We evaluated 17 car insurance companies and selected our top four choices. We looked at a variety of benchmarks including policy types, price, and customer feedback when making this evaluation. Our top four car insurance company picks are Liberty Mutual, Progressive, The General, and MetLife. In this guide, we will discuss important factors to consider when choosing car insurance, car insurance shopping tips and detailed evaluations of each of our best car insurance companies.
- Shop around. Don’t assume that your current insurance company has the best fit for your current situation.
- Be sure that your insurance is compliant with your state’s car insurance laws where applicable.
- Review your coverage at least once a year and anytime you add/remove a car or driver.
Tips for a Wise Buyer
Cars are one of the most expensive purchases most people make. An accident can create a severe financial hardship without insurance, especially if you are still making loan payments on the damaged vehicle and you have to replace it with a new car. Most of us rely on personal vehicles to get to work, take the kids to school, go to grocery stores and to doctor appointments. When your car is a necessity so is car insurance.
You are likely required by law to have car insurance
Despite the need for car insurance, the Insurance Information Institute says around 13 percent of drivers are uninsured, leaving responsible car owners and their insurance companies to foot the bill for damages. The majority of states require carrying at least liability insurance to operate a vehicle legally. This insurance does not cover your car or any injuries you might sustain, but only those of the other vehicle and people involved if you are at fault for the accident.
How to Shop for the Best Car Insurance
There are many types of car insurance coverage available, falling into five categories: liability, collision, comprehensive, personal injury protection, and uninsured/underinsured motorist protection. It’s important to understand these coverages and how most car insurance policies are a combination of these coverages. Deductibles and coverage limits can be different when comparing policies from various companies.
Liability insurance pays for repairs and costs of damages done to the property or body of others. For example, if you run over someone’s mailbox, liability insurance pays for the damage. Liability insurance does not cover any losses to your vehicle, property, or your injuries. Most states require a minimum liability coverage to operate a motor vehicle legally, but the minimums vary from state to state. It is important to note that setting a high-dollar coverage amount on liability insurance to pay for medical bills may not be to your advantage. Medical insurers may use a process called subrogation to take all or part of a car insurance payout to recover the costs they paid on your medical bills.
Collision coverage pays for repairs to your vehicle or replacement (within value limits) of your car. If you finance a vehicle, lenders require you to carry enough collision coverage to pay off the loan if the car is totaled. If you are driving an older, low-value car, consider omitting collision coverage or use a very high deductible and only use the insurance if an accident destroys the car. Remember that your collision coverage only pays if you are at fault, you have a single vehicle accident, or if the insurance company of the at-fault individual does not pay all expenses. Your insurance company will often help you in dealing with the at-fault person’s insurance company so that your insurance does not pay out for damages and expenses.
Comprehensive coverage covers vehicle damage or loss caused by an event other than a collision. Hail, a tree falling on the vehicle, a vehicle fire, hitting a deer or a stolen vehicle all falls under comprehensive coverage. As with collision coverage, if you have an auto loan, comprehensive coverage will be required. Collision and comprehensive coverages are often combined into one category.
Personal injury protection coverage (PIP) is not as widely available as other coverage but covers injuries to the insured driver and any passengers in an accident. In states where PIP is not available, liability coverage usually covers the medical injuries of your passengers. However, be clear on what coverage would apply to what persons in the case of an accident before you buy a policy. As with liability coverage, subrogation rights by your health insurance company may negate your medical costs benefit from this coverage.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist protection is protection used if the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance adequate to cover your expenses or has no insurance at all. Some insurance companies will cover these damages under the collision portion of the policy, so verify how your insurer handles these situations before buying uninsured/underinsured coverage.
Understand different types of insurance coverage
Car Usage Affects Car Insurance Prices
Be specific about vehicle use to get the best rate and coverage
How you use your vehicle, for what purpose and how far you drive can have an impact on your insurance coverage. Vehicles used heavily or primarily for business may have to be insured under a business policy rather than a personal policy. Commuter vehicles for regular driving to and from work or school may carry a higher rate because of the amount of time the vehicles spend on the road. However, a vehicle that is only driven occasionally, such as one used just to take the boat to the lake on weekends, may be cheaper to insure because it is not exposed to traffic risks as often.
Car Type Affects Car Insurance Prices
The type and age of the vehicle play a sizeable part in coverage costs. Older and lower-cost vehicles are usually less expensive to insure. Vehicles with high safety ratings can cost less to insure while insurance on a sports cars come with a hefty price tag. However, not every insurer rates vehicles the same.
The Drivers on the Policy Affect Car Insurance Prices
Assign the most expensive driver to the lowest cost vehicle
The person who is insured to drive the vehicle has a significant impact on insurance rates. A young driver costs more to insure because statistics show they are at a higher risk of an accident. A driver’s past driving record impacts the insurance rate. A squeaky clean record will likely land you a discount while someone with a DUI or several accidents will pay a higher rate. Some insurance companies allow you to assign one specific driver to each vehicle while others require you list all drivers in the household on all vehicles. If you assign specific drivers, be aware they may not be covered at all if they drive a different vehicle.
Car Insurance Discounts Affect Car Insurance Prices
Ask about discounts when researching car insurance
As the Insurance Information Institute explains, companies frequently offer a variety of discounts, and what one company offers can vary a great deal compared to another company. Discounts are often available based on having a safe driving record, multiple cars insured with the same company, home insurance through the same company, anti-lock brakes on the car, a car alarm and paying annually instead of monthly or quarterly.
Our search for the best car insurance companies
1. We searched across an extensive list of car insurance companies
2. We evaluated car insurance companies based on our expert-guided buying criteria: customer experience, policy offerings, value, and high-risk driver options
3. We found the best car insurance companies for your consideration
Car Insurance Reviews
There is a myriad of companies selling car insurance, and even more that are just brokers for actual car insurance providers. However, we’ve sorted through the data for you. Our in-depth car insurance analysis goes into what each company offers and customer feedback. We then narrowed the list to our top four based on criteria we set by extensive research of items most important to consumers. Finally, we looked into options for drivers without perfect records to find car insurance offerings for everyone. The result was our list of the top four car insurance providers.
After our evaluation, we chose the four best car insurance companies: MetLife, The General, Liberty Mutual, and Progressive. Each of these companies stood out from the competition.
MetLife Car Insurance Review
Most Customizable Policies
MetLife originated in March 1863, as National Union Life and Limb Insurance Company in New York City and five years later became Metropolitan Life. Today, MetLife offers a wide variety of insurance products, including car insurance, in addition to employee benefit programs and annuities to 90 million customers around the world.
MetLife offers four types of car insurance coverages. These are liability, collision and comprehensive, personal injury protection, uninsured motorists coverage, and underinsured motorists coverage. They also offer a variety of coverage options, called riders, to customize your car insurance to your needs. This makes MetLife a stand out in creating a policy to fit the consumer instead of trying to make the consumer fit the policy, bringing us to the conclusion that MetLife is one of the best car insurance companies.
MetLife’s coverage options include:
- Rental car coverage
- New car replacement
- Special parts replacement that covers parts like tires or batteries
- No-deductible glass repairs
- Towing and roadside assistance
- Labor cost coverage to reimburse some of the costs from a breakdown
- Legal defense costs coverage for legal fees if you are sued due to an accident
- Lease or loan gap coverage covers the difference between the loan balance and the car value when an accident occurs
MetLife also offers a wide variety of deductibles to help you save on car insurance costs, including discounts for having multiple policies, a clean driving record, taking a defensive driver training class and time passed between claims. MetLife has a 24/7 claims reporting hotline, and detailed instructions on who to contact after an accident on their website. Like any large company, there are plenty of positive and negative reviews from customers. The largest complaints cited on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website regarding the auto insurance seem to be in customer service and billing, particularly in making changes to a policy.
The General Car Insurance Review
Best High-Risk Driver Options
The General is a relative newcomer in the car insurance field, but we’ve added them to our list of the best car insurance companies because they provide options for all drivers, including those in the high-risk category. The company is a subsidiary of PGC Holdings Corp. which has over 50 years of auto insurance writing experience and is an affiliate of American Family Insurance. They are underwritten, or financially backed, by companies that AM Best rates as an A, which indicates that this company can easily pay on claims.
The General offers car insurance for drivers with good records and drivers who have had problems in the past. They are one of the few car insurance groups with insurance for high-risk drivers such as those with DUIs or who have lost their license for a time in the past. They also offer the option to pay policies monthly instead of quarterly or annually as many car insurance companies require.
