Shopping around for auto insurance can be a pain, no matter which state you reside in. If you’re looking to change your current Pennsylvania policy (or even shop for your very first one), you might be confused about the requirements and options available to you. Plus, there’s the concern about picking the right company to meet your needs.
For most of us, the price tag is an important factor. Buying car insurance is obviously more than just rates, however, and it’s important to also find a secure company that provides the coverage you need and offers qualifying discounts. You can even research customer satisfaction ratings and financial stability scores, to ensure that the company you choose is secure and treats its drivers well.
Not only can all of that research make your head spin, but it can take ages. That’s where we come in.
With that said, let’s get started!
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Compare Car Insurance Plans in Pennsylvania
You have plenty of options for auto insurance providers in Pennsylvania. In fact, of all of the states we’ve looked at thus far, this one returned the highest number of insurers and quotes.
This is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s great because you have plenty of options, and can find the exact coverage that meets your needs. However, it’s also a bad thing, because you might not know which company to start with or whether they’ll be the perfect choice for you.
With that said, we carefully reviewed all of the data to pick the following five “best” companies, in our opinion, based on the area(s) most important to you. Keep in mind that your experience may vary according to your individual factors.
Based on our research, as well as various consumer ratings, here are our top picks for your next Pennsylvania auto insurance policy:
- Best Overall Satisfaction: Erie
- Best Customer Service: Plymouth Rock
- Lowest Premiums: Harleysville
- Great If You Have a Perfect Record: Plymouth Rock
- Best If You Have a Less-Than-Perfect Record: Harleysville
Save on Auto Insurance
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The first thing you need to know when purchasing an auto insurance policy is how much coverage you’re required to have.
Each state has their own requirements for state-mandated minimum coverage, and Pennsylvania is no different. They require every driver to hold both bodily injury and property damage coverage, which must be in good standing when they get behind the wheel.
Of course, you can always buy additional insurance, and it’s often a good idea to do so. However, failing to buy at least the minimum coverage will result in you being an underinsured (and therefore, illegal) driver.
|Bodily Injury Liability|
|Death or injury of one person in any one accident||$15,000 minimum|
|Death or injury of 2+ people in any one accident||$30,000 minimum|
|Property Damage Liability||$5,000 minimum|
Wondering about the difference between your two requirements, bodily injury and property damage liability coverage?
Property damage liability is coverage that is intended to repair or replace someone else’s property following an accident for which you are liable. Property can mean someone’s vehicle, home, building, objects, or even signs and structures.
On the other hand, bodily injury liability is coverage intended to cover the medical and rehabilitation expenses of others following an at-fault accident. There are two different coverage limits: one intended for the injuries incurred by one person, and the other limit is intended for two or more people.
Additionally, Pennsylvania is a no-fault state. This means that you will also need to purchase medical benefits coverage of at least $5,000. This coverage is intended for medical bills stemming from an auto accident, regardless of the driver who is at-fault for the wreck.
Pennsylvania also allows drivers to self-insure, if they wish. In order to do so, they will need to submit an application to PennDOT, provide proof of income or balance statements, as well as provide collateral of $50,000 for the first vehicle and $10,000 for additional vehicles (up to a maximum of $1,000,000). Collateral can come in the form of US currency, US Treasury bills, Treasury notes, bonds, escrow deposits, and other security offered to PennDOT.
Now that you know the law regarding minimum coverage for insured drivers in Pennsylvania, let’s talk about what happens if you don’t meet those requirements.
First off, you are considered an illegal driver both if you carry auto insurance coverage that’s below the state minimum and if you choose to not carry coverage at all. This means that in order to be a legal driver, you need to carry a valid policy with at least $15,000/$30,000 in bodily injury, $5,000 in property damage, and $5,000 in medical benefit/no-fault coverage. If you don’t have these minimums, or your policy lapses, you are not legal to drive.
Driving without valid auto insurance is a big deal, as you would expect. If you are stopped for a moving violation and found to have inadequate coverage, you can expect to be fined and possibly even lose your license. These penalties include:
- A minimum fine of $300
- A 3-month suspension of your driver’s license
- A 3-month suspension of your vehicle’s registration
- Fees to reinstate your license
- Fees to reinstate your vehicle registration
- Possible vehicle impoundment
For subsequent violations, you are looking at potentially longer suspensions and even higher fees.
