Selecting the best auto insurance is more than just crunching the numbers to find the least expensive option. Solid auto insurance also provides ample coverage, excellent customer service and a financial reputation that makes you feel comfortable investing in them.
We have compiled a list of 10 major auto insurers in the United States and uncovered their:
- BBB rating
- Premium quotes
- Complaints to Consumer Affairs
- Total discounts offered
- User and customer experience
- AM Best’s financial health ranking
(You can find the full methodology at the end of this article.)
After analyzing the six data points above, we were able to rank each auto insurance company. Here are the findings starting with #10, and moving our way up to the best auto insurance provider in the United States based on our ratings.
One shortcoming for AAA is that users are unable to complete the entire research process online. In order to receive a quote online, one must provide their email address and wait for feedback. There is also an option to speak with a representative on the telephone, which is not always the most convenient option.
When comparing financial health to other insurance companies on this list, AAA also has one of the lowest standings, according to AM Best’s ranking.
AAA receives stellar remarks from both BBB and Consumer Affairs. Still, even with a proven track record of strong customer service, AAA wasn’t able to rise higher than the #10 spot on this list.
9. Liberty Mutual
Liberty Mutual is the seventh largest auto insurer in the United States, and the most expensive insurer to make this list. The estimated premium offered through Liberty Mutual was $1,350 for six months. This rate is would be a 170% increase from the least expensive option on the list (which also happens to be the insurer who ranks #1).
One interesting aspect of Liberty Mutual is the customized services they offer for teachers, at no additional cost:
- Vandalism loss protection: If a teacher is the victim of vandalism during school-related events or on school property they will not pay a premium.
- Personal property coverage: If teaching materials or school-owned property is stolen or damaged from a teacher’s vehicle, Liberty Mutual will provide up to $2,500 (per occurrence) for reimbursements.
If you’re an educator, that might boost the stock for Liberty Mutual. For other customers, Liberty Mutual still offers unique discounts and opportunities. For instance, if a policyholder has a smartphone newer than an iPhone 5, they are eligible for a discount.
Additionally, Liberty Mutual receives an A from AM Best’s financial health ranking and overall lower than average amounts of complaints from BBB and Consumer Affairs.
8. Direct Auto Insurance
Direct Auto is a small insurer compared to the other companies on this list. Direct Auto Insurance primarily caters to high-risk drivers that aren’t able to secure affordable insurance through other providers. Direct Auto only provide coverage in the Southern states, and their financial health is subpar compared to the other insurers. They earn a ‘B’ according to the AM Best’s financial ranking scale.
Having a strong financial background is paramount for an insurance company – if you’re paying a premium each month it’s important to feel protected should an accident occur.
The quoted premiums from Direct General were middle of the road. They also have an average rank in terms of customer satisfaction.
The technology and user experience from Direct General is slightly dated. While it’s possible to go through the entire auto quote process online, the user experience is not as impressive as what larger companies like Progressive and GEICO offer.
A culmination of these factors earns Direct Auto the #8 spot on this list.
Allstate touts 11 different discounts to incentivize new customers. These benefits have limited appeal after the quote process though. The premium Allstate quoted was among the most expensive on the list.
Admittedly, the increased premium comes with some interesting perks – particularly with collision coverage. One benefit is the “accident forgiveness” program which means if you are in one accident (even if it’s your fault) your rates won’t be affected.
Also, if your car is three model years old (or younger) and your vehicle is totaled, rather than getting money for your car’s depreciated value, you can get a check for a new car. Allstate also offers a wide-variety of discounts which can have an impact on the rate quote.
Unfortunately, Allstate has received a higher than average number of complaints both from BBB and Consumer Affairs which dropped Allstate to the #7 position on this list.
Esurance was a difficult online experience. While a user can get a discount for shopping online, it is challenging to insert information about your current insurance – a key component to ensuring an accurate quote.
Esurance does, however, earn higher ranks for the number of discounts they offer. For users who have a PayPal account or are currently enrolled in a Pac 12 school, the discounts available are sizable. In total, we counted 19 different discounts through Esurance.
Still, the number of discounts, might not actually help the customer enough. We found the overall premium at Esurance to be higher than the industry average.
Oregon who doesn’t drive often might be interested to learn more about the Pay Per Mile program from Esurance. The program targets drivers who put less than 10,000 miles on their car per year. This program may lend itself to more affordable premiums.
Esurance receives high marks for its financial strength from AM Best.
Nationwide provided a very middle of the road quote – $732.05 for six-months of coverage. This is far less than the Liberty Mutual quote of $1,350, but still slightly higher than the insurers in the #1 and #2 spots whose rates are closer to the $500 range.
Nationwide doesn’t offer the most robust array of discounts, but the ones they do provide can add up to significant savings. One in particular, SmartRide, can save drivers up to 40% on their premium.
To participate in SmartRide, a driver would connect a device to their car’s diagnostic port. Nationwide would then have the ability to track a person’s driving behavior like mileage, fast acceleration, hard braking. The reports can even track the hours a driver is on the road to help calculate the true risk of a driver. The lower-risk a driver appears to be, the more savings they can tack on to their premium.
