Best Auto Insurance of 2019

This is our ninth year reviewing auto insurance. For our latest update, we spent several days gathering quotes from all 10 of the insurers we reviewed. 

Cost is one of the biggest considerations when choosing insurance, so we got quotes from each insurance company based on a variety of policy scenarios. There’s a lot that goes into insurance premiums, including where you live, the car you’re insuring and your credit score.

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Your premium also varies depending on the level of coverage and your deductible. All our quotes reflect the 100/300/100 coverage recommended by most insurers. This means that $100,000 worth of bodily injury per person is covered with $300,000 total in an accident and $100,000 worth of property damage.

Using research by third-party groups, we chose a car listed as one of the 10 cheapest to insure (a Subaru Outback) and one listed as being among the more expensive (a Chevy Cruze), then got quotes for each one. We also got a quote for a policy with both of those cars. In addition, we looked at the costs for minimum coverage and the cost to add a teen driver to a plan.

Again, these are only example quotes, and yours may vary depending on where you live. Life events also impact your premiums – marriage can lower your cost, while adding a teenage driver makes your policy more expensive.

We also looked at programs offered by insurance companies. For example, many have their own roadside assistance services, though if you’re already a member of one, it may not be worth the cost to join the program your insurance provider offers.

After comparing the quotes and consulting with experts in the auto insurance industry, we found Liberty Mutual to be the best auto insurance provider overall. 

It quoted us better-than-average rates, offers a variety of discounts and has additional services like roadside assistance. 

ProductPriceOverall RatingRatesDiscountsServicesLow Premium Car Quote (100/300/100)High Premium Car Quote (100/300/100)2-Car Policy Quote (100/300/100)Minimum Policy QuoteTeenage Driver Policy QuoteGood Student DiscountsGreen Vehicle DiscountsGood Driver DiscountSmart DrivingAuto Pay DiscountRental Car ReimbursementAccident ForgivenessMobile App Filing
Liberty Mutual Auto InsuranceView Deal4.5/58.3109.3$432$564$798$144$1,245$30 per day / $900 max
Farmers Auto InsuranceView Deal4.5/5107.88$200$291$382$95$473--
Progressive Auto InsuranceView Deal4.5/5998$274$450$563$253$789--
Allstate Auto InsuranceView Deal4.5/57.8910$566$688$816$329$900-$30 per day / No max
GEICO Auto InsuranceView Deal4/596.86.8$244$433$560$222$1,012--$35 per day / $1,050 max-
NationwideView Deal4/5796.5$528$762$1,112$404$1,106-$30 per day / $900 max-
Travelers Auto InsuranceView Deal3.5/54.3109.3$904$1,159$1,682$527$2,630-$30 per day / $900 max
State Farm Auto InsuranceView Deal3.5/58.36.84.5$440$532$859$208$815--$50 per day / $1,200 max--
American Family Auto InsuranceView Deal3/54.896$778$832$1,135$795$3,050-$25 per day / $750 max-
AAA Auto InsuranceView Deal2.5/536.86.5$1,162$1,310$1,852$874$2,342--$30 per day / $900 max-

Best Overall

Liberty Mutual

Reasons to Buy
Discounts for hybrid vehicles
Claim filing through mobile app
Smart driving program can save you up to 30 percent
Reasons to Avoid
Especially high premiums for teen drivers
Rental reiumbursement not outstanding
Rates are generally middle of the road

Liberty Mutual’s respectable rates, wide variety of discounts, and additional service like accident forgiveness and mobile claim filing make it one of the best companies to insure your car with as well as our choice for the best auto insurance provider overall.

We got quotes based on multiple scenarios, including a two-car policy, a minimum coverage policy, a policy with a teenage driver, and a policy for a high-risk car and a low-risk car. While we never got the lowest price at Liberty Mutual, it always had one of the four lowest rates. Also, depending on the coverage level you select, its rates are competitive with other lower-priced insurers. We noticed that adding a teenage driver made the premium especially expensive, so you may want to explore other options if you need to add a teen to your policy.

Keep in mind that your policy premiums are determined by your car, where you live and a variety of factors, including your credit score. So, your results may differ from ours, especially if you have poor credit.

Liberty Mutual offers discounts that can substantially lower your costs. Two of the less-common discounts if offers are a green vehicle discount and a smart driving discount. If you have a hybrid car, you receive additional savings on your policy. RightTrack, Liberty Mutual’s smart driving program, uses a mobile app and a small device you attach to your car to monitor your driving habits. After 90 days of smart driving, you can receive a 5-percent to 30-percent discount.

Read the full review

Best Value

Farmers Insurance

Reasons to Buy
Lowest quoted prices
Discounts for green vehicles
Accident forgiveness
Reasons to Avoid
No smart driving program
Basic plans don’t include rental reimbursement
Pricing varies depending on where you live

Farmers Insurance is our choice for best value auto insurance provider. If getting the lowest possible premium is your top priority, it’s a good place to start.

We got auto insurance quotes for a variety of common scenarios, and Farmers Insurance consistently gave us the lowest prices. A lot of factors contribute to how much you pay for your car insurance, including the car you drive, your driving record, where you live, how much you drive, who is on your policy and even your credit score.

As we researched, we looked at policies for low-risk and high-risk cars as well as for policies with two cars, among others. Farmers always came back with the lowest quotes, especially for the high-risk car and two car policies – in those scenarios, the company saved us more than $100 over the insurer with the next-lowest price. Those policies were for the 100/300/100 coverage recommended by insurance industry experts. However, Farmers also had the lowest rates for policies with the state minimum coverage, and it is the only insurer we reviewed that offers policies that cost less than $100.

It’s worth stressing again that other factors, especially your credit score, determine the actual price you pay. Before signing a new policy, check your score. If it falls in the good range (670 to 730) you may want to look at ways to improve your credit score before getting a new policy.

Read the full review

Best Services & Features

Allstate

Reasons to Buy
Quick mobile claims process
Accident forgiveness program includes good driving discount
No maximum rental car limit
Reasons to Avoid
Prices not especially low
Policy with minimum coverage among the more expensive
No green vehicle discount

Allstate has some of the best services and features of the auto insurance companies we looked at.

Many insurance companies let you start a claim through a mobile app, but Allstate’s in-app claim system is the most complete. With the app’s QuickFoto feature, you use your phone’s camera to take pictures of the damage, the rest of the car, the VIN and the odometer, and the claims process can begin. Claims can take a while to process, and using this technology can speed up the process significantly.

You can also get accident forgiveness through Allstate’s Choice Auto Policy program. This program doesn’t increase your premiums after accidents and gives you discounts for going six months without an accident.

Allstate policies also include rental car reimbursement, so you won’t be stranded if your car is in the shop after an accident. You can choose the level of reimbursement, though the cost is minimal. The lowest level reimburses you $30 a day with no maximum limit, which is more generous than most other insurers we looked at.

Read the full review

Best For Comparing Quotes

Progressive

Reasons to Buy
Has tools that help you compare its rates to other insurers
Reasons to Avoid
Doesn’t reimburse for car rentals

Progressive has the best tool for comparing quotes and shopping around to find the best rate.

It shows you a clear picture of the rates you’re eligible for and the discounts you may be able to receive. This saves you time, since it takes a while to fill out each insurer’s individual form. Progressive has solid rates and may be worth looking at if you have a two-car home or are adding a teenage driver to your policy. If you enroll in the Snapshot program, you can earn a discount based on your driving habits. One drawback of Progressive is its policies don’t reimburse you for any rental cars you need because of an accident.

Read the full review

Best Policies for Multiple Cars

Geico

Reasons to Buy
Good rates on multi-car policies
Reasons to Avoid
No discounts for hybrid or electric cars

If your household has two or more cars, Geico has the best policies for you.

When we compared quotes, Geico was consistently one of the cheapest for a policy with two cars – the average was nearly $1,000 and Geico quoted us half of that. It’s important to note that where you live, the cars you need to insure and your credit score all affect your insurance premiums. In general, Geico was one of the least expensive insurers we looked at, with rates that were lower than average for most policy types. It also offers a variety of discounts, including those for good driving and good grades. However, it doesn’t have discounts for hybrid or electric vehicles.

Read the full review

Why Trust Us

We’ve evaluated auto insurance providers for nine years and update our reviews annually. Rates change often and insurance companies continually add features – for example, the ability to file claims through mobile apps.

Industry experts recommend getting new quotes every few years, and a good time to look at other options is when your existing policy expires. Shopping around can save you substantially, though you should make sure your new quotes match your existing policy in terms of deductibles and coverage limits. You can also consult your existing agent to see if you can lower your current premium by adjusting your coverage limits or deductibles.

Some organizations, such as the USAA, provide auto insurance for members of certain groups, like the military. They often offer quality rates, but owing to their exclusivity, we chose not to include them on our update.

How Much Does Auto Insurance Cost?

