Advertiser Disclosure
X

Advertiser Disclosure: The credit card and banking offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies and banks from which MoneyCrashers.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site, including, for example, the order in which they appear on category pages. MoneyCrashers.com does not include all banks, credit card companies or all available credit card offers, although best efforts are made to include a comprehensive list of offers regardless of compensation. Advertiser partners include American Express, Chase, U.S. Bank, and Barclaycard, among others.

  • Date

By

Dig Deeper

26,097FansLike
25,445FollowersFollow
43,474FollowersFollow

Become a Money Crasher!
Join our community.

14 Best Car Insurance Companies of 2020

Do you hold the title to a motor vehicle?

Do you drive that motor vehicle on roads maintained by local, state, or federal transportation authorities?

If you answered yes to both questions, then you must carry auto insurance – no ifs, ands, or buts. The Insurance Information Institute has a handy guide to minimum insurance requirements in all 50 states.

Uninsured drivers avoid paying auto insurance premiums, of course. That’s a significant expense  — $1,517 per year for the average American driver, according to an Insure.com analysis. But they’re also playing with fire. Penalties for driving without insurance vary widely by state, but they’re often stiff, per FindLaw. If you’re caught driving without insurance, expect to face a combination of hefty fines – up to $2,000 or more, depending on the state – and reinstatement fees, temporary license or registration suspension (or both), and prison time, even for a first offense.

Fortunately, affordable, high-quality auto insurance coverage abounds, even for those without perfect driving records. Read on for more about the best auto insurance companies for U.S. drivers right now.

Best Auto Insurance Companies

To earn a spot on this list, auto insurers must demonstrate:

  • Adequate financial stability, as measured by leading third-party evaluator AM Best
  • High claim satisfaction ratings per J.D. Power, the gold standard in driver customer satisfaction metrics
  • Aboveboard business practices, as measured by complaints lodged with state insurance commissioners and reported by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

These listings incorporate subjective data about each insurer’s available policy discounts, claims processes, and customer loyalty perks. They also account for geographical coverage, with insurers doing business in many states favored over those with more limited coverage.

1. Auto-Owners Insurance

  • A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating: A++ (Superior)
  • J.D. Power Overall Satisfaction Rating: 4 out of 5 (Better Than Most)
  • Auto Insurance Complaints: 71
  • Great For: Excellent customer service; local agent relationships

The name says it all. Auto-Owners Insurance has grown into a multifaceted insurance provider with offerings ranging from homeowners insurance and renters insurance to life insurance and commercial insurance. But it remains devoted to the motorists it was founded to serve.

In keeping with its roots, Auto-Owners retains an agency-based business model that’s increasingly rare. You must go through a local agent just to get an auto insurance quote, though that’s not as daunting as it sounds. Auto-Owners’ main website effortlessly funnels quote-seekers to agents in their area, and responses are timely. The inquiries I’ve sent out – to multiple local offices in different parts of the country – have been answered within one business day.

Auto-Owners offers exemplary front-end customer service, a claims experience that’s second to none, and a financially stable organization. It’s no coincidence that Auto-Owners’ auto insurance arm has an unusually low incidence of consumer complaints. You’re less likely to escalate a service complaint to your state insurance commissioner when you’re on a first-name basis with your primary point of contact.

Auto-Owners has some valuable fringe benefits, including 24/7 tow service anywhere in North America and deductible-reduction programs. These programs may significantly lower your out-of-pocket expenses when you’re involved in an accident with another Auto-Owners policyholder or experience a loss that affects your home and vehicle, such as severe weather.

Auto-Owners is Michigan-based, and its agents are most plentiful in the heartland. Entire swathes of the country, including California and Texas, are outside its network. But if you’re fortunate enough to have an Auto-Owners’ agent between you and the nearest state line, you’re in for an auto insurance treat.


2. Erie Insurance

  • A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating: A+ (Superior)
  • J.D. Power Overall Satisfaction Rating: 5 out of 5 (Among the Best)
  • Auto Insurance Complaints: 293
  • Great For: Excellent customer service; hands-on (yet flexible) local agent relationships

With operational bases in about a dozen states, Erie Insurance has the smallest trade area of any company on this list. But it more than makes up for that with excellent customer service, above-average bundle discounts, and surprisingly competitive premium pricing for a company that lives and dies by its agency-centric model.

