Cheap, sub-standard auto carriers write insurance for insureds with bad driving records. They are able to do this by setting their own limited conditions under which they will provide coverage. These sub-standard carriers do not cover claims that would be covered under a more standard policy. These policies can contain “named-driver exclusions” which limit coverage to persons specifically named in the policy. “Step-down” policies often lower liability coverage to a state’s minimum limits for permissive users, even if the insured pays for higher limits. Deductibles can be higher and/or a policy won’t extend coverage to a rental vehicle. Therefore, policy terms vary and directly affect whether a particular coverage follows the car or the driver.
One of the most common ways to lower your car insurance rates is by choosing a higher deductible. The deductible is the amount of money you must pay after an accident before your insurance kicks in. So, for example, if you are in an accident and there is $10,000 worth of damage done and your deductible is $1,000, you pay the $1,000 and your car insurance company pays $9,000. A higher deductible means less risk for your insurance company and lower rates for you. However, it also means that you need to have that much money on hand in case of an accident. If you go for a $2,000 deductible and don’t have $2,000 available after an accident, you won’t be able to get the repairs you need.
State Farm boasts a solid score in J.D. Power’s Customer Claims Satisfaction rating among our top picks (three out of five) and sits above industry average. That means that once you do file a claim, you can expect a smooth experience. If a positive customer experience is especially important to you, State Farm is likely to deliver superior service.
As with our other large insurance providers, Nationwide has a mobile app that allows you to file a claim, pay your bill, and view your insurance card. However, while it currently has a 4.2-star rating on the Apple App Store, its Google Play rating sits at a mediocre 3.5. Many users complain that several of the app’s features malfunction and need attention from developers. If you’re trying to file a claim after an accident, you don’t need the additional stress of a poorly functioning app, even if it’s free. While the app’s capabilities may improve over time, it’s best to stick with providers like Allstate if mobile app functionality is important to you.
One of Progressive’s add-on coverages includes a “disappearing deductible” option. This means that each year you don’t file a claim, Progressive will drop your rate by 25%. With this method, the company boasts that you could eventually have a $0 deductible. But it only stays this way as long as you haven’t filed a claim — if you do, your deductible will go right back up. Safeco also incentivizes safe driving with low deductibles. Safeco will reduce your collision deductible by $100 each year you don’t have a claim, but this incentive caps at $500.
USAA only sells policies to current and former members of the military and their families and is consistently rated at the top of its class by A.M. Best with an A++ financial strength rating. It doesn’t have an official customer service rating with J.D. Power, but USAA is noted by J.D. as providing “claims satisfaction and shopping satisfaction”. A perk of USAA is if your uniform is damaged or stolen in an event your policy covers and you are on active duty or deployed, USAA will reimburse you without you having to pay a deductible.
While an “insured vehicle” may include a friend or neighbor’s vehicle or a rental car, if the vehicle was available for regular use, it might be excluded. A “replacement” vehicle will probably be covered, but in some cases only under circumstances where the insured’s vehicle cannot be operated for some specific reason, such as a repair. Coverage might not follow anyone if the insured is driving a vehicle other than a “private passenger vehicle not owned and listed on the insured’s policy.” There really is no such thing as a standard auto policy anymore and coverage for non-owned autos will be different under some policies and non-existent under others.
Each of following insurers who transact business in California are domiciled in California and have their principal place of business in Los Angeles, CA: Farmers Insurance Exchange (#R 201), Fire Insurance Exchange (#1267-4), Truck Insurance Exchange (#1199-9), Mid-Century Insurance Company (#1428-2), Civic Property and Casualty Company (#4241-6), Exact Property and Casualty Company (#4240-8), Neighborhood Spirit Property and Casualty Company (#4242-4).
Hi Stephen – I think you’re doing the right thing – as long as the premium continues to be reasonable compared to the competition. Even though we obsess on low rates, quality of service matters. It does little good if you get the cheapest policy, then they stick you when you have a claim. With must auto claims there’s going to be a human error factor (especially with new drivers), and you can’t be with companies that will hold that against you to such a degree that it seems like they no longer want your business.
But liability coverage levels come in threes — you’ll probably see something like 50/100/50 up to 250/500/250 in typical policies. You can think of these limits like: individual injuries / total injuries / property damage. Insurers are a little more technical, calling them bodily injury liability, total bodily injury liability and physical damage liability.
Good customer service is especially essential when you’re in a crisis after an accident or theft. Excellent insurance providers make it easy for you to file a claim online or over the phone. They also offer accessible service 24/7 through a customer helpline or roadside assistance. If a company’s a hassle to deal with when you truly need help, it may make an already difficult situation even more trying.
The best car insurance companies have a few things in common: They have straightforward shopping experiences, take good care of policyholders after a crash and treat their customers with respect and courtesy. That means only insurers with high customer satisfaction scores and relatively few complaints to insurance commissioners make it to the top of our list of the best auto insurance companies.