How much you pay for auto insurance depends on where you live, the car you’re insuring, your credit score and the coverage you plan on carrying – minimum required coverage varies by state. In general, you can expect to pay around $380 for a policy, though we saw quotes as low as $95. If you opt for the industry-recommended 100/300/100 coverage, you can expect to pay between $200 to $1,000. Adding a teenage driver dramatically increases your premiums, often by an average of $600 or more.

Why Did My Insurance Go Up?

If you’re like many drivers, you let your insurance policy renew automatically without giving it much thought – that is, until you see an increase in your monthly premium. If you haven't filed a claim or had a traffic violation, you may think your insurance provider has increased your premium for no reason. According to Insure.com, here are some of the reasons your premium may have increased:

  • Geographic location: Even if you, personally, didn't have any accidents or violations, your area may have experienced an increase in accidents. Insurance providers evaluate risk, and a lot of it has to do with your location. If accidents, vandalism, theft, bad weather (like hail) and congestion are common in your area, your insurance premium may go up. 
  • Marital status: Married couples have been found to be less of a risk, so if you got divorced or widowed, you may see a 5- to 15-percent increase in your premium.
  • Credit history: Studies have shown that drivers with a credit score under 600 are more likely to file claims, file inflated claims and commit insurance fraud. As such, if your credit rating dips, you’re seen as a higher risk, which is reflected in your premium. If your provider requires you to pay a large percentage of the premium up front, this may be the reason. However, some states – California, Hawaii and Massachusetts – prohibit credit scores and credit history from being considered.
  • Vehicle type: If the make and model of your vehicle had higher rates of accidents, repair costs and theft in the previous year, your premium may go up.
  • Vehicle use: If you started using the vehicle for business purposes, such as driving for Lyft or Uber, it raises the premium.
  • Miles driven annually: Insurance providers have various methods of determining how much you drive – for example, by self-reporting, estimating your commute or using OBD connectors. If your provider determines that you spent more time on the road than in previous years, you’re seen as a higher risk, and thus will need to pay more.
  • Coverages and deductibles: If you don’t pay attention to the coverages and deductibles when your policy is renewed, you may not realize how they affect your premium. To lower your premium, review your policy and make any desired changes, such as increasing your deductible or lowering the collision coverage.

Ways to Lower Your Car Insurance Payment

If your car insurance payment is too high, here are some steps you should consider to lower the cost.

  1. Shop around: The most important step in lowering your insurance payment is to see what other providers are charging for the same coverage. Experts typically recommend getting at least three quotes, but get as many as you can. Get the quotes directly from the insurance provider; don’t rely on quote-comparison tools .  
  2. Evaluate coverage needs: Car insurance is required by law, but the law only requires you to have liability insurance, which covers damage to other vehicles, drivers and property if you get into an accident and it's deemed your fault. So, if you own an older, high-mileage vehicle not worth very much, choosing only liability insurance can lower your insurance payment by over half.
  3. Choose a higher deductible: If you choose a higher deductible, most car insurance companies lower the monthly premium significantly. The downside, of course, is the risk of paying more than you can afford if you get into an accident.
  4. Bundle insurance with the same company: Most insurance companies provide discounts if you purchase additional policies, such as homeowners' insurance.
  5. Maintain good credit: Because your consumer credit information is used to obtain your car insurance quote, a good credit history can keep your payments low. This means checking your credit report regularly to make sure it's accurate.
  6. Take advantage of low-mileage discounts: Keep records of how much you drive each year, and see if you qualify for a low-mileage discount. If you don’t drive as much as other drivers, you’re not as much of a risk; insurance providers sometimes reward this.
  7. Look into group insurance: Some organizations and companies provide discounts on car insurance. Check with your employer and any groups or clubs you belong to, to see if these kinds of benefits are available.
  8. Talk to an agent: Insurance agents are experts in the ins and outs of insurance. Just as an accountant knows how to find tax deductions you may not be aware of, an insurance agent is a great resource for finding available auto insurance discounts.

J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Survey Reveals Record-High Satisfaction in 2018

In 2018, J.D. Power performed its annual survey of customer satisfaction among auto insurers, a notoriously difficult industry with regard to customer satisfaction. The study consisted of 44,622 auto insured drivers and took place from February through April of 2018. In the survey, customers were asked to rate their satisfaction of five categories: policy offerings, price, billing process and policy information, interaction and claims.   