Erie really shines on the bundle front. Combine your auto policy with life, renters, homeowners, or other policies, and you could snag a premium discount of 30% or more – though that’s by no means guaranteed.

Like Auto-Owners, Erie requires you to get a quote through a local agent. However, you can shop around for agents and don’t have to complete the transaction with your original selection. Erie has an average of 1,000 agents per state served, though their concentration is densest in jurisdictions closest to its Western Pennsylvania home base.

In addition to impressive bundle discounts, Erie earns high marks for excellent customer service and relatively low complaint volumes, though the modest coverage area no doubt plays a role there. Should you need to make a claim, you can count on your local agent to keep the process as painless as possible.


3. USAA

  • A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating: A++ (Superior)
  • J.D. Power Overall Satisfaction Rating: 5 out of 5 (Among the Best)
  • Auto Insurance Complaints: 1,042
  • Great For: Excellent customer service; tons of discounts

Auto insurance was USAA’s original claim to fame. It’s now a diversified consumer financial services company offering everything from cash-back credit cards to flood insurance, but it remains a top choice for discerning drivers who qualify for membership.

Unfortunately, most drivers don’t qualify for USAA membership. Only servicemembers (active, retired, and honorably separated) and eligible immediate family members (mainly spouses and children) are eligible. That’s less than 5% of the U.S. population.

Still, USAA auto insurance is a great deal for those lucky enough to qualify for it. It aced the J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction rankings, and it earned the highest possible score on Temkin’s (now XM) customer service scale for five years running and online experience scale for four years running.

USAA offers a slew of sign-up and loyalty incentives. According to its own data, customers saved an average of $707 per year by switching to USAA. That’s not unheard-of in a competitive industry, but it’s better than many competitors. Policy discounts include:

  • Length of membership (the longer you’ve been a USAA member, the better)
  • Family discounts (more family members on your membership means bigger savings)
  • Safe and defensive driving
  • New vehicle
  • Multi-policy (more USAA insurance policies means lower premiums on each)
  • Good student (great for high school and college students on family policies)

Because I have no ties to the military or foreign service, I’ll never qualify for USAA membership. But I have a close friend who belongs thanks to a foreign service connection, and she can’t stop raving about the company’s above-and-beyond customer service. If you’re eligible, do yourself a favor and compare USAA’s auto insurance solutions against the competition’s.


4. Nationwide

  • A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating: A+ (Superior)
  • J.D. Power Overall Satisfaction Rating: 3 out of 5 (About Average)
  • Auto Insurance Complaints: 323
  • Great For: Competitive pricing; loyalty benefits; tons of discounts

Nationwide offers direct and agent-based sales to serve the preferences of its diverse customer base. Although it’s widely available, it boasts a proportionally low share of customer complaints, even if its overall customer satisfaction rating can’t compete with the best of the best.

Where Nationwide really shines is on competitive pricing, broad policy choices, seemingly endless policy discounts, and a vast array of perks cut-rate insurers simply can’t match. Members of hundreds of organizations, from credit unions and nonprofits to municipal governments and Fortune 500 companies, qualify for partner discounts with Nationwide.

Drivers willing to install a tracking device in their vehicles qualify for an instant 10% discount and may earn up to 40% off with safe-driving practices through Nationwide’s SafeRide program. Those willing to shop around quickly and start a new policy within a week of requesting a quote may qualify for even deeper discounts. And Nationwide offers deep bundle discounts for policyholders with multiple Nationwide policies.

Loyal Nationwide customers save even more over time, thanks to the company’s accident forgiveness plan. It’s added to policy quotes by default, but you can remove it before purchase for a modest premium discount. You can also save more with Nationwide’s optional vanishing deductible program, in which policyholders pay a modestly higher premium to reduce their deductible each year.

Nationwide is a top choice for rideshare drivers, thanks to widely available rideshare insurance and a low-cost, short-term solution developed in partnership with Slice Labs.