It’s not just fines and penalties that you should be worried about when driving without valid insurance coverage, though. There’s also the issue of getting in an at-fault car accident.
If you are in an accident whilst driving uninsured (or underinsured), you can expect to be given a citation, be fined, and have your license suspended. More importantly, though, you’ll now be on the hook for any damages caused to cars or property, or injuries caused to others. While your auto insurance would have covered this (up to your policy limits), you’re now liable for it out-of-pocket.
If you cannot afford to pay for the injuries or damages incurred by the other driver(s), you are likely to be sued. You could be at risk of losing your assets, such as your home, savings account balance, and more. This is why it’s so incredibly important to carry auto insurance–at the very least, liability coverage–if you can’t afford to pay for a car accident in cash.
Proof of Insurance
If you cancel your auto insurance policy or allow it to lapse, the DMV will know fairly quickly. In fact, insurance companies in Pennsylvania will automatically notify the state of coverage lapses with in-state drivers. So, you can rest assured that if you get pulled over, the officer will know if you have valid auto insurance coverage, whether you have proof of coverage on you or not.
With that said, it’s still important (and it’s the law) to carry that proof or insurance on your person every time you get behind the wheel.
When you purchase or renew an auto policy, you’ll be given access to some form of insurance card. This may be a laminated card mailed to you by the insurer, a PDF copy of your proof, access to a mobile insurance card through an app, or all of the above. If you opt to utilize a digital proof of insurance, you may want to also carry a hardcopy in your glove compartment–if your phone is damaged in an accident, you won’t be able to access the information you need.
Your proof of insurance (or insurance card) will have a number of identifying details listed. These include the:
- Name of the insured
- Vehicles covered under the policy
- Policy number
- Dates of valid coverage
- Insurance company’s name, address, and phone number
It may also include your coverage limits or other important details about your specific policy.
For most drivers, one of the biggest factors in shopping for auto insurance is the price. We want to be sure that we get the best possible coverage at the best possible rate. So, let’s take a look at how much you can expect to pay for coverage in Pennsylvania, and how that compares.
Based on data provided by QuoteWizard, the average annual auto policy in Pennsylvania costs $970.51, which is higher than the national average of $889.01. This number takes into account all policies purchased, regardless of the level of coverage chosen, the vehicle, the history of the driver, or the area of the state in which the driver lives.
The average can be broken down further, though. For instance, in Pennsylvania, drivers spend an average of $499.06 for liability coverage only (the state’s required minimum). Pennsylvania drivers spend an average of $327.24 for collision coverage on top of their liability coverage, as well as $144.21 for comprehensive coverage.
All in all, PA drivers pay an average of $80.88 a month for their auto insurance.
|Total Cost Per Year||$970.51|
|Price Per Month||$80.88|
Of course, these numbers are just averages. You can expect that your own policy will vary in either direction based on a number of factors. Your driving history, your vehicle, your age and marital status, and even your location in the state can all affect premiums. Plus, there are always discounts on coverage that you may or may not qualify for, such as safe driver discounts, student discounts, multiple policy discounts, and even discounts for having more than one driver on the policy.
Now on to the good stuff: the auto insurance company that has the cheapest premiums in the state of Pennsylvania.
Of course, this is a bit of a trick question (you knew it wouldn’t be that easy, right?). One company may be the cheapest for at-risk drivers (such as someone with tickets and accidents on their record, or is a 19-year-old in a red sports car). However, they may not offer the cheapest rates for your grandmother or the soccer mom next door.
We wanted to get a good idea of the companies that were consistently cheaper, though, and even divide them into driver categories. This way, you can see which insurers you should check out first, based on your own factors, and where you can consistently expect low (or high) premiums.
First, we will start with a sample policyholder. Let’s call him Chris. Chris is a 30-year-old man living in York. He drives a 2013 Chevy Malibu, is single, and has a clean driving record.