The study’s key findings on customer satisfaction are as follows:

  • Record-high customer satisfaction breeds loyalty: Customer satisfaction among drivers has never been higher, averaging 826 on a 1,000-point scale. As customer satisfaction increases, so does brand loyalty. So there’s less chance of people switching over, resulting in record low turnover rates.
  • Customer satisfaction improved across all channels: All aspects of the customer experience improved last year, with the largest gains being in the billing process and policy information, and policy offerings.
  • Preference for digital interaction channels grows: Customer satisfaction is highest when there is a mix of online and offline communication. Digital communication, such as emailed receipts, statements and digital insurance cards accounted for the highest degree of satisfaction.
  • Transparency is key when premium increases are introduced: If premiums are increased, the insurers with the best most transparent explanations received higher customer satisfaction. A lack of transparency for premium hikes drops satisfaction significantly.
  • Usage-based insurance programs grow significantly: Programs and discounts focusing on how much and how safe you drive are gaining steam and improving customer satisfaction.

The study rates and awards insurers according to region. Here are the 2018 winners of the study:

Why Should You Consider Using Premium Gasoline?

If you’re like most drivers, you don’t pay much attention to the premium gasoline when you fill up your tank. The standard-level gasoline is expensive enough, so why would you pay up to 50 cents more per gallon? You may want to reconsider that perspective, especially if you drive a midlevel or luxury car.

According to Carfax, most drivers pass up the premium gasoline options because they view them as little more than a marketing cash grab. But studies suggest otherwise. The EPA requires all gasoline to have a minimum amount of detergent to minimize fuel buildup in the engine, which can cause major problems over time and lead to a reduction in fuel efficiency. As such, the premium gasolines have more detergent and additives to keep your engine running smoothly, leading to 19 times fewer deposits and a 2 to 4 percent increase in fuel economy.

Premium gasoline is especially important for some car makes and models because the manufacturers engineer the motors to run most effectively with no buildup. You can drive these cars on standard gasoline, but it might cause damage to the engine.

To see if your car was designed for premium gasoline, consult the owner’s manual. Many cars also have the recommendation printed on or near the gas cap. By paying a little extra each time you fill up, you extend the life of the engine, experience a smoother ride and burn less fuel over time.

Common Car Insurance Myths

As you shop for a car or car insurance, there are many myths to contend with. Some are true but many aren’t. Here are some of the most common auto insurance myths:

Color matters: You’ve likely heard that red cars cost more to insure because they attract more attention from police. In reality, color doesn’t affect insurance rates. There’s some evidence that certain colors of car cost more to buy, but insurance rates are more affected by your driving history and the car’s safety features than superficial things like color.

Your friend’s insurance covers their accident in your car: Say you let a friend borrow your car and they get in an accident. It's a common misconception that their insurance will cover the accident. However, car insurance insures the car, not the driver. So, if a friend or relative borrowing your car gets in an accident, the policy covering the vehicle, in this case, your policy, covers the collision and liability claims from the accident. And yes, your premiums will go up as a result.

Your credit affects your auto insurance: This is true, depending on where you live. Insurance companies use information from your credit reports to gauge your potential risk as a driver. If you live in California, Hawaii or Massachusetts, insurers aren’t allowed to use credit information when creating your policies. 

Gender matters: It’s largely true that young men pay higher premiums, but the way auto insurers include gender in their calculations varies widely. While it depends on the insurance company, a recent Pew study shows that older women, between the ages of 40 and 60, tend to pay more, sometimes by as much as 10 percent.

When Should You Look for A Different Insurance Company?

Whether you’ve been with your insurance company for one year or ten, it's always a good idea to get a new insurance quote. There are many reasons to get new quotes and even to consider switching carriers. According to a study by the Consumer Federation of America, if you stay with the same carrier for an extended period of time, you’re more likely to get charged a higher rate. This is why shopping around can save you substantial amounts of money.

The best time to start collecting quotes is when you get your renewal information from your current insurer. This gives you a chance to compare premiums and coverage of your policy with the quotes you get from other insurers. By shopping early you may be eligible for an advanced quote discount.

A major life event is also a good occasion to shop around for policies. If you’ve gotten married, have a teen driver, retire or buy a new or used vehicle it’s a good idea to shop around. With those changes, your policy will increase, so it's a good occasion to look at what other carriers are charging. Most insurers offer discounts for multicar families or good student discounts, so getting multiple quotes will let you see who has the strongest discounts.

Cars depreciate over time, but your current auto insurer is unlikely to adjust your policy to coincide with your car’s reduced value. If you have an older car, it may be wise to shop around to see if you can get a lower price from another carrier.

Because credit history factors into your auto policy rates, if your credit score has improved since the last time you bought auto insurance, this may be a good time to shop around, since it's likely your credit will help you get a lower rate. If you live in California, Hawaii or Massachusetts this won’t apply to you.