5. Travelers Insurance

  • A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating: A++ (Superior)
  • J.D. Power Overall Satisfaction Rating: 3 out of 5 (About Average)
  • Auto Insurance Complaints: 189
  • Great For: Extensive discounts; quality service

Travelers Insurance balances a direct-sales model with an easy online quote generation process and a dense local agent network that caters to multi-policy holders with more complex insurance needs. The company’s excellent financial rating complements a solid, if unspectacular, satisfaction rating. It also has a proportionally modest number of consumer complaints.

While Travelers isn’t known for ultra-competitive pricing, its discount menu is much bigger than average. In addition to standard discounts like multi-policy and multi-car, Travelers cuts a break to prospects whose current policies haven’t expired. It also offers affinity (partner) discounts to members or employees of dozens of organizations. For drivers willing to give up some privacy on the road, Travelers’ IntelliDrive technology is good for premium discounts of up to 20%.

Travelers’ rideshare coverage is available only in Colorado and Illinois, so it isn’t suitable for rideshare drivers outside those states.


6. American Family Insurance

  • A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating: A (Excellent)
  • J.D. Power Overall Satisfaction Rating: 3 out of 5 (About Average)
  • Auto Insurance Complaints: 114
  • Great For: Agent-centric model; above-and-beyond customer service

American Family Insurance is an agent-centric insurer that simply can’t – and, in my experience, doesn’t really try to – compete on price. What it can do, thanks to a broadly distributed network of experienced agents, is deliver exceptional claims service that discounters can’t match.

Unlike some competitors’ agents, American Family agents expect to serve as customers’ advocates at all times, not just when customers call up demanding it. That’s a big help for families with complex insurance needs that extend far beyond auto insurance, who might typically rely on the advice of a busy financial advisor or do whatever research they can on their own.

During the claims process, policyholders can count on their agents to recommend trusted repair shops that prioritize American Family-insured repairs and guarantee their work for life. That’s a huge time- and stress-saver, as anyone who’s filed a collision claim can attest. And American Family Insurance has a network of trusted roadside service providers on call 24/7, ready to support policyholders at no out-of-pocket cost.

American Family Insurance isn’t entirely dependent on humans, of course. With policy documents, account management tools, and initial claim reporting, the AmFam app takes agents out of the equation under normal circumstances. IntelliDrive, American Family’s usage-based insurance solution, may reduce premiums once users establish a pattern of safe, predictable driving.


7. Amica

  • A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating: A+ (Superior)
  • J.D. Power Overall Satisfaction Rating: 5 out of 5 (Among the Best)
  • Auto Insurance Complaints: 103
  • Great For: Excellent claim service; deep discounts

Amica is a smaller insurer with a big heart – and an unusually wide array of policy discounts. Policyholders who bundle home and auto save up to 15%. Multiple cars are good for discounts of up to 25%. And young policyholders whose parents have been with Amica for five consecutive years qualify for an unspecified variable discount. If you’re among the tens of millions of Americans living in a multi-car household, and Amica operates in your state, this provider should automatically make the cut.

Amica offers another unusual, though not unheard-of, solution that may reduce your long-term insurance costs: dividend policies, which pay back up to 20% of premiums over time. Since you’ll pay more upfront and will be set back when you file a claim, you should only explore a dividend policy if you’re confident you can avoid Amica’s claims department. If you can, an Amica dividend policy could magnify the company’s already competitive pricing.


8. Liberty Mutual

  • A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating: A (Excellent)
  • J.D. Power Overall Satisfaction Rating: 2 out of 5 (The Rest)
  • Auto Insurance Complaints: 557
  • Great For: Deep policy discounts, including safe-driving

Liberty Mutual emphasizes the direct sales arm of its business. In my dealings with the company over the years, I’ve never worked with a local agent and never really felt the need to – the national service team was always adequate.

“Adequate” seems to describe many Liberty Mutual policyholders’ feelings about the company, given the mediocre overall satisfaction rating and complaint patterns. Because Liberty operates in so many jurisdictions, the seemingly high complaint figure is actually decent in comparison to other insurance giants that rank lower on this list.