4. State Farm
State Farm has many benefits including a lower quoted premium and an ‘A+++’ rating for financial health. Still, their showing for ease of use and customer experience is lackluster.
They are not currently accredited with the BBB, and you cannot currently access an insurance quote from their website directly. But, after digging deeper to find a quote from State Farm, their prices proved competitive with the rest of the options on the list.
3. The General
The General is a subsidiary of Progressive so it’s no surprise they rank closely to one another. When going through the process of securing an online quote, the General uses Progressive’s quote technology, which can be slightly confusing to a user who is unaware of the connection.
The General also receives a slightly lower grade for financial health than Progressive, though it’s still excellent for the industry.
Overall, The General is a great company that can offer coverage to a wide variety of drivers though it is most often marketed toward drivers who need quick proof of insurance or have slightly tainted driving records. Premiums remain low even for this demographic. The General also offers a nice variety of discounts for interested customers.
For a company that earned high ranks otherwise, the 1 out of 5 star-rating from Consumer Affair’s meant the difference between the #2 and #3 spot on this list.
Allstate, GEICO, Progressive and State Farm are the four largest insurance companies in the United States. Together they own about 50% of the market share for insurance. So, it’s not surprising that Progressive would rank so highly on this list – they have a lot of leverage. Progressive was a clear winner above Allstate and State Farm based on our methodology.
Similar to Nationwide’s “SmartRide”, Progressive offers Snapshot. Snapshot tracks driving habits to adjust your insurance rates based on a driver’s risk level. This discount can be meaningful for safe drivers. The difference between Nationwide and Progressive is that Progressive’s quoted premiums are much lower, to begin with. The rate we were quoted for Progressive was $566 for 6 months of coverage.
Additionally, Progressive’s user experience and total customer satisfaction earned Progressive high overall ranks and the #2 spot on this list.
GEICO came in as the insurance company with the lowest policy rates and the second highest number of discounts offered (just behind Esurance). A six-month premium from GEICO was measured at $500, beating Progressive by only $5 each month.
These two factors played a major part in GEICO landing the top spot on this list of best auto insurance companies.
One of the best features of GEICO is the customer experience. The technological capabilities GEICO offers are state-of-the-art (and full service). You can complete your auto insurance quote online, and you can access your policy or pertinent information through the app.
GEICO also proves they are aware of current driving trends. They offer an insurance add-on to cover Uber or Lyft drivers. Rideshare is a popular job so having an insurance company that provides tailored insurance is a natural fit.
GEICO also received a superior grade from AM Best’s financial ranking. Customers of GEICO can rest assured that should they need coverage, GEICO has money in the bank.
If price is all you care about – GEICO, Progressive and State Farm were the cheapest online car insurance companies that we looked at in this study. Compare free quotes by entering your ZIP code below.
How to find the best insurance company for you?
For the most accurate representation of which insurers will provide the least expensive, yet comprehensive insurance package, it’s best to conduct light online research.
Geography and your personal situation (marriage, driving record, and vehicle type) will be major influences on your rate quote.
Learn more about our full methodology:
We selected 10 of the largest auto insurance providers in the nation to determine which offers the best overall experience. We used a weighted average to compare the following elements:
- AM Best’s rating (20% weight): By using Best’s Financial Strength Ratings (FSR), we are able to gauge the financial health of an insurance company. A strong score indicates the insurer’s ability to meet its obligations to policyholders should an accident arise.
- Consumer Affairs ratings per complaints (10% weight): As a way to gauge overall customer satisfaction, we considered the ratings through Consumer Affairs. The fewer complaints and the higher star rating an insurer received through Consumer Affairs, the higher the score in our study.
- The premium (30% weight): We were able to keep the rates variable consistent by using the online quotes from each provider and keeping using these characteristics:
- Full coverage
- A single, 40-year-old male
- Financing a 2015 4-dr Honda civic
- Who uses his car for commuting use (excluding rideshare). Roughly 10,000 miles per year.
- Policy limits are 100/300/50 ($100,000 for injury liability for one person, $300,000 for all injuries and $50,000 for property damage in an accident) and a $500 deductible on collision and comprehensive coverage
- We used a Portland, Oregon zip code. Portland has been identified as a state in line with the national average for car insurance.
- Alabama, another location measured close to the national average was used to gauge Direct General’s premium. Direct General only services southern states.
- BBB accreditation (10% weight): As another layer of customer satisfaction we used the BBB rating for each company to compare each of the 10 insurance companies. The fewer complaints the higher the score in our study.
- User experience (20% weight): In an increasingly techy world, we took into consideration the ease of use for a user. Sites that allowed a customer to get their quote, entirely online, were rated higher than those who required phone or email contact.
- Number of discounts (10% weight): We counted the available discounts offered through each auto insurer. The more discounts a company offered, the higher score they received.
Here are some other companies that we have reviewed but were not included in this study: