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Best Car Insurance Companies for 2016

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Top Auto Insurance Companies

Car insurance provides much-needed coverage for your automobile and not only after an accident as many critics suggest. The best auto insurance companies account for mechanical repairs, body work, and also medical treatment if you or another party is injured.

Most states even require a minimum level of coverage, as deemed by legal statutes. On average, car insurance costs over $900 a year, so taking the time to select the best car insurance company is well worth the time. I have researched the top companies to help you decide.

Best Auto Insurance Companies: What to Consider

There are many characteristics to consider when determining the best car insurance company for you and the type of coverage appropriate for your lifestyle. This depends greatly on what type of driver you are and the conditions you encounter day-to-day. An experienced driver may not require the same level of coverage as someone hitting the pavement for the first time, perhaps even in a new city. Here are some important factors that you should investigate before making a decision:

1. Your Record and Behaviors

Your driving record has a significant impact on what sort of rates you'll receive. Insurance companies can use even the smallest violation as an excuse to charge you more. Along with this, insurance companies assess risk by examining your daily driving behaviors in detail.

As an illustration, your distance driven in miles per day will also affect how much you pay for insurance. If you don't drive much (less than 10 miles daily), you might even qualify for a discount because you represent less risk to the insurance company. Meanwhile, if you often drive daily, you will represent more of a risk to the provider, and that might reflect on the amount of your premium.

2. Credit history

Many insurance companies will pull a copy of your credit report when you apply for a policy. This is another way they assess risk because if you have a lower credit score due to being late or failing to pay bills, it indicates to them you might not pay your policy, thus making you a riskier investment. Meanwhile, if you have a great credit score and stable payment histories with creditors, it makes you more attractive to insurance companies, and they can reward you for this with better premiums.

3. Location

If you spend a lot of time driving in a rural setting out in the middle of nowhere, you will probably not have to pay as much as someone living and driving in a bustling urban setting. The location also takes into account the area where you park your vehicle. If it's a riskier area where your vehicle could be more susceptible to damage or theft, then the insurance provider might make you pay more for this risk.

4. Demographics

Now this one is really not fair, but it's, unfortunately, how car insurance works. Teens and seniors have to pay more than everyone else, and young men have to pay more than young women.

Insurance companies often make these determinations by analyzing data such as crashes by age and gender to determine risk assessment. Once you are past your teenage years and if you don't have any accidents or points on your license from moving violations, you will qualify for the better rates.

5. Your Vehicle

You pay more if your car has a lower crash safety rating. Also, insurance providers look at your car's safety equipment, and some might offer you discounts if your vehicle comes equipped with anti-lock brakes, proactive safety features like OnStar and theft-deterrent systems. In essence, any equipment that makes you safer and minimizes the risk of damage to the vehicle, the better it will be in your favor.

Compare the Best Auto Insurance Companies

When making comparisons between insurance companies, keep an eye on important metrics like deductible, coverage options, and co-pay amounts along with other terms and conditions that depend on your car's make, model, driving history, and residence.

Along with this, a provider's reputation is of utmost importance, as you want to do business with someone who will take care of you in the unfortunate event you need them. For this reason, it's important to research insurance providers by their reputation. You can examine their grades on the Better Business Bureau's website, read customer reviews to identify common problems or even ask around to friends and family to gauge the personal experiences they have had with an individual provider.

You can also access our helpful reviews on the top auto insurance companies. We offer in-depth reviews of the top providers in the car insurance field and break down their policy offerings, the benefits you can receive by going with them, how accessible their customer service is and the tools and resources they have available for you. Our reviews are a great one-stop resource you can use to compare different providers so that you can select the right one for you.

The top car insurance companies reviewed here have demonstrated unparalleled processing speeds, customer service, helpful resources, ample coverage options and affordable coverage.

Policy Sharing with the Best Car Insurance Companies

One way to get cheap auto insurance is to share a policy with family members. If you share a policy with a family member, then your payments will be tied to their relationship to the above variables.

We put together the following ranking based on factors like:

  • The value of the product based on the quality of the services offered and prices you would pay for them.
  • Each insurer's reputation with credible organizations, like the Better Business Bureau.
  • The reception of each insurance company with customers based on consumer reviews which can be read on sites like Yelp and Epinions.

Consider these top car insurance companies who, again, have demonstrated unparalleled processing speeds, excellent customer service, and affordable overall coverage. Our articles on car insurance offer more details as well.

The Top Rated Auto Insurance Companies

Once you know what to look for, finding the cheapest car insurance company is a lot simpler. Here I've looked at the best-rated car insurance providers in all the most relevant categories. For more info, read the full provider reviews.

Liberty Mutual Car Insurance Review

  • Pros
  • 24 hour claims assistance
  • Accident forgiveness
  • 12 month rate guarantee
  • Cons
  • Coverage options not available in every state

Liberty Mutual: This provider offers exceptional coverage perks like accident forgiveness and new car replacement. Along with these features, it has a 12-month rate guarantee, so you don't have to worry about any surprise increases over the first year of coverage, provided you continue to meet all its requirements. Its website also has excellent resources where you can learn more about car insurance basics, help your teen practice driving tests and learn about how aging affects senior drivers.

Esurance Car Insurance Review

  • Pros
  • 24/7 claim filing
  • Intuitive CoverageMyWay system
  • Personalized policies
  • Cons
  • Not as many coverage options as larger companies
  • Options not available in every state

Esurance: Esurance is a great insurance provider to consider if you want a quick, hassle-free way to buy car insurance. It delivers intuitive web tools that make buying a policy, managing it and even filing claims through its website or mobile app easy. Esurance also provides personalized coverage options to ensure you receive the financial protection you need while keeping your costs reasonable. It also has tools available on its website, which allows you to calculate how your premium would change if you bought a new car or had a speeding ticket.

Allstate Car Insurance Review

  • Pros
  • Accident forgiveness
  • Safe driving rewards
  • Various discounts
  • Dedicated agent
  • Roadside assistance
  • Cons
  • Coverage options not available in every state

Allstate: It's no surprise Allstate earned top honors because of the myriad of great features it offers its customers. The claim satisfaction guarantee ensures you receive the best of service while tools like DriveWise will monitor your driving behaviors and reward you by reducing your premium if you exhibit safe driving practices. Allstate also offers teen driving programs, great educational resources and customer service available 24/7. When you factor up all these perks, it's no wonder Allstate is the top insurance provider.

21st Century Car Insurance Review

  • Pros
  • 24/7 online claims service
  • Excellent customer service
  • Rental reimbursement
  • Intuitive web tools
  • Cons
  • Some options not available in every state
  • Phone claims service not available 24/7

21st Century Insurance: 21st Century Insurance earned the honor of being the best in website responsiveness according to KeyNote. As part of the services offered, it has claims and online support available 24/7. Moreover, this provider has ample coverage options available, including rental car reimbursement and roadside assistance. It also touts excellent premium costs, as the average customer saved $522 annually by switching to 21st Century Insurance.

GEICO Car Insurance Review

  • Pros
  • Manage your policy online
  • Claims processing is quick
  • Customer service is available 24/7
  • Get discounts by purchasing other policies
  • Cons
  • No accident forgiveness

GEICO: GEICO is one of the top insurance providers available due to its ease of accessibility to licensed agents 24/7 and ample discounts available. Along with its customer service and affordability, GEICO offers excellent tools on its mobile app and website to help you learn more about car insurance and even assist you in buying a new vehicle. All of this combines to make GEICO is a smart option to consider.

What is the Best Car Insurance?

To answer this question, it's important to consider the following:

1. How Much is Car Insurance?

Finding affordable auto insurance, and on all types of insurance for that matter, is an important goal, especially in state's where it's required. Saving money when it comes to buying insurance typically requires forethought, familiarity with insurance coverage, attention to detail and a good understanding of the risk insured, be it collision or death.

By following specific measures, you can keep some extra cash in your wallet and use it to build up your nest egg or fund that extra vacation to Bali you have been dreaming of all year long. You can reduce your car insurance premiums through carpooling, policy combination, higher deductible and tracking device implementation, among other factors.

2. How Do I Increase My Deductible?

You can lower your automobile insurance bill if you increase your deductible. Keep in mind your deductible is the amount of the check you would write to cover expenses before your insurer makes a financial gesture. So, for example, if your deductible is $1,000 and a traffic accident prompts you to send your car to the mechanic for a $900 repair, you are on your own and don't expect to hear from the insurance company. However, if the repair cost were, say, $5,000, the insurance company would dole out $8,000 and add it to your $1,000 to cover the whole repairs.

3. Can I Save Money Through Carpooling?

Carpooling is also known as covoiturage, lift-sharing, ride-sharing or car-sharing. This practice enables several people, often unrelated to each other, to share a ride to save on things like gas, tolls, and insurance bills. If you carpool, you drive fewer miles, and fewer miles translate into a lower insurance bill because the overall cost is shared by the three people with whom you're carpooling. To learn more about ride-sharing or to find carpooling options in your area, contact your city's or state's Department of Transportation.