Liberty Mutual really shines on cost, thanks to a broad discount menu that includes up to 30% off for safe driving tracked by the company’s RightTrack technology. All policies come standard with fixed rates for 12 months, even when you choose a monthly payment option. They also come with 24/7 roadside assistance and lifetime guarantees on all work performed through authorized repair shops. Popular add-ons like Accident Forgiveness and Better Car Replacement sweeten the deal and may not cost as much to add as you think.


9. The Hartford

  • A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating: A+ (Superior)
  • J.D. Power Overall Satisfaction Rating: 3 out of 5 (About Average)
  • Auto Insurance Complaints: 240
  • Great For: AARP members and their families

The Hartford is the exclusive car insurance partner of AARP, giving its 40 million-odd members access to competitively priced policies tailored to their needs.

If you’re not an AARP member or don’t qualify for membership due to age – you must be at least 50 years old to join – then you may not qualify for auto insurance through The Hartford. That means The Hartford’s appeal isn’t as broad as national competitors like Liberty Mutual. But it’s worth remembering that, due to membership or geographical restrictions, USAA and Erie Insurance are even more challenging to qualify for.

For those who do qualify, The Hartford’s auto insurance offers a slew of discounts and perks that cautious older drivers are sure to love. RecoverCare is particularly welcome. It reimburses home-related expenses such as landscaping and pet care, as well as commuting costs, following an injury-producing accident.


10. Esurance

  • A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating: A+ (Superior)
  • J.D. Power Overall Satisfaction Rating: 3 out of 5 (About Average)
  • Auto Insurance Complaints: 215
  • Great For: DIYers; very competitive pricing

For Esurance, the name says it all. It’s associated with the full-service insurer Allstate, but it hews to a digital-first model that forgos human agents and appeals to younger drivers who value low-cost coverage over white-glove treatment.

Esurance’s technology-driven solutions begin with Coverage Counselor, a guided approach to selecting just the right amount of coverage. Most insurers offer a variation on this theme, but Esurance’s is unusually thoughtful. Once you’re signed up, enroll in the DriveSense driving-tracking program, powered by a smartphone app, to save up to $100 off your premium. That’s an impressive-sounding discount, but potentially not as deep as the 30% to 40% breaks offered by some competitors.

Esurance’s claims process is also remarkably hands-off. You’ll need to speak with a human claims rep at some point, but most of the legwork goes through your app, and you’ll probably spend less time on the phone than you would with an agency-centric insurer. Judging by Esurance’s modest record of customer complaints, claimants are generally happy with the process.


11. Allstate

  • A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating: A+ (Superior)
  • J.D. Power Overall Satisfaction Rating: 3 out of 5 (About Average)
  • Auto Insurance Complaints: 2,105
  • Great For: Broad coverage; extensive discounts; name recognition

Allstate’s reputation precedes it. The company’s high name recognition is the product of decades of growth and untold millions of marketing dollars – which, thanks to the company’s scale, apparently hasn’t done much to swell its premiums. Allstate isn’t always the lowest-cost provider, but it’s usually in the mix in a way most other agency-centric insurers aren’t.

To get a customized quote, you’ll need to contact a local agent after completing Allstate’s online intake process. During business hours, this should be a breeze, and you can expect to have your quote on the same day.

That quote will almost certainly include a ton of semi-personalized discounts and add-on options that could further reduce your policy premiums and out-of-pocket claim costs. Allstate’s Drivewise app provides customized safe-driving recommendations while determining whether your driving habits qualify you for up to 15% cash back. If they do, you’ll get that cash back after your first 50 trips and every six months after that.

Allstate also offers some bespoke coverages, including cost-competitive insurance for teen drivers and reasonable gap insurance for rideshare drivers. Check with your agent to learn what’s available in your area.

Allstate does have a hefty complaint file, but that’s partly due to its size. When you have millions of customers, you won’t satisfy everyone.


12. State Farm

  • A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating: A++ (Superior)
  • J.D. Power Overall Satisfaction Rating: 3 out of 5 (About Average)
  • Auto Insurance Complaints: 2,943
  • Great For: Broad coverage; lots of discounts; name recognition

State Farm is another seemingly ubiquitous auto insurer known for competitive pricing and extensive discount opportunities. Like other big names, its seemingly high share of consumer complaints doesn’t necessarily indicate uniformly poor service. State Farm has millions of claim-filing customers, not all of whom are going to be 100% satisfied with the service. However, a good J.D. Power satisfaction rating suggests that most are.

Part of State Farm’s appeal is its dual approach. While it’s easy to get an accurate quote online within minutes, it doesn’t take much longer to reach out to any of its 18,000-plus local agents to put together a more customized package. Since State Farm has so many discount opportunities, including two safe-driving programs that may substantially reduce premiums, you may want to discuss your options with an agent.

Like some other big names, State Farm offers competitively priced teen driver and rideshare driver insurance. And its excellent financial stability rating all but guarantees it’ll be around to pay claims when you expect.


13. Progressive

  • A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating: A+ (Superior)
  • J.D. Power Overall Satisfaction Rating: 3 out of 5 (About Average)
  • Auto Insurance Complaints: 2,274
  • Great For: Competitive pricing; great loyalty discounts; name recognition

Progressive is another highly recognizable insurer with tons of discount opportunities and more than its fair share of add-ons. Like some of its fellow national providers, its high incidence of complaints is partly the result of its size. J.D. Power’s overall satisfaction rating finds most customers satisfied with, if not overjoyed by, Progressive’s service.

Progressive has a smooth, insightful onboarding process that includes transparent quote comparisons. You can see at a glance how your proposed policy’s premium stacks up against comparable coverage from other top insurers. And its Name Your Price tool tailors coverage to your preset budget. The path of least resistance is to begin and complete your quote online, but you can chat with an agent or sales rep if you need more help.

For policyholders, Progressive boasts an impressive safe-driving discount for Snapshot program participants, who save an average of $145 per Progressive. The deepest discounts are reserved for drivers whose Snapshot participation demonstrates low-mileage, low-energy, low-nighttime driving. One Progressive discount that doesn’t live up to its potential is the bundle – the standard discount for bundling home and auto is 5%, less than most competitors’.


14. Geico

  • A.M. Best Financial Strength Rating: A++ (Superior)
  • J.D. Power Overall Satisfaction Rating: 3 out of 5 (About Average)
  • Auto Insurance Complaints: 2,817
  • Great For: Competitive pricing; broad coverage; name recognition

Geico is yet another household name with impeccable financials and extremely competitive pricing. Despite higher-than-average customer complaints, most policyholders are satisfied with Geico’s service.

That said, Geico is not for those seeking white-glove treatment. From onboarding to claims processing, this company is all about efficiency, and that’s reflected in its pricing. Source quotes from every company on this list, and Geico’s offer is almost certain to be in the bottom half price-wise. If premium pricing is your top concern, you should find Geico’s value compelling.


Final Word

Mandatory coverage minimums aside, auto insurance is not a luxury the average driver can safely do without. Even a minor fender bender is liable to produce thousands of dollars in property damage, and any accident that results in an overnight hospital stay is sure to cost far more. When you forgo auto insurance, you assume the risk of a potentially ruinous financial obligation.

Affordable, quality auto insurance coverage isn’t difficult to come by. But it’s nevertheless important to choose an insurer whose coverages, claims process, and overall business model fits your lifestyle. In the aftermath of a serious auto accident, the last thing you need is grief from an insurer that doesn’t have your best interests at heart.

Brian Martucci
Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he's not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

Next Up on
Money Crashers

Couple Holding Sports Tickets

13 Places to Buy Cheap Discount Sports Tickets Online & Off

There are plenty of legitimate places to buy genuine tickets for top-tier professional leagues - often at a substantial discount. These are the top places to find good deals on cheap sports tickets.
Types Common Craigslist Scams

7 Types of Common Craigslist Scams to Watch Out for

It used to be that when you wanted to find an apartment for rent, buy a used car, or pick up used, secondhand items...

Latest on
Money Crashers

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

See why 218,388 people subscribe to our newsletter.

What Do You Want To Do
With Your Money?

Make
Money

Explore

Manage
Money

Explore

Save
Money

Explore

Borrow
Money

Explore

Protect
Money

Explore

Invest
Money

Explore