
So we eliminated any companies with lower than an A rating from A.M. Best. But then we gave this criterion less weight because there was little variance between the companies. An A rating with A.M. Best isn’t as high as an A++ rating, of course. But from the perspective of an insurance buyer, they’re very similar. So we didn’t want to give too much variance based on this one metric.
As I noted above, we plugged all of this data into a weighted decision matrix, which helps keep the rating process clean and relatively unbiased.
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The Top Three Auto Insurance Companies
The insurance companies that rated the highest on our list, overall, were The Hartford, USAA, and Amica. That’s not surprising, as these companies have also gotten solid ratings in the past from J.D. Power and other ratings companies. In fact, Amica Mutual received the number one place in the U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study (2017) from J.D. Power.
Each of these companies scored solidly for customer support ratings, and all were rated an A+ or A++ from A.M. Best. Here’s what you need to know about these three insurance companies:
1. The Hartford
The Hartford has all-around excellent ratings for customer service, both for purchasing and for claims processing. It also has loads of discounts, including a disappearing deductible discount and a defensive driver credit. The company also offers additional benefits like the RecoverCare program, which gives you assistance with living expenses if you’re hurt in a car accident.
The Hartford is an old-fashioned insurer. By that, I mean that they don’t have the slickest website around, and their branding is a little stodgy. However, they have the best customer service ratings around, and they offer an app and the now-standard online account management option.
- Great financial strength
- Excellent customer service ratings
- Comparatively affordable premiums
- Several discounts and additional benefits
- Only operate in 41 states and the District of Columbia
- Some complaints about unexpected rate increases
Long known for its excellent service and competitive pricing, USAA knocks it out of the park when it comes to auto insurance. The biggest caveat? It’s only available to military members and their families. This means only a small portion of the population qualifies for USAA coverage.
Still, if you’re a member of the military or otherwise qualify for USAA car insurance, you should definitely get a quote. They got the highest customer service ratings on our list, and they also have several discounts available and have a solid A++ financial rating.
- Excellent customer service and rates for military members
- Other financial products available, along with bundle discounts
- Great discounts, including good student discounts for young drivers
- Mobile app available for account management
- Only available to U.S. military members and their families
- Online account management isn’t as smooth as some others
3. Amica Mutual
This company based in Rhode Island has made a name for itself, especially when it comes to customer service. It won J.D. Powers 2017 award for the best car insurance company for claims processing. They also have a great online portal that walks you through the process of finding the right policy for your needs, and you can custom-tailor your policy online.
Amica got one of our highest ratings for potential discounts. Their extensive list of discounts includes: multi-line discounts, multiple auto discounts, family discounts, claim free discount, anti-theft discount, forward-collision warning discount, and a college graduate discount.
- Excellent online quote and application process
- Great customer service ratings
- Many discounts available
- Plenty of available payment options
- Some reports of increased premiums without warning
- Not many local branches for in-person service
The Top 10 Auto Insurance Companies
Don’t find what you’re looking for with one of these companies? Check out our longer list of the top ten auto insurers, according to our rankings:
As we noted earlier, USAA consistently hits it out of the park when it comes to customer service ratings. No other company scored higher for customer service during the purchasing and claims processes. Its also known for reasonable pricing and plenty of discounts.
With all that said, USAA is only available to a small portion of the population, since you have to be a member of the military or their family member to qualify.
Still, if you do qualify to apply for USAA auto insurance, you should definitely get a quote from this company.
2. The Hartford
If you value old-fashioned customer service and competitive pricing above flashy branding and intuitive online tools, The Hartford may be the insurer you’re looking for. The company scores well on our pricing factor. And its customer service ratings are excellent.
The Hartford does have a mobile app and an online account management system. It also offers several discount options for customers to take advantage of. Overall, it’s a solid choice if you’re in Washington, D.C. or one of the 41 states that The Hartford serves.
3. Amica Mutual
Here’s another company that is known for outstanding customer service and reasonable prices. Amica also offers the most discounts of almost any insurer on our list, which is great if you’re looking to save a buck without sacrificing quality or financial stability. Keep in mind, though, that you’ll get the most benefit from these discounts if you bundle multiple insurance policies with Amica. But it may be a good option if you’re also shopping around for new homeowners insurance.