Here’s what we found when looking at annual premiums for basic, state-minimum coverage:
|Insurance Company||Annual Premium|
How different would Chris’ premiums look if he lived in Philadelphia instead?
|Insurance Company||Annual Premium|
|Safe Auto||not given|
As you can see, poor Chris is paying considerably more for the same coverage, just for living in a more metropolitan area. However, it appears that you can bank on Plymouth Rock and Harleysville.
It’s difficult to say just how much your insurance will cost in Pennsylvania. There are literally hundreds of different answers to that question.
Your quoted premiums will depend a number of personal variables, including:
- Marital status
- Driving record
- Vehicle(s) covered
- Whether your vehicle is financed, leased, or paid in full
- ZIP code
- Whether you own or rent your home
- Miles driven each year and the purpose of those miles (work commute, pleasure, etc.)
- How much coverage is desired
Because of that, it’s truly impossible to give someone an accurate estimate of their auto insurance costs, without knowing each of these factors. Of course, as we mentioned above, the average auto insurance price tag runs about $970, across the entire state. If you’re only interested in Pennsylvania liability coverage, your average drops to just under $500.
Let’s see if we can’t narrow that estimate down a bit, though. That way, you can go into your own policy search with a better idea of cost.
To do so, we have utilized four different driver “profiles.” Each of our sample drivers represents a different demographic, allowing us to see how certain factors can impact premiums. While none of these drivers is likely to be an exact match for you, you can use this as a rough guide when price shopping.
All four of our example drivers live in ZIP code 19611 (Reading, PA). We picked this city because it almost perfectly aligns with the state auto insurance average as a whole (whereas areas like Philadelphia have an average that’s almost double that of the rest of the state!).
Let’s start with Little Timmy, our stereotypical high-risk driver. He’s 22 and in college, renting an apartment across town. He drives about 15,000 miles a year in his sensible car (a 2012 Chevrolet Impala, which is financed), but doesn’t have the cleanest of driving records. In the last three years, he’s managed to snag two speeding tickets.
Our second subject is actually a couple: John and Jane Smith. They’re just your average parents, both 42-years-old with bachelor’s degrees and good credit. They drive about 16,000 miles a year each in their 2011 Chevrolet Equinox (paid off) and 2014 Toyota Sienna (financed), and Jane had a little fender bender last year.
Next up, we have Straight-Laced Sally. She’s an insurer’s dream! At 35-years-old, she has excellent credit, a squeaky clean driving record, and a college degree. She drives a 2010 Toyota Camry for about 10,000 miles a year and owns her own condo.
Lastly, there is Grandpa Joe. At 65-years-young, he has a clean driving record and only drives his 1998 Honda Civic about 8,000 miles a year. He got his bachelor’s degree long ago, has good credit, and owns his home.
As we mentioned before, you probably aren’t a perfect match to any of these four subjects. However, there might be one that you relate to more than the others. So, let’s take a look at how their rates compare in the state of Pennsylvania for minimum liability coverage, and which companies each of them should go with. (Quotes provided by The Zebra)
|Little Timmy||John & Jane Smith||Straight-Laced Sally||Grandpa Joe|
|State Auto||$250||$120||$60||not given|
|Allstate||not given||not given||$95||not given|
As you can see, the results aren’t the same for everyone. However, Harleysville was one of the most affordable insurers for all four of the subjects. And for everyone but Little Timmy, Plymouth Rock offered incredibly competitive premiums.
Based on what we see here, we can infer that both age and driving record are two of the most important factors in calculating your premiums.
Each state varies in their exact auto insurance laws. Of course, Pennsylvania is no different, offering programs and maintaining regulations that are unique to them.
Let’s take a look at some of the things you’ll find in Pennsylvania that you might not find elsewhere, many of which can impact your premiums and even your coverage options.
Pennsylvania Assigned Risk Automobile Insurance Plan (PAARP)
If you’re a high-risk driver in Pennsylvania you might not be able to find an insurer that will approve you for coverage. High-risk drivers may have lost and/or been denied coverage due to a DUI, accidents, or other driving record issues, or failed to pay the premiums for a former policy. In this case, you’ll need to turn to the Pennsylvania Assigned Risk Automobile Insurance Plan, or PAARP.