4. Should I Purchase Only What I Need?

People often tend to buy more insurance that they actually need, out of an abundance of caution or because the insurance agent has not clearly explained things like coverage required and deductible amount. Check your car's value through Kelley Blue Book before buying insurance. If your vehicle is new, lenders and insurers would require that you get both comprehensive and collision coverage, especially if you took out a loan to buy the car and have not posted any other amount as a guarantee with the lender.

Comprehensive insurance pays for the replacement or repair of your automobile from damage that doesn't result from an accident, while collision insurance covers damages if your car is structurally disfigured. If your vehicle is old and not worth much, comprehensive coverage may not be a suitable option for you.

5. How Can I Combine Policies to Save Money?

Try to combine all your insurance policies under the same umbrella, giving that business to a single insurance company. However, make sure the insurer is a reputable player and enquire with your local Better Business Bureau branch and your state's Department of Financial Services to learn more about the insurance company.

This is important because you're putting all your coverage eggs in the same basket, and you would want to make sure that the basket is sturdy. Most major insurance companies offer clients some types of discounts if they combine multiple policies, such as homeowner insurance, car insurance, and renter insurance.

6. Drive Differently

Similar to carpooling, reduced driving takes more dollars off your insurance bill. Check your driving, keeping an eye on things like shopping patterns; how many trips to the local grocery store you make every month; whether your commute to work has increased substantially lately; and whether, say, your son's twice-a-week soccer practice has added more miles to the odometer. The goal here is not to change your lifestyle drastically but to identify patterns that invariably increase your overall mileage – and insurance bill.

7. Should I Opt for a Tracking Device?

A tracking device may result in a lower car insurance bill but talk to your insurer to see what options are available and potential discounts you could receive after purchasing such a device. The tool enables the insurance company to monitor things like your driving behavior and mileage. For example, Progressive Insurance's Snapshot mileage-based tracking device allows the company to track how many miles you drive but also how you are driving them – meaning where you go, how often you go there and how you fast you get there.

8. Can I Lower My Insurance Bill by Promptly Paying It?

As with any other bill, you need to pay promptly your insurance premium to avoid a mishmash of inconvenient events ranging from a lower credit score and nuisance collection calls to a lack of coverage and reprimanding law enforcement, especially during random traffic stops. Sending your premium checks to the insurer on time helps you build up goodwill that could prompt the company to reduce your premiums in the future.

You can save money on your car insurance through a variety of methods, from timely premium payment and carpooling to driving checks and the purchase of a tracking device. Talk to your insurance agent to see if there are other money-saving options available to a policyholder like you.

Best Auto Insurance Company Requirements

If you insure a vehicle that you leased or financed, then it is likely you will have certain coverage options you must have on your policy. Along with this, many lenders require you to have a lower deductible (typically around $1,000.) Most will include this information in your loan documentation, but you can also contact them to find out the specific amounts as well.

Advice for Finding the Top Car Insurance Companies

One of the best ways to learn more about car insurance is to read our helpful guides. These guides touch on a wide variety of car insurance components to help you understand all the facets of this protection. Not only will this help you understand these components better, buy you will also feel more confident when it comes time for you to buy your next policy.

  • Saving money on car insurance is and will continue to be a primary concern for the average consumer. However, how do you go about finding the best ways to save money? Our in-depth piece on how to save money on your car insurance investigates ways in which you can do this such as increasing your deductible, carpooling or only paying for the coverage options you need. In addition, this article also looks at some of the drawbacks of increasing your deductible to help you remain mindful of your choices.
  • Understanding all the components of car insurance is essential, because it will give you the confidence you need to find the right policy for you. Our article on "Car insurance 101: How much coverage do I need?' Touches on everything from the coverage types offered, a consideration for the level of coverages you need and how an insurance calculator can aid you in determining coverage amounts.
  • Another aspect of car insurance is dispelling all the myths out there about it. This is important to do because it will allow you to understand the insurance factors providers examine more while also discerning what it real and what is false. Our piece on 10 car insurance myths looks at the lies out there such as "Do red cars cost more to insure?" to unfounded beliefs such as, "I'm covered if anything happens to my car." By breaking down these myths, you'll have a better perspective on how car insurance works thereby making you a wiser consumer when it comes time to buy a policy.
  • Your behaviors will reflect the risk you pose to your insurance provider. Whether you pay bills on time, your driving behavior, even your reliance on continuing to buy new vehicles can affect how much you pay on your insurance premiums. Our article on costly behaviors that can raise your car insurance rates examines a wide variety of ways providers can charge you more for car insurance and methods for avoiding them.

Ultimately, these pieces are comprehensive in scope, touching on a broad range of factors that go into your car insurance coverage and what affects it. Therefore, these resources will help you understand all the components of car insurance better more that way you can find the policy that is most suitable to your needs.

Top Auto Insurance Companies Recap

When shopping for the best auto insurance rates, read online reviews like this one, but also contact insurers that operate in your residence area. Don't forget, if you have time, to call your state's Office of the Insurance Commissioner to ascertain the reputation of an insurance company you want to sign up with. This is particularly important if the provider is not a major player on the national car insurance stage.

If you want to cover other aspects of your life like your home or apartment, comparing the best home insurance companies is a must if you want to protect against threats like fire, extreme weather, theft, and vandalism.

If you aren't a homeowner but you rent, the landlord usually covers the property. However, your belongings are vulnerable to theft and damage. The best renters insurance can help cover your belongings if they are lost or destroyed.

Best Car Insurance Companies FAQs

What kinds of auto insurance do I need?

There are plenty of things that can be covered by reputable car insurance companies in the event of an accident and you can even cover some things that damage your vehicle that aren't accident related. Anything from injuries sustained in a collision to damage caused by hitting a deer can be included in an auto insurance policy. However, people don't all need the same types of coverage.

The basic coverage that everyone should have is liability insurance which includes bodily injury and property damage that you cause in an accident. Most states require this and some states even need proof of insurance before you register a vehicle. On the other hand, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin don't require any coverage at all but that doesn't mean you don't need it.

There is also medical payment coverage to consider. This covers you and your passengers no matter who is at fault in the accident. It also covers you if you are a passenger in someone else's vehicle. This type of coverage includes the costs of:

  • The ambulance ride.
  • Time in the emergency room.
  • Resulting additional doctor's visits.
  • Prescription drugs.

Typically, insurance companies cover up to $5,000 per person. This means that even if your costs are $6,000 and your passenger's costs are $1,000 you are still responsible for $1,000 of your own expenses.

Besides these auto insurance staples, there are also other types of coverage that you may want or need including:

  • Uninsured and Under-insured Motorist Coverage, which covers your injuries in a crash with a driver who has no insurance or doesn't have enough.
  • Collision coverage, which covers crashes with objects like telephone poles as well as other vehicles.
  • Comprehensive coverage, which covers fire, theft, vandalism, hitting an animal in the road and weather-related losses.

These types of coverage involve deductibles or an amount you must pay before the insurance company pays their portion. These are extras and are typically not absolutely essential. On the other hand, they might be good to have it you can afford. However, remember the cardinal rule of car insurance. Don't pay for more coverage than your car is actually worth. There is no sense in paying for an expensive premium to protect a car that is already old and beat up.

How much auto insurance do I need?

An automobile is typically the biggest person a person makes aside from a house, so it makes sense to fully cover that investment. However, auto insurance doesn't just cover your car. The first thing you have to consider is how much liability coverage your state requires you to have by law. Liability insurance involves bodily injury and property damage. Some states require proof of insurance before you register your vehicle while others have no requirements at all. However, the majority of states require what is called 25/50/10 liability coverage. This means in the event of a crash you need insurance that at least covers:

  • $25,000 for any one person's injuries, pain and suffering, and time off of work because of injuries
  • Up to $50,000 for the total of people injured
  • $10,000 for property damage

Although this is the minimum requirement in most states, it is often advised to have more coverage than this. If you hit an expensive car full of people you sustain injuries, the total damage may exceed the 25/50/10 mark and you could end up paying the rest out of pocket.

This is the most basic type of insurance and the one that every driver should have. However, different drivers need different amounts of coverage. What is right for you?

Well, the first rule of thumb in deciding how much coverage you need is to go with the maximum amount that you can comfortably afford. You shouldn't struggle to pay for any premium, especially since you won't ever need it, best case scenario. After that rule, try to get a policy with the highest coverage and the lowest deductibles.

The next rule is to not pay for more coverage than your car is worth. If you are driving an old beater you might want to focus more on injury and liability insurance.

Finally, consider the value of your assets. Why should the cost of things like your house or you boat matter? Because, if you are at fault in an accident and your insurance doesn't cover the costs for the other driver, valuable assets are a clear indication that you might be able to afford the extra costs. They might try to get more money out of you in court. On the other hand, if you have no assets you can get more basic coverage because people don't typically pay lawyers to sue someone who has no money.

Besides basic auto liability insurance, what other types of auto insurance coverage should you consider?

Basic auto liability insurance provides coverage for bodily injury and property damage that occur in an accident which is deemed your fault. Other forms of coverage are uninsured and underinsured motorist (UM). The latter covers any injuries which you incur from an underinsured or uninsured driver. This is particularly important to consider depending on where you live. Certain areas of the country are notorious for having a large percentage of uninsured or underinsured drivers. Collision coverage covers crashes that involve objects like phone poles as well as other vehicles. Comprehensive coverage covers fire, theft, vandalism, and weather-related losses.

What is a deductible?

Your deductible is the portion you're responsible for in order to cover the cost of repairs or injuries incurred during an accident. For instance, if your deductible is $500 but your car suffers $10,000 in damage (covered by your insurance policy) then you would be responsible for paying the first $500 in repairs and the insurer would typically step in to pay the remaining $9,500.

How significant is your previous driving history in your ability to obtain low car insurance rates?

Extremely important. The insurer bases a large part of its decision on whether to insure you and at which rate on your driving record. An insurer will typically look at what your past driving behaviors have been, i.e. whether you speed frequently, are prone to accidents, reckless driving, etc.

What are other factors besides the price that should be considered when choosing an insurer?

The insurer's financial security is always an important consideration. An insurer's claims-handling process and procedures can also be a consideration in choosing a car insurer. Some insurers are known for quickly and efficiently processing your claims while others have reputations for dragging their feet and making it very difficult to get reimbursed for repairs or only allowing you to go to a single approved repair shop in town. So is the amount of time that the insurer has been in business.

Are you required to maintain automobile insurance coverage?

Some states mandate minimum car insurance requirements. For instance, Florida requires $10,000 of coverage whereas New York's requirements are higher. On the other hand, several states, among them New Hampshire and Wisconsin, do not require any coverage at all.

Are there loyalty and/or safe driver discounts offered?

Many insurers offer breaks on your premium for every six month period you are accident-free. Others also will give you a break on the price for every six month period you stay with them as your insurer.

Does the insurer offer accident forgiveness?

Some insurers will promise not to raise your rates if you get into an accident. This varies from company to company so always inquire the details.

How often and in what conditions are you driving?

You need to consider how often and what conditions you are driving in when it comes to selecting car insurance. If you only drive to the grocery store in a rural town every Sunday, then perhaps your money would be better spent choosing a policy with a low deductible and a much higher premium than one with relatively cheap premiums and a high deductible.

Is there a discount for paying at pre-specified intervals or a certain method of payment?

Some car insurers will offer discounts for paying in a single lump sum every six months versus on a monthly or quarterly basis. Others will also offer slightly lower premiums if you choose to pay by electronic funds transfer or check vs. a credit or debit card.

Does the insurer offer discounts for buying multiple insurance products from the same insurer?

Finally, one other factor that becomes important when shopping for car insurance is whether bundling your policies (i.e., auto insurance and homeowners) qualifies you for a discount. For instance, an insurer may reduce your auto insurance premium if you also purchase life insurance or some other insurance through them.

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Advertiser Disclosure

In order for MoneySavingPro to remain a consumer free service, many of the companies covered in our industry reviews compensate MoneySavingPro for new sign ups.

However, the results of our comparison tools, the rankings of the providers and the information presented is not affected by compensation. Indeed, many of these companies approach us for an advertising partnership after we have already written a published their reviews.

While we try to research and review as many providers as possible in the 100+ industries we cover, we have not reviewed every company available.

Our rating system is independent of compensation and reflects our true understanding of the industry and the company based on a variety of factors. The companies that receive the highest rating will always be the providers that we believe offer the best value to the consumer.

Advertiser Disclosure

In order for MoneySavingPro to remain a consumer free service, many of the companies covered in our industry reviews compensate MoneySavingPro for new sign ups.

However, the results of our comparison tools, the rankings of the providers and the information presented is not affected by compensation. Indeed, many of these companies approach us for an advertising partnership after we have already written a published their reviews.

While we try to research and review as many providers as possible in the 100+ industries we cover, we have not reviewed every company available.

Our rating system is independent of compensation and reflects our true understanding of the industry and the company based on a variety of factors. The companies that receive the highest rating will always be the providers that we believe offer the best value to the consumer.