Amica has a decently-rated mobile app and online account management system, but don’t expect it to be the flashiest or most intuitive out there. You may get further with this company by simply calling its representatives, which are supposed to be some of the best in the industry.
4. American Family
American Family Insurance has a solid financial rating, and its god good customer service reviews. It ranked highly in both J.D. Power studies we used for research. Plus, it’s known for having good pricing and loads of discounts.
American Family’s business model, as you can see from its motto, is to offer a holistic insurance solution. So you’ll get the best discounts and overall pricing if you also bundle your homeowner’s insurance policy with this company. It’s worth considering, though, as the discounts for bundled policies could be substantial.
5. Erie Insurance
If you’re in one of the states Erie works in--Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, or the District of Columbia--give Erie Insurance a go.
This company offers a well-rounded selection of insurance policies and has several discounts available. One interesting option is its Rate Lock program. This program means your rates will only change if you change addresses, add or remove a vehicle, or add or remove a driver. In an era of somewhat volatile insurance pricing, this can offer some additional peace of mind.
6. Auto-Owners Insurance
I’ll admit that I hadn’t heard of this insurance company before writing this article. But after this, I’ll be giving them a call for a rate check. They have excellent ratings for customer service and have a well-regarded mobile app that makes account management a breeze.
Auto-Owners Insurance also offers a ton of discounts, including discounts for good students, teen driver monitoring, and paperless billing. They also offer interesting options, including roadside services and specialized insurance for classic cars and converted or modified cars. If you’re looking to insure a car with a wheelchair lift or a hefty price tag, consider Auto-Owners Insurance a first place to check.
7. Liberty Mutual
A well-known name among car insurance companies, Liberty Mutual has solid customer service and a well-rated mobile app and online account management system. The company also has customers who are very satisfied with their insurance premiums, overall.
Liberty Mutual offers several custom options, including new car replacement coverage, better car replacement coverage--which gives you a better vehicle when you total yours--and a deductible fund. This lets you may additional payments towards your deductible, which is eventually eliminated.
Besides a catchy jingle and Peyton Manning commercials, Nationwide offers good financial ratings and great customer service. They have competitive pricing and several discounts.
One interesting feature is the company’s SmartRide program. This app tracks your driving habits and could net you a discount if you typically have safe driving habits. You can track your discount right through the app, and improve your driving habits to get a higher discount on your car insurance.
Travelers actually had some of the most discounts of any insurer on our list, on top of already competitive pricing. The company even offers discounts to owners of hybrid and electric vehicles. It also offers discounts for good students and young drivers who complete drivers training programs. These discounts could be a boon to the parents of young drivers!
And, of course, Travelers actually offers a huge number of different insurance policies, along with a bundle discount. If you need business, home, boat, special liability, or other insurance, see what you can get with a bundled discount from Travelers.
10. State Farm
The warm and fuzzy commercials about State Farm Insurance actually don’t lie. It’s known across the web for its good customer service. And since it’s a broad insurance company with a lot of offerings, you might get some discounts for bundling multiple policy types with State Farm.
Its prices may be a bit higher than the other options listed here. But if you want in-person support, State Farm has plenty of branches located nationwide.
So which insurance company is best? We can’t really say, as it’ll depend on your location, driving history, and personal preferences. Here are some groups we think would benefit from particular companies on this list:
Military Member: Without a doubt, USAA Auto Insurance is great for military members and anyone else who qualifies. With great customer service and rates, as well as several discounts, you’ll likely get the best bang for your buck here.
Drivers with Recent Accidents: Nationwide’s Accident Forgiveness program could be a boon for drivers with recent accidents on their record. Even one minor at-fault record can seriously increase your insurance premiums. Nationwide’s program lets you live down these accidents more quickly than many other insurance companies.
Families with Teenagers: According to ValuePenguins survey, Erie has the lowest rates, hands down, for families with teenaged drivers. And since it has otherwise excellent ratings, it’s a great bet. But Nationwide comes in second of the insurance companies on our list, so check them out if you don’t live in a state that Erie services.
Everyone Else: If you aren’t looking for anything in particular--other than good customer service and decent premium rates--make a point to check out at least two or three of the insurance company’s on this list. You might be surprised with the results, especially if you haven’t shopped around for car insurance recently.