The General primarily operates over the internet or by phone and does not have physical agent locations in most states. Claims and questions are handled 24/7 by phone, and you can get a Two Minute Quote online from The General. In spite of being geared toward high-risk drivers, they do offer some discounts. Homeownership and maintaining liability coverage without a gap are two discount options.
The General also offers a restricted policy which covers one specific individual driving one particular car. Coverage types include liability/property damage, uninsured/underinsured motorist property and body damage, medical payments, comprehensive, collision. Some of their optional coverages are towing/labor coverage and rental reimbursement.
Liberty Mutual Car Insurance Review
Best Out of Pocket Cost Options
Liberty Mutual was founded in 1912 and offers a wide array of insurance products. They have an A rating with the Better Business Bureau and have been a BBB member since 1931. They are based in Massachusetts and offer policies across the United States, although not all products are available in every state.
Liberty Mutual’s website explains the minimum required car insurance for the state the consumer lives in and then provides information on coverage options in separate sections on the site. Standard coverage includes bodily damage, property damage, and medical liability coverage with extended coverage that adds in collision and comprehensive coverage. We added Liberty Mutual to our best car insurance companies because of the customization (rider) options offered to give consumers peace of mind with less out of pocket cost.
Riders include deductible discounts based on time without an accident, accident forgiveness, new car replacement, better car replacement (replaces your car with a newer model and fewer miles), rental car reimbursement, roadside assistance, and a lifetime repair guarantee that warranties repairs done at an approved facility. Liberty Mutual has a 24/7 claims phone number, or you can file a claim online or through their mobile app for convenience. Liberty Mutual also has an online car insurance quote form.
Progressive Car Insurance Review
Progressive has been providing insurance since 1937 and is one of the more recognizable names in car insurance thanks to a large customer base and memorable TV commercials. Progressive is the only one of our best car insurance company picks that has an extensive network of local agents in offices around the country for consumers who prefer to do business in person with the same agent every time.
Progressive offers all the standard insurance policy types as well as some optional coverages we did not see elsewhere such as vet bill coverage for pets injured in an accident. They also offer a custom parts coverage option to cover things like specialty paint jobs and navigation systems. Progressive offers a wide variety of discounts including discounts for having multiple policies with them and the Snapshot program, which can record your actual driving habits and reward you for safe driving with extra discounts.
Progressive also provides 24/7 claims service via phone or the internet and has a mobile app as well. Out of all of our top picks, Progressive fared best with consumers and held a three out of five rating in the JD Power Auto Claims Satisfaction Survey for 2017.
Average Car Insurance Rates by Age
Multiple factors affect car insurance rates, most noteably, how much coverage you get, your age and your sex. Below is an example of how much the average car insurance rates per year were for men at the end of 2017. Women typicaly pay slightly more than men. As you can see, the price drops significantly starting in your 30’s and increases slightly once you hit the age of 70.
Frequently Asked Questions
What car insurance company has the cheapest rates?
The rate you get depends on the discounts you qualify for. Always get quotes from several companies when shopping for car insurance to see which company best fits your needs.
How do I file a car insurance claim?
The first step to filing a claim is to fill out a claim form online with your car insurance company or to call their claims hotline. When calling the claims hotline, the agent will guide you through the process.
Do I need a local agent?
Not necessarily. In this digital age, many consumers are finding insurance company service via phone and internet to be more convenient with excellent service.
How do I know how much coverage I need?
The amount of coverage you need will vary depending on your financial situation, whether you have a loan on your car, and whether or not your state requires liability insurance.
What coverage limits do I need?
You have to carry the minimum car insurance coverage limits according to your state. Once you’ve done that, you can increase your coverage limit whenever you want.
When shopping for car insurance, it is vital that consumers find the insurance company to fit their needs. One consumer may only need liability insurance while another may need the lowest out of pocket cost after an accident. When shopping for car insurance, consumers should ask about available discounts, payment schedule options, claims resolution times, and company policies on adding or changing coverage. Our four choices for car insurance providers are available in most US markets and offer a wide range of policies and service levels. When shopping for car insurance, combine this information with the experiences of your friends and family to find the best car insurance company for you.