In the United States, every state has long-established minimum auto insurance statutes — although these laws vary by region, you’ll generally need car insurance if you’re intending to drive a vehicle regularly.
In addition to auto insurance being required by law, it does serve a purpose — most notably, it decreases the liability of the driver in the case of an auto accident, meaning that you won’t be left paying for all the repairs if you get in a crash. Of course, because auto insurance is necessary for every driver on the road, there are dozens of auto insurance companies out there.
What’s more, each of these companies offers a variety of different coverage from full to mere liability insurance. Making the right decision among this vast array of choices comes down to being properly informed — reading customer reviews, checking to see if their website is up-to-date, and using this guide to make a fully educated choice.
Established in 1907, Amica Mutual is one of the oldest auto insurance companies in the world. With more than 40 locations across the country, Amica — originally the Automobile Mutual Insurance Company of America — continues to satisfy customers after more than a hundred years.
It isn’t as big as some of its competitors, nor does it have the household recognition of some of the other big insurance companies on the market. That said, Amica manages to maintain a firm grasp on its spot in the industry by boasting high customer satisfaction reviews.
Uniquely, Amica Mutual also includes free perks tied into your auto insurance claim — perks like free airbag replacements after a crash to save money in times of crisis.
Geico is one of the best-known auto insurance companies on this list, a position they can credit to their famed commercials featuring the Geico Gecko. These commercials have aired since 1999 and were first conceived after a Screen Actor’s Guild strike resulted in a stall in new advertising — the Gecko has since become Geico’s longest lasting mascot. Geico insures more than 27 million vehicles and growing. According to customer reviews, Geico has superior customer service and you can access their services 24/7 online or through their toll-free number.
As far as their actual insurance goes, Geico does a great job of providing low rates over the phone or through their website. That same website is optimized with an eye towards the future, featuring handy tools like a tracker that helps you find gas stations nearby. Their prices are also considered superior to those of its main market competitors. Geico offers optional roadside assistance and, for drivers with an eye for secondary income, allows one policy to cover both personal and ridesharing purposes.
If you are the type of customer who likes to speak in person with an insurance agent, then Geico may not be for you — they sell to their customers directly without the use of an agent.
Uniquely, if you’re a member of the military or a government worker you may be eligible for discounts on your insurance.
While Geico is the second largest auto insurer, State Farm is number one — they’ve managed to maintain this spot due to a combination of great service and customer satisfaction going back more than 80 years.
Their strength among the competition in the market comes largely from superior services compared to other auto insurance companies — services like their Drive Safe & Save program, which analyzes your driving habits and then provides applicable discounts after the period of analysis has ended. More than 18,000 agents across the United States work daily to maintain the standards of excellence State Farm demonstrates.
Another advantage comes from their post-collision services — State Farm pays for a rental car if yours is in the shop — if your collision was covered. This can be very helpful if you’ve only got a single vehicle, working to keep you from depending on rides from family or from riding public transportation unnecessarily.
However, JD Powers reports that because State Farm is the largest company in the United States, their prices tend to be higher than its competition. Also, be wary of upselling — the company trains its agents to offer upgrades and add-ons.
Like Geico, Nationwide has launched an extensive media campaign with a catchy gimmick — in Nationwide’s case it’s the Nationwide jingle, ‘Nationwide is on your side’.
Jingles aside, there are plenty of reasons to be interested in Nationwide’s service. Like State Farm, Nationwide utilizes an analytics engine to determine how safe of a driver you are — but unlike State Farm, that engine runs automatically off a small device placed inside the vehicle’s diagnostic port. An initial discount is available as soon as you sign up for their SmartRide program, and discounts only improve as you become a better driver.
According to customer reviews, Nationwide’s downside is that their agents tend to be “uncoordinated and inconsistent” when it comes to answering questions.
Uniquely among the competition, Nationwide offers vanishing deductibles that decrease your deductible by a set amount of $100 for every year you spend without getting in a car accident. The maximum subtraction is $500 after five years without an accident, giving Nationwide a significant advantage in the realm of price for loyal customers.
Among the major auto insurance companies in the United States, Progressive is currently falling behind — but that doesn’t mean you should lose faith.
Progressive is one of the most universal transportation-based insurance companies — you can get insurance for anything from an airplane to a Rolls Royce. They also offer nearly every policy imaginable for automobiles, excluding new or better car replacement.
That said, they offer nothing particularly unique. Standard roadside assistance plans are available for interested shoppers.
The Bottom Line
It’s important to complete your own research as the best auto insurance companies should offer more than just a great rate. Again, you can do this by reading up on recent studies and online reviews — but don’t forget to seek out the insurance plan that suits your specific needs and then shop accordingly. Once you’re fully informed about the options available for your car insurance, all there is to do is make the decision.