The PAARP was designed for high-risk drivers who have had their coverage cancelled and/or been denied for a policy due to certain factors. Since all drivers in Pennsylvania must carry state-minimum liability in order to get behind the wheel, the PAARP is a last resort for these denied drivers.
PAARP doesn’t actually offer insurance policies, but the program will perform the necessary underwriting and match you with an insurer.
Credit Can Be a Factor
In many states, insurance companies can choose to use your credit history as a determining factor when calculating your premiums. Pennsylvania, as you may have guessed, is one of those states.
What does that mean for you? Well, potential auto insurers can (and often do) run a soft inquiry on your credit. This gives them an overall view of your creditworthiness, financial history, and account status. If you have a lot of debt or a history of unpaid bills, you may see a higher premium quoted back to you. Conversely, if you have a history of financial responsibility, on-time payments, and reasonable debt, your premiums might drop.
Your ZIP Code Matters
As is the case in most states, your address is an important factor when it comes to insurance premiums. Sure, it’s secondary to things like your age, driving record, and even the vehicle you have, but your location does play a role in your auto coverage costs.
While rates will vary from city to city–with metropolitan areas seeing higher rates than rural ones–it can be even more sensitive than that. A move to the next neighborhood over (if that means a ZIP code change) can be enough to trigger a premium shift.
After all of this, you might be wondering who the most popular auto insurance companies are in the Keystone State. Lucky for you, we’ve done the research to find the six insurers with the largest market shares in the state:
Of course, popular doesn’t always equal best. Let’s take a look at how each one measures up in terms of financial security and customer satisfaction.
While popularity is a good indicator (along with price), your satisfaction with your insurance company is based on how well they perform. If their customers are usually happy, you’re likely to be happy and vice versa.
So, of course, we took a look at the actual customer satisfaction ratings for the six largest-market-share companies in the state, as well as the financial security ratings. We used two leading authorities–JD Power and A.M. Best–to compare them, so you can get the most comprehensive view of which insurer will best serve you.
This company is the largest auto insurance shareholder in the state, holding an impressive 20.4% of the market. It doesn’t rank the highest in customer satisfaction, though:
- A.M. Best: “A++” (Superior) financial strength rating and “aa+” long-term issuer credit rating
- JD Power: #13 in the state (out of 14) with only a 2-star overall satisfaction rating
Holding 11.3% of the state’s market share, we next have Erie Insurance. While this company insures just over half of the #1 company, its satisfaction ratings are excellent:
- A.M. Best: “A+” (Superior) financial strength rating and “aa” long-term issuer credit rating
- JD Power: #4 with a 5-star overall satisfaction rating
Next up we have Allstate, bringing in a strong third place. They’re in the middle of the pack for both the number of drivers insured, at 9.2% of the market, as well as their satisfaction ratings:
- A.M. Best: “A+” (Superior) financial strength rating but “aa-” long-term issuer credit rating
- JD Power: #8 in the state with a 3-star overall satisfaction rating
Nationwide accounts for 4.7% of the Pennsylvania market share. Here’s what customers think about the company:
- A.M. Best: “A+” (Superior) financial strength rating but “aa-” long-term issuer credit rating
- JD Power: #11 in the state with a 2-star rating in overall satisfaction
This company insures 2.7% of the Pennsylvania market, making it the fifth-most-popular insurer in the state.
- A.M. Best: “A++” (Superior) financial strength rating and an “aaa” long-term issuer credit rating
- JD Power: #9 in the state with a 3-star overall satisfaction rating
This company brings up the rear for our list–in sixth-place, it insures 2.5% of the Pennsylvania market. Unfortunately, it also brings up the rear of JD Power’s study:
- A.M. Best: “A+” (Superior) financial strength rating and an “aa” long-term issuer credit rating
- JD Power: #14 in the state (of 14 companies compared) with a 2-star overall satisfaction rating
Purchasing auto insurance can be tricky, especially if it’s your first policy. If you want to know more about buying coverage in Pennsylvania, or have specific questions about the laws of the state, you can visit the Pennsylvania state auto insurance website.